The Roots of Most Relationship Problems

submitted by: Michael Webb

When Athena and I were offered the opportunity to purchase a fixer-upper house in our neighborhood a few years back, one of the reasons we decided to buy it was for a guy I’ll call George.

George is a talented mechanic but lost his driver’s license a few years ago because of  not paying his fines. Because he didn’t have a license no shop would hire him so he, at 40 years old, had to move in with his mom and do little jobs here and there, whenever he could get transportation (they live out in the country).   roots of relationship problems

George was getting quite depressed about his situation and Athena and I discussed that if we bought this house that needed remodeling, we could hire George to help with the work and he could sleep in the house while it was being fixed up, solving his transportation problem.

He was quite excited about having full-time work after a couple of years of being unemployed.  I figured that the amount of work we would hire him to do would pay off all his fines so he could get his drivers license back plus give him enough extra to buy a cheap car to get to and from work at a mechanic shop – his love and passion.

I wish this story had a happy ending but it doesn’t. But at least it has a lesson. He spent his money on new clothes, a television and taking his girlfriend out for expensive meals. Anything he had left after that he gave to his mom or girlfriend to show thanks for years of supporting him (which they readily accepted).

At the end of the project he was as broke as when he started. He still had no driver’s license, no transportation and was back living with his mom. He is still unemployed and does the occasional handyman job even though he would love to be a full-time mechanic again.

Of course there are several lessons here but the one I would like to point out is treating  the symptoms instead of the cause.  Had George fixed the root cause of his financial predicament (using the money to get his drivers license back and buy a car), he would have been able to get a well-paying mechanic job AND be able to give money to his mom and girlfriend. Instead, he spent his paycheck in a way that
only offered temporary gratification from his years of unemployment.

All relationships have problems. However, if we are not perceptive we will try to take care of evidence or symptoms of the problem (we often try to do it with money) and not address the problem itself. If the root cause remains, the symptoms will always return, causing continued frustration in the relationship.

Consider the following symptoms of problems in relationships and some of their possible root causes.

* Someone in the relationship is habitually over-spending  
– They could be depressed, have low self-esteem, misunderstand the household financial situation, be unhappy in the relationship or have other issues financial situation, be unhappy in the relationship or
* The physical intimacy has greatly diminished  
– Could be because of hormones, lack of trust, extramarital affairs, unattractiveness (recent weight gain, lack of hygiene), overwork,
addiction to pornography, etc.

* Someone is easily irritated, prone to fight  
– Might be due to lack of sleep, hormonal or chemical imbalance, issues being kept inside, never learned how to deal with frustrations, is
selfish or self- absorbed, has an addiction

* General Marital stress  
– It might be because you are over committed in time, watching too much television, not living within your means, having opposite
viewpoints on major topics, other family members interfering, problems at work, a hidden addiction and so on

* Feeling of emptiness in relationship  
– Some causes could be: deep communication has disappeared, lack of a spiritual anchor for one or both of you, long-distance separation,
lack of forgiveness, angry or bitter from a past hurt, too much focus on material goods, filling your mind with negative thoughts or images via books, magazines, television, music or movies, etc.

This list of problems and their potential causes is of course not comprehensive.  You might have other symptoms of problems in your relationship.

Now the question arises.  How do you find out what root problems are causing the unhappy symptoms in your relationship? I’d like to suggest a few different ways of finding out.

– A qualified, pro-marriage counselor should be able to help discover some of the core problems.
– Good books about relationships might shed some light on the causes of your unhappiness
– A well-designed marriage retreat will give you some concentrated time to get away from your typical surroundings and help you focus on the real needs of the relationship.

Gardeners know that the best way to get weeds out of the yard is to pull them up by their roots.  It is easy to just mow the offending weeds down but that is a temporary fix.  If the roots are there, it is only a matter of time before they surface again.  Find the root problems in your relationship for a permanent path towards a blissful relationship.


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