No matter how healthy your relationship is, arguments within a committed couple are bound to happen.
Sometimes fights are even helpful if they allow partners to clear the air and arrive at solutions to problems.
Or when the cute stubbornness she displays when they argue is simply too adorable for him to stay mad for long.
If not handled properly, however, small disagreements in a marriage can turn into BIG full-blown fights-- leaving both partners feeling angry, sad, and confused (or even contemplating a divorce).
It’s especially dangerous for relationship health when a couple’s argument descends into personal verbal attacks-- which, if habitual, can even quickly bring an end to a marriage meant to last a lifetime.
These are the kind of fights couples have that they wish they could go back in time and take back — the ones that cause irreparable damage in the marriage.
Here, we'll explore nine (9) common arguments on BIG topics that couples CAN have but that we'd probably all like to avoid becoming marriage-ending issues in our romantic relationships.
The good news: the big knock-down-drag-out, marriage-ending fights can be mostly avoidable-- as long as you stay on top of known issues and talk about these big important topics in small ways, over time…and begin when the stakes are much lower than divorce-tempting ultimatums.
Many couples have joint bank accounts and tend to pool most of their funds.
That requires some planning and budgeting one partner may be more prepared for and good at than the other.
When one partner decides to take substantial funds from the shared account to spend it on something not previously discussed with-- much less approved by-- the other partner, it can lead to a serious argument.
That argument can escalate when the purchase is for something one partner considers frivolous (maybe a new game system, expensive gear for an individual hobby, spontaneous trip with girlfriends, electric guitar and amp “to get the band back together”, expensive concert or sporting event tickets, etc).
And shit can get really sticky when the money was spent on something one partner tried to lie about to the other and got caught: something frivolous or even potentially much worse like gambling, a sexual affair, supporting a family member’s drug problem, or covering up a lost job.
Unfortunately, the habit of spending shared money outside the limits of what a couple has agreed upon beforehand, without the consent of your partner-- especially when you have other plans for what to do with your funds-- can erode trust and breed resentment.
It’s absolutely a form of marital infidelity. How can you avoid this fight in your marriage? Simple. Don't commit money infidelity within the rules of your marriage partnership! And don't tolerate a partner who does it, either.
Forgiveness here definitely is in the eyes and mind of the “cheated on” spouse, though frankly to us the factor that changes the whole equation is whether any lying took place to try to hide the transactions.
These 3 things can help set the foundation for money trust in marriages with joint bank accounts:
Agree on some personal ‘fun money' each individual partner will have transferred or deposited into his or her personal accounts every certain time period.
Agree what specific things shared joint bank account funds can be used to pay for (everything else is prohibited without a joint decision).
- Agree on a threshold amount above which both partners concede they need joint decision approval before spending that amount from a joint account.
With personal funds in your own account, you can save to purchase whatever you like, which is fair enough even if your partner thinks Taylor Swift tickets are frivolous and the price you paid is ludicrous.
And when a joint bank account has a limited set of items you know are previously approved for purchase-- and a threshold amount above which both partners know they must agree to spend that amount-- it takes much of the temptation away to try to “sneak” in a purchase that you don’t think your partner would approve of.
We've got money down for two categories because it's a broad topic and is frequently the source of trouble for couples. Especially when money is tight, how a couple manages its money can be extremely important and a source of mucho frustration when one partner doesn’t feel understood.
We recommend having frequent and frank money discussions with your partner because often, money mismanagement occurs when couples aren't on the same page about their financial future.
For example, it can lead to lots of tension if one partner is thrifty and another tends to overspend or has a different concept of what savings should look like.
We wrote about that exact topic in our article “9 money-saving tips (a saver ant marries a spender grasshopper)”.
TLDR Summary: Ants are thrifty and efficient, work hard and save, exercise plenty, look to the future and manage to get everything they can out of everything they’ve got. Grasshoppers prioritize rest, play and partying, and tend to spend more than they earn (eat more than they harvest). It could be because they’re lazier and more wasteful than ants, though in a judgment-free zone we’d just say they prefer to enjoy today without worries about tomorrow. This article discusses how a marriage between the two can survive and thrive.
Sex (Who Puts What Where How and When)
One of the pleasures of being in a committed marriage is often being able to enjoy sex on a consistent basis-- though maybe the couple won’t be getting freaky as regularly as one or more partners would like.
Sometimes partners can be off when it comes to their sex drive. One partner may be in the mood while another just isn't feeling it. One partner may not enjoy some aspect of sex that his or her partner does. The stress of life may trigger one partner to crave physical intimacy while the other simply cannot enjoy sex while stressed.
All these things are common couples’ issues surrounding sex. And all of them are common even among happy couples. However, you should know that these issues also lead to hurt feelings, misunderstandings, insecurity, and arguments that can become “hill to die on” fights that end marriages if not addressed regularly in lower-stakes conversations over time as the couple creates their life together.
To alleviate some of the tension associated with physical intimacy disagreements, it's a good idea to talk about it–- and agree to keep talking about it. Talk about the topic with calm and even some humor if you can. Let’s recognize that it's normal to experience ups and downs in bed, but commit to working through our issues to arrive at a place of mutual pleasure, satisfaction, comfort and feeling validated and understood.
And for the love of all that’s holy, do NOT say anything critical of your partner during or immediately after lovemaking!
Division of Labor around the House
Fights about who does the dishes, laundry, or is supposed to walk the dog can occur with ferocious regularity if you don't commit to a plan to divide up household chores.
If you both work outside of the home-- or even if one partner spends most of his or her time at home without formal employment-- it's crucial to divvy up the chores in a way that is fair, sustainable and recognizes each partner’s available time, skills, and weaknesses.
To be clear: one partner should NOT EVER have to perform ALL the household workload. To be even more clear: if you get divorced because of how he or she loads the dishwasher “wrong”, we think you are just plum dumb.
How to avoid the fight?
Two possible solutions come to mind:
1. Rotating weekly chores list
Lists might not be very sexy, but they work.
Each week, you can devise a list and assign chores you know need to be done to each partner on a rotating basis. That way, no one is left taking out the trash over and over again. By taking turns and ensuring that the workload is fairly split, you can avoid this fight while ensuring that your household chores are completed on time.
2. Just do what Mr. and Mrs. Cubic Zirconia do and hire someone to do it all.
Read our recent article for the financial and emotional “case for couples to hire a housekeeper”: Spending a little money for a housekeeper: easy way for couples to avoid stress, buy more time alone and time together
"There’s no way we’re spending Thanksgiving with your mother."
Many couples fight about their in-laws.
It's a tough situation, particularly during the holidays when one family may seem to take precedence over another.
When a spouse doesn't get along with their partner's family, the small arguments can even blow up into far worse fights that can harm the relationship.
What can you do when you'd rather spend time with your own family as opposed to your partner's?
Talk it over and work out a compromise. Just be sure that you take turns and spend some time with each other's families. Maybe your compromise doesn’t call for equal time with each family, maybe it does. Give a little here, take a little there. It’s how marriage ought to work, okay?
If a compromise about spending X time here and Y time there together doesn’t work, there's no reason you can't go your own way on weekends or some holidays and see your own family. Just because you're a couple, doesn't mean you can't act independently sometimes.
Splitting up for a day is far better than splitting up forever over this issue.
The Influence of Friends & Privacy Plus 1’s
Sometimes friends can pose problems for couples. Friends can have a positive as well as a negative impact on romantic relationships. Are you tired of your spouse's friend having a say in your relationship or knowing too much? That can lead to marital problems.
Often, friends pose difficulties for young couples as they go from being single to part of a couple. It can be difficult for friends to adjust to the new dynamic as well.
We think it's important to keep your couple's private business private out of respect for your partner-- but you may feel differently. What’s important, is that you and your partner are on the same page about what’s private to just the two of you. That way there aren’t any uninvited privacy +1’s that one of the two of you didn’t know about or approve in advance knowing some of the intimate details of your married life.
If friends are causing problems in your relationship, take time to address why. One or both of you may need to adjust your relationship with your spouse, or your friendships, or both.
Flirting with strangers and All My Exes
Should you maintain friendships with your ex? Do you chat with your exes on social media? Meet for lunch? Text? If so, don't be surprised if your partner may have some degree of a problem with this behavior.
Even if they say nothing at first, there's a good chance a resentful storm is brewing.
Similarly, jealousy-- which may or may not be warranted-- can lead to fights about whether or not a partner was flirting with a server, bartender, work colleague, etc.
It's important to insulate your relationship from negative emotions like jealousy.
How you interact with the opposite sex can have a significant effect on your romantic relationship, so proceed with caution.
Flirting with strangers or maintaining contact with exes isn’t bad per se. Acting in a way that makes your partner feel disrespected is what’s problematic. And you have to know what those things are to avoid making mistakes.
We recommend discussing both issues out in the open and being honest with yourself and your partner about who you're connecting with and why.
You may find that your boundaries about strangers and flirting are much less restrictive than some other couples (and that’s okay). If so, flirt away with strangers because you both know that’s who you are and it’ll go no further.
But maybe she doesn’t like that you want to continue being friends with a previous girlfriend. If so, tread with caution because flouting that request could be the very straw that breaks a marriage’s back.
All we’re saying is that these issues ought to be resolved by mutual decisions a couple makes together, discussed often and each partner makes sure to stay true to what the couple agreed with respect to flirting with strangers and contact with ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.
How Much Have You Had to Drink? (And Other Habits)
Lifestyle habits can lead to serious fights in a marriage.
If one partner tends to drink too much, gamble, stay out too late, play too many video games, or spend every weekend playing golf or chasing Pokemons, it can lead to relationship trouble.
Especially, Pokemon addiction causes problems.
Most couples that have been together for many years aren’t going to see any new, word obsessive behavior. Whatever it is, will likely have been part of his or her life BEFORE you decided to marry him or her.
That’s why it is super important for partners to talk about these things early and often until both partners understand what behaviors need to be monitored -- and moderation limits decided upon (i.e. how much ____ is TOO much?).
We all do things we probably shouldn’t, but moderation is key.
Where the real danger lies is when the relatonship’s roles get messed up and one partner feels the need to state and reinforce what moderation ought to look like for his or her partner’s habit. It's definitely unsexy when one partner has to take on the ‘parental' role and ‘scold' the other for doing so much of what he or she should already know they really shouldn't be doing.
How can you fix your bad habits? Not to put too fine a point on it, but grow up and get help if you need professional help. Treat your partner like an equal. Don’t slack off from work, household chores, or parenting so you can do things that ought to be in leisure time only.
It's not your job to ‘raise' your partner. You deserve to be with a grownup. If your partner respects you, they'll try to keep their bad habits in check. If they don’t, it’s time for a “Come to Jesus” meeting where everything gets put on the table. Don’t wait years and years to say anything (it’ll seem like a personal attack and “out of left field”).
Hopefully, you were smart enough to discuss some of these chronic habits, your concerns and what moderation looks like for this behavior BEFORE getting married-- but if not, and it’s been bugging you, don’t put it off another day hoping it will get better.
Kid Stuff and Parenting
Couples that have kids may fight about how to best raise them. That's not uncommon at all, but these can be serious arguments. When one parent is too strict and another is too lax, kids can get caught in the middle of a tug of war.
While most parents don't always agree on decisions about raising their kids, it's important to take time to discuss issues in a calm manner and compromise.
We think it’s certainly unfair for one parent to have all the control over a kid’s upbringing. That’s where the handy “1 No, 2 Yes” rule comes into play. Give either parent a veto power over an thing for the kids. Over time, you’ll come to realize you both want what’s best for the child-- you maybe just have different ideas about how to accomplish that. And you’ll naturally work to persuade the other parent to provide a “yes” to something you really think is important to do or not do (because you need two “yes” answers).
While how to raise children are common enough arguments in many marriages, chronic parenting disagreements can lead to serious relationship woes. Take notes and learn something each time you disagree about how to do something with the kids. Regular, repeated conversations and getting on the same page will help you repair those small problems before they lead to major headaches.
Avoiding EscalationWhen things start to get heated in an argument about one of these big topics-- or anything really-- we recommend that a couple take the edge off and get a little space and downtime before easing back into it.
One partner may need to cool off and think things through.
The best way to stop an argument is to nip it in the bud.
When you’re ready to discuss things calmly again, approach each other slowly and softly. Be sure to wait until you can feel positively about your partner and the relationship; it’s impossible to work things out when negative emotions are still dominating your thoughts.
Another may need to stop and think of the things he or she loves about his partner before engaging further in an argument-- to make sure that they aren’t being too stubborn, irrational or frigid.
Even with small disagreements, it’s too easy to blow things out of proportion unless you take a step back and ease into the resolution slowly.
If your anger, hurt feelings or frustration is still overwhelming you from focusing on anything positive about your partner or your relationship, take it as a sign from your psyche that you’re not ready to jump into solution-making.
And if you find yourself fighting so frequently about one of these topics-- or any smaller topic for that matter-- that the frustration is spilling over into poisoning other positive areas of your relationship with each other,while you never seem to arrive at positive solutions, we think you should absolutely seek help from a marriage counselor.
Like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus book author John Gray says:
“Imagine a land of brilliant sunrises and sunsets where there were no misunderstandings or hurt feelings, no sideways glares, no slammed doors, and no arguing…As much as any couple may avoid fighting, the truth is, one minute you may feel great passion, and the next you’re contemplating divorce.”
If you argue, if you fight, you’re not unhealthy.
If there’s just one thing you take away from today’s message, let it be this: in marriage, disagreements are inevitable, acceptable and forgivable.
But personal attacks by one partner on another (verbal, physical, psychological, emotional) are not okay.
Fighting isn't fun, but sometimes these disagreements between individuals in a committed marriage can lead to positive transformations, compromise and terrific improvements in your relationship.
Let that be the goal: steer the energy of your arguments away from hurting someone intentionally and towards improving your understanding of the wants and needs of your partner.