Marriage problems do not mean the end of the road. Being married and choosing to work together through difficult times can bring a couple closer rather than tearing them apart. Sometimes friends or relatives make marriage look easy on social media as they post “cute” photos of their weekly date nights together or annual vacations without children. As much as that is the goal for many of us, it is not always the reality when juggling busy work schedules, raising children, and caring for aging parents. If you throw financial struggles or health issues into the mix then life certainly does not look like a picture-perfect Hallmark movie. The ups and downs of marriage are what life is made of.
It’s important to find joy in little everyday moments. Because when you have been married 10 plus years, you and your spouse may be more focused on a mortgage, children’s homework, and their behavior, let alone the leaky toilet and the broken ceiling fan, rather than flowers and romantic dates.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average divorce and annulment rate in 2019 was 2.7 per 1,000 people. The state with the highest divorce rate in 2019 was Nevada with 4.2 per 1,000 people closely followed by Arkansas with 4.0 per 1,000 people, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research. No one wants to become a statistic. No one wants to experience marriage problems. But, everyone experiences the crazy ups and downs of life. It’s all about how we deal with stress, and obstacles with our spouse.
Stress Can Lead to Marriage Problems
We all know stress comes in many forms. And, sometimes that stress boils over and we take it out on our spouse. The first time or two your spouse may give you a hug and assure you that everything will be OK. But, if you continue to explode at your spouse when the stress might not even be coming from him, things might start to change in the relationship.
Stress grows when you feel alone. Sometimes it feels as if you are the only one making sure the children get their homework done and understand pre-algebra. Sometimes it feels as if you are the only one driving kids to and from school, and to the multitude of extracurricular activities like baseball practice and piano practice. Then you still have to grocery shopping and make dinner. Somewhere in there, you work a full-time job, too. Enough already.
Children Can Cause Conflict in Marriage
The picture you envisioned when you and your spouse planned a family had both of you carrying the workload together. Or, maybe, you did not even picture the workload at all – you just pictured the tiny, perfect bundle of joy who is now a 13-year-old who talks back incessantly and criticizes every meal you make. Everyone tells you not to blink during the baby and toddler stages because it goes so quickly. They promise you that sleepless nights don’t last, and potty training will be a breeze.
But, then all too soon your adorable children become teenagers. And, for many of us, the teenage years are brutal. The hormones. The crying. The yelling. The defiance as they try to find their independence. The missed curfews. The girlfriends. The boyfriends. The teen years are some of the most common problems in marriage bringing much-added stress to the relationship. Sometimes one parent is too strict, and one is too lenient. Sometimes the teen favors one parent over the other and plays his parents against one another. It is exhausting. For many, it is more exhausting than midnight feedings. When family planning, whoever thought children could be a source of marriage problems?
Stress in marriage also can come with unplanned responsibilities. Sometimes families are forced to care for aging parents who can no longer live independently but cannot afford to live in assisted living. Extra family members whether inlaws, parents, or grown children still trying to get on their feet can lead to arguments about chores, personal space, and finances. Having extra family members live with you can be overwhelming. Sometimes it leads to marriage problems when parents, inlaws, or grown children try to “help” you or your spouse get along.
Money Troubles Lead to Marriage Problems
Financial struggles can lead to marriage problems, too. Many couples do not have an emergency fund for storm damage, car trouble, a new water heater, medical bills, etc… And, when one of those financial drains hits it can be stressful figuring out how to pay for necessities and what to do without.
Communication: The Key to Fixing Many Marriage Problems
Avoiding marriage problems or fixing issues between you and your spouse starts and ends with communication. Listening is key to communicating. It is imperative that you schedule time for the two of you to focus on one another. It might be morning coffee before everyone is awake, or it might be the 20 minutes after all the children are in bed.
“Learning to listen, that takes a lot of discipline,” – Forever Strong, 2008.
Set a daily time to connect with your spouse. To talk. To listen. Be present. No phones, no TVs on for background noise – just you and your spouse. A daily “Communication Date” keeps you in tune with your spouse. It’s more difficult to have marriage problems if you have a designated time each day to talk to each other one-on-one.
Sometimes your “Daily Communication Date” will be just a relaxing few moments going through each other’s day. Sometimes it will be going over plans of who is picking up which kid and where. Sometimes you might meal plan for the week together. Sometimes you might tell each other how much you love each other. Sometimes you might plan a vacation.
“I didn’t plan on falling in love with you, and I doubt if you planned on falling in love with me. But once we met, it was clear that neither of us could control what was happening to us.” – The Notebook.
Date Night for those married with children should not be a maybe sometimes. Date night is another way to stay connected. It definitely is more difficult to have a standing date night once you have children but make it a top priority in your schedule. Partner with another couple to take turns with childcare so you each can have a date night. Date night is a way to give you something to look forward to and experience together. Staying connected or re-connecting is a way to keep marriage problems at bay.
If marriage problems continue and you are bumping heads and one of you is indifferent to fixing the relationship, then it might be time for marriage counseling or couple’s therapy. A counselor will help teach you and your spouse better ways to communicate. She will guide you with intimacy issues, too.
“I will never stop trying because when you find the one, you never give up.” – Crazy Stupid Love.
Be Strong in Your Commitment, Choose Each Other
Marriage problems can tear your relationship apart or you can choose to work through the ups and downs of life together. It’s not easy to choose to live with the same person day after day, year after year. It’s not easy to choose to love your spouse’s flaws and all during the tough times of raising babies and then teenagers. It’s not easy to hang on when finances are extremely tight and everything seems impossible.
“Relationships last long not because they’re destined to last long. Relationships last long because two brave people made a choice. To keep it, fight for it, and to work for it.” – Author Unknown.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Daily Mom’s article 12 Unique Date Night Activities to Keep Life Interesting for Those Married with Children.
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