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Published on September 17, 2020

How to Deal With the 15 Most Common Marriage Problems

How to Deal With the 15 Most Common Marriage Problems

All the movies we have seen growing up—from Snow White to Titanic—have given our world a glimpse into what real love should look like. Women are looking for their Prince Charming because our world tends to glorify marriage.

As a result, marriage seems like a good idea for most people. After all, why shouldn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after?

But the movies make it look easy. And as any married person can tell you, marriage in real life is sometimes anything but easy. In fact, for many couples, it can be downright miserable if they don’t know how to work through their problems.

And think about it—no one teaches us how to have a happy, healthy marriage. If our parents didn’t model it for us, then we have no idea how to do it ourselves.

Because of this, almost all marriages have problems. Some couples are better at working through the ups and downs through the years than others, but they all have them.

Regardless of whether your problems lead to divorce or you work through them effectively, most married couples have similar issues. So, let’s take a look at 15 of the most common problems most marriages face.

1. Division of Labor

Research shows that even when both spouses work outside the home, the woman is usually the one who does more of the housework and chores.

Obviously, this creates more stress for her. But what’s even more stressful beyond these daily chores is called “psychological responsibility.” In other words, women are expected to remember things like “Johnny has a doctors’ appointment on Tuesday,” or “We have to go to Jane’s soccer game on Saturday at 2:00.”

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While it’s not always the woman who does more of the work, lack of balance with the division of labor can cause a lot of issues.

Learn more about how to tackle this problem here: Average Couples See Chores as a Cornerstone, Happy Couples See Them as the Gem Stone

2. Finances

Some people are spenders. Others are savers. So, if you get a spender and a saver together in a marriage, you can see how that would become a problem.

Maybe growing and investing money is important to one person, but the other couldn’t care less about it. Fighting over money and how it is spent is one of the most common problems in marriages.

3. Children and Parenting Differences

Let’s face it—children can be stressful! The crying/sleepless babies, temper tantrums, and rebellious teenagers are not a lot of fun sometimes, regardless of how much you love your kids! And that can cause a lot of stress to a couple. Even differing parenting styles like how to punish a child can cause a rift in a married couple.

4. Personality Differences

If one person is an introvert and the other is an extrovert, then there may be constant tension regarding how often to socialize.

The extrovert might feel unloved that the introvert never wants to go to a party with them. But the introvert might feel rejected because the extrovert always wants to socialize with people other than their spouse. And this is just one aspect of personality differences that can cause problems in marriages.

5. Fighting and Communication Style Differences

Maybe one spouse grew up in a family where they yelled and screamed at each other when they were angry, while the other spouse grew up in a family that turned their anger inward and would give people the silent treatment. Having different fighting or communication styles when it comes to conflict can be a huge obstacle to having a happy and healthy marriage.

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6. Different Love Languages

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. In it, he defines five different ways people give and receive love (acts of service, touch, time, giving of gifts, words of affirmation). If you both speak very different love languages, you might not feel loved by your partner, which may lead to marriage problems.

For example, if you want to be given gifts to feel loved but instead your partner would rather do acts of service for you—like fixing your car or rubbing your feet—then you might not understand that they really do love you.

Here’s Why You and Your Partner Don’t Need to Speak the Same Love Language to Stay Together

7. Sex

Everyone has different sexual needs—both in frequency and type. Some people love having sex as often as they can, while others could live the rest of their lives without it. And others need a lot of kinky stuff to be satisfied. Regardless of what you want, most couples have a problem with their sexual compatibility.

8. Jealousy and Infidelity

Many people are naturally insecure and unfortunately, many people are also tempted to cheat on their spouse. So, whether or not someone actually cheats, there can be jealousy that exists within the relationship.

Infidelity isn’t just limited to physical cheating either. Emotional infidelity is running rampant these days because of technology, such as phones and dating apps. They make it so easy to hide what someone is doing and whom they are talking to.

9. Boredom

Relationships are always exciting when they are new. Everyone feels like they are walking on cloud 9 because they are so in love. But then as time goes on, the newness and infatuation wear off. As that happens, many couples fall into a slump. Their relationship stagnates and seems to get boring. It takes effort to try to keep the love alive and to keep doing exciting things together.

Learn Why Your Relationship Has Become Boring (And How to Fix It).

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10. Power Inequity

Power can come in many forms—from financial power to parenting power. If one spouse makes more money than the other (or perhaps one is a stay-at-home parent), that creates an imbalance when it comes to who brings in the money. And this imbalance is a common marriage problem.

Who has more decision-making power? Many times, it’s not equal. So, that definitely causes problems because one of the spouses could start to feel powerless over time.

11. Abuse

Abuse also comes in several forms. Physical abuse is what most people think of when they hear the word abuse. But mental and emotional abuse is also very detrimental to people and the couple as a whole: The Invisible Violence in Relationships That Destroys People

When one or both people are not respecting each other by laying their hands on them or using horrible language when they speak, that can tear apart a marriage in no time.

12. Values and Beliefs

As the saying goes, “a bird and a fish may love each other, but where will they live?” In other words, when two people have very different ways of looking at the world, it makes it difficult to understand each other. And this may lead to problems in marriage.

For example, if a Catholic is married to a Muslim, they probably don’t share a lot of beliefs and worldviews. Even if one is a Republican and the other is a Democrat, that can cause major tension in a marriage as well.

13. Trying to Change Each Other

No one is perfect. There will always be something about everyone in the world that will annoy you. But when people don’t understand this, then they try to change each other.

They think, “I can’t stand that Bob doesn’t want to go to the gym and work out with me, but when we get married, I’ll change his mind.” No. That NEVER works! You cannot change people.

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So, you should just learn to accept each other the way you are. Otherwise, you will be making each other miserable with all of the naggings that go into trying to change a person—and besides, it’s just not possible.

14. Keeping Score

If someone feels like they are doing way more for the other person than they are for them, then it’s natural to keep score.

You think, “I work, and then I come home and cook and clean and take care of the kids. But all the while, Ben is just sitting on the couch, drinking his beer, and not even noticing how stressed out I am!” Then in your mind, you think you have racked up a lot more on the scoreboard than he has. As a result, resentment builds up over time and it can ruin a marriage.

15. Unrealistic Expectations

We all have an idea of how we want other people to act.

For example, maybe you think that when someone is married, they should have sex every day. But let’s face it—most couples are tired from work, kids, chores, etc. So, it doesn’t happen.

Maybe you think your wife should cook gourmet meals all the time just like your mom did. Well, maybe she hates to cook! Putting unrealistic expectations on your spouse will just make you both frustrated and angry.

Bottom Line

No one has a perfect marriage—not even the ones who are the happiest! Being happy while being married takes effort, but that doesn’t mean that effort has to be hard.

If you both try to give 100% to work through the inevitable marriage problems that you face, then the marriage can work well. It takes a lot of commitment and love, but it can definitely be done.

More on How to Deal With Marriage Problems

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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