When relationships are going well it is sometimes hard to pay attention to things that may cause challenges in our lives. Others sometimes see these challenges but are often afraid to point them out for fear of offending or being told they are judgmental. As I have worked with couples I have found several areas to pay attention to in order to make certain your relationship is as strong as it can be.
1. Not enough time
Kids in sports Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and every other Saturday. Mom and dad working late in the evening and then going to the gym when they can fit it in and probably shouldn’t. This busyness kills relationships. Give up some things to make time for the important people in your life. You will never regret making relationships better. What you will regret is not making more time for loved ones.
Going into debt over frivolous things, not agreeing on where to spend money and having separate accounts are the kinds of things that will lead to tension in relationships. This tension, over long periods of time, fractures relationships. The solution is to come to agreements on how you and your spouse will spend your money and how you will save. Teach your children how to manage finances. This will give them strengths to use in their own future relationships.
Many times couples tend to not really know how to break away from their family of origin. This can lead to some unforeseen problems. If you consistently place priority on your parents, siblings and other extended family members, you are sure to doom your marriage. You need to place importance on the relationship that is right there next to you.
One of the bigger adjustments in a marriage is sharing things. If you can’t share or you find it very difficult you need to figure out how to get over this quickly. The sooner you can treat your spouse like you want to be treated, the less likely it will be that your marriage ends in divorce. When you make your relationships all about you, it sucks for everyone else. No one wants to be around a self-centered person — including your children (they want to be cared for; they don't want to care for you).
If you're not doing it, then you'd better get started. The less passion in your marriage, the more likely it is that your relationship will end. If there are barriers in your way, deal with them. Don't simply refuse to be intimate. It is a marriage killer.
People usually get married and surprise surprise along come children. It is generally the natural way of things. What is not natural, but often happens is that parents often forget one another and fully invest themselves in their children’s lives. They get so hyper-focused on their children they often forget what brought them together. When they forget they grow apart. Before child-focused parents realize it they have nothing more in common and find it difficult to even spend time together.
You may be in relationship with a man or woman who is willing to take risks that typical people wouldn’t take in order to use mind altering substances. These people often don’t want to deal with reality and they turn to substances. They lie, steal and blame. They focus more on drugs and alcohol than the relationship they are in.
It often starts off as a small thing like your significant other not wanting you to hang out with your friends. It becomes a bigger thing that looks like control. It then becomes something altogether unexpected…physical abuse. By the time it turns violent, people often feel stuck and lost. When they are finally able to find themselves they realize this is not a relationship they want to be in. There is often so much hurt and violence that has taken place a victim has no desire to stay or even work on a relationship.
9. Different paths
The longer a couple is married the more chances there are that different interests can take that couple away from one another. Perhaps your husband is becoming more and more interested in a biking club he just joined. Maybe your wife is into running and is focusing a lot her time in prepping for a marathon. These things are going to slowly draw you apart if you keep your focus on them and don’t make time for one another your marriage will suffer.
There are times that couples get so focused on activities with friends that they forget they need to make time for themselves. Hanging with people is fun, but it should be secondary to hanging with your significant other.
Staying in a marriage is important, but it can also be challenging. When you are able to stay focused on your marriage rather than the multitude of other things that could trip you up you are more likely to stay connected and grow deeper in your relationship.