When your marriage is strained

WHILE marriage can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience, no lifelong commitment is likely to run smoothly at all times. Life can be full of ups and downs which can sometimes challenge the strength of your marriage. Marriages get strained for a number of reasons, where arguments erupt out of nowhere and get exhausting. A strained marriage is caused by a breakdown in communication.

HOW TO HANDLE A STRAINED MARRIAGE

Life coach Lifi Tlhaka from Burgersfort, Limpopo, says it’s a number of issues that lead to a strained marriage. He says communication, financial problems, in-laws involvement and decisionmaking are some of the common issues. “When couples grow apart, they no longer see the best in each other. It may be that calling and checking on your partner happens out of obligation as opposed to out of love. When one would rather spend time with friends than with his or her partner, then there’s a problem,” he says. He advises that there is actually a lot that can save the marriage to avoid being strenuous and handle it better. “Understand your own negative attitude in the marriage and the damage it inflicts on your relationship. Also initiate contact if a relationship has become tense, be proactive in setting things right,” says Lifi. He adds that sometimes it is about forgiveness of any situation that is being encountered in the marriage. “We all make mistakes. Leave the door open for transgressors to make amends. When you are wrong, don’t avoid saying you are sorry,” says the life coach. “Be sorry for the pain you have caused your loved one. To save your marriage, set the stage for reconciliation.” Lifi says in a marriage couples need to accept the situation. “There is little a couple can change. Be welcoming and gracious, and prevent a situation where problems escalate,” he says.

COMMON CAUSE

Lifi explains common causes that can strain your marriage. “Finances can easily become a source of stress and worry in your marriage. In difficult economic circumstances, couples can have worries about employment, bond repayments, bills, school fees and healthcare. The resulting stress and strain can impact on both individuals, making the marriage to be under pressure,” he says. Lifi says it is important to be able to discuss financial matters with one another in a supportive and constructive manner in order to be able to manage them in the best way possible.  

PARENTHOOD 

According to an online article by Catholic Marriage Care Service, having children can be one of the most wonderful experiences in life. However, parenthood can also put a strain on a marriage. “Deciding when to have children can be difficult for couples. One of you may not feel ready to commit to having children early in your marriage or may want to wait until a later stage for a variety of reasons such as career prospects,” he says. “Parenthood brings with it a change in lifestyle. In addition to the joys of having a baby, parenthood can involve sleepless nights, concerns about feeding and managing a baby which can all be a shock to the system for couples.”

DON’T AVOID SIGNS

Lifi warns that the isolation of one from another or when their presence starts to annoy you, can be a signal to a change of behavioural patterns. “Some couples would say ‘we used to go shopping together; now one prefers just to shop alone or we used to do household chores or even bath together and all of a sudden, somebody no longer feels like it’,” he says. “One needs to do some self-introspection and take stock of the current situation. Remember that most people won’t even notice that you are struggling or your marriage is strained. You are the one who will sometimes have to swallow your pride and go knock on doors that can help save what is left of your marriage.”

GET HELP

Lifi says it is important for people not to ignore the advice of their marriage counsellors. “It’s more like consulting a medical practitioner after experiencing some health challenges, after you are diagnosed and given the medication, the call is with you whether to take the medication,” he explains. “Marriage counsellors as well will give you solutions to your problem, whether that will work for you, the other 50 percent of the answer is dependent on your application. “Seek help, get mentors or people who speak to you guys from time to time. Always avoid running to your respective relatives to tell them of your every problem. Always get professional help.”

USEFUL CONTACTS

The Family Life Centre 011 788 4784