The “D” word is a terrifying one, and couples who toss it around with no regard should heed caution. The mere suggestion of divorce poses major ramifications, including the implication that you don’t care enough about your marriage to save it. When it seems like so many relationships end in disaster, it’d be nice to know not every issue has to end in divorce.
These 10 marital problems might be frustrating, but you can likely work through them.
1. Financial struggles
Finances play a huge role in a person’s lifestyle, mentality, and future goals. So when two people commit to a life together, it’s likely both individuals will want to be on the same page. Money decisions will drive lifestyle choices and impact your whole family for years to come.
For this reason, it’s important to understand your partner’s relationship with money; whether he or she is protective of what they’ve earned, a big spender, or feeling lousy about his or her income. “Have an open conversation about how, as a couple, you can find a balance between saving and being responsible for your financial future, and also flexible spending so you can enjoy life and the fruits of your labor together,” said Marissa Nelson, a marriage therapist and founder of IntimacyMoons Couples Retreats.
2. You don’t have common social interests or friends
You used to be attached at the hip, but times have changed, and that’s no longer the case. In recent years, you’ve found yourself wondering whether it’s worth continuing on together, seeing as you’ve not been a real team lately. Before you jump to the conclusion that your spouse doesn’t support your career because he or she refused to accompany you to your promotion party, consider the alternative.
Maybe there’s something else holding them back. Carin Goldstein, licensed marriage therapist, suggests in a Prevention story that perhaps they’re suffering from some sort of social anxiety. Just because your spouse appeared social at the start of your relationship, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t now dealing with some deeper issues that need addressing.
3. Sexual issues
Sex is an important part of a marriage, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about if you’re facing problems in the bedroom. The first step is having an open and honest conversation about what’s going on.
“When couples are unhappy about their sexual connection, it can feel very isolating, rejecting and unsatisfying,” Nelson said. “Sex is one of those topics that many couples struggle to talk about in an honest and open way for fear that they will hurt their partner’s feelings, or afraid of the feedback that they will get.” But don’t let your hesitation keep you from attempting to tackle the problem. And, if need be, seek outside help from a professional.
4. You’re going through a major rough patch
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when you go through a period of major distress, you might be tempted to head toward divorce. But don’t panic; this rough patch may be fleeting.
“A marriage crisis is likely to shift wildly between wanting to leave and wanting to work it out over a period of one or two years,” Becky Whetstone, marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “I tell clients we need time for the crisis dust to settle so we can ascertain what their honest and true desires are.” Give it some time, and see if feelings change or the situation improves.
5. Parenting disagreements
Deciding to have children is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. Bringing another human being into the world, and in turn becoming totally responsible for that person, is no small task. Psychology Today explains disagreements over parenting begin the instant a child comes into the family. So, you and your spouse will have to communicate to work as a team.
If you and your spouse find yourselves having the same arguments over and over, try taking the subject matter to a therapist. Being open to this could help in finding new ways to communicate, along with presenting unique perspectives about conflict resolution.
6. Your spouse no longer makes you happy
You deserve to be happy. Your spouse deserves to be happy. But you can’t lose sight of where that happiness should actually come from. Trying to blame your ill feelings solely on your spouse is unfair. Your own happiness is up to no one but yourself, About Relationships explains. If the decision to get divorced will truly make you happy, then fine, but be sure to do some serious soul-searching before deciding to pull the plug on your marriage.
Your unhappiness could lie someplace you’ve never considered before, so make sure you’re ready to take some ownership.
Now, this is a big one. With infidelity comes a total loss of trust and emotional turmoil, which can no doubt wreak havoc on a marriage. If you’ve ever been cheated on, you know how deeply the wound cuts. Sure, time may heal, but the betrayal you experienced from the one person you trusted more than anyone in the world is seemingly unforgivable. Should you stay? Should you leave immediately? It’s hard to say.
“It can be relationship ending for some, but on the contrary, it can revitalize a marriage that was flat-lined,” Nelson said. “The process of healing from an affair can show the places where the relationship could use growth, and some couples begin to communicate in a vulnerable way more than ever and start becoming intentional about giving energy to heal the relationship.” Yes, mending a broken relationship after an affair is one tall order, but cheating is one marital problem that doesn’t have to end in divorce.
8. You’re in a codependent relationship
If either you or your partner is an enabler, it’s definitely cause for concern. Major issues will likely arise in your marriage sooner rather than later. It’s only a matter of time before subtle dependencies turn into explosive rage. For both the enabler and the enabled, there’s a massive amount of work to be done. If you both don’t agree to get help, the relationship will remain toxic. However, if each partner recognizes the problem, and agrees to seek counseling, there’s hope for the marriage.
9. You no longer communicate
There’s a huge difference between talking to your spouse and having solid communication. A person who discusses surface topics is typically just chatting. A person who discusses serious issues while the “listener” is busy on their phone or laptop is simply just talking at them. Neither of these situations are healthy for the longevity of a marriage, unless they’re occurring in addition to real communication.
WebMD suggests making an appointment with one another, no cell phones or outside distractions allowed. Or, if you tend to resort to screaming at one another, set time aside to meet at a quiet place, like a library. That way, you’ll be forced to remain civil and have a shot at working through your issues calmly.
10. You have different attachment styles
First off, let’s break down what an attachment style really is. Lifehacker explains, “Attachment styles are essentially how we handle emotional attachment — whether you’re an emotionally giving person who shows affection outwardly or you’re more reserved.” If you’re more emotionally reserved than your partner, and he or she expects a kiss every time you walk through the door, trouble is bound to infiltrate the marriage. But that doesn’t mean divorce is the only option. There’s always room for change in order to better your relationship.
[Editor’s note: This story was originally published July 5, 2016]