So finally, you are settling in life with your dream partner and are eyeing to live a happily-ever-after dream, as the twinkle in your eyes says. Wish it could come true! But the fact is, and you’ll find it yourself very soon, that all marriages go through challenges and problems, no matter what. The secret to a healthy, thriving relationship lies in your ability to overcome these problems. If you turn your back on your relationship when you face marital issues, it will fall into despair very quickly. On the other hand, taking these marital problems head on will make your relationship healthier and you more resilient.
As a life coach, a bulk of my work comprises dealing with cases of marriage and family counseling. And I can say with confidence that you need to work on every relationship, including marriage, to make them work.
Top 10 Marriage Problems and Solutions
The mother of all marriage problems! Perhaps the biggest predictor of marriage problems is poor communication or negative communication that belies the damaging attitudes and dynamics within a marital relationship. Remember, regular, effective communication is the secret to a lasting marital relationship. Many marriages fail just because the partners drift apart as the stress of their daily lives exacts a toll on the quality of their marriage, their communication stops and instead of resolving their issues, the partners prefer to end their marriage. The fact is: communication in a marriage is more important than love and those who know this reality also know how to preserve it.
Those dealing in marriage counselling services recognize well that there are couples, who do keep the channel of communication open, but in a very perverted way i.e. always yelling, howling, mud-slinging, blaming and pestering. Such negative communication is extremely damaging, in fact, it is a reliable precursor to an ultimate divorce between the two. Psychologists say that it is possible to predict with great certainty which newlywed couples would later divorce, based on a study of their communication patterns for a few minutes. So for a healthy and happy marriage, keep the lines of positive, healthy, constructive communication open. Have an open chat about the issues you are having so that you can resolve them together. If you try to just sweep it under the carpet, it will only worsen into something more serious.
- Experts on marriage problems and solutions suggest that you set up some rules. Try not to interrupt until your partner is through with their speaking and ban phrases such as “You always …” or “You never ….” Put the cell phones on the vibration mode, put the kids to bed, and let voice mail pick up your calls.
- Use your body language to show that you’re listening. Also, you can’t communicate while you are doodling, looking at your watch, picking at your nails, checking your mobile, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section of the day’s newspaper.
- Give a frequent nod so that the other one knows you’re indeed getting the message and rephrase your message, should you need to do so. For instance, say, “What I get is that you feel as if you have more chores at home, though we’re both working.” If you’re right, the other one can confirm it.
- “Trust” those marriage counselling services
The lack of trust has killed many a relationship as trust is a key part of any relationship. Do you see certain things in your partner that cause you not to trust them? Do you have some unresolved issues that keep you from trusting others? If your answer is yes, it may be the right time to resolve them for a happy marred life. You can foster trust with the following these tips given by some experts on marriage problems and solutions:
- Be consistent in your dealings.
- Be on time for everything.
- Do what you say you’ll do.
- Don’t tell a lie — not even little white lies to your partner or to others.
- Be fair, even while arguing.
The stress of fighting over money is one of the most commonly cited marital problems the couples face. But experts on marriage problems and solutions opine that in general, the couples’ money disputes are symbolic of something else i.e. a struggle for power and control, different values and needs, or other issues surrounding money.
However, during tough times, financial stress can create more stress and more conflict over money-related things and money-centered arguments. For example, an extremely money-stressed partner may be less patient and may pick fights about unrelated things without even realizing it.
In some cases, money problems can begin even before the wedding vows are exchanged. They may stem, for example, from courtship expenses or from high wedding costs. The couples who face money woes need to have a serious conversation about finances.
- Follow the formula Savings first, Expenses next. It works!
- You need to be honest about your current finances. If the situation has worsened beyond a point, keeping up the same lifestyle is quite unrealistic.
- Don’t talk about it in the heat of a verbal battle. Much better to set aside a convenient and non-threatening time for such a serious issue.
- Very often, one spouse happens to be a spendthrift while the other one is a big saver – an explosive combo, indeed. Try to acknowledge that there are benefits to both styles, and agree to learn from each other’s tendencies.
- Don’t hide your income or debt. Keep financial documents, including the recent credit report, pay slip, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments open to both the parties.
- Don’t indulge in a blame game with your partner.
- Agree to make a joint budget that incorporates savings.
- Decide on who will be paying the monthly bills.
- Allow each one some money to be spent at their discretion.
- Try to have an agreement on short-term and long-term financial goals. It’s okay to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.
- Talk about caring for your parents as they age and how to plan for their needs.
Not Tonight, Honey
Experts in marriage counselling services emphasize that while busy schedules don’t automatically create marital problems, they do present a challenge, which needs to be worked through. Marriage problems result from overly busy schedules for a few reasons. Busy couples are often stressed out, especially if they’re not having quality sleep and good nutrition. Such couples may feel mutually less connected as they have less time to spend together and have more separateness in their lives. They may not work together as a team and may fight over who will tend to which household and social responsibilities.
- Talk it out and acknowledge there is a real problem that needs a solution.
- Be ready to accommodate each other and their unique, special circumstances and needs.
- Plan special events together on weekends: movies, games, plays, picnics and the like to compensate for the lack of regular togetherness.
- Leave behind your phones and take out “we” time every three or six months and go to a quiet resort to reignite the spark in your relationship
Life coaches emphasize that sexual mismatch (in terms of sexual interest or disinterest, relative frequency and the importance given to it)) can be the root of many other relationship problems. And a lack of sexual self-awareness and education can worsen them. But having sex is the last thing you should give up as it brings you closer together, releases bodily hormones to help in creating a chemistry and biology typical of a healthy couple.
- (Plan)3 and (talk) 3.
- Ask friends or family to take your kids every other Friday night for a sleepover.
- Changing the scene and the timing a bit can make it more fun. Try to learn what turns you and your partner on.
- If your sexual relationship problems can’t be resolved on your own, consult a qualified sex therapist to help you address and resolve them.
A good enough number of partners work outside the home. With it come more hours of work, feeling of tiredness and stress. So it’s important to divide the labor of doing the household chores in affair and equitable manner.
- You need to be organized and clear about your respective jobs at home. List down all the tasks and agree on who will do what. But try to be fair to avoid any resentment.
- Be open to finding other solutions. If you both hate doing household work, you may consider outsourcing it to a professional service provider but if one of you likes to do the cleaning and mopping, the other one can do the laundry and the dishes.
- You can be creative and take preferences into account — as long as it feels fair.
Ignoring the Relationship
Making your relationship a focal point should not end with the “I do” uttered while tying the nuptial knot. In general, relationships lose their luster over time. So try to make yours a priority to keep the spark intact.
- Try to do things you used to do while dating e.g. appreciation, complimenting, contacting each other and showing interest.
- Schedule your “we time” on the calendar as you would any other important event.
- Respect each other and don’t forget to say “thank you,” “I appreciate…” to let your partner know that they matter.
Occasional conflicts are a part and parcel of marital life. Period. But if you feel like you’re starring in your own version of an action movie i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating, it’s time to break this toxic routine. By making an effort, you can reduce your anger and look calmly at the underlying issues.
- Marriage and family counseling experts suggest arguing about an issue in a more civil, helpful manner. Make these strategies part of your being.
- Realize that you are not a victim of anything as it’s your choice whether you react or not and how you do it.
- Ask yourself honestly- When you’re arguing, are your comments focused on resolving the conflict or are you looking to settle the scores or get some brownie points? If your comments blame and hurt, it’s best to take a deep breath and change the strategy.
- If you keep responding in the ways that gave you pain in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Make a little shift for a big difference. If you usually jump in to defend yourself before your partner has finished speaking, wait for some moments to be surprised over how this small shift can change the whole tone of an argument.
- Yield a little to get a lot. Apologize if you’re wrong. It’s tough, but just give it a try and watch out for something wonderful to happen.
- You can’t control anyone else’s behavior as the only one in your charge is just you. Change that YOU.
- Bad Habits
Sometimes, couples face marital problems that could be solved if the two could try to identify their bad habits and change them. The fact is that people hardly ever make a conscious decision to argue over petty things, nag and be critical of others, or leave their personal messes for the other to clean. Rather, they get busy or distracted, build up stress inside and go on an autopilot mode. Then they find themselves following the same patterns they hadn’t realized while choosing in the first place.
Not expressing constructively
While arguing with your spouse, it can be very easy to let emotions take you over with their intensity. Consequently, you could say many hurtful things that would only worsen the problem instead of fixing it. Try to avoid this kind of route as far as possible.
At the time of discussing your marital problems, focus on being a constructive problem-solver. While at it, it is important to stay on the topic in hand and take care not to bring up previous issues. It’s no use talking of the coffee spilt often by your husband in the mornings if the issue in hand is why he gets home late in the evenings.
Not taking take decisions together
While resolving marital conflicts, you have to approach them together and decide on the best solution as a unit, as a couple. One spouse cannot become authoritarian and make decisions on behalf of both of you. With collective decision-making, you know that you’ve factored in your partner’s feelings and emotions. Stay away from the urge to insist on what you want or see things done your way. Have an open, receptive mind and encourage your spouse to voice their opinions and concerns for inclusive decision-making in all important matters that concern both of you.
However, if things begin to heat up in an argument, try to de-escalate the conflict to keep things light and in control.
Not acknowledge other’s feelings
The ability to entertain a thought without accepting it is the biggest mark of maturity.
Opening up about your feelings and having those feelings shut down isn’t a good feeling and makes you feel undervalued. Of course, you wouldn’t want your spouse to feel that way. So if you are trying to resolve a marital conflict, you need to encourage one another and give the other one a chance to speak up and express their feelings. Even if you don’t agree, instead of dismissing their feelings, put yourself in their shoes and try to know why they feel that way. And then look at the ways to address those feelings; that’s what couples in healthy marriages tend to do.
The way children are raised and handled can be a potential source of stress and marital problems. Kids are a wonderful gift of marriage and bring more meaning to our lives, but they can also cause additional stress in a marriage as raising them warrants more responsibility and a role change, thereby providing more fodder for disagreement and strain. Having children also reduces the “we time” available to a couple, a combination which can test even the strongest bond.
Day to day stress
Day to day stressors can worsen the problems already present there. A stress out partner is more likely to be impatient after getting back home, may handle conflict less effectively and have less emotional energy to devote to nurture the relationship. And with both partners having had a difficult day, it can only be exacerbated.
This day to day daily stress can test patience and optimism, leaving couples with very little to give to each other in emotional terms.
Changing role of women
Women across the globe are increasingly getting more and more highly educated and are no longer mere homemakers. They are financially, socially, physically, and mentally independent, which runs contrary to the old mentality of women being considered only as nurturers.
Besides, many males are raised to expect wives earning lesser than them. But when reality hits hard, there are ego clashes, which very few can handle. Such ego clashes obviously cause marital dissatisfaction. Today’s women are not reluctant to walk out of a marriage that isn’t working for them.
- Try to be more egalitarian and accommodating of your wife’s needs, aspirations and feelings. Remember, she is your equal and nothing that you do should compromise this status of hers.
- You are a single unit and there is nothing like mine or yours. Be proud of the fact that she can earn more as her success is yours, too. Try to celebrate her success and achievements.
Relations with in-laws
Nearly 2/3rd of all married couples stay with the husband’s parents. Staying with the husband’s family can be the root cause of many problems, the most common cause being the relations between the mother in law and the daughter in law. With worsening relationships, many marriages come to the brink and get dissolved.
Try living separately from your in-laws to minimize the possibilities of such disputes.
Feelings of “competition”
It’s quite common for spouses to feel the need to ‘win’ an argument. Doming so feeds their ego and makes them feel good about themselves that they have proved their spouse wrong about certain things.
Never ever try to resolve your marital problems with this kind of attitude as though you may win an argument, you will lose the relationship and that’s too heavy a cost to pay. It isn’t about winning or losing. Rather, focus on the issues in your marriage so you can both be happy and healthy.
Stuck in gridlock
A common hurdle to solving marital problems is when both of you don’t see eye to eye over marital issues e.g. one spouse is willing to discuss them, while the other one doesn’t find it a big deal.
So, when you reach an impasse, take a break as forcing your opinions on the other one isn’t going to change the situation. By taking a break, you give each other some time to put things in perspective.