How to Embrace The Problems in Your Relationship

You’ve felt it, haven’t you? The nagging suspicion that you’ll never be completely satisfied with your love life?

You’re right. You won’t ever find everything you’re looking for . . . if you’re lucky.

Buckle up and I’ll explain why that’s a good thing.

Imagine a set of twin sisters. We’ll call them Natalie and Nicole – two women who are as close to identical as possible.

Both are attractive and in decent shape, but not as toned as they could be. Both have good jobs, but not their dream jobs. Both are dating okay guys.

But there’s one key difference between them.

Natalie isn’t satisfied with her current fitness level, job or relationship. Nicole feels “happy enough” in all three areas. What do you think will happen next?

That’s easy, right? Nat will workout, getting in better shape. She’ll make moves in her career to get a better job, something she finds more fulfilling. And she’ll either improve her current relationship or ditch this guy and find a better fit.

Nicole will stay right where she is.

A recent Harvard study confirms this.[1] As the lead researcher explained in an interview, “our findings indicate that [the] belief in a favorable future may diminish the likelihood that people will take action to ensure [it] becomes reality.”[2]

Said another way, dissatisfaction prompts us to strive for more.

When we believe everything’s okay, we stop trying. What’s the point? We only invest effort in improvement when we feel like there’s a need.

You might be wondering why that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because research has also shown that humans are happiest when they’re making progress. No matter how small or insignificant the progress. It helps us to feel happy.

Humans need to be working on things in order to feel happy.

How can you use that information in your relationship? By embracing a bit of dissatisfaction.

I suggest embracing a mild form of dissatisfaction – just enough to give you motivation – in four key areas.

Your communication isn’t good enough.

You’re never going to have perfect communication with your guy. There will always be misunderstandings and misfires. But that doesn’t have to spell disaster.

Allow those missteps to fuel your desire for more.

Give and demand quality conversation. Talk about how your day went, what the future looks like, what you want for dinner, and where you see this relationship headed. When it comes to communication, look for ways to make just a 1% improvement per day.

I know that doesn’t sound like much. But 1% improvement per day means 365% improvement in one year.

Your connection isn’t strong enough.

You’re never going to get to the point where you feel completely in sync with your guy. There will always be things about him you don’t know or understand, and you’ll always be a bit of a mystery to him.

Revel in that.

Enjoy the process of getting to know him better, even if you’ve been with him for years. Ask a lot of questions, and never assume you know the answers. Seek out adventure together. Do things to push your connection to a deeper level.

Your values aren’t aligned enough.

You’re never going to see eye-to-eye with your man all the time. Even if you agree on 99% of your values, there will still be disagreements about philosophy, religion, politics and priorities.

That’s okay – and normal.

Concentrate on learning how to disagree in productive ways. Respect his differing opinions and ask him to respect yours. Solid relationships are built on open, candid sharing.

Your future isn’t certain enough.

You’re never going to have a guarantee about your relationship. People who were once madly in love drift apart. Passion fades. Intense connection slips away.

Work to keep that from happening to your relationship.

Always remember that love takes work. There’s no fairy tale ending without serious effort. If you want the kind of romance you’ve always dreamed of, you’re going to have to work for it. And since progress makes people happy, that’s actually a good thing. Keep plugging away, even after years together.

If contentment makes us complacent, the antidote is easy. Your communication, connection, value alignment and future will never be perfect. Instead of freaking out about that, use it.

Push yourself (and your guy) to make every day together as good as it can possibly be.

A little discontent will work wonders for your romance. If you want the best you’ve ever had, just keep telling yourself things aren’t as good as they could be . . . yet.

[1] Rogers, Todd, et al. “The Belief in a Favorable Future.” Psychological Science, 10 Mar. 2017,

[2] Powell, Alvin. “Study Finds Optimism Can Lead to Inaction.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard University, 4 Aug. 2017,

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2 thoughts on “How to Embrace The Problems in Your Relationship

  1. Jessica said:

    My name is Jessica and I am currently in a relationship where my guy is up and down and not consistent with what he says he’s going to do and what he does. He says he wants us and wants to marry me eventually- (he already asked and then lied to me about talking to a girl when he had already “promised” me he wouldn’t talk to her- so I told him I couldn’t marry him as a liar– he plays these sneak games and the thing that ticks me off, is he’s not like this when he’s actually focused on us and not his problems- he is the best guy. But when he’s not hes a complete abusive ass. How do I get him to actually be all about the relationship like he was, and how do I have him want to cherish me and love me and want to make sure we stay happy and good? I’m so frustrated and lost right now. I have everything laid out– if I leave, If I stay. I just need something some advice clues what have you.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Jessica. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us here in the comments. If you want detailed responses to questions like this, please join our private forum where relationship coaches can spend more time responding.
      Dealing with a guy who is not consistent can be infuriating. Worse than a guy who is hurtful all the time, because your heart never fully heals. Just when you’re about to write him off…he becomes Mr. Wonderful again and sucks you back in.

      Many women marry a man in hopes of changing him for the better. If only that worked as well as people want to believe! Fortunately, it seems you have already realized that’s not the proper order of things.

      When you choose to partner with someone for life, you are partnering with the whole person. That means both sides of his personality, not just the side you like. I know that doesn’t sound very encouraging, but his tendency to slip into self-centered actions when he’s down or frustrated is a part of who he is. You may not want to pursue a man like that unless it’s worth putting up with his weaknesses.

      Can you influence the man he chooses to become? Yes. But only if he adopts that mission as his own and invites you to guide him toward a better version of himself. If you’re the only one who wants this change, you might consider how that might shift the focus of your attention and plans.

      No one is perfect, but there may be someone suffering through a similar situation, realizing they need to exit a bad relationship and find a woman who is more consistently committed and interested in building something lasting and beautiful. Someone like you.

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