Many young people spend time thinking about what their wedding day is going to be like when they find their true love. They might envision the small details of the dress, the cake or ways make the day memorable.
However, very little of those daydreamers spend time thinking about what marriage is going to be like after the big day—and married life is so much about those everyday details.
Living together and melding two lives together has no one-size-fits-all strategy. There is no life handbook that explains everything step by step. As with any relationship, marriage involves times when couples clash and fights happen.
“We fall in love, but we’re not taught how to stay in love,” says Hilary Silver, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and relationship expert from Denver, Colorado.
“Relationships take work and where your focus goes, [it] grows. Failing to invest time and effort in your relationship will most definitely see its end,” she adds.
If you were to talk to another couple, you'd likely discover you have many of the same fights in your respective relationships. Getting through those common arguments with your relationship intact seems to boil down to how you communicate.
“Many [times] arguments over [money] goes unresolved and become as upsetting as they do because the meaning we attach to these surface issues,” shares Silver. “Whether real or perceived, the person making more money often has more power in the relationship, leaving the other partner feeling a loss of control or power.”
Add to that financial troubles, disagreements on where or how to spend your money and concerns over how much you should save, and finances can be an extremely difficult topic for many couples.
Silver says that if couples want to navigate the financial conversation, it comes down to respecting each others’ perspectives. “Acknowledging your partner's experience doesn't diminish the power of your own,” she says, adding that telling your partner that you hear what they’re saying, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, can go a long way in solving the issue at hand.
“[One] common issue I’ve seen arises when one partner is complaining about the lack of sex in the relationship,” says Nakya Reeves, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Plantation, Florida.
Reeves says that most often couples complain that they’re not having sex as often as they want, but that’s not really the problem.
“Oftentimes, we discover that sex is not even the issue. It can be that the partner sees [sex] as a source of comfort, a substitute for intimacy, or something to reassure them that their partner is attracted to them and/or loves them,” adds Reeves.
If arguments about sex often happen in your relationship, Reeves suggests couples try to spend more quality time together, putting the pressure off of sex and allowing “things to begin to flow more naturally.”
Living together can stir up many arguments and while most think fighting over who left their sock on the floor or why the chore list doesn’t balance, it can lead to a lot of struggles for couples.
“The dish left in the sink is not just a dish, it is a trigger because it demonstrates a lack of respect or a disengaged partner,” says Silver. This common argument is something Silver had to work through in her own marriage and the anger and frustration only resolved when both opened their communication.
“When my husband left his tennis bag in the front hallway on the floor right in front of the closet where it belongs, I felt disrespected and unloved—like he didn't care about my feelings at all,” shares Silver. “Once he explained to me it's more about him being overwhelmed with work and the children, it took the sting out of it for me—and now it's just annoying, not hurtful.”
Arguments are a part of life. As long as both couples approach these common yet important conflicts with the care they deserve, relationships often continue forward.
“Couples need to ‘make room for two,’ meaning both partners need to express what they think, want, need or desire in order for any real resolution to be meaningful and lasting,” says Silver. “Approach every conversation, argument or discussion with the goal of seeking to understand each other, not persuading each other to feel or think the same as we do.”
"If a couple finds that they're repeating the same fights [or] issues over and over, it's a sign that what you are currently doing isn't working,” adds Reeves. She recommends that any couple who is struggling with resolving issues seek the advice of a counselor to help understand the deeper issues and to “add new or more effective tools to your tool belt.”