When we get married, we don’t necessarily anticipate any problems in our future. Usually our vision is at least somewhat obscured by gauzy infatuation and rosy belief in fairytale endings. But knowing what to expect will help you deal proactively with issues before they become insurmountable. Here are the five most common marital problems.
According to Lesli M. W. Doares, MS, LMFT, of Balanced Family Therapy and author of, Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work, the most common problems that occur in marriage deal with difficulties in the following areas: finances, intimacy, communication, raising children and managing extended family.
“These problems are common sources of difficulty because it’s here that one’s beliefs and values are challenged. Each involve delicate negotiation around fundamental and deep-seated beliefs and values,” says Ms. Doares. “The impact of how each person was raised and how these issues played out in the couples’ families of origin, set the stage for conflict to occur. Ultimately how well the partners manage the transition from thinking as an individual to thinking as part of a couple determines the success of the relationship. Negotiating each of these areas requires the individuals to test their own levels of comfort and make room for their partner.”
Ms. Doares offers her take on the five most common marital problems
#1. MoneyWho earns what, who handles bill paying and managing accounts, what kind of accounts (joint, separate, or both), how money is spent and who sets the priorities are all potential sources for conflict.
#2. IntimacyWhen, how, frequency, who initiates, the role of affection, and how loved and cared for each partner feels set the stage for disagreements in this important area. The health of the overall relationship frequently plays out in the bedroom. Problems in other areas of the marriage frequently are reflected in the level of intimacy. Biological differences between men and women appear in this area as well.
#3. CommunicationHow a couple disagrees, when and whether consensus is reached, and the ability to manage one’s own emotional reactivity when conflict occurs, all influence how honest partners are and how effectively they communicate. Differences in processing ability and speed, as well as the ability to deal with uncertainty, drive the timing of conversations and their overall productivity. Misunderstandings about intent, purpose, and level of conversations are additional sources of difficulty. Assuming what one partner is thinking or feeling adds another dimension to the ability for a couple to clearly communicate.
#4. ChildrenLack of agreement on rules, consequences, appropriate activities, and time spent with the children are common sources of tension. Marriages take a precipitous dip in satisfaction when children appear on the scene. If couples are not ready for the added stress on their time and attention, the relationship can take a big hit.
#5. In-LawsIt is true that one marries not just the person, but their family as well. Not cleanly moving from one’s family to one’s spouse is a huge source of conflict for some couples. Frequency of communication and visits, celebration of holidays and other special events, and amount of in-law influence all create tensions couples have to intentionally navigate. The ability to separate, or not, from one’s family and align with the new partner is a challenge to a marriage.