Marital Problems

I’ve never seen a marriage in which the couples did not enter with a lot of optimism about the future. We’ve all been confronted on a daily basis with the conflicts which couples go through, either by our hearing gossip, or seeing the drama played out on television or in the movies. We all vow to avoid those pitfalls, but the sad fact is that conflict resolution is not always taking place: over fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce. Each member of the couple blames the other and fortifies their own positions of correctness and blamelessness. It usually takes a judge and a couple of expensive lawyers to sort everything out and to send them on their sad and lonely ways. Without a new set of conflict resolution skills, the situation too often plays itself out again with different participants. Children study all this as it is taking place, and it tends to become a generational occurrence, while marital statistics take another slide into the abyss.

People have come up with a number of ways to avoid marital stress. One is to live with someone without the intent of ever marrying them. We hear of couples all the time who have lived together for fifteen or twenty years without marrying. One would certainly have to study this on a case by case basis, but one wonders what makes it work for some people? Is it withholding that last tie of commitment that allows them to keep their lives disentangled? Is it the clear boundaries of “this is mine and that is yours,” which keeps them in a compromising state of mind?” (I have an ex-wife who always said, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.”) Is it the fact that they are together by choice rather than a dictum of the law? Some couples have chosen same-sex marriages. Perhaps the intent is to forego some of the cultural gender roles that have been traditionally applied. The jury is still out as to whether this will extend the longevity of the marital commitment.

The number one thing married couples fight about is money, i.e., how to divide the sources of income which they have into the possible areas of spending. Maybe the husband is firmly committed to placing money into savings and investments; the wife wants to spend it on hearth and home. Maybe one is convinced that pursuit of certain hobbies such as tennis, fishing or golf is important, while the other feels that these are frivolous and unnecessary. Perhaps one would like the children to go to private schools, while the other feels that public education is much more valuable. The list goes on and on. The net result of this disagreement upon the relationship relies upon conflict resolution. Step one is being able to really hear what the other person is saying, and not to invalidate it summarily. The second step is to look at one’s own position and see how committed one is to that position. Then comes the process of bargaining and compromise. It is important that one of the couple not always accede to conflict for peace and quiet. This is the person who packs a bag one day and walks out for no apparent reason. The discussion should go on until both positions have been thoroughly expounded and explored. If the couple is still unable to reach a mutually acceptable decision, it may be time to seek the services of a professional counselor who can further the discussion and decision process. For some couples it might be getting on their knees together and praying for Divine Guidance. The important thing is that bullies are not acknowledged or allowed. Regardless of the physical size, educational background, or pedigree, of either member of the couple, they each have to be on equal footing as to the relative values of their opinions and feelings.

The second great stressor to the marriage is sex. What the couple did in the early stages of their relationship is probably irrelevant to the adjustment which comes later. What does sex mean to each member of the couple? Is it a bargaining tool to get one’s way? Can it be withheld during conflict resolution? Is it to be pursued for one’s own satisfaction? Probably most important is: can you talk about it together? Is it the bond which eliminates the boundaries of self, or does it accentuate the characteristics of self? These are very touchy issues. Sometimes those who cannot answer these questions seek sex outside the marriage: that has its own set of emotional catastrophes. The critical issue is for the couple to work together to establish what is to be the meaning of sex. The other issues, such as frequency, techniques and personal preferences can be worked out after that.

The third stressor is children. Once again the couple has to discuss what children mean to the relationship. They need to work out areas of responsibility distribution, personal feelings about discipline, and what are to be the goals and aspirations for the child. Once again, there must be talk, talk, talk; no bullies; no emotional ostriches with their heads in the sand. The primary relationship is the one to be treasured and maintained. Family stability will flow from that, and children can grow up feeling secure and loved.

The bottom line is not to wait until the day after you’re married to discuss issues like money, sex, and children. Be honest and forthright. Work on conflict resolution techniques, and decide in advance what your marriage stands for. To reword a commonly use phrase, the marriage that stands for nothing, falls for everything.

John Drew Laurusonis, MD
Doctors Medical Center

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Laurusonis was conferred his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1983 and has been actively taking care of patients since completing his Internal Medicine residency in 1987 in the Garden State of New Jersey. Dr. Laurusonis has been licensed in four states but ultimately chose to permanently relocate to Georgia with his family and begin a private practice. Through his extensive experience in Internal Medicine, as well as in Emergency Rooms throughout the United States, Dr. Laurusonis saw how traditional Emergency Rooms were often overwhelmed by patients suffering medical conditions that were urgent but may not need the traditional “Level I Trauma Center”. Patients often waited six to twelve hours to be seen by a physician, were riddled with thousands of dollars in medical bills, and were generally unhappy with the system.
Dr. Laurusonis decided to open an Urgent Care Center instead of a 9-5 doctor's office. Through the last fifteen years he has received accolades from the community and his patients. He has expanded his practice to include many cosmetic therapies that have previously been treated with painful and extensive plastic surgery. He has been invited to the White House numerous times, has been named Physician of the Year from GA, as seen in the Wall Street Journal, and has served as Honorary Co-Chairman on the Congressional Physicians Advisory Board
Dr. Laurusonis and his practice, Doctors Medical Center, is open 7 days a week from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm offering such services as lab, x-ray, EKGs, aesthetics (Botox, dermabrasion, sclerotheraby and veins etc.), cold/flu, sore throats, fractures, sprains, lacerations, GYN, Pediatrics, Phlebology Anxiety/Insomnia/Depression Treatment, skin tag/mole removal, veins, allergies, asthma, physicals--just to name a few. Dr. Laurusonis welcomes you to either make an appointment or just walk-in to see him. Dr. Laurusonis will take the time to speak with you about your concerns--no problem is too big or too small. If you need additional services we have specialist referrals available or we can refer you to the neighborhood hospital emergency room. Give Doctors Medical Center a call--Dr. Laurusonis will be happy to speak with you.

John Drew Laurusonis, MD
Doctors Medical Center
3455 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Suite 110
Duluth, GA 30096