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How to solve a problem: discussing new issues

Problem-solving and bringing up issues are discussions we have to deal with every day in our jobs, with our children, or friends and family. So why do we find it more challenging to do this with our partner?

Heightened emotions and communication issues are partly to blame, according to Andreas Løes Narum, Remainly’s founder and resident qualified couples psychologist. In this article, we speak to Andreas about common problems and useful solutions when it comes to talking about and solving problems.

Discover relationship counselling near me with Remainly. Registration is free, and subscribers get access to all of the help pathways across the site. The recorded video tutorials, led by Andreas himself, are designed for you to watch and practice in the comfort of your own home in your own time. No need for expensive, inconvenient appointments.

Remainly's relationship psychologist Andreas Løes Narum

Identifying the communication problem

What difficulties do couples have discussing issues and solving problems?  

“The main problem is that they don’t talk about their problems”, explains Andreas. Many couples never even get started on constructive dialogue that can help them to fix their issues.

For couples that do bring up their problems, their difficulty is often struggling with defence mechanisms that cause an automatic fight pattern. This is just as unconstructive as not talking in the first place. “It’s fight or flee in a way; you get cemented in your response which can end up being triggered by the rise of an eyebrow.”

Andreas has spent many years working with couples. “The most frequent arguments are about chores and organisation, the next one is sex which can be the source of much disagreement or feelings of rejection.”

A couple hugging and holding the woman's waist

Seeking solutions

Discovering the solution will be a different journey for each couple, but all must follow some simple steps. Firstly, both partners must accept the issue and ignite a passion for change; without doing this, there are no grounds to begin the changing process. Andreas explains that both parties need to admit that a) their relationship could be better and b) that they can do something about it.

Secondly, couples must have the tools to initiate the change. When relationship problems occur, lots of people feel hopeless because they don’t know where to find the help that they need. This feeling can be magnified if the couple has been trapped in the defensive argument cycle.

How to address the issue?

Another common problem is that couples may not be able to approach the issue easily with each other. It can be all too common for a partner to feel attacked and automatically revert to defence mode. In order to bring the subject up in a way that will be constructive, Andreas recommends focusing on the positives. Remind your partner of the good times and the reasons that you want to make the relationship work.

“Try to focus on the positives, focus on how nice it was at the start of the relationship before the automatic argument pattern sets in.”

A couple sat at a marble table drinking coffee

Can I prevent this from happening?

As the old saying goes ‘prevention is better than a cure’. If you are in the early stages of a relationship, you may not be thinking about dealing with problems while you are enjoying the heady early days. It is worth, however, agreeing on a few steps to deal with these potential difficulties in the future. “If you have established a procedure, if only to talk about it rather than be silent about it, both parties know what to do in order to try to resolve the problem like professionals”.

Going back to where we were in the beginning, most people have the capacity to deal with these things. Whether it’s at work or with family, productively discussing issues is possible, and therefore most couples should be able to manage it provided with the right tools and knowledge.

Andreas highlights this by explaining that many people that come to him for help are working professionals. He says that many of these couples are capable of solving these kinds of issues as they are already familiar with problem-solving procedures and methods from their own professions. Consequently they can choose to follow a set procedure that is akin to what they would do in a work situation, respectful and predictable, when they reach an impasse with their partner.

Investing in a happy, healthy relationship is a worthwhile endeavour. If you would like to find out more about the type of service and tutorials Remainly has to offer, take a look at Andreas’ videos on our website or social media. You can also register for free so sign up today to see how Remainly can help you.

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