Relationships

Maybe you’ve pulled away from your friends or family, and you’re not talking to them as much, or you’re avoiding events where you’d usually catch up. Or perhaps you find yourself getting frustrated and angry with the people around you, and find yourself arguing or fighting with them. Read on to find out more about improving the quality of your relationships.
This section has information on common relationship problems and advice for improving the quality of your relationships.

Relationships

Are you struggling in a relationship?

Often, struggling to get along with other people is one of the first signs that things are not going so well in ourselves. Living with stress and unpleasant moods doesn’t just affect the way we feel about ourselves, but also the way we interact with other people. And because our friends and family are so important for our wellbeing, not getting along with them can mean we’re left with no support structure. People often describe a vicious cycle of needing support from those around them, but pushing them away and becoming more isolated.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your mates, your family, or your partner; it takes effort to keep relationships working well. And sometimes, you just don’t have the time or the energy to make that effort. If you’re stressed out, or going through a rough time, you might not feel motivated to reach out to people or spend time with them.

It might be that you just don’t feel like talking to people, or you feel uncomfortable sharing the things that are on your mind. Maybe you just don’t want to burden your friends and families with your concerns. Maybe you find that when you try and talk about your problems, you just end up arguing about them and then the problems never get solved.

If you find that there are lots of things you’re keeping to yourself, or that you’re constantly in conflict with people who are important to you (not just your friends and family, but also people like your boss or doctor), then you might benefit from getting some support, to help get your relationships back on track.

Why is it happening?

There are probably some good reasons why you’re finding it harder to get along with people. It may be that you’re going through a major life change, or having to deal with a lot of setbacks.

For some veterans and serving members, relationship problems can be related to another mental health problem like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug use. Often, finding a solution to relationship problems might mean sorting out the underlying issue, whether that means getting treatment for a mental health problem, or seeing a financial advisor about getting your debts under control.

Building your problem solving skills, and learning how to keep calm, can help you deal with relationship problems, without discussions ending up in an argument. Visit the Resilience toolkit [PDF, 764 KB] for related tools.

The impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on relationships

Some aspects of PTSD (such as distressing memories, feeling wound-up or being ‘on high alert', and the tendency to avoid things) can be especially problematic for relationships.  Being wound up and on high alert can increase the likelihood of aggression and domestic violence. Avoidance can get in the way of intimacy between you and your partner, and also tends to make you less satisfied with your relationship.

Partners can also experience anxiety, depression, social isolation and feelings of hopelessness, as a result of their loved one’s traumatic experience and mental health problems. Partners of military personnel with PTSD often talk about ‘walking on eggshells’ around the person, and being afraid of their symptoms.

Do you have a problem with anger or violence?

There is a big difference between feeling angry a lot of the time and being violent - and sometimes people don’t recognise violence when it’s happening. Violence can be things you do, things you say, threats and intimidating acts. It can also mean making people do things they don’t want to do, or stopping them from doing things that are important to them.

Some questions you might ask yourself, to see if you have a problem with violence, include:

  • Am I worried about the effects of my behaviour on my children?
  • Do I feel very guilty and like I need to make amends for my behaviour?
  • Is my partner or another family member ever afraid of me?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and the people close to you might benefit from getting some help. With support, you can change angry, aggressive and violent behaviours.

What can I do about it?

If you have tried to fix things yourself and are not satisfied with the outcomes, it can be useful to get some professional help.

  • A doctor is always a good place to start when trying to overcome relationship difficulties, as they can help with a thorough assessment of the problem, and make referrals for specialists if necessary.
  • This website has information on a range of professional care that is available.