There are many dimensions to romantic relationships, and each pairing is completely unique in how each person interacts with and feels towards the other. While there are many possible causes of conflict in a relationship, there are some that many people probably don't consider. Putting aside the obvious, such as infidelity, not seeing eye to eye on money matters and general abusive behavior, there are three sources of conflict many spouses may not consider, despite them being potential risks in an otherwise healthy marriage.
Here are five “sneaky” source of marital conflict to watch out for:
Troublesome Friends and Family
In many aspects, a strong network of friends and family is a crucial part of a marital relationship. No couple lives on an island alone and the way a person perceives their partner's relationships with other people, whether neighbors, co-workers, old buddies or parents, can sometimes be a significant strain on the harmony in a relationship.
While most would agree it's crucial that an individual has some time away from their partner now and then to maintain family bonds and keep their social circle strong, it's possible for this to slip into unhealthy territory if a person is spending an inordinate amount of time with a particular friend or otherwise seeming to be inappropriate in their interactions with them. Through honest discussion, it's possible to have an enlightening conversation where both members of the couple understand where the other is coming from, and a reasonable compromise can be reached.
Not Appreciating Your Partner
Many people erroneously believe that their partner should take it for granted that they appreciate them because they wouldn't be with them otherwise. Yet if a lot of time passes without some encouragement, then it is possible for a spouse to start feeling unappreciated. Of course, there's a balance to be struck between overbearing adoration and complete neglect.
But, many couples who have been together for a long time may find that they can barely remember the last time they heard a kind word about how they look, their successes at work or the effort they put into making the house look nice.
As working and family lives become more hectic, it can be easy to forget to take a little time to let one's partner know they are appreciated, but it doesn't need to take long. Vocalizing thanks and admiration where it is due can be powerful. It can sometimes even turn a rotten day into a positive one. Remembering that partners aren't mind readers and passing along a kind word lets them know they're as loved and appreciated as they've always been.
Showing No Interest in Their Interests
While this has a crossover with a lack of appreciation, the point here is that no interest is shown in a partner's passions. It's next to impossible for anyone to share all the same interests with their spouse, but nonetheless, showing some curiosity in their hobby or work projects is a fantastic way to make them feel good. After all, if they are passionate about something, it’s because they think it's really exciting and love hearing others validate that.
Understand that this is far from meaning you should start going to baseball games with your partner just because they're into it.
You would probably cause contention anyway when it becomes obvious that you are bored out of your mind. However, taking some time to ask questions does not take much effort. For example, perhaps you're not even sure how your partner got into their hobby in the first place, if they engaged with it much as a child, or what they do with their friends when they enjoy the hobby together. A five-minute chat can go far in showing some effort, as opposed to the other person feeling you resent them every time they bring up their interest.
Believing Your Spouse Should Always Know How You Feel
It sounds like the biggest cliché to say that your spouse is not a mind-reader yet this still happens often. You should pick your battles for sure. However, if something is bothering you for a while and you fail to bring it up, resentment can grow, or you may blow up about something seemingly small.
Don’t let the mind-reading myth get the best of you. You can easily state in a tactful way your thoughts and feelings about whatever is bothering you. Think through how you wish to approach your partner. Do not get caught up in the idea that knowing how you feel all the time equals proof that you are loved.
Again, picking your battles is still a good rule of thumb. But never battling is dangerous. It may seem ironic to call this a sneaky source of conflict, but it certainly is not. One of several consequences will occur if you continually avoid disagreements. You may become passive-aggressive, things between you both will come to a massive head one day, or you will slowly drift apart and become more like roommates.
Many people are guilty of avoiding conflict and may even be raised to think this is normal. The normal is likely somewhere between trying to minimize conflict by being cooperative and asserting yourself when something is vital to you. You may even be surprised that when you speak up, it becomes a conversation and a fight never ensues. A marriage with zero conflict is near impossible, so embrace the idea that you may have a few battles to fight!
There are, of course, many possible causes for disharmony in a long-term committed relationship, but the five identified here are often overlooked despite possibly causing some contention. The key is to be honest in determining what's causing the conflict. You can then be mindful of showing effort even when you may not naturally feel inclined to do so. By doing this, the bond between a couple is strengthened and maintained, and there's less chance of serious problems developing down the line.