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Top Causes of Relationship Strain and Coping Techniques

relationship strain

Relationships can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but they can also be challenging. Like any human connection, relationships can experience strain, and if left unresolved, this strain can lead to conflict or even the end of the relationship. Understanding the top causes of relationship strain and learning effective coping techniques is essential for maintaining a healthy, long-lasting partnership.

If you are currently experiencing strain in your relationship, you aren’t the only one. Many relationships go through periods of strain, and it’s natural to feel lost or discouraged. Don’t give up.

In this article, we will explore the common causes of relationship strain and offer coping techniques to foster a happier, healthier connection with your partner.

Common Causes of Relationship Strain

Communication Issues

One of the most common causes of relationship strain is poor communication. This can manifest as misinterpretations, failure to listen, or simply not expressing one’s feelings and thoughts. When communication breaks down, misunderstandings can escalate and lead to conflict.

Trust Issues

Trust serves as a crucial cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Its fracture can be hard to mend, especially when triggered by instances of infidelity, dishonesty, or concealing information. Gradually, a lack of trust can wear away the bedrock of a relationship.


While opposites may attract, significant differences in values, goals, and interests can cause strain in a relationship. Incompatibility can lead to disagreements, resentment, and a feeling of growing apart from one another.

strained relationship

External Stressors

Stress from external sources, such as work, finances, or family, can negatively impact a relationship. When stress is high, it can be challenging to maintain emotional stability, leading to increased arguments and tension between partners.

Unrealistic Expectations

Expecting a partner to fulfill all of one’s emotional and personal needs is unrealistic and can put undue pressure on the relationship. This can result in disappointment, frustration, and ultimately, relationship strain.

Intimacy Issues

Physical and emotional intimacy play a vital role in fostering a robust connection between partners. However, when intimacy levels decline or are inconsistent, it can cause feelings of loneliness, rejection, or inadequacy, leading to relationship strain.

Conflict Resolution Styles

Different conflict resolution styles can contribute to relationship strain. Some people may avoid conflict at all costs, while others may become confrontational. When partners are unable to resolve disagreements in a healthy and constructive manner, resentment and tension can build up over time.

Role Imbalance

A sense of fairness and balance is necessary for a healthy relationship. When one partner feels that they are taking on more responsibilities or contributing more to the relationship than the other, it can lead to feelings of resentment and relationship strain.

Lack of Support

In a healthy relationship, both partners should feel supported emotionally and practically. If one partner feels unsupported or that their needs are not being met, it can create strain within the relationship.

Communication Strategies

Effective communication provides a major challenge in any relationship. Without it, misunderstandings and conflicts can quickly arise, leading to unnecessary strain. However, communication isn’t just about talking. Healthy communication involves active listening, articulating your thoughts and feelings clearly, and respecting each other’s perspectives.

To improve communication and reduce relationship strain, here are three strategies you can try:

Active Listening

Active listening means paying full attention to what your partner is saying, without interrupting, judging, or preparing a response while they are speaking.

Repeat their words to confirm your understanding, and empathize with their feelings. For example, if your partner expresses frustration with their job, you could reflect and identify with the emotion you hear them conveying. You might respond, “I hear you. It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. That’s tough.”

“I” statements

When discussing a problem or conflict, it’s necessary to express your personal feelings and needs without blaming or accusing your partner. “I” statements are a helpful way to do this. For instance, “I feel hurt when you do this” or “I need more support in this area,” can be a more effective approach to communication than using “you” statements like “you always do this” or “you make me feel that.” This approach reduces the likelihood of defensiveness and encourages collaboration between partners.

Nonviolent communication

Nonviolent communication involves expressing yourself clearly and compassionately while also listening with empathy. It focuses on identifying and addressing needs, rather than assigning blame. For example, instead of saying, “You’re so selfish,” you might say, “I need more quality time with you because it makes me feel loved and connected.” This approach can help de-escalate conflicts and promote understanding.

Remember, effective communication takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come naturally at first. With patience and persistence, you can build stronger communication skills and reduce the strain on your relationship.

Rebuilding Trust

Trust is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship, and it can be broken easily. Infidelity, lying, broken promises, lack of follow-through, and secret-keeping are all examples of situations that may erode trust and contribute to relationship strain.

When trust is broken, it can be challenging to repair. However, it’s possible to rebuild trust and create a stronger foundation for your connection with the right strategies. If trust has been damaged in your relationship, here are three strategies you can try to start the process of rebuilding:

Honesty and transparency

It’s crucial to be honest about what led to the loss of trust in the first place. Share openly and transparently about your feelings, actions, and intentions, and avoid hiding or withholding information. If your partner asks questions, answer them truthfully and directly, without getting defensive or evasive.


Rebuilding trust takes time and consistent effort. If you’ve promised to change a behaviour or take a certain action, follow through on that promise consistently. Be reliable, dependable, and predictable in your actions, and avoid giving your partner any reason to doubt your trustworthiness.


Taking responsibility for your actions and their impact on your partner is essential. If you’ve made mistakes or caused harm, apologize sincerely and make amends where possible. Show your partner your commitment to making things right and earning their trust.

Remember, rebuilding trust is a process and it may take time to see results. Be patient, consistent, and willing to try to rebuild your connection. With these strategies, you can create a stronger, more trusting relationship.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflict can cause tension and lead to relationship strain. Although it’s inevitable in any relationship, handling conflict can make or break your connection. It’s important to approach it constructively to maintain a healthy bond. Here are three conflict resolution strategies that can help you overcome relationship strain:

  1. Compromise: When conflicts arise, it’s important to be willing to meet in the middle. Try to find a compromise that works for you and your partner, rather than insisting on your way or the highway.
  2. Seeking common ground: Look for areas where you and your partner can find common ground. Focus on your shared goals and values, rather than your differences. This can help you approach conflicts with a more collaborative mindset.
  3. Taking a break: Sometimes, conflicts can get heated, and it can be challenging to find a resolution in the moment. If you feel like you’re getting too emotional, take a break and return to the discussion when you both feel more level-headed. This can help prevent the conversation from escalating and allow you to approach the conflict more rationally.

Conflicts are normal, and it’s alright to disagree. However, it is also essential to approach disagreements with a constructive mindset and work with your partner to find a resolution that works for both of you. By focusing on compromise, seeking common ground, and taking breaks when needed, you can overcome relationship strain and build a stronger, more resilient connection with your partner.

Self-Care and Boundaries

Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship. To prevent strain, establish clear boundaries and prioritize self-care. This might include taking time to engage in activities you enjoy, spending time with supportive friends or family, or simply setting aside some time to recharge. Make sure to communicate your needs with your partner and establish healthy boundaries to ensure that both of you feel respected and heard. Seeking outside support can also be helpful, such as seeing a therapist or joining a support group. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary for a strong and healthy relationship. Setting boundaries and prioritizing your well-being can create a foundation for a happy, fulfilling connection.


As you reflect on the information shared in this article, it’s clear that addressing relationship strain is essential to fostering a healthy and happy connection. By employing practical strategies, like communication, trust-building, conflict resolution, and self-care, you can strengthen your relationship and overcome any obstacles that arise. However, it’s essential to remember that no one has all the answers, and seeking outside help can make a significant difference. Don’t hesitate to contact a therapist or relationship coach who can provide a fresh perspective and valuable insights. Ultimately, remember that the foundation of any successful relationship is built on mutual respect, understanding, and a willingness to work through challenges together. By cultivating these essential elements, you can build a happy, healthy connection that stands the test of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your relationship is strained?

A strained relationship may show increased arguments, emotional distance, lack of communication, reduced physical intimacy, feeling unappreciated, and persistent negative emotions.

How do you deal with a relationship strain?

To deal with relationship strain, communicate openly, prioritize quality time, seek professional help, practice empathy, establish boundaries, work on self-improvement, and be patient.

What is the biggest strain on relationships?

The biggest strain on relationships varies, but common sources include poor communication, infidelity, financial stress, lack of quality time, incompatibility, and external stressors.

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