These problems can cause bigger issues if you're not careful.
1. Not talking about problems
Communication issues, meaning the lack of dialogue in the relationship, are one of the most frequent reasons for divorce. While we know how to talk about organizational matters or pleasant things, in our everyday communication we tend to overlook the contentious and difficult issues. Those undiscussed problems, the ones regularly swept under a rug, accumulate and can eventually explode.
2. Not talking about feelings
Talking about feelings is as important and essential for mental health and healthy relationships as handwashing is for personal hygiene. Not talking about feelings can sometimes cause the couple to speak to each other without much feeling, or even coldly, thus becoming more and more estranged.
3. Being more attached to your smartphone than to your spouse
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube … The internet offers us a lot of reasons to be online all the time. The problem is that the more we are connected to the internet and the smartphone, the less we are anchored in reality and involved in working on our relationship, devoting our time to our spouse. We need to find a healthy balance.
4. Mutual criticism
Spouses can be each other’s greatest supporters or critics. Choosing the latter, we cut each other’s wings. Eventually, after yet another criticism, our spouse will shut us out, keeping new ideas from us and talking to a third party instead. When we limit criticisms to what’s really necessary (and in the proper forum) and try to encourage each other more often, we give our loved one a way to grow, and we become better wives or husbands in the process.
5. Having close friends of the opposite sex
Do you have a close friend of the opposite sex? This can lead to temptation, and may arouse our spouse’s jealousy or suspicions. Friendship is an important component of any mature love, and the most important friendship should be between the spouses. That’s not to say we can’t have any friends of the opposite sex at all, but we need to be prudent and ensure that our closest friend is our spouse (and he or she should know it).
6. Forgetting to smile
A sincere smile can diffuse a tense atmosphere like nothing else. If we want our relationship to be full of joy and positive energy, then we need to be the ones to make it so. No one else can do it for us. A smile reassures your spouse that you feel good in the relationship and you are happy. It can strengthen the marital friendship and prevent the escalation of conflicts. With a smile, you can turn your sorrows into joy.
7. Always having to be right
The art of compromise is one of the more difficult elements of the marital craft. Every day gives you the opportunity to learn this. Sometimes we need to remember that, in non-essentials, it’s better to be loving than to be right. Without compromising our principles, it’s important to cede sometimes to our spouse’s judgment. And if it turns out we really were right, we mustn’t even think of saying, “I told you so!”
Caring for our relationship and our spouse, consciously working on fixing the mistakes we make, is a rewarding labor of love. It’s also good once in a while to create a list, together, of things that each of you think you can improve in your relationship. It can be something different for everyone, but the most important thing is not to approach problems with the “things will work out on their own” type of attitude. Because they won’t — nothing will get fixed or get better by itself. Keeping a healthy relationship requires our mindfulness and joint work.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?