Is your marriage really okay? You may never argue (and this would be a bad thing, believe it or not) or you may argue all the time. Arguing isn’t fun, but the real test of a relationship is whether or not you resolve the conflicts. Whether both of you think the arguments are resolved. It’s not okay if one of you wins all the time.
Dealing successfully with disagreements can make or break a marriage. Don’t let yourself think you can fight, not talk for a day or two, then go on like nothing happened. Resist the urge to tell yourself that you just got over it! This is not how people in relationships work. What happens is that conflicts sink into a gray underworld place—not resolved, not addressed—where they poison the well-water.
Still, couples do this. They argue and let themselves believe that they can go on without dealing with the issues.
What happens too often is that you go on checking things off the marital check-list, hoping you’ll get over the widening gulf between you. Many people still believe—regardless to research that contradicts the theory—that having children will heal any conflicts between them. Studies show that there is no more stressful time in a marriage than the period during the most intensive child-rearing. Don’t think having children will make your marriage better.
But there’s still the tendency to avoid issues and do the things happy couples automatically do. You marry, finish school (if you haven’t already), get a job that supports you or one that supports you really well, buy a house(American Dream) that you may or may not be able to afford and have kids. There. You should be happy, right?
Surprise! There is no check-list. Not everyone wants a career that requires college. Not everyone who goes to college, finishes. Some who earn a degree, don’t end up with the job they’d hoped for or the salary they’d counted on (to pay off the college debt). With the once-booming housing market going bust, not every couple who bought, or built their dream house, have an investment they can make money on.
Not everyone wants or needs kids to be happy.
Sadly, when many couples have worked through the check-list of marriage/job/house/kids…divorce soon follows. This is hard on everyone, not just the kids. If you have serious or prolonged issues in a relationship, get help. Do this before you move forward—before you marry(if possible), before you have kids. I can make no recommendations about buying a house, except to say that the number one reason for divorce is finances. Get, and keep, yours in order.
Marriage is a terrific journey. It can be filled with laughter and joy, and along with that, challenges that make you want to pull your hair out. There are fun challenges in life you willingly, even eagerly, participate in—this isn’t what I’m talking about. Marriage, if done right, forces you to really look at yourself. Pushes you into being honest with yourself and makes you take a hard look at your beliefs.
Don’t think you can just ignore the stuff that comes up. Feeling consistently like you lose marital arguments is bad for the marriage. You should feel yourself to be on shaky ground if you always win the conflicts, too. This is supposed to be a balancing between two perspectives.
Conflict doesn’t just go away and buying a new house, a new car or a new kid, won’t make it better. Dealing with the issues is what moves a marriage into solid territory.