Dr. Carol Morgan writes about the 15 most common marriage problems and the best way to handle them.
All the movies we have seen growing up—from Snow White to Titanic—have given our world a glimpse into what real love should look like. Women are looking for their Prince Charming because our world tends to glorify marriage and gloss over marriage problems.
As a result, marriage seems like a good idea for most people. After all, why shouldn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after?
But the movies make it look easy. And as any married person can tell you, marriage in real life is sometimes anything but easy. In fact, for many couples, it can be downright miserable if they don’t know how to work through their marriage problems.
And think about it—no one teaches us how to have a happy, healthy marriage. If our parents didn’t model it for us, then we have no idea how to do it ourselves.
Because of this, almost all marriages have problems. Some couples are better at working through the ups and downs through the years than others, but they all have them.
Regardless of whether your problems lead to divorce or you work through them effectively, most married couples have similar issues. So, let’s take a look at 15 of the most common problems most marriages face.
1. Division of Labor
Research shows that even when both spouses work outside the home, the woman is usually the one who does more of the housework and chores.
Obviously, this creates more stress for her. But what’s even more stressful beyond these daily chores is called “psychological responsibility.” In other words, women are expected to remember things like, “Johnny has a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday,” or “We have to go to Jane’s soccer game on Saturday at 2:00.”
While it’s not always the woman who does more of the work, lack of balance with the division of labor can cause a lot of issues.
Some people are spenders. Others are savers. So, if you get a spender and a saver together in a marriage, you can see how that would become a problem.
Maybe growing and investing money is important to one person, but the other couldn’t care less about it. Fighting over money and how it is spent is one of the most common problems in marriages.
3. Children and Parenting Differences
Let’s face it—children can be stressful! The crying/sleepless babies, temper tantrums, and rebellious teenagers are not a lot of fun sometimes, regardless of how much you love your kids! And that can cause a lot of stress to a couple. Even differing parenting styles like how to punish a child can cause a rift in a married couple.
4. Personality Differences
If one person is an introvert and the other is an extrovert, then there may be constant tension regarding how often to socialize.
The extrovert might feel unloved that the introvert never wants to go to a party with them. But the introvert might feel rejected because the extrovert always wants to socialize with people other than their spouse. And this is just one aspect of personality differences that can cause problems in marriages.
5. Fighting and Communication Style Differences
Maybe one spouse grew up in a family where they yelled and screamed at each other when they were angry, while the other spouse grew up in a family that turned their anger inward and would give people the silent treatment. Having different fighting or communication styles when it comes to conflict can be a huge obstacle to having a happy and healthy marriage.
6. Different Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. In it, he defines five different ways people give and receive love (acts of service, touch, time, giving of gifts, words of affirmation). If you both speak very different love languages, you might not feel loved by your partner, which may lead to marriage problems.
For example, if you want to be given gifts to feel loved but instead your partner would rather do acts of service for you—like fixing your car or rubbing your feet—then you might not understand that they really do love you.
Everyone has different sexual needs—both in frequency and type. Some people love having sex as often as they can, while others could live the rest of their lives without it. And others need a lot of kinky stuff to be satisfied. Regardless of what you want, most couples have a problem with their sexual compatibility.
8. Jealousy and Infidelity
Many people are naturally insecure, and unfortunately, many people are also tempted to cheat on their spouses. So, whether or not someone actually cheats, there can be jealousy that exists within the relationship.
Infidelity isn’t just limited to physical cheating either. Emotional infidelity is running rampant these days because of technology, such as phones and dating apps. They make it so easy to hide what someone is doing and whom they are talking to.
Relationships are always exciting when they are new. Everyone feels like they are walking on cloud nine because they are so in love. But then as time goes on, the newness and infatuation wear off. As that happens, many couples fall into a slump. Their relationship stagnates and seems to get boring. It takes effort to try to keep the love alive and to keep doing exciting things together.
10. Power Inequity
Power can come in many forms—from financial power to parenting power. If one spouse makes more money than the other (or perhaps one is a stay-at-home parent), that creates an imbalance when it comes to who brings in the money. And this imbalance is a common marriage problem.
Who has more decision-making power? Many times, it’s not equal. So, that definitely causes problems because one of the spouses could start to feel powerless over time.
Abuse also comes in several forms. Physical abuse is what most people think of when they hear the word abuse. But mental and emotional abuse is also very detrimental to people and the couple as a whole.
When one or both people are not respecting each other by laying their hands on them or using horrible language when they speak, that can tear apart a marriage in no time.
12. Values and Beliefs
As the saying goes, “A bird and a fish may love each other, but where will they live?” In other words, when two people have very different ways of looking at the world, it makes it difficult to understand each other. And this may lead to problems in marriage.
For example, if a Catholic is married to a Muslim, they probably don’t share a lot of beliefs and worldviews. Even if one is a Republican and the other is a Democrat, that can cause major tension in a marriage as well.
13. Trying to Change Each Other
No one is perfect. There will always be something about everyone in the world that will annoy you. But when people don’t understand this, then they try to change each other.
They think, “I can’t stand that Bob doesn’t want to go to the gym and work out with me, but when we get married, I’ll change his mind.” No. That NEVER works! You cannot change people.
So, you should just learn to accept each other the way you are. Otherwise, you will be making each other miserable with all of the naggings that go into trying to change a person—and besides, it’s just not possible.
14. Keeping Score
If someone feels like they are doing way more for the other person than they are for them, then it’s natural to keep score.
You think, “I work, and then I come home and cook and clean and take care of the kids. But all the while, Ben is just sitting on the couch, drinking his beer, and not even noticing how stressed out I am!” Then in your mind, you think you have racked up a lot more on the scoreboard than he has. As a result, resentment builds up over time, and it can ruin a marriage.
15. Unrealistic Expectations
We all have an idea of how we want other people to act.
For example, maybe you think that when someone is married, they should have sex every day. But let’s face it—most couples are tired from work, kids, chores, etc. So, it doesn’t happen.
Maybe you think your wife should cook gourmet meals all the time just like your mom did. Well, maybe she hates to cook! Putting unrealistic expectations on your spouse will just make you both frustrated and angry.
No one has a perfect marriage—not even the ones who are the happiest! Being happy while being married takes effort, but that doesn’t mean that effort has to be hard.
If you both try to give 100% to work through the inevitable marriage problems that you face, then the marriage can work well. It takes a lot of commitment and love, but it can definitely be done.