Great news! Even though your hubby gets on your last nerve sometimes, it’s completely normal. You may be thinking, “Why is this normal?”
One of the most significant parts of a couple’s therapist’s job is that they get to give good news. Couples go into their therapist’s office expecting the worst, fearing their marriage is way too far gone to fix it, and it’s the therapist’s job to tell them it’s not.
Of course, some people are in serious jeopardy, and if they keep on their destructive path, their worst fears will come to fruition.
If you spend a couple of hours on the Internet, checking out marriage advice, you might quickly determine that the only marriage worth saving is one without issues. A spouse who yells, can’t express how they feel, complains and nags, slams doors, and has temper tantrums may look like reasons your marriage is doomed to fail. The only significant other to stay with is one who never makes mistakes. The only problem with that erroneous thinking is that we all make mistakes!
Between the unsettling and exaggerated divorce statistics and the over-idealized notion of wedded bliss, it makes perfect sense that typical marital struggles seem frightening—or worse.
1. You Never Approach Conflict with a Collaborative Mindset.
While that advice looks excellent on paper, we’re not perfect humans, so it’s not always going to happen. Yes, even the best couples don’t always use I-statements. Nor are they always generous and reasonable. Let’s face it; we’re often grumpy, tired, and selfish. Sometimes our two-year-old self doesn’t want to play nice and wants to sit in the corner and throw a tantrum.
We get it! Feeling this way happens sometimes. But understand that feeling like this regularly is not normal and, therefore, unhealthy for your marriage. That said, isn’t it nice to know that even if you’re less-than-perfect, it’s not a huge deal?
What to Do When You Feel This Way
First, remind yourself why you feel this way. In most instances, your crankiness has nothing to do with your partner. You may be stressed about the job or the kids, but the likeliest (and easiest) person to take it out on is your spouse.
Once you pinpoint the reason for your hostility, let your partner know that it’s not them but rather the situation. If you let them know you need some space, they’ll happily give it to you, especially if it means they won’t receive the short end of your aggression.
2. You’re Sometimes Bored in Your Marriage.
And how can you not be? Often, as time goes on in your relationship, you realize you’re doing the same things with each other day in and day out. You’re beginning to find your spouse a bit meh! Guess what? Your partner is likely thinking the same thing about you.
In a marriage that spans several years, you’re bound to hear the same stories over and over—probably way more than you’d like. And if you have to hear how they had to share their brother’s shoes as kids because they were too poor to afford new shoes, you’re going to scream! You don’t care and have never cared about how her old hairstylists once did Beyonce’s hair, but you’ve heard the story a gazillion times. Never mind the joke about the dog who walked into a bar.
Yes, marriage can turn into a snoozefest if we don’t continue to bring fresh vibes to it to keep things interesting. Marriage doesn’t automatically stay titillating; often, television replaces sex and even chatting in bed. Eye contact turns into something we only do with our phones. You both are going to have to put in a little work occasionally.
What to Do When You’re Bored in Your Marriage
If things are getting slightly dull, don’t panic. Try reading a good book and discussing it. Or do something surprising, like an impromptu weekend getaway.
Ways to Spice up Your Marriage
You’ve hit a marriage plateau and want to figure out how to spice it up. When you first signed up on Zoosk, you matched right away. At the beginning of your relationship, you couldn’t get enough of each other. You’d stay up for hours just talking and, well, doing other more physical things. Fast-forward to one marriage and three kids later, and romance is no longer your priority. Here are ways to put a bit more zing into your connection.
3. You Aren’t Madly in Love With Your Partner
Here’s a tip: Couples never stay head-over-heels madly in love with each other all the time and for the rest of their lives. It will never happen! Personally, we don’t understand where that idea even came from. Think about it; you’re living with another adult under one roof. How can you not get on each other’s nerves? Marriage isn’t always cranked on 10. Often, you have to work for that.
While being in love is a shiny, sparkly place to begin, love burns slowly and deeply, growing over time. Love stays with us, year after year, after experiencing challenging times. You’re not in love with someone because they look good or act a certain way. Couples who love each other don’t always feel that way. Often it’s the opposite, but you have respect for each other, and that keeps you from saying and doing things you might regret. Since being “in love” can be fleeting, you’d rather love your spouse than be in love.
What to Do When You Don’t Feel ‘In Love’
When you’re upset with your partner and don’t feel like you’re in love with them anymore, it’s a good thing. Take a step back and realize those butterfly feelings are gone because you’ve developed something much more profound than surface love.
You admire and respect all the difficulties you’ve been through together, and you’re still going strong. Once you do that, you’ll understand your bond has moved to the next level.
4. You Hope Your Spouse Changes
Of course, this one is completely out of your hands, but you’re still hoping for some change within your spouse. Perhaps you want them to be more attentive, or you need them to cut back on the nagging. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t have one, two, or five things they wouldn’t get rid of in an instant if given a magic stick.
Sometimes you want to spend the day alone at the beach, laying on a blanket, relaxing and listening to your favorite tunes, or watching a movie without your spouse interrupting you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometimes, and it isn’t a negative reflection on your partner or your marriage.
What to Do When You Want Your Partner to Change
This is when open and honest communication is vital. If you want some “me-time,” stop wishing for it and make it happen. Tell your partner that you’d like a day to yourself at the spa without constant interruptions.
While you can’t do anything about changing your spouse, you can do everything about how you react to them. For example, if you asked them not to nag as much because you’ll eventually take out the trash, but they still harass you, it may be easier for all involved if you just take out the garbage now. The key is doing whatever makes your spouse stop nagging. See it like this–you were going to take it out anyway, now it’s just sooner than later. Good news, you can now cross garbage off your list!
5. You Have Unresolved Issues
Here’s a shocker! Did you know that over 69 percent of marital issues are never resolved? Guess what? You and every couple on earth deal with this, so it’s nothing new. This fact should help you breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you and your spouse aren’t the world’s most incompetent issue-solvers. This also means that 31 percent out there help you keep up hope that there’s still a chance you can successfully deal with your problems.
As couples, you tirelessly struggle to figure out how not to go crazy. Best case scenario–you can be empathetic and compassionate while demonstrating respect. Hey, you may even learn how to laugh it off.
But as for working everything out–it’s not gonna happen in this lifetime! The good (no, great) news is that, fortunately, it’s unnecessary.
What to Do if You Have Unresolved Issues
Three words; Let. It. Go! Understand that the remedy to all your problems isn’t always going to be neatly wrapped up in a red bow and handed to you on a silver platter. So, stop wracking your brain trying to figure it out and getting upset when you can’t.
6. You Occasionally Wonder, “What Was I Thinking?!”
Much along the same lines as the magic stick and wishing your partner would change, it’s normal to wonder whether life would’ve been different (easier, more exciting) with someone else. And that may be the case, but then again, maybe not, so what’s the point?
Things that, early on, appeared cute or charming (or, at the bare minimum, tolerable) can morph into irksome and grating beyond what any human should have to endure. And the prospect of spending four decades of listening to his humming or toe cracking, or the way she says “interesting” after everything, confirms that when you said your vows, you were cuckoo crazy out of your mind.
Some may never admit to having thoughts like this but don’t believe them. They may not dwell on them as some do, but it has crossed their mind now and again.
What to Do if You Think You’ve Made a Mistake
If after several years you start wondering “what if,” understand that it’s perfectly natural. Even if we are caught off guard by these feelings, it doesn’t matter. You are where you are, so make the best of it. Besides, even if you did marry someone else, chances are you’d be thinking the same thing about them right now, so don’t sweat it. Unless you’re in a dealbreaker situation (they’re abusive or on drugs and alcohol), you’re good right where you are.
7. You Don’t Understand Certain Things about Your Spouse
At the end of the day, we’re all individuals, and you’re not going to get everything about your partner, no matter how much you love and care for one another. Regardless of how many years you have under your belt, there are things about your significant other that will always remain a mystery to you.
For example, you can’t figure out why she always leaves an empty milk carton in the fridge. Why does he love oranges but despises tangerines? Why does she get so angry when you don’t answer her call immediately? And what makes him always think he’s right even when it’s obvious he’s not?
We aren’t the same people we were when we first got married. Sometimes, it seems like we’re living with strangers, even after several years of cohabitating under one roof, and that’s okay. Of course, we aren’t the same people we were when we first got married. We’ve been through a lot in our lives together. If you understand that, you’ll get that you should just accept your spouse for who they were, are, and will become.
What to Do When You’re Confused about Your Spouse
If you have a question, ask. But if you get it, you’ll understand that people sometimes do bizarre things, and that’s perfectly normal. If you think he’s strange, he might also feel the same way about you. In both cases, who cares? Your quirks are what make the marriage exciting.
8. You Don’t Always Feel Like You’re Working Together as a Team
Realistically speaking, it’s great for couples to work together as a team, and we’re here for it. But like all teams, it’s sometimes challenging to play together. Occasionally, we don’t even show up for the game. When you expect perfection in the game is a set-up for disaster.
Many feel that functioning as a team means always agreeing, thinking alike, and wanting all the same things. That’s expecting your partner to be a “yes person,” not teamwork. When you’re working together, you allow both parties to come to the table with different opinions, and you respect that. Sometimes, a partnership requires one person to break ranks and take action to get the job done. This includes addressing a spouse’s overspending or bad drinking habits.
What to Do When It Feels Like You Aren’t Working Together
As previously explained, it’s okay if you’re not always agreeing with each other. Understand that working together means respecting each other even when you don’t see eye-to-eye. Appreciate them for their views and what they have to bring to the table.
While it may seem like your marriage is falling apart at the seams, these are issues that every couple goes there, and it’s completely normal. Relax, and take a deep breath because it’s likely that your marriage is okay. And remember, if you need third-party help, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a professional therapist, counselor, or trusted spiritual advisor.