Congratulations—you’re tying the knot! This is one of the most beautiful moments in life and, like 2.3 million other couples per year, you’re almost ready to embark on this new, exciting, and challenging stage. But how, as a newlywed couple, can you avoid common marriage problems?
And how can you keep from becoming a number in the divorce statistic of over 40% in the United States alone?
Perhaps part of the solution lies in learning to attack and resolve potential problems before they even start. From learning to better communicate to navigating shared finances, here are the eight common marriage problems (and how to avoid them).
1. Lacking Communication
A no-brainer, communication issues makes the top of the list. Unfortunately (and truthfully), it’s one of the hardest issues to fix. Part of the problem is we often use the words ‘communicating’ and ‘talking’ interchangeably when they’re actually vastly different.
You can talk to your spouse, but that doesn’t mean you’re really communicating or listening. Talking is all about letting out your opinions/feeling without necessarily soliciting or looking for a response. Talking can also (and often unconsciously) open the door for complaining and criticizing rather than a healthy back-and-forth.
True communication is about the give-and-take between both parties, allowing one another to express thoughts without being interrupted or ‘talked at.’ One of the most common marriage problems is a lack of true communication because partners start to value what their partner says less, and what they have to say more.
Here’s How to Fix: When issues arise, start by not saying anything at all. Let your partner speak first and try to intentionally listen without worrying about what your response will be. When he/she is done talking, take a deep breath before speaking and worry less about getting everything out and more about finding a middle ground.
2. Not Creating Boundaries (And Overstepping Your Partner’s)
Boundaries are extremely important, especially when you’re getting married Although you might feel safe with this person, or feel that they know you inside out, it’s still valuable to express your boundaries or non-negotiables at the beginning.
When people don’t feel respected or have their boundaries honored, everything seems like a personal attack (even when it’s not).
How to Fix: Be clear about how you feel and don’t try to sugarcoat your emotions for your significant other’s benefit. When it comes to something you feel strongly about, share that with your partner so he/she sees where you’re coming from and won’t put you in a situation that’s going to make you feel unhappy, disrespected, or unsafe.
3. Household/Child Responsibilities
When it comes to joining your life with someone, there’s the mentality of ‘what’s mine is yours.’ In a marriage, though, it’s not always that easy.
If both parties aren’t on the same page about responsibilities and duties, then there will be an imbalance that quickly escalates into frustration, especially if things are more serious—shared bank accounts, new home, or kids.
How to Fix: It’s important to come into the relationship with an open mind. It’s also important to talk about what each partner will take on or where each person needs help so that there isn’t an unfair task load given to one person over the other.
4. Physical/Emotional Infidelity or Abuse
People are human and unfortunately, sometimes infidelity creeps into even the strongest of connections. It’s important to understand that infidelity can take on different forms, too. There’s physical/sexual infidelity that most people are familiar with. There’s also emotional infidelity, which doesn’t necessarily encompass a physical act but is still considered cheating as one partner’s affection and attention are being put into someone outside of the marriage.
Abuse is entirely different, serious, and severe. It can lead to the end of a marriage, too.
How to Fix: Depending on the situation and severity, it may be hard to mend a broken heart in the aftermath of cheating or abuse. The best thing to do, though, is to confront the situation rather than avoid it. When you bring it to the light (whether to your spouse directly or to people you trust) you can actively take steps to seek help, therapy, counseling, etc.
With abuse, seeking help is the first and most important thing besides keeping yourself safe. On the opposite extreme, if your situation has escalated and you’ve been falsely accused of domestic abuse, here’s where you can learn more about protecting yourself and fighting the allegations.
Money, money, money. When you get married, one of the most common marriage problems deals with finances. Whether that’s because you’re moving from separate accounts to a joint account or suddenly trying to learn how to share payments, it becomes a challenge of who is making vs. spending more.
How to Fix: To avoid issues with money (as much as you possibly can) focus on communicating your expectations and choices from the start. Perhaps sit down and make a budget together, or allocate certain expenses to certain people. It might be a smart idea to set up an additional savings account, too, for emergencies.
6. Technology Over Intimacy
Technology has truly taken over. In fact, over 3.48 million people use social media and these numbers are only increasing. With the constant draw to be online, it’s started to create a rift in many relationships.
When cell phones, social media, and the internet start to take priority over conversations, date nights, or even intimate moments, it can cause a partner to feel unvalued or underappreciated.
How to Fix: When it comes to spending quality time with your partner, be sure to keep your cell phone out of reach. Have designated time when you’re ‘technology-free’ so that you can focus on one another and not cause anyone to feel less important.
7. Distance or Time Apart
If you’re facing distance (physical or emotional) or if a partner is forced to live apart for a period of time, this can really put a strain on a relationship.
How to Fix: Although some situations might be totally out of your control, it’s important to invest time and energy into your partner (especially if there is a distance between you).
If you’re facing emotional distance, try to sit down and talk with your spouse about what’s keeping you apart, what may be bothering you, and what you can do to resolve the underlying issues.
8. Interference of Loved Ones
One of the top marriage problems surrounds family/friends and their influence. When you get married, you marry a family, too. While this is often a beautiful thing, sometimes relatives meddle with your decisions, try to influence your choices, or involve themselves in your fights and arguments.
Having outside interference can shift how you and your partner react to one another and also leave one person feeling like they’ve been ‘teamed up’ against.
How to Fix: Family will always be family, so rather than pushing family away to focus on your spouse, strive for a middle ground. Respect and listen to the opinions of your family members and friends (perhaps away from your spouse) and validate their concerns (especially if they’re legitimate). But also know that you’re not obligated to take their advice.
Focus on making decisions for yourself, based on what you feel is right.
Avoiding Common Marriage Problems Is Possible
You can easily avoid common marriage problems if you focus on attacking and solving them before you tie the knot.
If you’ve already said “I do,” don’t worry—you don’t have to be a negative statistic. Start investing your time into listening, validating, and working together to get through issues and focus on building a stronger connection.