Let's start with the fundamentals, shall we? A relationship is always going to set you challenges. If you are in one, intimate or otherwise, from time to time it will feel problematic. And if you're not in one, especially an intimate one, for most people, sooner or later that will constitute a relationship problem in itself.
There are basically only two kinds of problems in relationships: one is where seeking for the solution is going to lead to deepening your love, loyalty or commitment to one another, and the other is where it's going to drive you further apart.
So here's my relationship problem advice tip number 1: get clear, really clear, about how you want things to turn out before you wade in. In short, know your outcome. Ask yourself, will this action, these words, this decision deepen or weaken my relationship with this person?
However, there's a paradox here which you should realise. Advice is just someone else's opinion about how you should behave. Relationship problem advice is all too often based on the person's own experience, rarely on any form of expertise. The fact that your best mate is in, or has been in, a relationship, does not qualify him or her to tell you how to behave in yours!
Even the so called “relationship experts" will have their own canoe to paddle. Their background and cultural values, for example, will influence their judgment to some extent. Their gender and their own experience will also, no matter how much they may have been trained into neutrality.
(I'm a qualified psychotherapist. The two main differences between a professional giving relationship problem advice versus a well meaning friend or relative is that the professional is going to be less emotionally attached to what happens to you. That doesn't mean they don't care, it means they know how to pick up the pieces either way, and they aren't likely to love you like your brother might, for instance. The other difference is that the professional recognises when his or her own buttons are being pressed, and how to step back from becoming too involved).
So here's my relationship problem advice tip number 2: Make up your own mind. Of course, listen to the experts, the mates and your mother. But it's your life, your relationship and ultimately, your decision.
How do you make up your own mind? By listening to your heart. You cannot solve an emotional relationship problem with logic. Logic will tell you how much you can afford to spend on a new car, but it can't dictate which model you fall in love with.
In solving relationship problems, you must ask yourself: what feels right? What feels kind? And above all, what action can I take that fits with my values and what I believe in? If you believe in being kind, it's not going to be something you'll comfortably live with if you call your beloved a lot of terrible names and slam out of the house, is it? Remember, ultimately, the person you've always got to live with is yourself, regardless of what happens in your other relationships.
So here's my ultimate relationship problem advice tip: Be kind and loving to yourself first. You're going to wake up with yourself every day of your life, so you'd better like the one and only person you're guaranteed to go to bed with.
Trevor Emdon is a self improvement author, and life coach. His areas of expertise include heartbreak recovery & the law of attraction. He originally trained as a mental health professional & NLP practitioner. He lives in his native England.
"How To Trust Love Again When Your Heart's Been Broken" - his heartbreak recovery program - is available now from http://www.trust-in-relationships.com