Growing up, I thought I had already watched and read everything I needed to know about marriage. It all seemed pretty simple–you marry your best friend, talk it out when you have a problem, don’t sleep mad at each other, take care of each other, accept each other, etc. And with all the things I had watched and read, I would remind myself of what should have been done when I would see my parents or other couples fighting. I was well aware that marriage had its ups and downs, and I felt that it was something I was completely ready for when the time came. Clearly, I was young. Haha!
Now, going into my third year as a married woman, all I can say is, I definitely do not know anything about marriage, or at least, I never really realized how incredibly hard it is, until now. Truly one can never really know until one experiences it first hand. I have never felt so mad and annoyed at another human being as I am with my husband when he doesn’t properly arrange the dishes in the sink before leaving it overnight–I mean is it too much to ask to just pile them up properly and remove the leftover food so I won’t have to wake up to a mountain of dishes with ants?
Pretty trivial, I know, but studies show that most of the things couples fight about in marriage, are usually the most insignificant ones you can imagine, and most of the time, these petty fights actually cover up bigger issues between couples. So I researched and talked to real women about the usual things they fight about with their husbands, and how they eventually work it out; because we all know that no matter how annoyed we are, we will always love our partners deeply, and love will always be worth fighting for.
“Had you not bought that bike part the other day, we would have more to spend on groceries this week.” or “Why was the grocery bill too high? What did you buy?” “Where did the money from last week go?” Money does not grow on trees, and we all work hard to earn it. And if you’ve got a family, budgeting is no easy task, which is why fights about money are an inevitable part of the picture as husband and wife.
But more than what each spends, the real issue is the pressure we get as individuals to provide the best for our family. Husbands question grocery bills, because sometimes, they do fear that what they’re giving might not be enough and there’s a constant worry about giving more. Wives on the other hand, tend to open up issues about what their hubbies bought for themselves because they get stressed out budgeting or making sure there’s a balance between needs and wants in the family.
I’m not saying this is a general case of money matters with couples, all I’m saying is sometimes, it may be the emotions behind it that need to be addressed and not the actual spending. Being more open about what you feel may help. When you’re in charge of paying the bills in the household, and you’re getting stressed out when deadlines are approaching, you can talk to your partner about it, so no unnecessary spending may happen. Open communication is always helpful, especially when you’re honest with your partners.
Having a kid or kids without any help can really drive parents crazy, but through all these, your husband is your partner. Delegating regular daily tasks around the house is a great way to keep each other’s sanity, because obviously, not everything can be done by one person alone.
Jade Go, a wife and mom of one, says, “We usually fight about time and chores, kasi he works in the afternoon until midnight, and gets home early morning the next day. And when he’s home in the morning, all he does is sleep–which I understand–but is also hard for me kasi I do all the chores plus look after a very needy 3-year-old. Kaya naiinis ako lagi, I always tend to shout na and it all turns into a fight already. All I ask of him is to try to go home earlier so he can somehow help me with our little girl in the morning. To avoid this, we compromise talaga. We adjust and do what we can to help each other out; plus longer patience and more understanding.”
Sacrifice and compromise are keys when you’re both running a household, and of course, cutting each other some slack. Some days may be extremely tiring and sometimes, it’s not the actual pile of chores, but the appreciation and the concern we want to feel from our partners that matters. Besides offering to help out, it can also be helpful to express our appreciation for each other, or do something random such as make a cup of coffee because you know your partner has been cleaning all day.
Mira Dimapilis, a wife and mom of four who has been married for 13 years says, “I get upset easily when I still need to ask him or all of them to help in cleaning up at home. I get really upset when the house is too loud or messy. When he feels or notices that I’m in a ‘bad’ mood, he is more attentive and affectionate.”
When kids start to enter the picture, sometimes our intimate and quality time alone with our spouses really get pushed to the back burner. And with life inserting itself in every corner–what with the household chores, bills to pay, and a baby to feed among other things–it can be really hard to keep up. There are times when I randomly find myself starting a fight with my husband, and it all boils down to feeling unloved because we’ve been all about living life the past days–so much so that we tend to forget us. Making an effort to schedule time with each other alone is important. A dinner, a movie, or a simple walk outside is important for your relationship and your family, because happy parents equal happy children.
According to behavioral expert Dr. John Demartini, “Jealousy is a biological, built-in system for fear of loss of something that we value.” Dr. Demartini adds that, “We run the risk of losing our partner or our job, and our subsequent protection or security, if someone or something comes along with more of those powers than we think we have. There’s a natural yearning there. And so we react.”
Given this, jealousy is a sign that we value the relationship we have with our partners. While it’s natural, it has its own consequences if not handled carefully. “Wake up to it,” Dr. Demartini says, “With any kind of jealousy or envy that you may have, let that be a reminder to find out what you see in that person or in yourself. It can be used as a wake up call to identify what we’re not acknowledging in ourselves.”
Sometimes, when married couples fight because of another person, it may not be a solution to just lose contact with the cause of jealousy. Often, jealousy happens when we get insecure and feel that another person has more valuable characteristics to offer. As Dr. Demartini said, it would be great to reassess the situation, look at yourself instead, and what you have to offer, and empower yourself so you won’t see the other person as “more”. Our partners should do the same–empower each other so you will both feel secure about yourselves and your relationship.
Our pediatrician would always tell us to have time alone together not just for romance, but also to discuss parenting matters. She says it’s important that we are always on the same team when it comes to decision making because this is how our child will feel secure in the family. For new parents, fights about parenting is not just about who’s wrong and who’s right. As parents, we both worry about our children and only want the best for them. Moms may be more emotional than dads, but maybe they’re stricter because they have fears and only want to fully equip their kids, or vice versa. As our children grow, their needs change, and it would be helpful for parents to constantly meet and talk about how they can keep up with the changes, and how they would like to raise their child.
The bottom line? Open communication is really important, and don’t be too hard on yourselves as husbands and wives. There will always be things that you will fight about because you’re two different people with different backgrounds and opinions. However, the important thing is that you work on your differences, and that you work through it all as a couple.
As Rina Montemayor, a wife and mom of three says, “After 13 years of being married, no perfect formula has been discovered to avoid fights, but it’s simply being aware of how we are as individuals, and knowing when to zip it and choose our battles. At the end of the day, peace and love always win.”