PORTSMOUTH, OH – Talk to any counselor of couples and they will agree on the top three issues that cause the most conflict: money, kids, and sex. Of course, the mega problem is a lack of communication about money, kids, and sex. Another matter is the absence of problem-solving skills about money, kids, and sex. Feelings often run amuck over misunderstandings, diverse perceptions, and different expectations regarding money, kids, and sex.
Too little of it or too much of it. How you spend it or how you save it. One partner may be frugal and the other partner may spend until the cows come home. Budget or no budget. One checking account or two. Oh! The stress of the green paper on partnerships. And emotional tantrums by adults reign supreme over needs vs. wants. Human beings can be selfish creatures. How we view and manage money says a lot about us.
The mega myth: We wouldn’t argue if we had more than enough money. Really? Consider the following celebrities. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had bucoo bucks and ended up in the legal battle of the century. I rest my case.
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Many parents argue a lot over how to discipline children. You’ve heard of the Disneyland Dad and the Mad Matriarch or the hard-as-nails father and the milk toast mother. Add blended families to the mix and conflict can increase emotional explosions. Raising kids to be caring and responsible citizens in today’s hurry-scurry-worry culture is challenging. And couples without human kids have conflict over how to discipline beloved pets.
One partner wants more sex and the other partner wants less sex. One person wants more nonsexual affection and the other person wants less. And too much conflict over money and kids can disturb and distress the bedroom activities.
Folks, are you connecting the dots about money, kids, and sex?
What’s a couple to do? Yes, research shows the benefit of sleep, nutrition, exercise, daily meditation, annual vacations – blah, blah, blah. Yes, research highlights how to manage reactions to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors – blah, blah, blah. And the planet is plastered by self-help books, parenting blogs, and psychological advice out the wazoo. How to compromise and cooperate is discussed ad nauseam.
But the only problem you can solve is the problem you admit. And both spouses need to take responsibility for their part in the conflict and their part for the solution.
Okay, I would be a remiss writer if I didn’t include reputable research and resources.
The top 5 things that couples fight about are: money, children/parenting, sex, and housework, according to Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, the marriage mentor experts.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman, co-creators of the Gottman Institute and The Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy, are well-known clinical psychologists with books workshops, and retreats.
What is your parenting style? It’s important to know. Good cop and bad cop parenting is damaging.
“Every household has to decide who pays for what. Unlike your past experiences with roommates, however, you probably won’t want to keep pantry items separate in your marriage. You also have a vested interest in paying bills on time to preserve your credit.”
Nonetheless, my personal/professional experiences have shown that humans can be very selfish and self-centered creatures at times (including me). Are you a giver or a taker? Finding a balance between being passive and aggressive is salient. And the balance is being assertive.
Please note that I am neither being slipshod nor slapdash – instead I’ve mentioned three areas that are worth examining for couples: money, kids, and sex. Now, go explore your own relationship and family issues. And how you communicate about money, kids, and sex is vital as well as how you solve issues. The alternative is to live alone in a cave in the desert without money, kids, and sex.