How to survive the bad times of a relationship

Surviving relationship issues

As a young man, I was in a long term relationship and was married for a span totaling twenty-three years. We had very few relationship problems. We were young, in love, and gave each other room to grow. My ex and I were like-minded, equally attractive and motivated, and were both social and shared an interest in a healthy lifestyle. We also had a healthy sex life and enjoyed being around each other.

Just so I don’t put too fine a point on this, I’ll just say that the relationship between my ex-wife and I was more than likely better than yours. It was ridiculously successful in almost every way. How then, did this (throw up in your mouth a little) perfect relationship only make it twenty-three years? Shouldn’t the holy grail some call true love last forever until death do it part like the vow says? I think most of us will agree that this should last forever, and we all agree that it often doesn’t. 


It’s super easy to tell why a bad relationship ends. There’s usually some deviance involved on one or both sides. Cheating will do the job well. So will some secret that takes money and relationship resources like gambling or drugs or alcohol. Not really liking each other coupled with a true lack of sexual compatibility can take a while but is an obvious reason for the demise. 

What if the relationship is a good one though? There is real love, genuine caring, and real trust going both ways. The sex is good, they like each other, make each other better people, and have no financial, family, or lifestyle issues. How can two unicorns living together on a rainbow not make it? 

Well…. We are talking about humans here and not unicorns. Some may seem outwardly simple but our psyches are as complex as the human brain (which, if you ask the internet, is considered the most complex thing known). Often times, there will be no clear answer as to why a quality relationship ends. There is no real shortage of speculation, but the actual real-world reason may never be revealed. 


As a social guy with a big appetite for the human condition, I have had thousands of conversations with people about relationships. Occasionally, I will hear a guy say something like, “Well, me and my woman never fight. It’s always good and it’s never been bad.” 

I usually return with a positive canned response like, “That’s great man. You’re the lucky one”, or something flowery. Inside though, I’m thinking ‘Oh boy, troubled waters ahead.’ An authentic, healthy, and two-sided relationship will, of course, have good times AND bad times. If you disagree, check back with me in a year or ten. If you have something real, there will be bad times. Nothing exists without contrast, especially a quality relationship.

Good times are easy to navigate. It’s like playing poker and you get dealt good cards all night. Good cards will make you look like a fucking poker genius. During the good times in a relationship, it’s so easy that we will put ourselves on auto-pilot and blissfully start taking big things for granted. I’m not suggesting that you not take some things for granted. We should enjoy the good times in every way they can be enjoyed. 

Bad times in a good relationship aren’t as straightforward. Our minds may hide from us the things that aren’t good. A little time goes by and those things start to magnify negatively. Before you know it, you’re bitching about her a little to your friends. This may be the first sign to Houston that there is a relationship problems.


Bad financial situations 

As Americans, most of us who are looking for a well-balanced and meaningful life don’t want to admit that money is super important. But, we all know that being good with money is incredibly important. And when it comes to sharing a life with another person, money can easily be the biggest relationship problem. 

Be it that you and/or your girl weren’t good with money from the beginning and it’s now become an issue that has multiplied over time, or something financially negative has newly surfaced, money problems have a lot of different wedges that can divide a couple. 

Family crisis 

Family can be a real bitch to deal with as a couple. The high-level status that most people put on their family can make them do crazy shit. Family members can be losers, drunks, drug addicts, emotionally draining, verbally abusive, and overly dependent. And just because they are family, people will give money and help out in any way they can no matter how dysfunctional.

A couple that doesn’t see eye to eye about the level of attention one gives to their fucked up family can have a serious and very long-term problem.

Something is off with the sex 

It’s pretty standard that the best sex a couple has is at the very beginning of the relationship. Then it will very naturally fall off from outstanding to a satisfaction level of great or good. The sex may not stay at the ok level though. Often, things can become boring and overly consistent over time. Also, one or both partners’ desires can change slightly and the other not be able to roll with it or have an understanding of it. 

Over the years, the complexities of one’s sexuality will change slightly here and there. It’s almost impossible for two people to stay on the same page of each other’s changes in their sexuality over time. This means that even couples with super high levels of sexual compatibility will encounter this relationship problem from time to time.

Lifestyle changes 

A hundred years ago, most people were born into a lifestyle that they would stay in for all of their lives. A farmer in Iowa or a factory worker in New York didn’t have much of a choice in how he lived. His path was simple and his options were few.

With today’s American civilization, most have a ton of options on how to live their lives. To make matters worse for couples, these many options we now have are very singular in nature. A hundred years ago, people needed to couple together and maybe even have to shit out a few kids in order to survive better. Standard survival in America today is much more singular in design. This equates to people having viable lifestyle options that don’t have to include any co-dependence with their mate. And that can pose a problem.


Don’t underestimate the power of boredom. This state can behave enigmatically in both you and/or your woman. Being bored can easily be hidden (even from your self), difficult to determine, grow at different rates, and most importantly, be solved in any number of highly detrimental ways to the relationship. 

For me, two of the scariest words a girlfriend of mine can say is, “I’m bored.” I take that statement very serious because I know that, as a woman, she may eventually do anything to prevent it. 

Growing apart 

This may sound a little yogic but I believe it takes decades to discover who you really are. If you’re the kind of guy whose relationships last only a year or two, then you might not have noticed what I’m talking about here. If you have shared life with someone intimately for a decade or more though, then you will see growth in who they are.  

And this growth isn’t necessarily consistent. Often times, someone will experience a family death or a personal health issue, and that will spark a change in them. Certain changes in who someone is can be really tough for their partner. It can take a minute for someone to learn to accept even a slight conceptual lifestyle change that their mate is having. 

Health issues 

Health issues come in all shapes and sizes. And they affect people in all different kinds of ways. Poor health can change almost every aspect of a relationship as they can affect the physical, emotional, mental, and conceptual connections that a couple shares. 

For many, health issues are the most challenging things for their relationship. It’s pretty easy when everyone feels good and can do everything they used to, but when someone’s health goes bad, the real test begins. 


Offspring can affect a good relationship negatively in any stage from pregnancy all the way to him in his thirties and still living at home (Get a fucking job and move out, kid!). Those little fuckers can give you the greatest joy, offer you real purpose, and tear apart the relationship with your woman at the same time. 


The above list of eight things that can cause problems in a relationship are more like categories. In reality, there can be too many specific issues one can have with another to list. In our now ultra-specific society, we can find ourselves focusing on very small things. If your girl is annoying you with little stuff, well, get used to it. No one is going to make you feel perfect all the time (Not even your mommy). 

If you’re not liking that she says she does the laundry, but always leaves the clothes in the dryer and doesn’t fold them, then man the fuck up, put on a wrinkled shirt, and accept it. It’s not a big deal plus all women don’t fold laundry. It’s just one of those glitches in the female psyche. 

Little annoyances like not folding clothes or looking at her phone the last half hour before she goes to sleep every night are usually ok to accept. If your issues with her are bigger or growing into something that you think negatively all the time, then try to do something about it. Here’s some possible help:


Communicate better 

Ask yourself “Does she fully know what my issues are with the relationship?” Chances are with most guys, she doesn’t. I know it’s not easy expressing your true feelings to the person you co-exist with, but too bad. Say what you need to in whatever way you can. Stop making excuses as to why you can’t, man the fuck up, and tell her the tough shit. And make it abundantly clear so there is no “I wish you would’ve just told me” shit from her maybe years from now. 

And here’s maybe an even bigger part of this – listen to her. She may be trying to tell you something that you really need to hear, but you’re tuning her out with ESPN in the background and pics of dumb shit on your phone. Sit down with her, keep your mouth mostly shut, listen to what she says without interrupting, then confirm your comprehension by asking confirming questions afterward. 

I don’t care how you do it. Pretend it’s an injury report in regards to your fantasy football league or something. Comprehend what she is telling you in a non-argumentative, productive manner. 

Knowing what each other truly wants and feels is like, more than half the battle for solving most issues. Take some pride in getting your point across well and knowing how she really feels.  

Have understanding 

This is another huge aspect of solving or correcting relationship problems. We are all imperfect humans just trying to live our lives. Stop treating your mate as if she is something more than any other woman on the planet. You should know her well. You know how her childhood was and you have sex with her. Maybe you have traveled with her, live with her, share bills, or a bathroom, or kids, met her family, picked out a dog, or whatever. You already know she’s not perfect, so stop expecting her to be. 

People react to tough situations in different ways. Don’t judge your girl based on how you would handle something. You are not her and she is not you. If you must judge her (which I recommend avoiding), then judge her on who she is and not who you are. She’ll fair better that way.

Once you can achieve real understanding, you’ll be able to better navigate towards real solutions to your relationship problems. 

Be flexible 

You may not believe this yet, but life constantly changes. If you think your relationship is going to stay the same as it was in the beginning, get ready for heartbreak. Pull your head out from that concrete box you’ve made for your relationship and take a look around. You may see that it’s you that’s the problem. 

Certainly, life is all about control, but as a successful man, you have to manage that control. If you are willing to die on every hill, then guess what? YOU WILL DIE! And do you really want to die on a little hill? I don’t. I want to die on the biggest fucking hill there is. Learn to let some of that idealistic shit you came up with when you were a teenager go and be comfortable with some gray area in your life. I mean. It’s not like you have a choice.

Being flexible doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you. It does mean though, that you’ve accessed the situation and decided your position is ok. Sure, don’t accept something that is unacceptable to you. Learn what truly is and define it instead of everything being unacceptable as your default. 

Be accepting 

They say acceptance is the key to contentment. And I agree. Striving for perfection is great and all, but in the real world, perfection doesn’t exist. Most guys don’t need perfection but many of you won’t accept anything short of what you deem ideal. That really makes for a hard and disappointing life. Sure, non-acceptance of anything lower than what you want will get you some pretty amazing things. But at what cost? 

Learning to accept that your girl isn’t very good with money or won’t be the health-nut hardbody that you want or expect her to be will relieve you of a lot of unnecessary daily stress and help you to see the reality of how you truly feel. Focusing on what you don’t accept blinds you of your reality. Accepting who you are, the people around you, and the situations that you are in will give you the clarity needed to determine what your boundaries really are.

Take responsibility 

I’ve noticed that a lot of people only think they are taking responsibility for their lives. In truth, a guy has to have a keen sense of awareness before he can take a high level of responsibility for who he is and what he does. You truly do have to do the above things well, beforehand. If you’re not communicating well, having good understanding, aren’t being flexible and accepting, then you simply aren’t aware enough of what’s going on to fully take responsibility. 

And just blindly owning shit may be a noble and manly thing, but it’s not at all helpful with relationship problems in the long term. 

Get your shit together 

When having problems with a relationship, it’s natural to focus on the other person’s issues. How can you honestly do that though without knowing that your own shit is tight? It’s kind of hard to complain about her spending if you don’t even have a job or don’t work much.  

Working on his shortcomings can often be the first and best thing a guy can do when trying to fix relationship problems. Do an assessment of yourself and make sure you are solid in all the ways a man can be solid. You may think she is uptight about giving you a blowjob, but it could be that you don’t keep yourself groomed and clean down there. No one wants to go down on someone who smells like a three-day-old ass. Clean yourself up.

Your finances, diet, body, style, hygiene, attitude, drive, attention, organization, and cleanliness are only a few things that you may need to improve about yourself before being able to stand on righteous enough ground to complain about someone else. Getting your shit together may not always fix your relationship problems, but it absolutely won’t hurt.

Be a man 

This is simple enough, right? Wrong! With a lot of relationships, guys lose some grip on their manliness for one reason or another. During the bad times though, she (and you) may really need you to be as much of a man as you can be. I can’t define what this means to you exactly. Being a man is a fairly hard thing to define these days and for any particular male. What I can say though is, “Don’t be a bitch!” Handle your business.


Many years and two lifetimes ago, a buddy of mine was in real relationship problems. His wife wasn’t happy with him anymore. It didn’t matter what he did, she kinda hated him, and for no big reason. I confirmed this because his wife was my wife’s sister’s best friend. My sister-in-law told me she was ready to leave him. This went on for a little while and was getting worse when Jeff came to talk to me about it. 

Jeff was a giant of a dude, loud, and somewhat abrasive, but he was a good guy and treated his wife well. He wanted to meet up with me just to talk about his relationship. That had never happened with him so I knew it was serious. He explained to me how he has been trying to make her happy in every way he could, but it was only getting worse. Finally, he said, “I think she’s going to leave me”. His eyes weren’t welled up but there was a slight quiver in his voice. He was worried.

In truth, this guy was kind of an asshole. Now, to try to please his wife, he was doing all this extra stuff for her and accommodating her in every way he knew. And the nicer and more attentive he was, the more annoyed she got. He thought it was over and it seemed that way. Then it came to me. He wasn’t being himself.

“I’ve got a suggestion for you”, I told him. “Do you remember how you were when she met you?”

“Yes. I was an asshole then. Why”

“Well”, I said. “You’ve tried being a nice guy and it’s not working. Since you feel you guys are maybe at the end, you don’t have much to lose. Try being who you were when she met you.” 

He looked at me funny and said, “You mean be an asshole?”

“No. I mean be whoever that guy was that she was attracted enough to marry. Be that guy. The guy she wanted to fuck. The guy she fell in love with. You’re obviously not that guy right now, right? You’re kinda kissing her ass a lot.”

“I don’t know, man. She thought I was an asshole back then. You think that’s a good idea?”

“It doesn’t matter what she thought about you then. She was attracted to you then. That’s all you need to know. Plus, what the fuck do you have to lose at this point? She’s ready to put you on your bike and push. Go give it a try. Go home and be the guy you were when you were dating.” 

About a week later, I saw my sister-n-law and she asked me, “What the hell did you say to Jeff?”

“I’m not sure. What do you mean?” I answered.

“Well since he met with you last week, he’s been way different with Janice. She’s happy as hell with him now. What did you say?”

“Nothing specific,” I said. “We just talked about how fucked things were between them” I didn’t want to give her any details. There was no sense in it. That was between Jeff and me.

“Well, whatever you told him, it worked. I think you saved their marriage. If I have any relationship problems with my guy, I’m sending him to you.” I felt good that day.

They are still together and if I had to guess, I’d say he never forgot how to be the man he was when they met. 

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