Many people dream about meeting someone perfect for them and settling down. It’s the ultimate Cinderella story; someone comes into your life and sweeps you off your feet, making you feel that you are worth something amazing. The only problem is that people picture themselves at a wedding and saying, ‘I do’, then having their first dance and flying off on their honeymoon. They see the wedding, with all the sparkle and the glitter. What comes next, though, is the marriage. It’s a commitment that takes work. You’re with someone for the rest of your life, which means that sometimes you’re going to be bored or frustrated. Or you won’t communicate right and boom – argument central. Of course, marriage CAN be wonderful; the fusing of two people together legally can lead to those marriages that make you want to sing from the rooftops. The ones to be admired. The thing is, marriage isn’t always the fairy tale that people hope that it will be. It’s a sad truth, but one that needs to be remembered so that you can keep your married feet on the ground and your head out of the clouds.
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions, but people believe that fighting in a marriage means that things are falling apart. Okay, no one likes seeing people at war with each other, and sometimes fighting can wear down a relationship into ashes. However, conflict can be healthy. We all need to be able to uphold our opinions, and even our spouses aren’t going to be exempt from those. The one thing that you need to remember is that there is a very big difference between a bad fight and a good fight. All couples will go through rough periods in a marriage, whether that’s because of a lack of respect for each other or the issues that come in from the outside of the relationship. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether the fight that’s coming is going to bring you closer together or not. You wouldn’t think that arguing in a marriage would bring a couple together, but it’s the way to work through the issues in the house and it’s the resolution of said issues that makes you more connected. Not the bit where you’re shouting and ignoring each other.
There are five big stresses in a marriage and it’s these five that are regular fighting topics for most couples.
Money is always going to be a questionable area for any couple, but the fights themselves are rarely about the actual money that you share. You have to decide whether the fight you are having is over the fact your spouse ignored your advice about taking out one of the top credit cards, or the fact you didn’t get told about those credit cards at all. Money fights mostly come down to fear in a marriage, and it’s always masked as a ‘who spent what’ type of fight. The thing is, it’s normal to fight over money because it stems from a fear of no control over the important issues in the marriage. If you are both making a concerted effort together, then there should be more communication and a calm approach together, and less arguing about it. Get to the root of the fear and you get to the root of the fight very quickly.
The only reason you’re going to fight over sex, is when your sex drives go out of sync. When one person wants it more than another, it’s bound to cause some friction. You can easily get around fighting about it, though. All you have to do is talk. Talk about what it is that’s making you tired or stopping you from being in the mood. These conversations aren’t always easy, but you married this person; if you can’t talk to them about what’s bothering you enough to stop your sex life, you have a much bigger problem.
If one person in a marriage is working around the clock, it’s going to cause friction. The biggest solution to fighting about work is having a date night once a week to reconnect. It doesn’t have to be a fixed day; don’t even try to fix the day or you’ll fail before you get started. You don’t have to go out, but to switch off electronics and eat together is enough. You need to have time just between the two of you to be together and enjoy each other’s company, so put work second at least once a week and reconnect.
Having kids changes a relationship fundamentally. You learn everything that you need to know about a person when they become a parent; some people step up and the marriage strengthens because you are a partnership. Other couples don’t cope with the change, because a new baby has shown that your partner isn’t the active and communicative person that you thought they were. This can be a difficult realisation, but no one should stay in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling them. You both need to be on the same page when it comes to children; a unified front is harder to break!
The age-old fight that never goes away. If both of you are working outside the home, then it stands to reason that both of you share the chores. If one of you is at home and one works outside the home, then it stands to reason that you must STILL share the chores. This is a non-fight; you both live in the house, and you both need to clean up after yourselves. Once you agree on that, you’ll find that you fight far less.
Marriage goes through ups and downs. How you handle those ups and downs is going to define how well you work together. Take the time to have these big conversations before you walk down the aisle and continue to have the hard conversations long after. You’ll last longer.