It is a commonly thought that the number one thing couples fight about is money. That is simply not the case. Although money is a point of stress it is not the biggest issue facing couples. The number one issue that causes the most trouble in marriage is actually a lack of feeling close. Here are 10 other more common problems a marriage faces:
#1 Quality time - you may hear your spouse say “you work too much” or “I don’t feel close to you”. These are dead give aways that you aren’t experiencing enough quality time with your spouse. It is important to recognize what “quality time” really looks like.
If there is something getting in the way of your undivided attention towards your spouse on a regular basis you are likely not spending quality time with your spouse. You may just be co-existing. For example, if most of the time you spend together consists of yousilently glaring at your cell phone the whole time this is NOT quality time. You both know what feels most like quality time. So talk about what that means to you.
A few examples of quality time may be that you sleep in once a week, or you go for walks in the morning without the kids if that's possible, you go on a date once a week, you eat meals together, or you spend time everyday talking about the events of the day and the plans you have for the future. If you need some additional help check out our blog post on 5.5 hours a week. You may want to take one step at a time and come to counseling if you have trouble spending time together.
#2 Communication - This is also commonly known as “fighting all the time”. Sometimes there are little miscommunications and then there are big miscommunications. But the root is really an inability to navigate feelings and then communicate in a loving and respectful way.
Quality time effects quality communication in that when you spend regular quality time together you are filled emotionally and it becomes easier to communicate and repair after a fight. When you feel distant from each other it is much more difficult to communicate clearly and forgive each other.
#3 Intimacy - You may hear this said, “he or she is always distant even when we are together” or “they never want to have sex”. This could be a problem stemming from not talking about feelings, wants, or desires. This could be that one or both of you haven’t forgiven the other for something or are still hurting from something that happened in the past. Its not just about “getting over it”. It is often a matter of knowing how to deal with feelings and pains. Sometimes we just don’t know how to heal and need help.
Intimacy is a natural byproduct of quality time. If you find that your quality time is interrupted too often with fighting, lack of communication, or other issues, counseling is a good idea.
#4 Prioritizing - You may hear your spouse say, “you love the kids more than me” or “you care more about your golf swing than you care about me”. This is important because your spouse must feel cared for by you. This does come with self-sacrifice but is completely worth it because you will have a happy marriage and a much more peaceful household. Maybe this means that you schedule your time wisely and tell some people no and others yes. Your kids will thank you because they will have mommy and daddy together and happy and your true friends will get over it. If your boss is the culprit then boundaries are absolutely necessary.
Food for thought: why do we work if not to provide for our families? If our families are dismantled and someone else is raising our children then our work is in vein.
#5 Boundaries - This applies to our lives on so many levels. Your spouse might say “why did you look at that man/woman like that?” or “you sure are talking to so-and-so a lot” or “you are working really late” or they may say things listed under prioritizing.
We must have boundaries in place to protect our families and our marriages. Without them quality time is effected, intimacy suffers, and affairs happen. Listening to each other and not doing the things that your spouse asks you not to do is a good start.
#6 Life Planning - This is often something a couple talks about while in pre-marital counseling but it is important to be revisited on a regular ongoing basis. While doing life together there are often expectations for marriage. Take inventory of what you want as an individual and then compromise with one another to build your life together.
Planning life together and agreeing to make major financial or life altering decisions with both of you fully on board is important. This could even include smaller things like cutting your hair or getting a tattoo.
Another important piece to planning life together is aligning ideology. Many couples struggle with variations in religious beliefs, parenting styles, how to spend leisure time, and other similar expectations.
There are things that maybe your spouse hasn’t fully expressed as important so communicating regularly about what you love about your spouse and your life together and just simply asking for what you want or expressing what you don’t want is a great step in the right direction. When expectations are not met an argument is soon to follow.
#7 Responsibility - It is amazing how often we hear couples refusing to take responsibility for things like their finances and responsibility for the actions that they took that led them to counseling. Instead individuals want to blame everyone and everything else other than themselves. Humility goes a long way when talking with your spouse and in dealing with most anyone else. You may hear things like “you are the reason I cheated” or “you didn’t hold up your end of the deal or the outcome wasn’t what I wanted so I won’t hold up my end of the deal”. This is ridiculous. You are responsible for yourself and you make your own choices.
#8 Life Events - The death of a child or someone very close, job loss, and illness are just a few examples of major life event that cause quite a bit of stress even for a solid marriage. Issues like these can cause trauma that is relived over many years and without help it could be very difficult to heal and keep the marriage together.
#9 Other Mental Issues - Believe it or not many times individual mental issues can inadvertently cause rifts in a marriage. Let’s say if one spouse is suffering from depression and neither realize that they are struggling with a disorder their actions can send the wrong message to the other.
#10 Trust - There are many different ways trust can be broken but one of the worst points of contention is when you find out your spouse has cheated on you.