When we get married, we don’t often spend time thinking about the way life milestones, even the good ones, can place a strain on our relationships. Whether you are newlyweds or an experienced married couple, here are four challenges you may encounter and some strategies on how to handle them:
Home Sweet Home
For most, buying a house is the largest purchase we’ll ever make. For the married couple, it’s a time to test your compromise skills too. You’ll need to talk about what style home you want and in what neighborhood you’d like to live. Then there’s the real tension builder – the discussion of cost. Before you head out with a realtor, decide what you’re both comfortable spending and then stick with your budget. As for the house, reach compromises on ‘must-haves’ vs. ‘like to haves’ before you start looking. Don’t stop communicating throughout the process.
Baby makes three, or four, or…
Welcoming a child to your family is a milestone that will simultaneously bond you and add a great deal of friction. Sleepless nights and never-quite-enough-caffeine days are going to try your patience with one another. Before baby arrives, discuss your ideas about parenting styles, but be prepared to adapt your plans on the fly. Children don’t often adhere to the game plan. When the baby goes down to sleep for the night, spend time as a couple talking about anything but the baby. Be patient with one another and, of course, pray.
In sickness and in health
Our wedding vows may include a health-related clause, but the reality is, chronic or catastrophic illness can take its toll on even the strongest marriages. Whether you are facing issues of infertility, mental health, or a life threatening disease, health issues place a large amount of stress on a couple. It’s natural for the ill partner to get a lot of attention, but make sure the caretaker is getting a break and an opportunity to discuss how he or she is feeling. Pray together. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from family, friends or support professionals.
You probably aren’t surprised that job loss can introduce a degree of tension into a relationship, but so can career advancement and voluntary retirement. Any major change in the career paradigm can generate added stress for you both. When we’re stressed we are prone to (over)react to things we’d normally take in stride. Stop and focus on what the real issue is. Be patient with one another, talk about how you’re feeling and don’t stop praying!
Challenge: We can’t always plan for these types of life milestones, but we can always work on building a strong marital foundation. Work on communication skills this week. Have you faced a life milestone together? How did you handle it?