Marital issues affect most — dare we say all — couples at some point. That said, no matter how serious or trivial marriage problems might seem, most of the time you can work together to get back on track. The majority of marriages can be helped, and research shows that couples therapy is effective for an estimated 70% of couples who try it.
The most important thing to know is that marital strife is common. Some problems seem to be more common than others. Continue reading to learn about the types of problems many married couples face. We’ll also review ways you can work to create a deeper bond with your partner, including online couples counseling. If you and your spouse are facing marriage issues, you’re not alone.
Is It Normal to Have Problems in Marriage?
Virtually all couples will experience marital problems at various stages throughout their relationship. It’s the couples with a strong bond and effective tools, who understand how to work through marriage issues, that survive even the most difficult and challenging obstacles. Some marital issues cause disappointment and resentment, but it’s possible to get through them if you’re both willing to fight for the relationship.
“Certainly, it is common. Typically, marriages involve the union of very different people, so there will be problems that ebb and flow in every marriage. The seriousness of the problems can vary in each marriage, but everyone will encounter some challenging times.”
Let’s review 12 of the most common marriage problems and learn about techniques to address them before they cause irreparable damage.
12 Common Marriage Problems
Marital problems stem from poor communication, lack of intimacy, money problems, and growing apart as life takes different twists and turns. If you realize that your marriage is hitting a rough patch, but both you and your spouse are willing to make some necessary changes, you can resolve almost any source of tension.
1. Lack of communication
Poor communication is a common marital issue. A lot of couples push their problems aside rather than trying to talk about and fix them. They may get set in their ways and in the roles of the relationship, allowing for resentments to grow. When new challenges arise later in life, they lack the communication skills to properly negotiate new rules, and the relationship suffers.
“Communication problems — For example, difficulty listening and understanding, difficulty assuming ownership, and difficulty reserving the time and space to have healthy conversations.”
Tip: If this rings true in your relationship, and you want to learn how to communicate in a relationship more effectively, start by being a good listener and encouraging your spouse to express themself. Communication is a skill that benefits any relationship.
2. Lack of intimacy
Sex matters. Still, many couples lose interest in intimacy because of emotional issues, medical problems, financial or other life stressors, or because things seem to be in a rut. If you want to maintain a loving marriage, you must be willing to make physical intimacy a priority. Learning to talk about intimacy with your spouse is step one. Communicate openly about your desires, worries, and anything else relating to sex that may be damaging your intimate connection.
“Sex problems — For example, when couples have different views on the sexual intensity and frequency level in their marriage.”
Tip: Sharing your sexual needs with your spouse might feel awkward or selfish, but a physical relationship is a critical part of your marriage. By sharing your feelings, you’re only being honest and trying to strengthen your relationship with your partner.
3. Different life stages
Being in different stages of life is taxing on a relationship — whether it’s due to an age difference, time spent away from one another, or growing apart in terms of interest and life goals. When you don’t feel connected to your partner, you can feel the impact on your relationship.
Tip: It’s important to make your relationship a priority. Regular date nights, doing things the other person loves, and exploring new hobbies together are all great ways to reconnect and overcome the distance caused by different stages of life.
Infidelity isn’t always about physical cheating. It can also be marked by emotional connections with someone outside the marriage. Cheating can be destructive to any marriage, as it severely disrupts the trust your relationship is based on.
While it’s true that many couples cannot overcome infidelity, it can be possible. If you want to heal from one person being unfaithful, just know that it’s going to take a lot of understanding, work, and forgiveness. Couples must be willing to work hard to fix trust issues in a relationship after infidelity.
Tip: Emotional distance is a precursor to cheating, so try to be honest with your spouse if you feel like an emotional or sexual distance is driving you to thoughts of infidelity. If you’re already dealing with a case of physical or emotional cheating, be as honest and understanding as you can about the situation.
A little jealousy here and there is normal, but excessive jealousy can turn a marriage into a dreaded daily battle. Perpetually jealous people tend to be controlling, angry, and overbearing. In many cases, they lack self-esteem and suffer from childhood attachment issues. If you or your spouse is jealous regularly, you might want to seek therapy. Sometimes, professional help is very necessary.
Tip: If you’re dealing with a consistently jealous partner, address the issue head-on and seek professional help since there may be deeper emotional conditions at play.
The monotony of repeating the same activities daily with the same person can become too much for some couples. If your relationship has become too comfortable and unimaginative, change the narrative. Introduce some exciting new activities that can spark energy and intimacy back into your marriage.
Tip: Communication can help here. If you’re feeling bored, share your frustrations with your spouse and devise fun, creative ways to bring some life back into the relationship. Take up a hobby together, start working out, or plan regular date nights to reinvigorate things.
7. Disrespecting boundaries
Married couples must remain distinct individuals who appreciate and support each other’s talents and abilities. Nobody wants to be controlled or likes to be told what to do, how to dress, or where to spend their money. Marriage is a bond between two people who want to make life better for each other. If you overstep your partner’s boundaries, it can erode the trust that your union is based on. Offer one another the space and freedom to express yourselves individually without judgment.
Tip: If you feel like you’re losing yourself in your marriage, that’s a red flag. Find ways to carve out your own time and space to be you, and be sure to communicate healthy relationship boundaries clearly with your partner.
Stress is common in adult life. Stress from relationships, professional responsibilities, parenting, and financial worries can all interfere with how you connect with your partner. It can drastically change your relationship, and typically for the worse. Learning to manage stress in healthy and productive ways can help you learn to navigate the stressful times you’ll inevitably face during your marriage.
Tip: Stress management is something you can apply to all areas of your life, not just your marriage. Finding ways to decompress and not let stress get the best of you will greatly improve your marriage. Journaling, working out, doing yoga, being creative, reading, and getting outdoors for a walk all can be effective ways to manage stress. Finding things you can do with your partner is an added bonus!
9. Differing values
Major disagreements about religion, politics, child-rearing and the basic definition of right and wrong can cause serious disruptions to a marital union. We all grew up differently with unique morals, values, beliefs, and goals, but if markedly different views are coming between you and your spouse, it’ll require effective communication and understanding to work through things and maintain the marriage.
Tip: Large rifts in values may be difficult to overcome, but it’s worth an honest conversation before any drastic decisions are made. Learning more about where values came from can be a step in the right direction. Therapy can be valuable in navigating difficult conversations and trying to find common ground when it comes to values. A neutral party can ensure discussions are productive and respectful.
10. Money problems
There’s a saying that money doesn’t solve money problems. Even for couples who have enough of it, money arguments seem to be inevitable from time to time in any relationship. Your partner may want to spend money when you want to save it. You may have different ideas about how to invest. Like most things in a marriage, communication is the key to victory here. Make it a point to routinely sit down and discuss finances, future goals, and other relevant factors that determine how you spend your money as a married couple.
“Finances — For example, one person supporting the entire relationship or having difficulty finding a healthy balance between spending and thrifting.”
Tip: Try a monthly finance date with your partner. Sit down and review the month’s spending and discuss how the money will be spent in the future. Finances are something that needs to be tended to regularly. Make this habit one that you share with your spouse so you both feel like financial decisions are made together.
11. Trauma or grief
Experiencing traumatic events or situations can take a toll on any relationship or marriage. Because they can be life-changing, trauma and grief can challenge even healthy, strong marriages.
Tip: Remember that grief is different for everybody. How you’re grieving may not be how your partner is processing things. Give each other space, compassion, and time, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Grief therapy can be effective in dealing with loss. None of us knows how to naturally navigate trauma — professional help can be instrumental in recovering, both personally, and in your relationship.
12. Social media
We live in interesting times, where reconnecting with people from our past is as simple as logging onto a social media platform and typing in a name. If your social media usage interferes with your relationship, it might be time to stop and reassess what’s important to you.
Not only can social media potentially encourage unhealthy relationships, but it can also be a distraction that prevents you from spending quality time together.
Tip: If it’s becoming a problem in your relationship, set guidelines for when you check your social media accounts. For example, maybe you and your spouse agree that you won’t be on social media as you wind down together and get ready to turn in for the night.
Find Professional Marriage Help with Talkspace
As long as the couples deal with these problems ahead of time, they can prevent marriage trouble in the future. Any couple whose marriage stands the test of time knows that marital issues are just a fact of life. It’s how they’re handled that’s the real test. One of the first steps of how to save your marriage (or how to fix a broken relationship, really) is to identify the causes. Most marriage problems can be resolved with caring communication, attentive listening, and a mutual willingness to move past the issues you face, all of which can be dealt with online couples counseling.
Of course, in some cases, couples just can’t seem to find common ground on their own. In those cases, it’s better to seek marriage counseling. That’s when professional help from a competent counselor or therapist can be a game changer. Individual or couples-based talk therapy is a powerful tool that can help you gain the skills you need to overcome almost any issue in any marriage. The counseling sessions may not help resolve all the issues right away, but it does lay the foundation for a healthy marriage.
If you think your relationship could use some help, online therapy can be an easy way to start. A therapist can help you and your spouse develops strategies to overcome the types of common problems we’ve discussed here, or anything else you might be facing in your marriage.
Talkspace is an online therapy platform that offers accessible therapy and support from experienced mental health experts. If you’re looking for professional help getting your marriage back on track, find out how Talkspace can help.
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