Relationships are tough. Like, drown-your-sorrows-in-a-bowl-of-booze-soaked-ice-cream tough.
I mean, it’s hard enough as it is working through your own personal goals and emotions, but add another person you love into the mix and things can get really complicated, really fast.
But the truth is, sometimes things don’t have to be as complicated as they seem.
According to Dr. John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, there are four incredibly common marital conflicts couples experience regularly: household chores, work stress, money and technology.
But here’s the good news: they’re all completely figure-out-able.
Cue the happy dance!
Today, we’re going to dive deep into each of these common issues. I’ll help you discover ways to overcome them so you can move on to the millions of other things you’ve got going on in life. I mean, seriously, you’ve got other sh*t to worry about.
1. Household Chores
When your partner doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to housework, issues happen fast. The other person in the relationship might begin to feel disrespected or unsupported. Unfortunately, this can lead to resentment and decreased satisfaction in your relationship. I mean, who the hell wants to be the only one doing chores around the house? Unless you’re Marie Kondo, no one finds housework to be enjoyable.
Has this ever happened to you? If so, you’re not alone. Household chores are one of the most common issues couples fight about. And sadly, it’s often labeled as a gender-related topic: men are oftentimes referred to as the more “laid back” one in the relationship—in other words, they don’t see household chores as important as their spouses. Unfortunately, we can attribute this to the way some men were raised. It may be that their father didn’t do much work around the house, which has become a learned habit.
Good news: women find men who do housework extremely sexy (not kidding, Dr. John Gottman said it himself). If that’s not motivation in and of itself, I don’t know what is.
How to Solve It: Take time this week to sit down with your S.O. and create a list of chores each of you will be responsible for. Maybe your hubby cooks the meals and you do the dishes. Maybe you take out the trash while your partner does the vacuuming. Establishing and communicating clear rules around who does what around the house is a healthy way to avoid any confusion down the road—both parties are aware of who’s responsible for what at all times, and if one chore goes by the wayside, you know who to turn to.
2. Work Stress
Think about the last time you came home from work after a stressful day. Did you immediately start dinner and ignore your feelings? Did you take out your frustrations on your partner? Maybe you spent all night complaining about your controlling boss and never once thought to ask your S.O. how her day went.
Understandably, when you spend 8+ hours a day in the workplace, problems are bound to arise. However, constantly complaining about that annoying coworker or stressing over an upcoming meeting might be doing some serious harm to your relationship.
Work stress is the most common cause of relationship unhappiness, with 65% of people naming their job as their top source of stress. As you can imagine, this creates a huge impact on your home life.
How to Solve It: Many couples never think about the importance of discussing how they de-stress after a long day of work, but simply decompressing yourself before connecting with your partner helps mitigate any unnecessary conflict. Take time to communicate your end-of-the-day routine with your S.O. What activities calm you down? Do you like to be alone? Maybe you need to sit in front of the TV for 30 minutes and laugh at your favorite episode of Friends. These soothing rituals bring us back to a healthy emotional baseline, where we can safely communicate our frustrations and complaints from the workday. Even better? Schedule specific times to talk about work. This way, your work stress won’t spill over into your relationship matters.
3. Mo Money, Mo Problems
One of the most common points of contention between a couple relates to money, how to spend it, how to save it, and how to earn it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rollin’ in the cheddah or struggling to get by—everyone struggles with money and their relationship. Why? Because our feelings about money are so deeply personal, and most couples avoid talking about it altogether until they absolutely have to.
Money is a topic we tip-toe around. Why? Because there’s always at least one person who feels insecure about their financial stability. Maybe your parents were horrible with their money. Maybe you grew up in a family that was poor. Or perhaps you grew up in an affluent household, and now you have no idea how to handle your money, because you were used to getting everything you ever wanted.
How to Solve It: While it may be difficult at first, take time to sit down with your S.O. to discuss what money means to each of you. Do you see it as a way to save for emergencies? Do you like to spend it more than you like to earn it? Does it make you feel safe and secure, or does it frighten you? Remember, there aren’t any wrong answers here. The exercise is to get you both to open up without judgement. Next, you’ll want to have a constructive conversation about your budget as it stands now and how you want it to be in the future.
4. Quality Time
Imagine you’re out to eat with your partner. It’s the first time you’ve both had a moment away from the kids, and you finally get to spend quality time with one another. Once you sit down to enjoy your first glass of wine for the evening, you notice your spouse immediately takes out his phone. As you’re flipping through the menu, trying to create small talk, your husband is checking emails, Facebook, you name it—you feel like he’s ignoring you, and your blood begins to boil.
Um, what the f***? How could he do this to me? We finally have a moment to ourselves and he chooses to be on his phone the entire time?
In the world of social media and iPhones, creating intimacy in a relationship sometimes feels next to impossible. Instead, when we do have a moment alone with our spouse, it’s often related to errands, upcoming events—anything and everything unrelated to the relationship itself.
How to Solve It: If your spouse constantly has his or her nose stuck in their phones, it’s time to sit down and have a discussion. Create an agreement that neither of you will text, email or scroll through social during specific times (think: during dinner, on a date night, or when someone has something to say).
Blissful at times, complicated at best. Yep, I’m talking about marriage.
When you work with me, I’ll help you discover why your relationships aren’t thriving and what you need to do to get greater fulfillment from them. And, I will equip you with the tools necessary to navigate your relationships for the rest of your life.
Together, we’ll sort out what baggage belongs to you, what’s shared between the two of you, and how to deal with the stuff that belongs to your partner.
We can do this solo (just you and me) or with your partner in tow—it’s totally up to you. Contact me today to schedule a low-key, no-pressure, no-commitment phone call to see if I’m a good fit for you and to answer any questions you might have.