7 pressures that can strain a marriage
The are many things that can contribute towards the break-down of a marriage or serious relationship. Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of DivorceAnswered.com.au shares just a few pressure points that can strain a marriage:
- Kids. Children place additional strain on a relationship. Even if your children are healthy, they are demanding, energetic and dependent beings who require a lot of emotional and physical attention. Your partner may be used to having you at their ‘beck and call’ but children shift this focus and the primary demands go towards the dependent children who are not able to fend for themselves. They can’t cook, use a hot stove/oven, they can’t complete the washing of clothes or get themselves to school. Initially, the demands of children are more physical and, overtime, as parents, the demands graduate towards an emotionally demanding role. If the parents don’t work well as a team, support each other and communicate well, then the tiny fissures in the relationship will become gaping chasms. Just as healthy children are sufficiently demanding on a relationship, children with additional needs place a greater strain on the relationship. Whether your child has an allergy, behavioural concern or a diagnosed challenge, there are additional emotional, physical and mental strains on each parent. Remember to have child-free time, to back each other up when facing challenges with children and try to remain on the ‘same page’ when parenting the children.
- Mental health or addictions. If one half of the partnership is suffering from mental health concerns or addictive behaviour, it can also place a mental, emotional and (at times) financial strain on the relationship. Often the person not suffering from health concerns or addictive behaviours feels like they are constantly ‘on edge’, second guessing all of their actions and reactions and continually picking the right words. Counselling, therapy or psychology for the partner without the concerns may be a good idea so that they can understand that any stressors or pressure they are feeling is not them, it’s because of the situation. Unfortunately, too much pressure over an extended period can break people (and relationships).
- The attraction becomes the detraction. Often, when people try to get their relationship back on track, it is suggested to remember what brought you together in the first place – the things that attracted you most to that person. However, sometimes what most attracted you to your spouse now drives you ‘up the wall’! For some, the qualities that you liked at first in your partner now grates on you and is the most annoying, inescapable quality.
- Escapism. We all need ‘time out’ periodically. Some people call it ‘blowing off steam’ or ‘expelling frustrations’ with a night out, visits to the gym or a boys/girls weekend. These are great when on a ‘healthy’ level. However, some people in relationships take it to an extreme where they avoid awake hours with their partner. In an effort to limit time with their partner, they leave for work or the gym early in the morning or choose to work late, go to the pub or meet friends after work on a persistent and exclusive basis. By actively choosing to not invest in the relationship and place your efforts elsewhere other than into the marriage may be your sign of the nearing end.
- Financial strain. Money and financial issues has to be one of the toughest strains upon a relationship. It is made more challenging when one of the couple chooses to put their ‘head in the sand’ and pretend like it isn’t happening. You may have heard the terms “shop-a-holic” or “bachelor spending” and it refers to a blatant disregard for the personal and household expenses. However, there is a light – if you and your spouse devise a plan to generate more income, pay down debt while curbing the spending by putting yourselves on a budget, you may work your way out of the red and back into the black. Divorce Answered’s Budget Tool can help you with the planning and budgeting. Simply, input your income and expenses for an annualised overview of your cash position.
- Growing Apart. Some people say “we fell out of love” or “we went in different directions”. While this may be true, not growing together takes a significant toll on a relationship. In a relationship, taking each other for granted, loss of gratitude and lacking mindfulness and respect for your partner whittles away at the love that was once present. As you change, your expectations of your spouse may change and they may not be aware of what they are supposed to be doing or feeling. Equally, expecting your partner to remain the same after decades or lengthy time together is also unrealistic. Clear communication can assist in alleviating this strain.
- Family matters. Allowing friends and family to continually and disapprovingly pass comment on your partner will eventually drive a wedge between you. The negative comments about your partner plant a seed and the seed will be well fed with continual negative reinforcement and nasty remarks. Before you know it, you will have a horrendously deep-rooted weed that is near impossible to remove. If your family or friends have any criticisms of your partner, make sure that it is respectful and constructive. Remember, to make sure that you are discerning and only take on board what is true to you. Your family and friends are not in your marriage or relationship and they don’t get to see or hear everything that goes on ‘behind closed doors’.
These negatives can also be viewed as opportunities. It is a matter of perception and how you react is up to you. You could stop, take note, learn from where your relationship de-railed and work to get it back on track…. Or you may simply feel that the relationship has run its course.
If the latter may be the case, you might wish to review the Divorce Answered Separation Checklist to see what you need to consider, arrange or do.
Whether you stay and work on the relationship or leave, it is entirely up to you and the choice is yours.