There is no shortage of jokes about unhappy marriages; mostly because nothing is funnier than the truth and there is no shortage of unhappy marriages. And when you consider that more than half of the people who get married end up divorced, you have to wonder what we’re doing wrong. Why can’t we just get along? Well, knowledge is power; and when you know something is causing a problem, you have a much better chance of learning to deal with it in such a way that it doesn’t cause problems. Ignorance, in this case, is not bliss. You may simply think that stress is a natural part of life, and the way you deal with common problems is the best or only way to deal with them. In both cases, you’d be wrong; and until you start to look at the causes of marital conflict and asking yourself how you’re currently dealing with them, and how you could better deal with them, your relationship probably won’t improve much. Here’s a list of common sources of marital stress and conflict; consider how you are currently dealing with these issues, and how you could better deal with these issues:
1. Money – most couples argue over bills, debt, spending, and other financial issues.
2. Kids – discipline, diet, and other parenting issues can be sources of disagreement between couples.
3. Sex – frequency, quantity, quality, and infidelity are all common sources of stress and disharmony.
4. Schedules – time apart and a lack of quality time together serves to get people out of harmony.
5. Chores – many couples argue over equitable distribution of household work, and how to do it.
6. Friends – not all friends are helpful to relationships – some of them are poisonous.
7. Habits – many people are married to someone who has one or more habits they find undesirable.
8. Family – in-laws, siblings, children, and step-children can all create stress within a marriage.
9. Expectations – judgments and unmet expectations are a major source of conflict in marriages.
10. Personality conflicts – if you don’t like something about your partner, one of you must change.
You may recognize one or more of these areas as an area of stress in your life and relationship. Each of these is a very common source of marital discord; but they are also areas of opportunity – opportunities for learning, growth, and harmony or chaos, stress, and misery. The choice is yours, but don’t simply assume that your marriage is broken, or your partner is broken, and you’re dealing with these issues in the best possible way. Assume that you may be able to let go of an opinion, judgment, expectation, or belief that could create harmony in any of these areas where you are experiencing friction, and your partner and marriage will be just fine when you get it figured out. Would you be willing to change the way you look at one or all of these issues, or is it easier and more convenient to simply change partners or relationships? Think about it, and then find a way to be okay with the things in your life and relationship.