The Core Problem Most Unhappy Couples Face

by Gideon Hanekom
August 11, 2021

Reading Time: minutes remaining

The core problem most unhappy couples face is emotional in nature, not rational, logical, skill-wise, nor strategic.

That explains why so many couples struggle to overcome their woes and challenges, for emotional problems need emotional solutions.

However, that’s not the approach most unhappy couples take when in trouble, with or without external advice.

No, the standard approach(es) tends to be tactical, strategic, task-oriented, or more skill-centred.

For it makes logical sense that if you’re struggling as a couple, all you need are just better versions of the former or more consistency in application.

Yet, therein lies the core problem most unhappy face – romantic relationships or marriage is not a game of rational thinking but rather a concoction of miscellaneous, messy, and mixed feelings, most of the time.

The rider might direct the elephant but the elephant is the one with the real power, tamed perhaps, but real nonetheless.

Love is not a game of reason, it’s a game of emotions.

And the couple that can create a feel-good, positive environment the easiest and most consistently, especially during conflict, WINS.

Every single time.

Unhappy couples struggle because they fail to create dynamics between two partners that feel good most of the time, not because they (necessarily) lack skills, strategies, tactics, or opportunities.

I’ve met heaps of seriously smart and financially successful, but unhappily married, couples over time.

If it doesn’t feel good being around each other, you, your partner and your relationship will struggle.

It does not matter how many relationship skills you understand, how logically you can reason, how well you can express yourself, how much money you have, nor how attractive or sexy you are.

It all means nothing if it feels bad being around you.

For people are in essence emotional beings pretending to be rational.

Maya Angelou once said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you want to see that statement on steroids, apply it to a marriage.

Your spouse will forget (read forgive) what you said, forget what you did (crazy as that sounds), but they will never forget how you made them feel…

And that’s the core problem most unhappy couples face.

They create a situation that feels bad being in and then try to talk their way out of it.

But no one can talk their way out of something they behaved themselves into.

Logic fails when emotions run the show.

Plans fall short when feelings are in the way.

Commitment dissipates when the heart bleeds.

Nothing seems clear when eyes constantly fill with tears.

Communication is effort and pointless with a hoarse throat.

Emotions are natural and instinctive which means they are a deeply rooted biological behaviour.

And like all deeply rooted behaviours, they serve a specific purpose.

In this case, that purpose is to influence our actions.

How we feel cause us to make specific choices out of a menu of possibilities.

Emotions also cause us to refrain from making a choice we otherwise would or should have taken.

Emotions, both positive and negative, have the ability to physically move us.

Emotion, like the word motivation, comes from the Latin word “emovere”, which means “to move”.

They are, in a very real sense, motivators.

Emotions motivate us to act.

The core problem most unhappy couples face, therefore, is the fact that they’re trying to move each other and their relationships without changing how things feel in their relationship.

When feelings change, actions change.

And when the actions change, the feelings change some more, and so do even more actions.

Finally, when that happens for long enough, the destination changes too.

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a renowned relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website shares valuable insights on creating healthy relationships life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling more than a decade ago. In addition, he since completed post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

more Related posts