Researcher John Gottman notes that all couples have perpetual issues. They argue or disagree about the same things over and over again. According to Gottman, many of these are not solvable even though certain aspects may be negotiated, compromised or decided amicably.
Here are some of the most common issues that we notice in couples who are dating. Clearly, the longer a couple dates and the more serious the relationship becomes, the more clearly the differences appear. Most of these are usually not enough to end a relationship. Couples, instead, need to learn and practice healthy and respectful ways to talk about them with each other.
1. Time together versus time apart. Often one person wants to spend a lot of time together and include each other in most activities while the other person feels a real need to maintain a sense of independence.
2. Relationships with friends of the opposite sex/jealousy. One half of a couple may want to remain friends or develop new friendships with others of the opposite sex stating and believing that they provide no threat to the relationship. Others believe that involvement with people of the opposite sex should always include the new partner. This can be especially difficult if there is a desire to remain friends with a former romantic partner.
3. Sex. There are often different levels of desire for sexual and physical contact.
4. Friends. Some feel that friends are a bad influence on a partner. This may be because they believe that these friends encourage “single kinds of behavior”, are just critical of the relationship partner or otherwise undermine the relationship.
5. Family. Some believe that family members interfere too much, are nosey or require too much time taken from the relationship.
6. Levels of intimacy. Women often want more verbal intimacy from men than men are comfortable with or see as important.
7. Future goals for the relationship, especially marriage and children. This can be one that ends a relationship. While we always encourage couples to take things slowly and not push for a decision about any of these issues, there are times when it is best to just let go of a relationship if these desires are very different.
Couples can chip away at many of these issues, for instance, they may agree on how much time to spend together on a specific weekend or how to reassure a partner that they are the only person in their lives that they care about in a romantic way tonight. With these perpetual issues, however, couples have to find lots of different ways to stay calm, caring and respectful as they share their different ideas, needs and feelings.