As Revealed By Marriage Counselors And Therapists
From sex to money, marriage counselors and therapists weigh in on the seven most common issues married couples don’t see eye-to-eye.
“A healthy relationship requires knowing the skills necessary for “friendly fighting” — dealing with conflict respectfully and working together to find a workable solution. Friendly fighting means working out differences that matter. It means engaging passionately about things we feel passionate about, without resorting to hurting one another.” – Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
Your match might be made in heaven, but you and your partner have to work on it while grounded on earth. And what a lot of working one marriage needs!
“Apparently the goal of an argument with your partner is not an apology, rather a willingness to relinquish power, say researchers. Power may be defined in by many forms including giving a partner more independence, admitting faults, showing respect and being willing to compromise.” – Rick Nauert PhD.
We brought together counselors and therapists to share the most common problems they’ve encountered when counseling couples, and the result is this list of sevens. Surprisingly, while many (including us!) consider cheating a primary marriage problem, it didn’t make this list’s cut. So did differing parenting styles and discipline methods. The list, instead, is comprised of what most would consider “trivial things.”
(Arranged in no particular order)
“Many couples come in and talk about how one party does all the work while the other says they’re doing the best they can but feel unappreciated and when you get to the cause of all the complaints and the finger-pointing, it is household chores,” shared one marriage counselor from New York to which the others promptly agreed.
A Pew survey in 2007 attested to that – that managing chores in the home is essential to a marriage’s success (third to faithfulness and healthy intimacy).
- Boundary Issues
“When a couple’s still dating, they don’t get to see how the other half lives all the time. However, when they’re married, they’re around each other 24/7, year in and year out. So, boundary issues are bound to happen,” said one therapist whose work mostly involved an online clientele.
“I think it’s the biggest, most common problem in a marriage,” seconded another. “I can count with my hands the clients I’ve had whose problem centered on cheating but those who came through my office doors to share how their spouses are trying to change them and how it’s destroying their marriage is too many to keep a tally on.”
- Changed Focus Of Attention
“It’s the men who usually point this issue out as a red flag in marriage,” stated a religious organization-based marriage counselor. “They come in and share about how their wives’ attentions have shifted from them to the kids and that instead of being in a relationship; they felt like their spouses are just someone they share a bedroom with.”
He added that infidelity problems, at most, stem out from this feeling.
- Not Being Able To Forgive
“After being in this profession for years now, I believe that 90% of every couple’s problems come from one or both parties’ unwillingness to forgive their selves, each other or a third party who left an impact in their relationship. The reason for the fight can be as petty as scattered clothes on the floor or an unkempt bed, but the inability to forgive and forget makes that seemingly insignificant issue consequential,” said one marriage and relationship coach.
The therapists and counselors, in the majority, agreed that finances and money are the main marriage sabotagers.
“Many couples can move on from cheating issues,” said one from the group. “But the money problems are different. People have different views about money. In a couple, there’s a great tendency that one is a spender while the other is a saver. That alone could start a conflict.”
- Social Media
One marriage counselor said that she saw the number of couples fighting over each other’s social media use rise within the past five years.
“The most common issues I encountered were: one, one partner thinks the other is oversharing information about their relationship in social media. Two, one party thinks the other one is addicted to his or her phone. Third, the complainant – females at most – thinks her spouse is following a lot of models in IG. Lastly, exes’ issues where one sees the other still in contact with someone he or she had a relationship in the past,” she divulged.
All the counselors and marriage therapists we interviewed agreed that lack of open communication between spouses is the cause of all the issues in marriage regardless if they made this list’s cut or not.
“I see couples who have been married for 20, 30 years go through a divorce because of this reason. We all have to understand what good communication is and what it’s not. It’s not complaining, not criticizing, and not emotionally blackmailing our spouses,” asserted one.
“It’s sad how when we were still in the dating stage; we feel as if the day is not enough to talk with our partner, but when we leap into wedded bliss, all we talk about are our kids, family budget, mortgages and so on. Communicating with each other shouldn’t change along with our marital statuses,” added another.
Maureen Werrbach, MA, LCPC suggests these tips:
Share your feelings during the fight.
Take turns discussing and validating your partner’s reality.
Discuss the triggers that played a role in your part of the argument.
Take responsibility for your role in the fight.
Talk about how you can make this situation better in the future.