Money- Money can be an extremely big source of stress. If you and your spouse have different spending habits this can cause a lot of conflict. Perhaps one of you is a spender and the other one is a saver. Until you sit down and decide where your money is going and how you are going to use it, money will continue to be a big source of stress for you. Setting a budget gives you the freedom to not worry about your money because you have made a plan and told your money what to do, rather than it telling you what to do! It’s important both you and your spouse agree on how you set your budget.
A simple way to make is budget is to calculate what you make each month, what your total bills are, and what you spend on discretionary stuff, like fun money, going out to eat, groceries and gas. Total those three categories and see if what you make each month is more than the bills and discretionary spending.
Total Monthly Income – Bills - Discretionary Spending = ________
Sue makes $2000 a month
Bob makes $4000 a month
Bills Include: Discretionary Spending Includes:
$1500 Mortgage $500 Grocery
$1000 Credit Card $300 Out to Eat
$100 Loans $200 Investments
$150 Gas $200 Bob Fun Money
$150 Electric $200 Sue Fun Money
$50 Internet $300 Gas
$100 Cable $100 Clothes
$100 Phone $300 Savings
Total Income $6000 – Bills $3150 – Discretionary $2100 = Profit$750
Based on this formula Bob and Sue can have peace of mind that if they stick to this budget they have plenty of money left over, and money does not have to be a source of conflict for them.
Sex- Sex tends to be a big source of stress in relationships due to unmet expectations and lack of communication. One partner might expect or demand to have sex every day, and the other might not want that but doesn’t voice their concern. When there is underling resentment sex will prove to be unsatisfying. Communicating about your wants and needs, and finding a middle ground that you both can agree on will facilitate rich and satisfying sex. This must be an ongoing conversation.
In Laws- In laws often are a source of stress in relationships. There is a verse from the bible that says one must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. There are some very practical ramifications of this. If you are still dependent on your parents to make decision for you and you are going to your parents before your spouse, this will cause conflict. To cleave means to split, sever or leave, and then to stick fast to something. So that means your parents are no longer number one and your spouse now has take that primary spot. If you and your spouse can present at a team to both of your parent, and can set boundaries that you both agree on, this will significantly reduce the stress and conflict around this topic.
All three of these conflicts come back to communication. It is important to your marriage to utilize your best communication skills to discuss difficult topics. For more information on conflict resolution please see my post from December 2011 on that topic. If you can communicate with your spouse effectively, you will be able to navigate the most difficult obstacles in your marriage. If you and your spouse have trouble communicating don’t hesitate to contact a counselor to help build those skills. Deep marital satisfaction is on the other side of effective communication.