Despite what you might see in film or TV, or even in the outwardly happy couples around you, no marriage is without its challenges. Whether trouble sets in after ten months or ten years, it’s impossible that you’re always going to see things the same way, want to tackle issues with the same approach, or feel strongly about the same things throughout your relationship.
People change, evolve, and come to want different things from life – and it’s unfortunately human nature that we frequently take out our frustrations on those closest to us. When the person you depend on most in the world no longer seems to be the same person you married, it’s understandable to feel like your relationship is falling apart – but it doesn’t have to. With new challenges comes the need for new solutions and strategies. We take a look at a few.
Changing interests and ‘drifting apart’
One of the most common marital issues of all is simply finding you’re not interested in or excited by the same things anymore. You could find yourself or your partner wanting to seek out new hobbies, a different circle of friends, or even considering a dramatic career change as you start to value different things in life. It’s not so much change which is the issue here, but rather one partner’s resistance to it which causes friction.
If you’re the partner seeking change, you can make it easier on your spouse by offering reassurance that you still love and value them – this means giving extra attention to them as well as to your new hobby or interest. If you’re the partner finding yourself feeling left out, try and at least feign an interest in what your spouse is up to! If you demonstrate your support, they’re a lot more likely to reciprocate by making time for shared activities you both enjoy.
Arguing over finances
When you first fall in love, how you’re going to tackle different attitudes towards your joint finances is probably one of the last things on your mind. Sadly, it usually becomes a big thing in your relationship pretty quickly. Money-related fights are actually one of the most common predictors of divorce – so this is not an issue you want to try and hide away from, but need to tackle head-on if you value your relationship.
This starts with being open about your own financial situation and goals, sitting down to work out a shared budget, making room for each partner to have their own cash to invest in (or spend on) whatever they choose, and tackling bigger financial goals as a team.
Starting a family
Even when you had similar ideas about when (or if) you planned to start a family at the outset of your marriage, external and psychological factors can easily throw a spanner in the works. It’s important to remember that deciding when and if to have a child is not just a financial or emotional decision – it’s a medical one too. Getting clarity on where you stand by seeking counseling at a reputable clinic such as Wijnland Fertility is an excellent starting point, as you’ll then have the facts at your disposal. Are you risking your or your partner’s health by waiting too long, or do you actually have more time than you thought? What are your options if you do decide to wait? Knowing the answers to these questions can illuminate the path forward.
Hanging issues and unresolved disagreements
Virtually all relationship issues stem from a lack of clear communication. When we assume we know how our partner feels and why, without actually sitting down and talking to them, we open the door to misunderstandings and resentment. If there’s an issue that needs discussing – especially if it’s an uncomfortable one – then schedule in some time to focus all your attention on resolving it. Turn off your phones and agree to really listen to each other without interrupting.
Focusing on the kids rather than on fixing the marriage
It’s natural that your priorities shift when kids come into the picture, but they shouldn’t be the glue that’s holding you together – aside from anything else, it’s not fair on them. Whether it’s making time for date night or activities without the kids, or even seeking the help of a therapist or marriage counselor to work through the bigger underlying issues, you can’t be the best possible parents to your children if you aren’t able to work as a team even when you disagree on things.