Strife – /strif/ – noun – angry or bitter disappointment over fundamental issues; conflict.
Divorce is a very emotional process and the marital strife during the breakdown of a relationship can be painful. After many fights, it may become normal for one of you to say something hurtful and for the other to react in kind. Notice the word react. It doesn’t mean the same thing as respond. During heated conversations, taking a step back before reacting is often the best choice.
You may believe that your marital conversations are private and only affect you and your spouse; however, your children and even your pets pick up on everything. If you’re both yelling, even the family dog can’t find a hiding place fast enough. With the holidays around the corner, marital strife seems to find a way to disrupt even the happy times. Tension, no matter how much you think you’re hiding it, makes for an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner.
Common Causes of Marital Strife
Every marriage is different, but experiences suggests that money is the leading cause of marital strife. Bills and debts, spending habits (champagne-living on a beer budget) or medical costs can drive anyone to despair. Other causes of marital strife include:
- Differences regarding children. While children aren’t the cause of divorce, they can add tension to a marriage. Differences in discipline, diet and other parenting-style disagreements can be a major stressor in marriage.
- Expectations. People enter marriage with grand hopes and dreams. If both spouses aren’t prepared to support the other as they achieve (or fail to achieve) those dreams, the disillusion can be devastating.
- Family. Marital strife can also come from overly involved in-laws and flimsy boundaries.
- Friends. Everyone needs friends, but not all friends are good for marriage. If you find yourself discussing your marital problems with a friend rather than with your spouse, you may need to revisit your priorities.
- Housecleaning. Laugh if you want, but you know it’s true. Put a slob in the same house as someone tidy, and there’s trouble ahead.
- Intimacy. Lack of intimacy can raise tensions in marriage.
- Separation. Business travel, elderly parental care, military deployments or temporary out-of-town assignments can wreak havoc on the best marriages.
Four Ways to Manage Marital Strife in Divorce
Your heart hurts and your brain is tired from overthinking due to marital strife. There’s an overwhelming amount of research about the effects of stress on your health. While marital strife is bound to arise in any relationship, sometimes it reaches a point where you can’t overcome it.
Here are some tips to help you manage marital strife during your divorce:
- End conversation-stoppers and insults. Everyone has a trigger sentence that will stop a conversation immediately. Then there’s sarcasm, digs and snide remarks. By the time your marriage is ending, you know what upsets your spouse. Take a breath and leave the insults at the door when you prepare to discuss your divorce.
- Keep perspective. After years of fighting, it can be easy to let the little things get the best of you. Before you dig your feet in and make demands, consider the bigger picture and your end goals.
- Rely on professionals. Attorneys, communication specialists and financial neutrals can help guide through your collaborative divorce. They are trained to help you navigate the process, manage your expectations and even improve your conversation and brainstorming skills.
- Consider counseling. Marital strife can take its toll on anyone. Find a trusted counselor to help you work through the issues in your past to prepare you to move forward with your life.
Just because you’ve decided to divorce doesn’t mean marital strife ends. Some of the most difficult conversations will happen during a divorce. Collaborative divorce offers you access to professionals who can help you discover long-term solutions to today’s marital strife. To learn more about collaborative divorce in Arizona, contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices today.
Judy Morse has been helping families resolve their questions about parenting time, legal decision making, and their finances and assets with her Collaborative Practice since 2006. The founder of Judith A. Morse, P.C., now known as Morse Law Group, Judith A. Morse has been practicing law for more than 32 years.