Q. My wife and I have been married for about 10 years. During the past several months we have been getting on each other’s nerves regularly. I know every marriage relationship experiences ups and downs. However, we seem to be having mostly downs these days and disagree on almost everything. Is this something I should expect going forward, or is there something we can do to improve our relationship?
Thank you for sharing what’s going on with your marriage. We can assure you this is not unique or unusual. Most couples encounter disagreements at some point in their marriage.
Couples who get married do so because they were nice and agreeable with each other. For most couples, however, once the honeymoon is over, real life sets in. These people become more familiar with each other, and they tend to not be as careful about what they say and how they say it to each other.
Being married for about 10 years makes you a prime candidate for experiencing in marriage what you described above. The good news is that your situation does not have to be permanent, and neither does it have to deteriorate further. The choice is really up to you. While most married people are inclined to blame their partner for what is happening in their marriage—most people tend to want to always be right in their relationship—the only person you can control is yourself.
So, this is a good time to take stock of how you are contributing to the tension and lack of peace in your marriage and determine to choose a response that will build it up, rather than tear it down. Even if your wife does and says mean things to you; it is within your power to choose a different response.
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: when couples are dating, opposites attract. But in marriage, opposites are more likely to repel. Here’s when you need to decide how best to manage the differences between you if your marriage is to regain its luster in the days ahead.
Here are some points to remember to help things get better:
- Avoid trying to change each other. Attempting to change one’s spouse is a natural tendency in a marriage that will likely waste time and energy and end up in frustration. Instead, we encourage you to invest in accepting who your spouse is.
- Show gratitude for your spouse. There is a reason you married your wife, and those great qualities you were drawn to when you first met, are likely still there and waiting to be affirmed.
- Communicate your needs. Because you are different, you are likely to have different needs. Sharing your needs will allow each of you to support the other and show your love and care by doing so.
- Keep your sense of humor. If you are annoyed by some of your wife’s habits, she’s probably annoyed by some of yours as well. So, maintaining a good sense of humor, rather than getting upset will help you to calm down and avoid unnecessary tension between you.
- Allow yourself to be influenced by your spouse. This doesn’t mean changing to be like your spouse, necessarily. Rather, learn to be flexible and allow yourself to enjoy some of the things your partner prefers, to avoid being stuck in your ways.
- Learn to control your differences. The distinctive combination of your personalities makes you unique and special. However, learning to make your combination of personalities work will serve you well in many ways in the days to come.
Put the above points into practice and be assured that you and your wife are in our prayers.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist and certified family life educator, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, PhDc, LCPC, CFLE, a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist, and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries.
You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.
The original version of this story was published on Adventist World in April 2023.