Many people enter their first committed relationships during college. On the one hand, romantic relationships can be wonderful, bringing out the best in two people. On the other, even the healthiest relationships will have times when things are complicated, confusing, and challenging. Problems sometimes arise when two people have conflicting expectations of what their relationship "should" be like, are distracted by other academic or personal issues, or have difficulty communicating in ways that their partner can really hear and understand.
While the early months of a relationship are often effortless and exciting, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. Because relationship skills are rarely "taught” sometimes one or both partners just may not know how to establish and maintain a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.
We're always arguing! What can I do?
Here are some suggestions:
• Know why you are arguing before you start.
• Devote some time to resolving the problem.
• Sit down and make eye contact.
• Speak personally about what you feel.
• Acknowledge when the other person makes a valid point.
• Agree to differ if you cannot agree.
• Stick to the matter in hand.
• Cease arguing and separate if there is any likelihood of violence.
TRY NOT TO -
• Behave aggressively or disrespectfully.
• Argue deliberately to hurt the other person's feelings.
• Bring up old unresolved disputes.
• Walk away without deciding when discussion will be resumed (unless violence threatens).
• Bring other peoples' opinions in.
• Argue about something for more than an hour.
• Argue late at night or after drinking.
There is a wide range of relationships and of relationship difficulties. Counseling can be a great help in clarifying complex relationship problems.
Am I asking too much or expecting too little from my relationship?
A good relationship can provide support, sexual expression, companionship and eventually an opportunity to build a joint life. If you are looking to it to provide more than this - for example to give you a sense of purpose and worth or protect you from some deep personal fear - you may be trying to get a partner to provide things that in fact only you can achieve. If on the other hand a relationship brings you continual grief and unhappiness you may be accepting for yourself a far lower level of interaction than you have a right to expect. In particular no-one deserves to be on the receiving end of physical or sexual violence. Do look for the support you need to change or end a relationship if abuse is happening to you.
How can I get some help?
If you are feeling distressed about a relationship, you may wish to consider individual or couples counseling. Counseling can help you identify problematic patterns in your current relationship, as well as looking toward other relationships you may have in the future. Counseling can also "coach" individuals and couples in new relationship skills. If you are grappling with a relationship problem and would like some help, we encourage you to contact the WKU Counseling and Testing Center at 745-3159.
How Healthy is Your Relationship - Self Assessment Test from Santa Barbara City College
Love, Lust, or Loser Relationship? Self-Test
Common Questions about Relationships, and Some Answers from University at Buffalo