A study in the US surveyed almost 1,000 couples who had been married five years or less and identified sex, work and finances as the top three problem and adjustment issues for couples (Risch, Riley & Lawler: 2003).
The top three issues identified were:
- frequency of sexual relations
- balancing job and family
- financial issues
Continuing from last weeks article, balancing work and family can be difficult and whilst common, can pose significant issues for couples married for a short time.
2. balancing job and family: It is easy to get caught up in the demands of life to find we are living our lives narrowly focusing on work or home, and we forget or neglect ourselves and our relationship.
We are the instruments of our own performance and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of balance and taking time to regularly refine and give attention to the following four areas in our lives: 1. Physical; 2. Intellectual; 3. Social and 4. Spiritual. The late Stephen Covey suggests consistent and continued refinement and attention to all four areas is crucial.
For our relationship, it is essential that we continually review and draw our attention to these four areas to ensure an upward spiral of growth, change, and continuous improvement. The importance of renewal in our lives can not be underestimated. Learning, growing and developing new capabilities and expanding on the old ones is the process through which marital harmony is made possible.
Attempting to balance exercise, nutrition and stress management (physical); by reading, visualising, planning and writing (Intellectual); focusing on clarifying values and our commitment, dedicating time to study, our faith and/or meditation (Spiritual); and through our service, being empathic, being synergistic and ensuring security (Social), will make a significant difference.
Within the house, the demands can be consuming. A practical approach is to list all you weekly household tasks and allocate ownership for each. Many of our expectations about task allocation will be based on our family of origin and who undertook certain tasks in our childhood.
Discuss the task allocation that occurred in your family of origin and understand that there are ingrained assumptions etched into out brains – who did what and when.
The challenge here is to uncover those assumptions and rescript an approach that works for your relationship. Remain open to change and decide an approach that is balanced for both you and your partner.
Tune in next week for item three, financial issues.
Source: Risch, Gail S; Riley, Lisa A; Lawler, Michael G., Problematic issues in the early years of marriage: Content for premarital education. Journal of Psychology Theology, 2003, 31, 253-26.
The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy.
The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customisation of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.