This is nothing new. In our long history together there has been many a side eye aimed in my direction. There have been a lot of, are you absolutely sure you want to put that out there? There have been plenty of, but are you really sure? Yes. I’m really sure I want to write a post on things we fight about. I want to talk about it because I don’t think enough people do. You see all these gorgeous posts on Instagram of date night, but don’t realize that couple didn’t talk for three days last week because they were arguing about money. You see your co-worker’s Facebook with a perfect collage of her marriage year in review, but nobody knows they were fighting for most of it. I worry that because nobody is talking about it, then everyone is afraid to admit that their marriage is struggling. I worry that when we don’t talk about it we allow negative things to fester and grow in the darkness. I worry that too many people are focused on making their marriage look good rather than making their marriage work well. I worry that young married couples have a misconception about what a relationship really is. I’m worried guys. So, I’ll be the first person to stand up and say what’s really going on behind our closed doors. Our marriage? It’s work. It’s so stinking fun and awesome and special and romantic… but, it’s also work. And in the midst of that work we argue sometimes and if you do too, that’s ok. Here are the things we fight about. Do you do this too? Awesome, that means you’re humans. Come sit at our lunch table!
1. Temperaments – Let’s start here because as a young married couple I didn’t even understand how our different temperaments would play into our marriage. I am an extrovert (I assume nobody is shocked by this information) while Dave is an introvert. People struggle to believe that because he’s so outgoing and charismatic, but what it really boils down to is energy level. I go into a crowd of people and I feel pumped up and energized. Dave goes into the same situation and feels completely drained, he needs time to recharge. This is a big deal because it affects everything from the way we argue to what we do for fun. So when we were first married it would hurt my feelings if he didn’t want to go to my friend’s birthday party which would snowball into a, why don’t we ever do what I want to do argument. Understanding how the other is most comfortable interacting with others, recharging, arguing, etc means it’s easier to compromise.
2. Money – Phew! This is tough for nearly everyone, right? I assume money is a big issue at some point in everyone’s marriage. When we were younger it was about learning to budget, it was about learning to spend, it was about combining incomes and making sure the mortgage was paid. Now that we’re older arguments can stem from unexpected costs to a late fee on pre-school bills because, wait, weren’t you going to pay that? Money can be stressful and bills can be overwhelming which is why it’s essential that you get on the same page financially as soon as you can.
3. In-Laws – I’d like to say that this is something that only pops up early on in a relationship, but who am I kidding? In-laws will likely affect your relationship as long as you live. You each grew up differently (no matter how similar your families seem on the outside) and combining multiple personalities, temperaments, experiences, etc into one cozy family holiday is stressful guys. When it comes to in-laws you better have grace shooting out of you like a fountain! So long as the in-law relationship is healthy for you and your family then you need to embrace your extended families with open arms. So, his Aunt Helen hates the fact that you were raised in a different faith. So, he has to put up with your dad’s constant financial advice. Who cares? Life is going to throw so many bigger things at you, don’t let something as trivial as other people’s opinions affect your world.
4. Chores – Whoa Nelly! If someone would have told me before I married that my cluttered husband would ever get on to me– me, queen of organization! –for being too messy I would have scoffed in outrage. But man, you would not believe some of the arguments we had early in our marriage over socks on the bathroom floor or who was in charge of grocery shopping or, seriously, you still haven’t taken the trash out?! I highly recommend that you sit down as soon as possible and discuss in a calm and kind manner what you believe each of your roles are when it comes to chores. If this is something you’re fighting about there’s a good chance you have misconceptions. Work out a plan so neither one of you feels like you’re carrying more of the load.
5. Sex – My apologies to my Mema who will likely have a heart attack when she finds out I wrote about sex on the internet, but it had to be done. If we’re going to talk about real life and real marriage then we have to talk about the way sex affects both of those things. I could go on and on about it but the gist is this: sex is absolutely essential to a happy marriage you guys. I know it’s not necessarily easy to get to a place where your sex life is the stuff of legends… but get there anyway. So what if you have to work on this area too, if you’re going about it the right way it should be the funnest work you ever do! Also, despite what the media would like us to believe, you don’t makeout for the first time and automatically know how to be a sex god/goddess who can please your spouse and yourself by nightfall. A healthy sex life is ever evolving and as much as everyone talks about the intensity of newlyweds I wouldn’t trade the incredible sex we have now for the fumbling (if intense) love we made then for a million bucks. If you feel like you might need some help in this area, I wrote a whole post on it here.
6. Kids – Oh, children. They are the greatest joy in our lives and the most difficult thing we encounter on the daily. It seems just when you think you’ve got it all figured out they throw you for a loop and you’re scrambling again to catch up. When it comes to things we fight about, our kids and how to best parent them is right up there at the top. Because we were both parented differently, we parent differently. Imagine that! But, that doesn’t make the other person’s parenting style wrong. I think the most important thing to remember is that you are a team. Your relationship with each other comes first and you need to be a united front on everything from how to reward, to how you discipline.
There are more things. I’m positive I could come up with a list of several others if I tried to think on it, but that’s not the point. The point is that marriage is like a house you build together. If there’s an earthquake your house gets tossed around and cracks form. If you repair your house and learn to reinforce the structure it can withstand anything. If you allow the cracks to grow, allow the aftershocks to shake the foundation it will eventually crumble under the pressure. The point is that there is almost nothing more important in the world than building your marriage into a structure strong enough to last a lifetime.