The objective of this article is to outline the issues that create the most anxiety in couples considering marriage.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed.
Summary: What are the subjects on which communication is especially difficult for couples approaching marriage? There are several that can present major problems. It is hoped by this author that by enumerating them, it will help couples who read this article to have the conversations necessary to negotiate the issues to reasonable conclusions.
The biggest hurdle awaiting couples in marriage is the one of handling responsibility, according to the client reports in my office over the last 25 years. Such responsibilities include housekeeping, cooking, and decision-making. Other responsibilities include settling down, rearing children, keeping a budget, loss of freedom, and being unselfish.
The next most frequently mentioned worry seems to be, “keeping my partner happy” or doing a good job as a husband or wife. Most couples experience premarital jitters but any serious doubts about the success of a forthcoming marriage should be carefully discussed with a marriage counselor.
Couples told me that the subject hardest for them to discuss was sex. This conversation is necessary in order to develop healthy sexual communication and to meet the expectations of a partner.
Religion and money were other topics couples said they found hard to discuss. Serious discussion about religion prior to marriage is especially important–religious attitudes and differences can be a major source of conflict, especially if there are children.
The next major category deals with parents and family. Couples need to get to know their prospective in-laws and talk about them freely with their future spouses.
Money attitudes communicate many things in a relationship and reflect attitude toward the giving and receiving of love and the granting of independence. A person with a strong need to dominate and control in financial matters may also resist sharing in other ways.
Financial insecurity creates considerable uneasiness–and justly so. Any couple would do better to wait until until they can support themselves before undertaking the responsibility of a family.
I asked couples to tell me what they liked least about their partner. I heard, most frequently, “a bad temper” and the frequent expression of anger. Stubbornness was also mentioned as was habitual nagging, flirting, cursing, and tardiness on dates.
When asked what made them angry, couples most frequently stated when the partner withdrew and wouldn’t explain his or her experience. Also mentioned was , “not getting my way.” There was also reported anger when the partner acted immaturely, was neglectful, was hard to get along with by being sullen, or argued or cried easily.
All of these issues need to be clearly discussed prior to marriage and some action plans established and practiced beforehand so that couples can feel successful going into the marriage.