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4 Ways to Approach Intimate Relationship Problems

When couples face intimate relationship problems, there tend to be four approaches with how they may choose to move forward. Here they are:

1) Separation, Divorce, Evacuation

It is a natural human instinct to want to run away from our problems. It is one of the defense mechanisms that has allowed our species to survive prehistoric problems. The human mind has evolved over the generations, but some of our instinctual responses may not serve our modern, practical problems.

So, the thought to run away from a relationship can be very strong and may even be the right choice for an individual based on their own circumstances. However, leaving a relationship goes against human nature - love and connection is not a luxury, but a necessity for our species, it is how we survived millenia of evolution.

2) Stay in the relationship and change what can be changed

Sounds simple enough, but to no fault of their own, many people do not hold the skills to navigate challenging conversations. Further, changing things that can be changed also poses its challenges. Any changes we make in life will lead to some form of discomfort or uncertainty.

Staying in a relationship and actively working together to make mutually agreeable changes would be an ideal goal while in couples counseling.

3) Stay in the relationship and accept the circumstances

A large part of this concept is mindfulness and awareness. Once we are aware and mindful and can take a step back, we might be able to see things simply for what they are. Another element of this concept is accepting your partner for who they are. You cannot change the behavioral reaction or thought process of your partner, but honing in on mindfulness and acceptance, one might strengthen the skills of patience and understanding.

Accepting circumstnaces does not mean being passive and steamrolled. You can absolutely accept a circumstance and also voice your needs, emotions, and opinions. Hopefully, this can lead to some adjustments that will be mutually agreeable for both people.

4) Stay in the relationship and do nothing, and be miserable

Many people also fall into this option. Stagnancy, resignation, misery. The benefit here is that things are the same and many people find comfort in familiarity, even if it is a painful familiarity. The problem here is that you are living your life in a miserable, dreadful state. Your energy is focused on avoidance, complaining to friends about your partner, and generally not getting anything done to improve your circumstances.

Which of these approaches sounds most like your preference? Which of these approaches seems like something you'd like to work towards?

Thankfully, most folks that enter couples therapy choose hybrids of options 2 and 3. While people will consider options 1 and 4, they tend to last resorts or chosen by people unmotivated to put forth the effort to make positive changes in their lives.

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