No relationship is perfect and problem-free all the time. In my experience, marriage takes work, commitment, and reevaluating the way you communicate, your expectations, and what you both need to work on. It doesn’t have to be hard and really it kind of shouldn’t be, but there are some issues in a marriage that seem to be more common than others. Every marriage is unique, a once-in-a-lifetime combination of two different people and personalities, taking place during a particular era and place. But despite that, there are certain common experiences that nearly every married person has to deal with, wherever and whenever they get married.
Here are some common challenges that most married people encounter during their relationships and how to fix them.
1. Holding grudges over minor annoyances
A stark reality occurs when you move in with your partner: Your swoon-worthy lover—the very same one you couldn’t wait to see every day—is suddenly also the person who leaves their damp towel on the floor and puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge. These minor irritations can grow into serious annoyances over time, leaving you far angrier than the situation warrants.
If you are angry about something your spouse has done, or not done, it is OK to express that anger. But the expression should be proportionate to the degree of their mistake. If they forgot to take out the trash and you go berserk on them, well, that’s not OK. Express your anger, say what you need to say, and then drop the subject. That’s the hard part. Don’t bring it up again. People aren’t perfect – they make mistakes. That’s something you will learn for sure once you get married, though you should have learned it before then.
2. Financial decisions
You might have discussed your financial philosophies before marriage and think you’re on the same page, but the day will come when your husband comes home with a purchase that makes you shake your head in wonderment. “What can he have been thinking? We can’t afford that,” you’ll think in exasperation. Keep in mind that there might be times when he will think the same thing of your purchasing decisions.
The key to this trial is to have open communication and to set reasonable goals for your spending habits. The amount you each earn and spend should be completely transparent – each of you should know what the other person contributes to the bank account and what they take out. Just keeping current with each other on the subject of money will eliminate most of your problems in this area.
3. Sexual differences
Physical intimacy is indispensable in a long term relationship but it’s also the root cause of one of the most common marriage problems of all times, sexual problems. Sexual problems can occur in a relationship for several reasons. The most common sexual problem within a marriage is a loss of libido. A lot of people are under the impression that only women experience issues with libido, but men also experience the same. In other instances, sexual problems can be due to sexual preferences of a spouse. One person in the relationship may prefer different sexual things than the other spouse which can make the other spouse uncomfortable.
Plan something new for each other. Discover the new things or places for some fun. Talk about each other fantasies and desires. Learn what truly turns you and your partner on.
Boredom is an underrated but serious marital problem. With time some spouses become bored with their relationship. They may get tired of the things that occur within the relationship. In this situation, it comes down to being bored with the relationship because it has become predictable. A couple may do the same thing every day for many years without change or without a spark. A spark usually consists of doing spontaneous things from time to time. If a relationship lacks spontaneous activities, there is a good chance boredom will become a problem.
An occasional weekend getaway is a great way to improve intimacy in a relationship. Try to set aside two weekends per year to get away from your normal routines and just spend some quality time together. Go out to dinner, see a movie, go for a hike or bike ride, or do whatever you like to do together. Having regular date nights will help to improve your intimacy levels and help to keep things fun as well.
5. Struggles over house chores
They have to be done. Dishes must be washed, dogs must be walked, children must be taken to school or sports practice, dinner must be made, garbage taken out, and so on. Most partners work outside the home and often at more than one job. So it’s important to fairly divide the labor at home.
Be organized and clear about your respective jobs in the home. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. You can be creative and take preferences into account — as long as it feels fair to both of you.
If both of you have jobs, you can sometimes be pulled apart in different directions by the requirements and demands of your career. Planning ahead really helps – if your ambition is to rise to the top level of your business, become a C-level executive, for example, then you must communicate that clearly to your spouse, and make sure you both compromise on what matters to you. One of you may want to move to a new city for a great job opportunity, while the other one wants to stay.
Jobs sometimes require relocation, which can put stress on the relationship and disrupt children’s lives. Every career decision must be approached with care and consideration, including taking into account the wants and needs of every family member.
As your relationship evolves and becomes more complex, you need to find new and better ways to communicate to each other. Some small things need to be communicated often – such as “I love you.” Don’t just assume your spouse knows you love them and doesn’t need to hear it any more. Don’t let your marriage become more like a business arrangement with two partners rather than a love affair.
A bigger challenge is finding good ways to communicate about more humdrum, prosaic things, like who’s taking out the garbage this week, or how are we going to pay our mortgage if one of us loses their job? Set aside a regular time to take turns talking about what’s on your mind. While your spouse is talking, keep silent. Then talk when it is your turn. This will train both of you how to listen as well as talk. Remember it is important to talk about positive things as well.
Infidelity is a common problem in relationships. It includes cheating and having emotional affairs. Other instances that are included in infidelity are one-night stands, physical infidelity, internet relationships as well as long and short-term affairs. Infidelity occurs in a relationship for many different reasons; it is a common problem and one that various couples are struggling to find a solution to.
The important thing to remember is that while staying monogamous is hard, it’s totally worth the effort — if you both want it. You have to have an open conversation about monogamy because it is restrictive and probably unnatural.
9. Lack of appreciation for each other
The biggest issue I see with married couples seeking counseling is a lack of appreciation. This is often the root cause of infidelity and so many other problems in a marriage. When appreciation is low, conflict is high. This is often seen in sibling relationships because siblings don’t often express appreciation to one another. When two people feel 100% appreciation from one another, they accept so much more than they do otherwise.
That is why it is so important to remember to say things like “thank you” and “I appreciate you” as often as possible. For example, if your partner often loads the dishwasher after dinner and tidies up the kitchen, let him or her know that you value these activities. Say something like, “I just want to say thank you for keeping our kitchen so clean and nice. I appreciate that so much.”
10. Aging and health
One certain change is growing older. You and your spouse will age. Not only will you not be as fit or youthful or sexy as you once were, but your strength and stamina and your interests will change. Some people fight fiercely against aging – at age sixty they still dress like teenagers – while other people try to go along with it more gracefully. Whatever you choose, you must accept that both of you are getting older.
Aging often brings health challenges, both small ones and big ones. There are no guarantees of how long the two of you will have each other and have good health. So if you are healthy and happy together today, it is important to enjoy that.
Even though there are always going to be problems in a relationship. You both can do things to minimize marriage problems, if not avoid them altogether. First, be realistic. Thinking your mate will meet all your needs — and will be able to figure them out without your asking — is a Hollywood fantasy. “Ask for what you need directly,” she says. Next, use humor — learn to let things go and enjoy one another more. Finally, be willing to work on your relationship and to truly look at what needs to be done. Don’t think that things would be better with someone else. Unless you address problems, the same lack of skills that get in the way now will still be there and still cause problems no matter what relationship you’re in.