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While marriage problems are inevitable, they need not take us by surprise. The following are 10 problems which sneak up on couples and can cause resentment.
Unequal burden of romance
Romance is an element pretty much everyone considers vital to the chemistry of a lasting relationship. Yet many couples find that as time marches on, the excitement and flare which once kept things interesting fizzles out amongst boring everyday life. What many fail to realize is a certain cultural belief often contributes to the loss of romance. It is the idea that romance is something men do for women. So it is only logical for it to become a marriage problem when the responsibility of spicing things up is only done by one side of a two person relationship. Believe it or not, men like to be wooed every once in a while too; though perhaps differently than women.
Being the designated scrooge
It is no secret that money is frequently one of the top marriage problems out there. For many it may be frustration due to a shortage of what is needed (or preferred), but a lot of arguments also result from how it is used. For most Americans, it is far easier to say yes to a purchase than it is to say no. But when the burden of making the hard call always falls on the lap of one person, resentment is all but guaranteed to fester. Many may rely on their spouse to provide spending restraints and help maintain balance. However, few people enjoy feeling like they must always be the bad guy when both partners have agreed to follow a budget. And if the money just is not there, it is unfair to have them say “no” when it is beyond their control.
Failure to share the load
One of the age old marriage problems among couples revolves around keeping up the home. In times past, one person would go out and work while the other would stay home and maintain the house. Given the current economy, most today would consider this arrangement a luxury. But however chores and child rearing are divvied up, at some point the efforts of both partners is required to keep the peace at the home. This is especially true since the primary person maintaining the home does not have designated vacation or sick days. And even if they did, everything would fall apart without someone to fill in when they took them.
Refusing to value each other’s efforts
One of the arguments nearly every couple should avoid is proving who does the most work. While it certainly is important for couples to share the collective burden of providing income, cleaning, cooking, parenting, etc… it is very easy to stumble into a minefield of resentment. A classic marriage problem ensues when someone begins to believe their contributions are more important the others’. Inevitably, these thoughts will begin to come through in their words and actions until their spouse feels they have a thankless job. Those who are wise will understand, appreciation can easily be just as valuable to a relationship as any amount of money or domestic skills.
The breadwinner is the final authority
A continually decreasing number of households are able to survive without both spouses working outside of the home. And in a time and society where women have greater access to education, it is very probable for them to earn more than their spouse. But regardless of which gender is bringing in the bulk of the finances, equality should be encouraged within the partnership. When a partner with higher income uses that to justify throwing their weight around, the relationship will always suffer. The end result usually being most of the other marriage problems on this list.
Assuming decisions are mutual
Among the many romanticized relationship myths circulating throughout our culture, is the belief that our “true love” will think just like us. If not that, then at least we will know their mind inside and out because of how much we love each other. Yet the reality is, we could spend the rest of our lives learning about them and still be surprised from time to time. Over time, some of us will grow and develop into different versions of ourselves. We learn from mistakes, encounter new information or simply have a change of heart. As a result, our opinions and perceptions about life’s issues will either change or become more developed. Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes we as a spouse could make is to get in the habit of making decisions under the assumption that our spouse will agree. Even if they keep quiet and make no fuss about it, a serious marriage problem could be bubbling beneath the surface.
Deferring discipline and “no” to one parent
Discipline is an essential part of raising kids. Children need parents who will enforce structure and boundaries so they will learn to safely navigate life when they are on their own. Quite naturally, some parents are more inclined to showing tough love than others. There may also be one parent who hates being the one to say “no” or cannot stand to ever hear their child cry. This then sets the stage for a common marriage problem which occurs in far too many homes. What happens is one parent is now the de facto enforcer, while the other gets to be the nice, fun one. The enforcer will eventually resent having to always be the bad guy, but cannot start giving in to everything for fear of how it will affect their child’s long-term development. But what the “nice” parent often fails to realize is they shoot themselves in the foot by surrendering all of their parental authority; yet wonder why the kids will not listen to them.
Being married to job
It is honorable for members of a household to do their best to contribute to the financial well-being of the family. But as with practically everything else in this world, you can have too much of a good thing. So many marriages have fallen apart because someone spent nearly all of their time focusing on income, and little to none investing in the other areas of family life. They can even convince themselves buying nice things takes the place of quality time. The thing is, most bosses will not remember all of the holidays and double shifts we worked, but our loved ones will definitely recall the date nights, birthdays and recitals we missed. We must always seek to keep a balance between our work and family life because if we only invest in one, only one will survive.
No room for identities
When two people commit themselves to each other, it is not uncommon for one person’s ambitions or career to take precedence. As long as both have sincerely agreed to do so for a period of time, there may be no marriage problems. However, a very serious one can arise when all of the attention and sacrifices support one person within marriage. As a result, the spouse may feel they have no identity of their own because everything is tied up in the other person. This can occur because of a self-centered spouse, but is often self-inflicted by someone trying to lovingly support their spouse. Someone who gets their way without argument, may need to be intentional about encouraging their partner to pursue their own dreams since they may not push to do so on their own. For even if they never say it, the self-sacrificing spouse may regret never doing so and inadvertently resent the other.
Each of us brings a set of unique experiences and upbringing into a marriage. So when we have children, we are guaranteed to have difference of opinion about how to raise them. This can quickly become a breeding ground of resentment from which multiple marriage problems arise. There are a few important words of wisdom to keep in mind so the marriage remains positive and the children do not use this to their advantage. The first is to be a united front in front of the children. Contradicting or overruling each other in front of the children sends them mixed signals and leaves the door wide open for them to play parents against each other. The second is to picture what we want for our children in the long-term. What is often easier for us at the moment, will usually come back to haunt them later in life. Finally, we must be willing to acknowledge the shortcomings of our own parents and how that affects us. We should never continue a practice or method simply because it is how we were raised. But on the other hand, we also should not overcompensate and spoil our child, because we long for something our parents were unable to give to us. When we do the previously mentioned things, most of our petty preferences can be weeded out from what is actually best for both our children and the relationship.
By Corey Dorsey