Relationship marital Issues
There’s no way around it: Long-term relationships are hard work—and there will be bumps along the way. Even the best marriages go through ups and downs, but couples that last have one crucial thing in common: They know it’s them as a unit versus the problem, not one person versus the other.
“You can’t solve couple problems individually,” says therapist Jocylynn Stephenson. “It almost always fails because you don’t have the input of the other person.”
Be intentional about getting more involved. You don’t have to make your partner’s hobbies your own or know every detail about the roster history of their favorite football team. But you do need to look for opportunities to share your passions. “Figure out where the two of you can align so you have visibility on each other’s internal lives,” Stephenson explains. If you love figure skating and a particularly exciting competition is coming up, ask your partner to watch it with you. (Knowing the engagement has a distinct beginning and end will help make them more amenable to participating.)
No surprise here: Money is one of the biggest sources of tension between married couples, particularly when it comes to how to spend it. But all hope is not lost just because one person has a tight hold on their purse strings, while the other subscribes to the Ariana Grande “7 rings” school of thought. (Key lyric: “If I like it, then that’s what I get.”)
In these instances, Stephenson begins counseling by helping couples explore the reasons behind their habits. “A lot of our work as marriage therapists is about helping couples understand one another, so I start with what spending means to each of them,” she says. “Where did you learn how to deal with money? What did you see growing up?” This lays the groundwork for more empathetic conversations about how to approach finances as a unit.
Set expectations about how to share. Scrutinizing each other’s every purchase is likely only going to add fuel to the fire, so it’s important to find compromises in this realm. A combination of joint and separate accounts can work wonders, but even then you’ll want a window into your partner’s individual goals, habits, and desires. “Here, we talk about what it looks like to structure your money,” says Stephenson. “What are the big things you want? What are the big things you’re saving for? What does your spending look like on a week-to-week basis?”