My approach to working with couples has always started with the following:

Two people coming into a relationship with
their own set of issues. They act out on these
issues within the relationship.

In order to deal with the issues that may be having a negative effect on the relationship, both people must first work through their own issues. What both individuals need to work on could range from minor issues or major issues like abuse or other trauma.

Most commonly, people who are having problems in their relationship never learned how to have a healthy relationship. They grew up in a dysfunctional family with parents who never learned the skills necessary to have a healthy relationship. Most of us learn how to interact in our close personal relationships by watching our parents. Without healthy role models, we never learn these skills.
Counseling is a very important ingredient to help learn how to have a better relationship with yourself and others. If you aren’t feeling good about yourself you can’t have a good relationship. Learning about how to get needs met or even expressing what your needs are can sometimes require the help of a professional. This leads to another problem many individuals encounter that negatively affects relationships. Many people are co-dependent. Put simply, a co-dependent’s self-esteem is related to the feedback they get from the world. They work very hard to make sure others like them to the detriment of getting their own needs met. Unwittingly, they manipulate and try to control others. They avoid conflict and end up with a feeling of emptiness.

Many people have difficulty with effective communication. They need to work on expressing themselves and make sure they are understood. The other part of effective communication is good listening skills. This is the ability to make sure that you understand what is being communicated to you and the person doing the communicating knows that you understand.

As mentioned earlier, many people have difficulty dealing with conflict and may avoid it totally. All relationships have differences of opinion and conflict. If someone has difficulty resolving these conflicts or denying they exist, anger and resentment can build and seriously damage the relationship. Learning conflict resolution skills is important part of having a healthy relationship.

Fear of intimacy or the inability to have a close and intimate relationship will likely be the cause of problems within a relationship. Individuals who have some or all of the issues mentioned in this article would likely have a problem being emotionally intimate with their partner. If you are not feeling good about who you are you would likely believe that no one could love you if they knew the “real” you. A person with self-esteem or co-dependency issues will more likely try to be the person they think another would want them to be. We all need to learn to be okay with being who we are and sharing that with our partner.
Work through your issues if you want to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Life Management and Relationship Coach as well as a board certified sexologist. I have been working with individuals and couples for nearly 20 years. I have also worked with clients throughout the country via the internet for several years. Distance coaching is becoming more accepted and is as effective as face to face. My focus is to provide solution focused and judgment-free coaching.

I have both experience and training in sex therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma resolution, and addiction counseling. I continue to add to my skills. Prior to having a full time private practice I worked in both Inpatient and Intensive Outpatient programs. My goal with all my clients is to help them achieve a more rewarding and fuller life.

Please visit my website for more information.