When couples present to therapy with a challenge they are working through, one question I often ask is “what have you already tried to work on this?” Often, they list the tools and strategies they’ve tried that have been unsuccessful. Their ideas and attempts are good and are many of the same interventions I would have explored with them. Despite good tools and a desire for change, the growth is not happening. Do you know what barriers to your relationship are keeping you from being successful?
Below are five potential barriers to your relationship that may be hindering your success:
One barrier to your relationship growth may come from the busyness in your daily life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are busier than ever. Whether it’s fulfilling obligations at work, taking the kids to countless activities or navigating your to-do list – 24 hours in a day is just not enough. All these responsibilities often leave little time for your relationship. If you are too busy for your partner, you are too busy. Take some time to reflect on where you can adjust your priorities. Make room in your life for the one that makes life worth living.
Fear is one of the biggest barriers to your relationship. Growth requires change and change is a breeding ground for fear. Trying new things or going beyond what you have mastered can bring a fear of the unknown. Expressing yourself and being vulnerable can highlight the fear of disapproval. Facing your fear is the only way through it. If fear is holding you back in your relationship, reach out. First try talking to your partner. You can also find a support group, pick up a self-help book or make an appointment with a therapist.
Self-image is the developed view of yourself. These views are fostered over time in childhood, previous relationships as well as past experiences. An underestimated self-image can leave you feeling worthless and neglecting your own needs. An overestimated self-image can create self-absorption. It is possible your view of self is directly impacting the growth needed in your relationship.
Failure to Plan
When working with couples, it is common to hear a desire for things to “just happen.” Planning for sex, putting reminders in your phone to pick up flowers, or working through a list of conversation starters can feel forced. The reality is, if you don’t plan, it doesn’t happen. You can talk about plans but if you don’t follow through, you won’t reap the benefits.
The Wrong Environment
Another barrier to your relationship may be your environment. Let’s face it, we reflect the world we are most aware of. Who and what you surround yourself with matters. Our best growing happens when we are with others who want to grow. Take time to evaluate the people and messages you are allowing into your world. Are these messages challenging you to grow, shifting your focus forward and drawing you out of your comfort zone? If not, what needs to change?
Growth is not automatic. Take time to reflect on what areas are not improving in the way you are hoping. Then, explore what barriers to your relationship may need to be addressed in order for growth to happen. If you are not sure where to start, a therapist can help process these areas with you.
If you are struggling to create lasting change, seek out the help of a therapist. Family Therapy Associates has a number of highly trained relationship experts. Check out our website to learn more about how they can help!