Every relationship has its issues. After the initial high of a new romance fades, couples settling into a long-term relationship may begin to notice differences that they assume will make for an incompatible future. While some things—like infidelity, serious money woes, or differing opinions on having children—should make you think long and hard about a marriage with this person, there are certain problems that shouldn't be considered deal breakers. Here, two experts weigh in on five common problems engaged couples face, and why they shouldn't be the end of your love story.
Living away from your partner isn't ideal, but whether the distance lasts for two months or two years, it doesn't signify a doomed future. According to Kelly Francini, a licensed clinical social worker based in New Jersey, being physically separated from your partner may actually allow for deeper communication and connection. "Not having to look someone in the eye while talking to them often removes inhibitions and may make emotional subjects easier to discuss, leading to heightened emotional intimacy," she says. Still, it's important to schedule regular in-person visits. "I also recommend small surprises, like mailed letters, flowers, funny cards, or small silly gifts to let your partner know that you are always thinking of them, even when you are apart."
Different Social Inclinations
Introverts and extroverts can get along perfectly fine, but the different social inclinations often create tension in a relationship. If one person loves spending Saturday night curled on the couch but the other would rather go bar hopping, it's hard to meet in the middle. But as long as you understand each other's social preferences, the relationship can remain strong. "Accept that you're different," says Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist based in New York. "Understand that the difference isn't about whether your partner loves you or not. It's about temperament." Both parties need to be willing to compromise, which may mean stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Subpar Sex Life
The initial stages of a relationship are often fueled by intense passion. As infatuation turns into love, your sex life might suffer—but this common occurrence shouldn't be a deal breaker. "Maintaining a good sex life starts with maintaining a good connection," says Francini. "I advise couples to make the relationship a priority amidst their busy lives. Put date nights and spending fun time together first, before other commitments, to the extent possible." If you're worried about a lack of spark, don't be afraid to talk about it with your partner; open communication may help keep things fresh in long-term relationships.
Contrasting Opinions on Money
Some of the most common relationship issues revolve around money; one partner might make significantly more than the other, or each person may have different opinions on spending and saving. Prevent these issues from impacting your relationship by communicating about money and deciding on a financial system that works for you. "There are no 'one size fits all' solutions for money matters within a relationship. Some couples have separate accounts and some prefer a joint account," says Francini. "It is a good idea for couples to list their monetary priorities (buying a house, having nice things, traveling, saving, etc.) and see where their priorities overlap and differ, then decide how the decisions will be made in the event that there is a disagreement."
Different Religious/Political Views
Religious, social, and political opinions shape someone's character, so having extremely different views than your significant other may seem like a red flag. But as long as each partner prioritizes respect and empathy, the relationship can thrive without worry. "Treat your partner with respect even when you disagree, and use empathy to make them feel heard even if not understood," says Francini. If you constantly fight about the same issues, and the arguments often result in harsh words and hurt feelings, Francini recommends enlisting the help of a therapist to prevent feelings of resentment.