Problems in Your Marriage? Why, How, and What to Do
Feature Image: Alyssa J. Francois
Problems in a marriage do not happen overnight, but the realization of them usually does. You suddenly wake up and don’t understand how you went from adoring each other to arguing over everything—dirty dishes, TV channels, sleeping habits, and more. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States get a divorce. But why? It’s certainly a complex problem that can’t be explained in one article, but there are certain traits that marriages with problems have in common.
It’s impossible to come up with a one size fits all relationship, as each relationship is unique. But there is usually something special bonded you two together. (Just think of something at the early stage of your relationship that made you happy.) For my husband and me, it was our sense of humor. We used to make fun of each other all the time and would burst out laughing from inside jokes. So, when this laugh decreased I saw it as a warning sign. For you, it may be coffee in bed every Sunday, holding hands everywhere you go, getting foot massages after a long working day, or receiving flowers on both special and ordinary occasions. All of these are small things, but they demonstrate love and care.
In some ways, marriage is like aging. You see yourself in the mirror every day and you don’t notice small changes. And then you find a college picture of yourself and see how much you’ve changed. Similarly, you and your spouse see each other every day and little by little you may stop caring about certain things, paying attention to what makes he or she happy, spending quality time together, or trying to impress each other. As a result, you might feel the distance growing between you, become more irritable, and feel less passionate about the relationship. Here, I share some of the most common marriage traps, because once you know them, you’ll be able to fight for your happily ever after.
You got comfortable.
If you used to spend hours at the gym or hours in front of the mirror perfecting your beauty routine in order to impress your spouse—but now don’t—that might be a sign you’re losing passion for the marriage. In some sense, it seems normal to slack off in these areas, because you feel that your spouse is, well, yours. And most of the time, your spouse does love you no matter how you look. But when you let go of these aspects of your life, this might signal to your spouse that you don’t value the marriage anymore. And I’m not saying you need to be perfect. You don’t. But you can’t completely change your behaviors or—hate to say it—your appearance after the marriage and expect to have the same relationship.
You concentrated too heavily on other aspects of your life.
This happened to me. I felt the luckiest woman on earth with my husband. We had things in common, a similar sense of humor, and shared in the same core values. We treasured each other and did everything to make each other happy. So what can go wrong in a case like this? We started taking it for granted and shifted our focus to the parts of our lives we were unsatisfied with, such as our careers. Joint weekends of fun and exploration were replaced with school all-nighters and long office hours. Unfortunately, working hard toward success in our careers and giving that aspect of our lives 100% messed up our love life for a period of time. This is avoidable, however, if you learn from my mistake. If you feel that you have something truly special, you have to nurture and celebrate it, and never take it for granted.
You sacrificed too much for one another.
You have to identify what truly makes you happy—besides marriage—and try to compromise without completely giving that part of your life up. Truth be told; sacred sacrifices are rarely appreciated or worth the pain. In the end, you will be unsatisfied, and it’s hard for an unhappy person to make another person happy. You’ll also start to blame your partner for your own choices. So, think twice before you decide to relocate, give up a career, change your lifestyle, or make any other significant decisions because of a spouse or long-term relationship partner. A relationship should be balanced, meaning both people in the relationship should feel fulfilled. If one is not, the relationship likely won’t work in the long run.
You let yourself become frustrated by the ‘everyday’ problems.
Life is not a constant honeymoon. It can't be. Life is full of flaws and challenges, and I think that helps us treasure and appreciate the good moments even more. Paying for bills, dealing with your house mortgage, and raising kids are just a few examples of the constant pressures that distract you from your marriage. Try not to let these aspects of your life consume you. Rather, think of them as the necessary evils and embrace every moment with your loved one. These cleverly disguised problems ruin more marriages than everything else, because we forget how to enjoy the moment and have fun.
So you spot the problem, but what do you do next?
The easiest way to solve these types of problems—believe it or not—is to talk with and listen to your partner. Talk openly and calmly, without reproaches, blaming, and attacking one another. (You don’t want your spouse to go into defense mode.) Start the conversation calmly, and make it clear that both of you are at fault. I started mine with:
“Hey, do you remember how we used to be—always laughing and kissing? Look at all these poems you wrote to me. What do you think happened? We still love each other, but why don’t we make each other as happy as before? Let’s talk.”
You’ll be surprised at how these simple words can open one’s heart again and at how powerful simple, loving communication can be.
Do you have something special with your husband? Fight for it. Do not let it become a memory.