Relationship issues

Quality relationships enrich your life. But gaining and maintaining good relationships is a skill. If you want more out of your relationships, AT-Ease can help.

Time to read: 6 minutes


Do I have a problem with relationships?

Struggling to get along with other people is one of the first signs that we’re not travelling so well.

Living with stress and unpleasant moods don’t just affect the way we feel about ourselves. They also affect the way we interact with other people.

Because our friends and family are so important for our wellbeing, not getting along with them can mean we’re left with no supports. 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.

If you’re stressed 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 things that are on your mind. Maybe you just don’t want to burden your friends and families with your concerns. Or you may find that when you try and talk about your problems, you just end up arguing and the problems never get solved.

If any or some of these things are occurring, you might need some support to help get your relationships back on track.

Why am I struggling in relationships?

There are probably some good reasons that 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 depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress (also known as PTSD), alcohol or drug use.

Often, finding a solution to relationship problems might mean you have to sort out the underlying issue like anxiety or stress, or pressures in your life.

For example, seeing a financial advisor about getting your debts under control might improve relations with your spouse because you won't be arguing about money. Or you might find that working on your problem-solving skills and learning how to keep calm means you can talk without conversation becoming an argument.


Improve relationships by staying calm in stressful situations

If you are feeling stressed, your breathing may become more rapid and shallow. This makes it difficult to think clearly and communicate calmly to others.

The Controlled Breathing tool will teach you how to slow your breathing rate. This will help you remain calm, and will help others remain calmer as well as they won't be responding to your rising tension. By staying calm you're less likely to get into arguments at home.

Use Problem Solving to deal with relationship issues

A problem-solving approach can be very helpful in addressing relationship issues.

The Problem Solving tool can help you to work through the relationship issue step-by-step and find solutions.

It's best to practice these skills so that when you feel your stress rising, you can use them to remain calm.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

The impact of PTSD on relationships

Some aspects of posttraumatic stress, like distressing memories, feeling irritable and ‘on edge’, and the tendency to avoid situations and people, can be problematic for relationships.

Feeling on edge 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 a veteran’s mental health problems.

Partners of veterans with PTSD often talk about ‘walking on eggshells’ around the veteran and being afraid of their potential reactions. Addressing underlying issues like posttraumatic stress will likely improve other aspects of your life.

Do I have a problem with anger or violence?

There is a big difference between feeling angry a lot of the time and being violent. 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:

  • Are you worried about the effects of your behaviour on your children?
  • Do you feel guilty and feel like you need to make amends for your behaviour?
  • Is your partner or another family member ever afraid of you?

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.


Improve relationships by getting Better Control of Your Anger

Use the Defusing Anger tool to plan which strategies you would like to use when you are angry. These strategies will help you adjust your physical reactions, behaviours and thoughts.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

What can I do about it?

Get Help

  • A GP 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.
  • Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential 24/7 support to veterans and their families. Call 1800 011 046 and start a conversation.
  • The AT-Ease website has information on a range of professional care that is available to current and former serving members.
  • Relationships Australia offers a broad range of services to individuals, families and communities throughout the country. Core services include counselling, mediation, and family dispute resolution. Contact your state-based Relationships Australia service on 1300 364 277.
  • Family violence prevention programs are run by Relationships Australia, and include a range of services to assist those with violence and or abuse issues in their relationships including family violence programs for perpetrators.
  • 1800 RESPECT provides a telephone and online counselling service to assist people experiencing the effects of sexual assault, domestic or family violence.

Online resources

  • The Raising Children Network provides resources for parents such as tips for setting limits or helping children deal with separation.
  • Head to Health provides access to information about mental health care services, as well as links to online self-help programs.
  • Beacon provides information and links to websites with a range of self-help resources, including mobile applications (apps). Beacon’s content covers both mental and physical wellbeing and is reviewed by health experts to ensure it’s effective and up to date.
  • myCompass is an interactive self-help service that promotes resilience and wellbeing for all Australians. myCompass is a guide to good mental health – it points you in the right direction. You can track your moods, write about them and view information and tips. You can also choose to do one of the modules designed to help you manage mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression.