Some of the Most Common Marriage Pitfalls
This is the age old question. Before I was married, I used to ask all of the married couples that I knew the same question, "Was marriage a positive experience or a nightmare? Were they happier married or did they wish they were still single?" I even asked what they did to be happy if that was their answer. Most couples answered the same way.
Obviously, there are just as many individuals out there that have had bad experiences as those that have had good ones. However, I wanted to make sure I truly understood what I had always desired, and that I made the right choices to be one of the good ones. I never knew that I could be as lucky as I have been! I’m really glad I asked the questions I did.
Is it really possible to be happily married and just not be on the same wavelength all the time? Absolutely! Two different personalities cannot possibly be expected to get along perfectly all the time. But there’s no reason to sweat it! I would be the last one to deny that there are a certain number of martial stress points over the course of a marriage. However, none of them are uncommon, nor are any of them deal-breakers when it comes to your relationship.
They are simply common marriage pitfalls, the very same that most couples deal with every day. With a little knowledge and awareness, you don’t have to let them take your marriage down. But knowledge us the key. I'm so glad that I asked the questions that I did, and followed the advice I was given. I can thankfully say that I am so incredibly thankful for the man that I married. And you can feel the same way, but first let's talk about some of the more common stumbling blocks you will likely face.
Was was your first argument about?
Repeating the Same Stupid Argument
In every marriage there’s an argument you two have so often you could tape it, play it next time the issue comes up, and save yourself the energy and aggravation of loud voices and long sulks. The outcome never seems to change, but hurtful things are said and feelings get hurt.
It’s usually something ridiculous like where the dishes belong in the dishwasher, whether the laundry should be separated before washing, someone finding dirty socks on the floor, or how many drinking glasses are used during the day. In fact, the laundry and the dishes are the biggest argument topics in marriage, next to money and sex.
If you don’t know this already, one day you’ll be sitting in marriage counseling, and a psychologist will tell you that it never was the laundry or the dishes in the first place, but some insecurity that the other person triggered from your past. This doesn’t change because you get married. And most all arguments look like this until you can look at them from a different perspective and start learning from them.
The argument over the dishes typically has nothing to do with the dishes, but instead the fact that you don't feel appreciated. The laundry fight is probably someone making the other person feel worthless at work. It's all just a way of expressing your emotions when you don't really know what the problem was.
This is natural and healthy. You are two very different individuals with your own thoughts and opinions. It wouldn’t work so well if this wasn’t true. But you do have to learn how to express your opinions, and “argue” productively. It sounds silly, but in marriage you eventually have to deal with reality, learn how to respect each other’s differences, and be able to express your feelings and hear the other person's, in order to find some sort of peace in the household.
Periods of Non-Communication
When you first start dating, you’re so excited that someone else wants to spend time with you, and you have somebody so wonderful in your life, that you want to spend all of your time with him or her. You are willing to put off friends when they want to spend time with you, you turn in homework late, and you even take off days of work or school just to accommodate the other person’s schedule.
However, at some point in time, especially if you are living together, you have to return to your regular schedule. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have any friends, you would lose your job, and you would fail your classes. You do your best to spend time with each other most nights during the week and on the weekends. You even make time to plan fun outings like the zoo and the movies so that you are still doing something fun together.
Then you get married. The desire to spend time together doesn’t ever go away, unless you are not happy with the person you chose to marry. But you have to pay bills, someone has to clean house, and you want to get back to your friends, your Bible study, your book club, and your golf buddies. These things take time out of your already buy schedule.
It’s even worse if you experience some hardship together, because then much of your time together is filled with figuring out your circumstances and making a plan for the future. This is when you start planning date nights just to spend some kind of time together during the week, and eventually you experience longer periods of time when it feels like you never see each other.
My husband and I love each other desperately and would love to have some time to ourselves, but it’s a fact of life. Relationships take work and life is full of responsibilities. When you’re married, you can’t shirk those duties, but it’s easier when you both want it to work out.
Pursuing Different Hobbies
There was most likely a time when you watched the same shows, liked the same restaurants, and read the same books. You thought the same thoughts, inhaled and exhaled in unison, and thought that any time apart was time badly spent. But now, you have different hobbies, shop in different stores, and want to watch different shows on TV (oh, there’s another argument topic, but that one for good reason!).
For a lot of couples, this is their cue that they are growing apart, no longer meant for each other, and that it’s time to talk to a marriage counselor. Would you really want to live the rest of your life with someone who stayed exactly the same their entire lives, never grew personally, or pursued any new goals? Would he? Do you never want any personal time of your own, ever?
If the two of you never desire to spend any time together, that’s something you might want to be concerned about. Free time in a marriage, when time is so precious, is something that must always be negotiated. If your husband really wants that round of golf, or to go watch the football game with his buddies, maybe he can offer you some special time in return like a nice lunch together the next day. And then you can be the one to compromise the next time.
There’s nothing wrong with you each having different interests, but you should consider the other person first. For instance, I like different foods than my husband, so while he’s at work I eat those things I really love. This way when he gets home, he gets to enjoy food he likes for dinner. Does this mean that I have to give up on what I love altogether? Absolutely not, but compromise is what marriage is all about.
Turning Down Intimacy
This is one problem most marriages have to deal with at one point or another. Sometimes it’s him and sometimes it’s her. Just like spending quality time together seems to get pushed to the side sometimes, so does intimacy. I realize that the two of you were on fire for each other when you first met. You couldn’t keep your hands off of each other, and thought the world began and ended with the other.
Does this mean that you are no longer attractive? Does this mean that something is wrong with your relationship? Nope. This is actually perfectly normal. Married couples have a roller coaster effect in their intimate lives over the years. One moment they can be totally in tune with each other and have a regular intimate life, and then life gets busy again and, even though they want to be together, weeks go by before they reconnect.
Even if it’s just your partner that’s not up for it one night, you have to admit, you’re not always in the mood either. It always helps to sit down and talk with your spouse about it if you’re worried. I’m sure he has all of the same concerns you do, and would be delighted, if not relieved, to hear that you’d like to be with him more often too.
Looking at Other Men or Women
This is one of the biggest problems in some marriages. Looking at another man or another woman seems to signal to some people, that their significant other is no longer attracted to them and desires to be with someone else. I would be VERY careful with this accusation.
Sometimes it’s hard not to look at some of the people we see in our lives. It’s just as hard not to look at the girl leaving everything hanging out as it is not to look at those with less than desirable fashion sense. People are naturally curious. It doesn’t mean that they are considering cheating or leaving. If your husband starts cat-calling, or your wife starts handing over her phone number, then you should start worrying.
I really think that the secret to moving beyond this one is trust. I have been in a lot of relationships where I wasn’t trusted, for no reason at all. I have learned that if someone doesn’t trust you, there’s absolutely no way to convince that person that you are trustworthy. Being married now to the love of my life, I have a freedom that I’ve never known before. We trust each other completely, and for good reason.
In fact, it’s completely normal for me to point out an attractive woman to my husband, and to hear about the girls hitting on him at work. But it’s no different than one of us sharing a great joke we heard, or a video we saw on Facebook. We can be fascinated by the world around us without seeing something sinister behind it. We know that we both love each other without a doubt, and that’s enough for us.
The truth of the matter is marriage is tough, and it’s a lot of work. It’s for life, which means you have to face your fears and learn to respect the other person in the relationship if you want it to be happy. There’s no reason that anyone should be making it any harder than it already is for themselves or the other person.
If you’ve made it this far and decided to make a commitment to marriage, that is so much more important than whether he looks at another girl, whether he gets so busy that he comes home a little late, or whether you put the plates on the top rack of the dishwasher or the bottom. You have both most likely gone through many bad times together already, and there will be many more. But now you are doing them together. And know that for every storm you weather hand in hand, the stronger your relationship will likely become.
There is an inevitable friction that comes with two people trying to make their way in the world together. But having someone that you love, that loves you back for who you are, is worth the added struggles that may come. I feel like I have someone beside me to fight the big fight with. Never again will I be alone, or have to handle anything by myself again. My husband drives me crazy sometimes, but I sure love being married to him!
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness