Marriage is hard. For Baby Boomers (born from 1943 to 1960), it was a case of marry young and adapt. As a recipe for success, it has been an abysmal failure: 52.7 percent of marriages now end in divorce.
For Millennials (1977 to 2000), aka the “Me generation”, it’s apparently even harder. Fully 30 percent of females may remain unmarried by age 40.
Unfortunately, by the age of 40 most people have settled into habits that may be hard to break. Take the most controversial problem in many households, namely which way to load the toilet paper (unspooling from the top or from the back). Couples who can’t resolve this question are probably not going to end up married – though they may live together for a few years.
Other reasons couples fight include:
1. Abuse Whether physical, emotional, or intimacy-related (i.e., shaming), abuse runs the gamut from blaming through criticism and contempt, and usually results in defensiveness on the part of the victim or – worse yet, stonewalling and avoidance. This is a classic recipe for a breakup.
2. Addiction From mood-altering drugs and alcohol to gambling, porn, or food, it always leaves the other partner in the position of “second best”, and no lover wants to come in second.
3. Communication, false expectations – No, he/she never said you could stay home and keep house while he/she works. Why didn’t you discuss this before you got married?
4. Control issues, Compromising Everything from who pays the bills and decides how money gets spent, to what kind of clothing is appropriate. If you loved your sexy-looking girlfriend, why is the same clothing suddenly inappropriate on your wife?
5. Infidelity, Sex, Violations of Trust The issue is trust, and if you can’t trust him to tell you the truth about going for a beer with the single guys after work…
6. Jealousy You love him, he loves you, so cut him a little slack if he’s still the best-looking guy in the room and you are eight months pregnant.
7. Money This is a real hot-button issue, and serious enough to end in devistation. Just try to remember that you are both on the same team, so if he loses, you lose, too.
8. Parenting Is an ideal arena in which to practice your compromise skills. However, many successful couples also find that it works well to play “good cop, bad cop” (and it’s also easier on the nerves).
Relatives Yes, in the real world, her mother does get a little more attention than yours, so suck it up, buttercup.
9. Tidiness If you don’t shave on weekends, she may not want to kiss you, but it’s not a reason to get divorced.
Those who say timing is everything are right. Seventy percent of couples break up within the first year, because this is the period of greatest adjustment. She is bossy; he won’t give up crackers in bed. Both want to be Lord of the Remote.
Holidays are also periods of attrition for relationship newbies. Christmas dinner at his relatives or yours? If you can’t decide without fighting, maybe you should both stay home and eat take-out pizza.
By the time you hit the two-year mark, you will have achieved a compromise (dinner at his, opening presents at yours) or moved on to greener pastures.
Couples Counseling Boulder by Therapist Christy Weller, Psy.D. Also specializing in Psychotherapy and Psychological Assessment Services.