Common Marital Problems: 21 Ways on How to Solve Them

By David Small •  Updated: 01/06/20 •  17 min read
Common Marital Problems

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It is normal for a marriage to go through problems. Over time, couples tend to grow apart. Some may not understand what’s happening. Others might have issues that come as a result of a clash of personalities.

While there are similar marital problems, not all couples face the same kind of problems. However, problems aren’t expected to last forever or remain unresolved. If problems remain unsolved, the most probable consequence is divorce.

In this article, we discuss some of the most common marital problems and how to circumvent them.

Causes of Marital Problems.

Marital problems come as a result of various causes. While some are common, others are unique depending on the couple in question. Top on the list of causes of problems is the lack of intimacy.

Some couples may disagree on money issues. This could be because of differences in approaches to the use of money. Perhaps your spouse is jealous for no clear reason.

He or she dislikes seeing you in the company of someone of the opposite sex. It could also be that you have grown apart over time.

Even though you live together physically, you might have a strained emotional bond. Or your spouse hates your family members and friends.

What we are trying to say is that the causes of marital problems are wide and varied. Some couples may even differ in ways of disciplining children. One parent might prefer strict disciplinary measures while the other looks rather carefree.

Effect of Marital Problems.

The most obvious effect of marital problems is separation or divorce. As such, couples who aren’t able to find solutions to their problems will separate or divorce. But this doesn’t mean the parents going separate ways.

Rather, the biggest casualties are the children. Studies have shown that separation and divorce may cause emotional problems among children. But, children who grow up with both parents have emotional balance.

Children who experience parental separation become juvenile delinquents, teenage mothers, and school dropouts. As Franklin Benjamin says in “Marital Problem and Solution”, parents should solve problems. The worst they can do is to leave them to fester.

What Are Signs Of Marital Problems?

The problem with most couples is that they end up living in denial about their problems. Many tend to ignore obvious signs that their marriage could be having problems.

So, if you start considering the possibility of an affair, you could be having problems. The same is true if you disagree over the same issue over and over again. Or your fights seem to escalate in intensity or frequency.

What begins as a simple argument escalates into physical or verbal abuse. Or, the two of you no longer spend enough time together. The more you spend time apart, the less cohesive you will be.

Yet, some couples tend to focus on the kids more than on each other. If you find yourself having less sex, then you have serious marital problems to deal with.

Marital Problems

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Types of Marital Conflicts.

As we have already alluded to, marital conflicts will occur from time to time. The most important thing is how the two of you choose to treat each other while in a disagreement.

The types of marital conflicts define the styles you might adopt to deal with a problem. The following are some of the most common marital conflicts:

Healthy Marital Conflicts.

According to the author and counselor John Gottman, marriage might have three types of healthy conflicts. The first is the validating conflict in which couples seek to appease each other.

Here, the mutual goal is to attain a compromise. Also, a healthy marital conflict may seem more volatile than usual. In that case, couples have emotional and passionate arguments.

The third kind of healthy marital conflict is one that avoids conflicts. Here, the parties agree to disagree. Regardless of the style you choose, each one of these leads to healthy marital conflicts.

Unhealthy Marital Conflicts.

Unhealthy conflict is defined by hostility, defensiveness, contempt, criticism, and stonewalling. As Gil Stieglitz says in the book: Marital Intelligence, marital problems can be classified into five main categories.

They include, ignored needs, immature behavior, clashing temperaments, competing relationships, and past baggage. In such a conflict, couples have no qualms attacking each other all the time.

In the end, they become defensive to protect themselves from aggression. Yet, many stonewall themselves to avoid any further discussions after a disagreement.

How to Fix Marital Problems.

Regardless of how you fight, there’s still the hope of rebuilding your marriage. Through compromise, honesty, and communication, it is possible to reach an understanding.

While it is not possible to be in love with your spouse throughout, you do not have to stop loving him or her. The best strategy is to choose to love your spouse. You should also learn to focus on the relationship above even the children.

In a study done by the IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science,  parents who put their relationship above all else appeared to be happier. Find time to be alone together without thinking or talking about the kids. Besides praying for each other, you should seek out the services of a counselor. Once you have a workable action plan, follow it to the latter.

Top 21 Most Common Marital Problems.

To reiterate, no marriage is problem-free. Learning the problems you are likely to have is the first step in finding a solution. The following are the top most common marital problems you are likely to encounter:

Marriage problems

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  1. Lack of Sex

One of the biggest problems in marriage revolves around sex. It could have everything to do with the quality, quantity or frequency of sex. What some couples forget is that sex is one of the best ways to build a strong marital bond.

Yet, some end up withholding sex to punish a partner. What that does is create mistrust between the two of you. For example, you might start suspecting each other of cheating. That may only lead to an escalation of the issues in your marriage.

Related Article: 26 Best Quick Ways to Attract your Husband Sexually

  1. Financial Issues.

In a 2009 study, money was identified as one of the biggest causes of marital problems. Depending on how you grew up, you will handle money different from your spouse.

When differences emerge, the result is arguments overspending, debt, bills, and so on. That’s why it is important to come up with a common way of dealing with finances in the marriage.

This should be done right before you say “I do”. Otherwise, incessant arguments could spell doom for you and your parents.

For example, a spouse may expect an expensive lifestyle that you cannot afford. Under normal circumstances, you can only give what you can afford. Unless the two reach a compromise or they have extra income, conflict is inevitable.

  1. The Kids.

Some parents may disagree about everything involving their parents. For instance, each one may have an opinion about diet, discipline, and how to raise the kids. Divergent views usually result in constant conflict and disagreement.

Other issues may revolve around the way to educate the kids or who will carry the burden of childcare. For example, if one spouse has to carry the childcare burden alone, he or she will feel unsupported.

As such, things that may seem as trivial as changing dirty diapers may result in conflict. When children come, the couple should agree on most of these issues to avoid conflicts in the future.

  1. Spending Very Little Time Together.

With busy lifestyles, most couples tend to spend time apart. Some may even live together but have very little time to relate intimately with each other. The consequence is that most couples and up drifting apart.

As Wayne A. Mack advises, couples should develop shared interests or take part in common activities. That way, you will be able to maintain a strong bond. This is true for couples in long-distance relationships.

They need to arrange to meet often. If you live together, it is necessary to have quality time away from the kids and other cares. Go on a regular date or a cup of coffee.

Common Marital Problems: 21 Ways on how to Solve Them

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  1. Bad Friends.

For a marriage to grow strong, you may have to shake off some of your friends. It could be your best couple or some other friends. If they are not adding value to the relationship, you have every right to shake them off.

From the get-go, determine which friends to keep and which ones to let go. After all, it is better to sacrifice a temporary friendship for the sake of a lasting marriage. Later on, you can build other more beneficial friendships.

  1. Chores.

As trivial as it may seem, arguments on who will do which household chore abound in marriages. The argument could be about a partner feeling overburdened by household chores. That’s bearing in mind that each one of the couples has a full-time career.

The best strategy is to sit down and divide the chores between the two of you. Since you are both adults, you should take responsibility when there’s something to do.

A 2019 study done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville titled: How Happy Coupes Argue supports that view. You don’t need someone to remind you of things to do. If the woman enjoys doing the dishes, she can take it up. Perhaps, the man likes taking out the trash. Why shouldn’t he be the one to do that?

  1. Bad Habits.

As much as you are in love with your spouse, he or she might have a habit or two you aren’t happy about. You may choose to approach this in two ways. First, you might brush it off and say it doesn’t matter.

However, partners who do that might be living in denial. There is no way you can say that everything about your partner is okay. Second, you may want to point out what your partner is doing wrong.

That way, your partner will have the opportunity to make the necessary changes. While pointing it out, don’t make it very defensive.

  1. Unmet Expectations.

Everyone expects something from a marriage. Once you get in, you discover that marriage is a totally different ball game. The bliss you expected is no longer the case.

You thought your spouse will always be romantic but he or she has turned into a beast. Instead of satisfaction, you become disillusioned. You have two options – either adjusting to the prevailing situation or to blame it on your spouse.

If you choose the latter, you will forever be arguing with each other.

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  1. Interference by Family.

Family is good but it might interfere with the marriage. In the book, The Intimate-Marital Relationships, this can end the relationship. It could be from children, step-children, siblings, and in-laws.

For example, the in-laws may want to dictate how you live together. They may also want to interfere in the decision-making process. As for your siblings, they may fail to acknowledge the fact that you are married.

As such, they may want to have unbridled access to you. That means neglecting the duty you have to your spouse. But that shouldn’t be. Once you get into marriage, your partner should come first.

  1. Personality Issues.

There are certain types of personality that might ruin a marriage instead of building it up. Even though you aren’t a violent person, you could be one that avoids conflicts by all means. Or, you like to win against your spouse by all means.

If you aren’t doing any of that, then you go to great lengths to please him or her. While compromise is important in a relationship, you should to things within limits. The best way to go about this is to change your personality to what actually works for the relationship.

  1. Physical Changes.

You married a young, handsome man or beautiful woman. One thing you can be sure of is that he or she will grow older. As they do so, they will change in more ways than one. For example, they will look older in appearance.

Some might even gain weight. Marriage comes with all sorts of stresses and strains that affect how you appear in a few years. So don’t expect him or her to be the same person you met on the first day. That can only be a recipe for disappointment, conflicts, and arguments.

  1. Incompatible Beliefs.

It is not enough to be in love to stay married. For you to have a successful marriage, you need to have convergent religious beliefs. Anything contrary and the relationship will face a lot of challenges.

For example, you could marry a man who has no qualms cheating on you. Yet, your parents raised you to respect your relationship. There is no way you can stay in harmony with someone with incompatible values and beliefs.

As Joyce Meyer suggests in Overcoming Marital Problems, start by aligning your beliefs.

  1. Fertility Issues.

When they enter into a marriage, many couples expect to have children without delay or much of a struggle. That’s might not be true. Starting a family is fraught with all sorts of challenges for some couples.

Whether it affects the man or woman, the problem could be out of control. For example, it could be due to genetics, health issues, differences in priorities, and so on. Or, if a baby comes, it isn’t the way or how you expected it.

Instead of blaming each other for the delay in having children, you need to have a conversation about it. Try out some of the latest scientific methods such as in-vitro fertilization. Or, adopt a child. You don’t have to fight over it.

  1. Communication or Lack of It.

One of the most challenging marital problems is poor communication. The problem with most couples is they haven’t learned how to communicate with each other.

Either they don’t say what they want or say it in the wrong way. The best solution is to get help from an expert who will show you the right way to communicate with your spouse.

After the exercise, you will understand each other better and communicate well. If you can find a way to communicate, the other issues in the marriage will be less amplified.

  1. Cheating Spouses.

In your vows, you promised to be faithful to each other. Yet, a spouse may decide to go astray sometimes. When a spouse strays, your union will face all kinds of marital problems.

In Extra-Marital Affair, Dr. Rakar Williams says it will be hard to trust each other again. It doesn’t have to be anything like you catching your spouse in bed with someone else.

Cheating in marriage can be having an emotional relationship over the internet. It can lead to disagreements and even cause separation or divorce.

  1. Traumatic Experience.

There are times in life when you will have to go through trauma. For example, it could be the loss of a child or the death of a parent. While some people can cope with traumatic experiences, others may react in worse ways.

When your partner turns to you for support, what will you do to provide support? It is only possible to offer support if you know what he or she needs. Whatever it is, you should be ready to offer it. If you can’t, then the two of you may start drifting apart.

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  1. Lack of Trust.

How much do you trust your partner? How much does he or she trust you? Do you have a reason not to trust him or her? Or, do you believe that he or she must earn your trust?

Whatever the case, a time will come when you lose trust in each other. This is one of the biggest marital problems. Where there is no trust, the marriage will definitely go through all sorts of marital issues.

But with Love & Respect, you will definitely have a great relationship.

  1. Getting Into a Routine.

What do you do when your marriage becomes too predictable? It all depends on your personal orientation. While some people thrive in routine activities, others find it to be boring.

The former may do the same things every day without getting bored. For the rest, spontaneity is better than routine activities. So what kind of couple are you? Do you prefer the tried-and-tested or spontaneous?

Regardless of how you look at it, a little spontaneity can make a marriage more interesting.

  1. Differences in Life Stages.

One of the biggest marital problems is differences in life stages. This is something that may never cross your mind at the time of getting married. As you continue staying together, you discover you have outgrown each other.

You feel you can get more from life by being with someone else. This is one of the many common marital problems among couples with very wide age gaps. For example, if a younger woman marries an older man, the life stages will differ from the get-go.

The same applies to a situation where an older woman marries a younger man. With time, the two will discover that they aren’t as compatible as they thought they would be. That’s why people need to ensure they marry the right person.

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  1. Stress.

Even though it is easy to overlook, stress can take a toll on any relationship. Stressful situations in marriage arise from illness, family, and finances. These are what Francie Taylor refers to as Rough Patches.

For example, one spouse might have lost a job. That will put a strain on the one who remains with an incompatible union. About family, couples might get stressed because of having to take care of the children. Or, one of you has fallen ill.

That means the other spouse needs to offer support. As a couple, you need to find a way to manage and handle stress to avoid all sorts of marital problems.

  1. Jealousy over Nothing.

Any couple can fall into the jealousy trap. This is one of the marital problems that are likely to breed a lot of bitterness. But a little jealousy is good. Problems set in when it goes overboard.

A jealous person can be too overbearing. For example, they will want to know everyone you talk with on the phone. Probing questions will be the order of the day. There is no way that this will benefit the relationship.

Instead, it will strain it and make the marriage untenable.


As you can see, marital problems come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether the problems fester and cause separation or divorce depends on the couple.

Learn to recognize these problems when they arise. Once you do, find a mutual solution. That way, you will be able to build a stronger relationship.

David Small

is the founder and editor of relationshiptips4u. He is a dating, marriage & relationship coach, speaker, and author. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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