Family & Relationship Issues Articles, Research & Resources
Ad Disclosure: Some of our MentalHelp.net recommendations, including BetterHelp, are also affiliates, and as such
we may receive compensation from them if you choose to purchase products or services through the links provided
About Family & Relationship Issues
Relationship and family issues, such as arguments, family secrets, sibling rivalries, parenting challenges, and communication struggles, will affect everyone at some point. However, chronic conflict can be stressful and harmful to health, and all household members can benefit from learning to navigate challenges effectively. (1)
Conflict isn't automatically negative, but the way people handle disagreements can be. (2) If family members, friends, or partners don't have sufficient conflict resolution skills, resentment and anger can build over time and put a constant strain on the relationship or family unit. (3) With guidance and support, it's possible to learn these skills.
Examples of family and relationship issues
Examples of family and relationship issues include:
- Frequent arguments and raised voices
- Anger, bitterness, and resentment
- Silent treatment and avoidance
- Inappropriate parenting styles
Causes of relationship and family issues:
- Inconsistent values, expectations, and beliefs
- Financial issues
- Lack of communication
- Poor boundaries and codependency (when the participants of a relationship don't assert themselves and give or expect too much) (4)
- Lack of emotional support, respect, and trust
- Life changes, such as moving to a new home or having a baby
- Self-esteem issues
- Mental health issues
Conflict resolution skills to master for thriving relationships include:
- Collaborative problem-solving
- Asking for help
- Setting and maintaining boundaries
- Taking space and having separate hobbies
Keep in mind that abuse of any kind is unacceptable and has no place in a loving relationship. If someone is being threatened or physically, emotionally, or sexually abused, they should seek support immediately. There are anonymous, confidential ways to get help. (5) (6)
How To Cope With Family Issues
The best way to cope with family issues is for the responsible parties to seek therapy (in-person or online therapy), learn to manage their own stress, and make an effort to change the environment. When adults can name and accept their own and their children's emotions, plus self-soothe and provide appropriate comfort to the kids, everyone benefits. (7)
Sleep, a nutrient-rich healthy diet, regular exercise, hobbies, and quality time together are useful protocols for robust relationships. Every individual should have a support network to confide in and consider practicing mindfulness to reduce the emotional intensity and increase self-reflection. (8)
The following is a closer look at some common family problems and how to address them:
- Communication issues: When people can't communicate well, it's difficult to maintain strong bonds. Dedicating time to each other, focusing on kindness and empowerment, listening carefully and offering reassurance, and establishing consistent routines are ways to overcome poor communication. (9)
- Financial troubles: Money issues can cause tension, resentment, and stress within a family unit. Learning money management skills is one aspect of coping with financial problems, but a shift in attitude can also help. (10)
Navigating family dynamics can be especially difficult for individuals who had unpleasant experiences in childhood. People who grew up in a home where negative treatment of one another was common might have to work harder to have strong bonds with others as adults. (11) Family counseling can help parents and guardians learn how to effectively communicate, set boundaries, and negotiate conflict.
How To Help Someone With Family Issues
When someone confides in another person, it's a sign of trust and respect. It can be difficult for anyone to be vulnerable and share their concerns, so the confidante should listen, take them seriously, and be sympathetic. Telling someone that they're overreacting or their problems aren't bad can be invalidating and won't help them. (12)
In many cases, it's more important to help them feel heard and seen by listening and demonstrating sympathy. Rather than trying to problem-solve for them, ask them to share their emotions about the situation. Talking about feelings can help reduce their intensity.
If the loved one directly asks for guidance, encourage them to seek professional help. Consider inquiring whether someone who hasn't asked for advice has sought guidance from a qualified source, as this might encourage them to help themselves.
How To Cope With Relationship Issues
Coping with relationship issues requires both partners to admit there are problems, accept responsibility, and work toward improving the situation. (12) Change doesn't happen overnight, and couples should try to focus more on making the necessary effort than achieving or measuring results.
Common relationship struggles include:
- Frequent arguments: Sometimes arguments are necessary to clear the air and express difficult emotions. However, behaviors such as yelling, not listening to each other, and hurling insults are never productive. Learn to listen to one another, avoid blame, and work toward a resolution, rather than 'winning' the argument. (13)
- Parenting disagreements: No two people share identical values and ideals, which can make parenting hard to navigate. When it comes to disagreements about raising kids, active listening, compromise, and negotiation are essential. Children should learn a mixture of their parent's values, not one or the other's.
- Infidelity: Lack of faithfulness is a well-documented, common cause of divorce and relationship breakdown. (14) Overcoming infidelity is possible, as long as both partners are willing to work at it. Most people in this situation can benefit from relationship counseling to help them identify underlying issues and move forward in the most constructive manner.
If there's a power imbalance, and one partner is always trying to control, insult, or humiliate the other—it could be domestic abuse. While it's difficult to reach out, there are confidential, safe ways to get help. (15)
How To Help Someone With Relationship Issues
Helping someone with relationship problems can be tricky. While the issues can be glaring to friends and family, the individual involved could be unaware or in denial. As such, offering unsolicited advice might feel like judgment and push them away. If the person is in a toxic or abusive relationship, it's critical that they have a strong support network in place.
The decision to end a relationship can only come from the person in the relationship. To help them, be a good friend by listening, making them feel heard, and reminding them they deserve respect and honesty. Always keep the focus on the friend, rather than the partner. Judging or insulting the partner could stop the friend from confiding in others or asking for help. (16) If they specifically request advice, recommend that they go to couples therapy or seek professional counsel.