As a married couple, you will face all kinds of challenges through the years. How you handle them will make the difference between creating a schism or building a stronger bond. Because some issues are fraught with emotion, it may be difficult to keep a level head when you’re dealing with them. But when you can address problems together in a healthy way, you’re chances of forging a better relationship are good.
Here are some common issues to look out for:
Money. It’s not always the root of all evil, but it’s one of the most common problems in many marriages. The trouble with money is that everyone is brought up differently. Maybe your parents always invested in the stock market but your spouse’s parents thought it was the same as gambling. And on top of that, conflicts about money can really be conflicts about deeper issues. For example, you may have been raised in an environment where you had to go without because money was tight. You may want to put away substantial money in savings so you’ll always have a back-up. Meanwhile, your spouse’s father died young and never got to take that cruise or buy that boat. So you have a spend-versus-save tug of war.
What to do: The first thing to do is to sit down together and assess where you are. How much money is coming in? How much is going out? How much can you save? Spend? Make a budget based on reality. And ask important questions when you’re both calm and unstressed. What are your shared goals? What are your individual goals? Work together to create a money plan that you both agree to, and stick to it.
Kids. You love them and they’re a wonderful addition to your life, but children change everything. And change creates stress. Not only do you have less time, you have new responsibilities and more work. Is it fair that you always have to feed the kids? And your idea is to give them fresh food while your spouse is okay with a pop tart every now and then. Or you think it’s okay to spoil them on occasion while your spouse thinks the kids should earn special treats by doing chores. You were both brought up differently and are likely to have different ideas about how to bring up your own kids. On top of that, you have less time to spend on your relationship.
What to do: First, get together early and often to sort out how you feel about raising your children. What values do you agree on? Where can you compromise when necessary? Who does what chores related to the children, and how can you combine your talents to make sure your kids get the kind of upbringing you both want. Keep talking about it, because things change as children grow. And agree that it’s not necessary to be perfect. Take some time off from the children on a regular basis to ensure your relationship is healthy.
Stress. You’re busy and your spouse is busy. You both come home exhausted and ready to spit nails. Your capacity for handling conflict is low to nonexistent. And your emotional energy is drained to the point where you have nothing left over to nurture your spouse. And your spouse feels the same. On top of that, your schedules aren’t getting better any time soon. Sometimes you skip eating healthy food—who has the time to eat right? Let alone get in a good workout. You have less time together and you operate less and less as a team.
What to do: A balanced life is often elusive, but worth striving for. When you have a healthy lifestyle, you experience less stress. And stress can cause you physical problems. Is it really necessary in be involved in every activity? Maybe you can cut something out and work with your partner to reduce stress. Perhaps you can practice meditation together. Or you can take a yoga class while your spouse takes the kids to the park. Work on developing healthy habits—eating properly, getting enough sleep and exercise. All help reduce stress and contribute to your well-being.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact.