Make your relationship more about love than marriage.

"Love is one, long, sweet dream and marriage is the alarm clock." Author Unknown Let's go back to bed. 

The most common marriage setbacks can also be the most damaging. Everyday, minor problems can become marriage threatening issues that can lead to divorce. The good news is there are always ways to stop these problems from ruining your relationship.

Does your marriage have these problems?

Poor communication

P. Communication is essential in a relationship. Some may contend it is the leading cause of a marital rift.  If you formerly had good communication with your spouse and now you don't, the issue may be a sign of another, underlying problem perhaps more threatening to your marriage than poor communication. Once these secondary communication problems become apparent, the relationship has already been affected by something that has shifted one or both spouses away from each other. The reasons can be varied but include many of the problems later listed in this article.

S. The key is to find out what is coming between you and your spouse. It may be difficult to know when evaluating your own marriage. A marriage counselor or therapist may be helpful. If the issue is obvious and you're aware of your problems, then you will need to regard the issue two ways:

  • You must both actively address the problem with the commitment to solve. Again, this may mean marriage counseling or major changes in your current lifestyle.
  • The second way is to work on your communication skills simultaneously with other issues affecting your marriage. This means you should find new ways to show your spouse you care and want to maintain a long, loving relationship despite differences. In doing so, find new ways to communicate beyond talking such as, touching, smiling, helping, inviting, empathizing, listening or sharing.

Irritating behaviors

P. Little issues can actually be the "elephant in the room". Some behaviors or issues you may possess from years back can be an on-going source of marital strife. Often, the issues themselves are annoying habits that grow more frustrating with years of marriage. The longer the habits continue, the more steadfast the doer is in maintaining them and the worse the observer feels.

S. It's important to be honest with your spouse from the start about any behavior or habit he/she has demonstrated that bothers you. Make sure the issue is with your spouse and not you. If the problem is your own issue, it will be up to your spouse as to whether or not he/she will discontinue something that is not necessarily unusual, but bothers you.  If the situation is reversed and you are the one being asked to stop doing something normal that your spouse dislikes, consider it a loving gesture to discontinue or explain why you can't. Be patient with each other and try to rebuild the relationship in positive ways that may offset the things either of you dislike.  Regardless who demonstrates the irritating behavior, it's best for each spouse to make efforts to overcome the damage the behavior does to your relationship.

Scheduling Conflicts

P. Relationships need attention. They should be nurtured and considered. Yet, in trying to live our lives, we somehow let our everyday schedules conflict with our relationship with our spouse. Our relationship begins to develop a layer of indifference. If we consider our relationship strong, it's easy to take it for granted. If we hold little value in it, we don't consider it at all.

S. Think of yourself as a primary advocate for your relationship. The next time you are asked to volunteer, take an extra shift at work or go out with friends, make sure you're not stealing time from your relationship to make it happen. Consider your daily schedules and strive to work similar shifts in order to have time together. You should have "relationship time" everyday. This time should be only you and your spouse. Even if it is only an hour, it's the time you can share with each other that keeps you two connected and your relationship healthy.


P. Spouses who lose interest in one another have turned down the road that leads to divorce.   It may seem like the natural evolution of a long marriage to go your separate ways, together. Really, it's just robbing both spouses of affection and intimacy necessary for marital and individual well being. Often such revelations are realized too late.  This is when serious relationship changes, marriage counseling or divorce are inevitable.

S. The best way to find interest in your spouse is to first be interesting yourself. Think about the things you and your spouse enjoy together and build skills associated with them. Invite your spouse to take part in these activities and build renewed interest together. If your spouse doesn't find what you are doing interesting then perhaps the problem has been a misunderstanding about similar likes and dislikes. This can help you understand your spouse better and promote discussions that can lead to what you both truly enjoy. Be patient though and don't expect changes in your relationship overnight. The longer you and your spouse have been disinterested in each other, the longer it may take to journey back to a loving and lasting relationship.

Money Problems

P. One of the things many couples get confused about is that problems with money and marriage may not be money problems. It may be problems with trust, ability to share, ambition, dependability, honesty, empathy, career motivations. The list can include anything that either spouse feels about the other. The value system used in order to represent the problem(s) is money. Money is usually affected by such issues and while each may attempt to address the money problems the underlying issues often fail to be recognized and repaired.

S. Fixing your "money problems" is a two-fold process. First, you both must take an active role in making modifications to your income and expenses in order to effectively manage your budget and improve your financial stability. Immediately address any emergent issues together that are causing stress and burden on your marriage and family. The second part of the process is to see behind the problems with money to discover the root causes and address them in order to head off future problems and continued marital problems. Recognize and communicate with each other any individual problems that threaten your relationship and that have been recognized in your problems with money. Don't just focus on your spouse's problems. Look to your own behaviors and acknowledge them with your spouse as a possible issue that you will work to resolve. This provides a platform for self-improvement that hopefully your spouse will also take part.

Anger Issues

P. There are many issues, emotions and behaviors that lead to anger within a marriage. While anger is a normal emotion, it should be expressed in a healthy and productive way. Passion, fear, frustration and disappointment are all reasons why anger may begin to erode a marriage. While many may feel that inappropriate expression of anger is abrupt and open, some of the most damaging expressions of anger are in passive aggressive, deceitful or cunning behavior that provokes marital discord.

S. Recognize and address behaviors where inappropriate expressions of anger are being used in either active or passive ways. e.g. snide comments, inappropriate gestures or behaviors that your spouse has indicated bothers him/her, dishonesty, mental or physical abuse, cursing, behavior that induces your spouses anger, yelling or any behavior that expresses a negative emotion towards your spouse-

These behaviors are "non-love". They unhinge the marriage and directly remove each other's love for one another. The behavior does not need to be done directly to your spouse to directly affect your spouse. If you allow anger to guide your misbehavior instead of expressing your feelings in a healthy manner with effective communication or possibly in a therapeutic environment, you will feed anger to your marriage and find the anger is returned through your spouse in ways he/she expresses anger. It's important to realize the cyclical nature of this emotion can continue to build until the marriage is completely ruined if one or both individuals doesn't stop the cycle.

Lack of Trust

P. This is the very foundation that a marriage resides upon. Without trust, marriage is improperly supported. Passion, desire, money, attraction, similar interests will not provide a healthy marriage without trust. They are the attributes of the marriage, what we see, feel and hear, but the trust is the underlying support of those attributes. A lack of trust has the power to destroy everything. In many ways, trust is the truest value of your marriage. Honesty and belief in each other's integrity and commitment are essential.

S. Never violate the trust of your marriage. Consider your spouse in your decision making, choices and future. Never violate your spouse's belief in you. Maintain the value of your marriage and family as the most important thing in your life. It should be more important than passion, desire, money, attraction, interests. If it is, your marriage will have a strength little can tear down. It should provide you a source of strength to attain all that you seek as an individual.  Damage to this foundation weakens and eventually destroys a marriage and divides a family. Never fail to understand that the damage to a marriage in any way starts with your violation of trust, respect or belief in one another.

Lack of ambition

P. Ambition is a quality of the individual that may not always be shared equally. You may be a very ambitious person that may cause your spouse to seem less ambitious despite being completely normal. Like many qualities, if you find ambition a primary attraction and you married someone who is not super ambitious then the problem is really yours. If your spouse has lost his/her ambition over the years then you may feel let down or overly depended upon to solve problems.

S. Maintain a level of ambition that supports your personal growth, individual happiness and marriage's financial stability. If you find your spouse lacks the ambition necessary to also support these things, you may need to determine what has changed that caused your spouse to lose his/her level of ambition. If your spouse has always been this way, you may need to accept this will always be something your spouse lacks. Instead find value in the qualities that originally attracted you to your spouse and those that continue to be his/her strengths.

Appearance Issues

P. Physical attraction is an important aspect of marriage that shouldn't be neglected. A good appearance not only represents an interest in maintaining high self esteem, good health and motivation but it also shows you regard your spouse's interest in you. As years pass, it is easy to put yourself last following home, kids, career and commitments. It not only affects how you feel about yourself, but also how your spouse thinks you value his/her interest in you.

S. Be the change you wish to see in your spouse. If he/she has let go of an interest in physical appearance, perhaps you have as well. Think about ways to spice up the relationship that bring both of you about-face with your current appearance. Start a new workout routine, go on dates more often, improve eating habits, improve your appearance. Don't make rude comments about yours spouse's appearance, but it is ok to discuss likes and dislikes that would improve your mutual attraction to each other.

Sex Problems 

P. A good sex life goes beyond sex. It includes everything that leads up to sex. It includes romance, desire, passion, consideration, commitment and love. Missing elements of good love making can leave you feeling less than satisfied and diminish lasting interest.

S. Both spouses should understand and regard each other's sexual needs. In many cases one spouse may feel the need for sex more often than the other. Life circumstances that can affect a couple's sex life can also affect one spouse more than the other. Find ways to compromise in order to keep sex a strength in your marriage instead of a detriment. If your spouse is losing interest, you may be missing some of the elements mentioned above that make sex an expression of your love instead of a simple hook-up. While you may not always have time for long passionate love making, daily expressions of each others desire and consideration can be the foreplay that continues to keep the fire lit in your marriage.

General Differences

P. As a marriage evolves, each spouse gains maturity, opinions and experience. While the couple will form many mutual opinions as they mature, it isn't uncommon for each to gradually grow apart. In doing so, the more their differences develop the more they distance themselves from similar interests and goals. While individual opinions are important in maintaining a sense of self, differences regarding issues that impact your relationship or family can wreak havoc on your marriage.

S. Respect is a primary asset in a relationship. While you each may share a difference of opinion on issues that do not directly affect your relationship, you should respect each other's opinions and decisions. The opportunity to learn and further understand an opposing view from someone you love can be beneficial and enlightening if you let it. Open your mind and your heart while also expressing your reasons for your point of view. The willingness to concede to your spouse's opinion can be enlightening and demonstrate strong emotional intelligence.

When your spouse does or believes in something that directly affects both of you and/or your family, it's important you both listen patiently to one another in order to give each of you a chance to understand and empathize each other's views. If one of you has an opinion or has done something that negatively affects the other, you will need to decide if it has destroyed your marriage or if some middle ground can be found. The middle ground may include forgiveness, empathy or agreement to disagree. Therapy or marriage counseling may be helpful to get through some of the most difficult differences.


P. Marriage is a vehicle on a long journey of life. Take care of this vehicle and you and your spouse will have dependable transportation for the lifetime. Fail to maintain your marriage and you can get pretty bored sitting on the side of the road in a broken down jalopy.

S. It's important to keep your marriage running. It has many working parts that each spouse is responsible to maintain. It doesn't mean you won't have slow times in your marriage that cause you each to lose sight of the necessities of marriage that include sex, excitement, communication, differences, empathy, appearance, trust, ambition, passion, peace, healthy expression of emotions, time with one another, interesting and healthy behaviors, etc.  

Yes.  There are a lot of important needs of a healthy marriage.  Luckily, many of them contribute to the others (e.g. good communication leads to more trust and empathy).  So, don't overthink it.  Keep your marriage alive by respecting the needs of it with respect for one another.  Furthermore, make your relationship about love instead of about marriage and your marriage will remain strong.         


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