Very common matrimonial landmines

Happily Ever Afters aren't perfect but they aren't impossible either. Our experts help you navigate some common matrimonial landmines

Universally, all marriages have their spells of good and bad and more often than not, share the same kinks in the chain. Be it pesky in-laws or intolerable cleanliness issues, living with someone day in and day out can have its moments of insanity. The trick is to not let them get the better of the relationship. Marriage counsellor Sonali Raisingh and clinical psychologist Ranjan Shah list the most common problems marriages face and how to deal with them.

Parent trap
We tend to get immune to our family's levels of crazy and find it strange when someone points them out to us. Dealing with in-laws is tricky territory for both as one is expected to be respectful while disagreeing on multiple counts. Raisingh suggests that couples set a few boundaries to avoid messy confrontations. It is also important to support your partner and give your relationship priority over how your parents feel.

"For example, if your in-laws call a few hundred times during the day, learn to limit the number without being rude," says Raisingh. "Take your time to call back or text instead. Make plans in advance so they don't pop over unannounced."

As for unsolicited advice, instead of meekly listening, be respectful but assertive about what you think. Say things like, 'I appreciate your concern but we will discuss it and figure out what's best for us'. Do not encourage complaints about your spouse and put up a united front regarding decisions. To keep unwarranted advice at bay keep private matters private. If you mention problems to your mother-in-law, her natural reaction would be to give you advice. So it's best not to discuss issues you don't want interference on.

Family planning
According to Raisingh, "Most couples have difficulty in setting the time to have children. Due to social and biological factors, women tend to be keen to start a family earlier whereas men like to be financially and emotionally prepared. Postponing it can drain the relationship."

Shah adds, "It'll never seem like the right time, but the younger you are when you have kids, the more energy you'll have to deal with the disruptions they'll throw your way.'

Infertility takes on a different level of emotional toll. "Not being able to conceive is often taken as a failure of the union. Discuss other options before you start trying to conceive and you'll be able to handle disappointment better," says Raisingh. "The worst thing to do is to blame yourself or your partner, especially since this isn't something you can change. Weigh your options, but most importantly, shield each other from negativity."

Money matters
Financial baggage can also break a marriage. It's best to be transparent about financial commitments. According to Shah, most partners are surprised by each others spending habits and debt. Be it home loans or credit card bills, never hide the status of your finances and make it a point to take a joint decision on big expenses. "Things tend to get a little complicated as both partners work and get used to a certain financial independence before marriage. To suddenly become answerable to someone else takes a little adjusting to," he says.

Child rearing
Whether you want to be a Tiger mom or a Lily dad, agree on parenting styles. According to Raisingh, "Many parents end up adapting disciplinary techniques similar to what they grew up with. If your parents were strict, chances are you'll be stern as well. If your partner's parents were permissive, (s)he'll be laid back, making you the 'bad guy'."

Talk about disciplining techniques and the idea is to be consistent, be it reward or punishment. "Children are smart enough to see through empty threats," says Raisingh. As long as you dictate house rules together, kids won't play one parent against the other.

Bedroom games
A chunk of marital problems arise in the bedroom. After a while, infrequency of sex becomes a major factor for friction. Day-to-day monotony takes a toll on energy levels as well as physical intimacy. According to Shah, "Holding out on each other as punishment is also common and is the worst way to make your point. Interestingly, when it's physical intimacy it lacks, that is exactly what can rejuvenate a relationship."

Body beautiful
Your wife may not have maintained a svelte figure or your husband might have a paunch and thinning hair, but that's hardly reason to bring it to their notice. Instead of making your partner conscious, Shah recommends suggesting activities that you can do together such as hiking or adopting a healthy diet together. "Make it about yourself. Say you need to get fitter and need company," he says.

Don't underestimate the effect of monotony on the relationship. "With both partners working, household chores can no longer be 'his' and 'hers'. Partners should evenly distribute them to ease the pressure. Small gestures of cleaning up and paying bills can help your partner feel cared for and loved, which helps reduce resentment," says Raisingh.

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