THERE are many causes of marital problems and they vary.
However, there are some which seem common across cultures and contexts.
I want to look at these from two angles — the things that surprise couples and that undermine them. It is important to have a working knowledge of these so you can be able to respond appropriately without destroying your marriage.
There are many things that surprise couples in marriages and cause them to be at loggerheads and blame each other.
The blame game can be destructive and does not go away unless people take responsibility over the things that cause or influence it.
Unfulfilled expectations: This can light up drama and confusion in the marriage. Some people overpromise to impress and fail to deliver and run themselves into trouble.
Others have this misplaced idea that their marriage will provide for all they ever dreamt of, only to be disappointed when they face up with reality. Marriage is not utopia, it’s reality.
Disappointing sex: This rattles many marriages. There are many myths around this and many couples are caught up in these. Myths destroy the very life of any marriage. If sex is not working in a marriage, then there is nothing to talk about as marriage.
Normally, sex disappoints where there is adultery or some strange spiritual belief.
Poor communication: Some couples just do not know how to communicate. You wonder how they got together. If communication fails, the whole marriage suffers. Words are powerful and so are our actions.
Unhealthy relationships: The spousal relationship becomes unhealthy when other relationships are given first preference over it.
Some couples will allow all other relationships to suffocate their marriage.
Unwise choices: It starts from the beginning whether I chose my spouse well. A foolish choice will lead to another and it becomes a chain of these which bring pain in the marriage. It is all about choices, even the way we want to relate is a choice.
Secrets: A couple that keeps secrets will soon be in trouble. Couples should learn to be transparent and very open with each other.
Culture, religion and many other things influence this.
There are those things also that will undermine couples and cause them serious problems unless they decide to handle them well.
The unfortunate thing is that most of our couples these days are unwilling to fix things and are so willing to divorce. You will find these waiting for you wherever you go. Just be responsible and fix things.
Role confusion: Many couples are still fighting over who does what and who does not do what. This is lack of maturity at times and also an attitude that does not want to learn or change.
Religion: This can confuse many couples. The other believes this, while the other believes that. This compromises the unity of the family. The spiritual aspect of things determines the natural.
Value and personality differences: Remember, marriage is between two hugely different people from different backgrounds. There is a lot to let go or sacrifice if your marriage will work.
You might believe in that thing, but it has to go in order to allow your marriage to grow. Many people refuse to compromise for the better.
Conflicting needs: I have seen couples fight and seriously undermine each other. It is good to plan and agree. One of you must climb down for progress’ sake.
Money and debt: This is the biggest demon in many marriages. There is no unity in budgeting and there is no transparency. Many squabble and mess up.
There is a lot of teaching that needs to be done in this area of marriage. How do we handle our finances as a couple?
Boredom: There is boredom in many marriages. Everything is just so predictable. No creativity and it’s just that plain. Boredom sometimes weakens the emotional bond between couples.
I think couples must be fun loving and enjoy going out together and be themselves.
There is this mindset that when you are married then you can no longer play and laugh and have fun, I think it’s a lie and destroys many relationships.
If you look at it, couples can have the power to build a lasting romantic marriage or to ruin it. It’s all up to you.
My prayer and desire is that you learn to own up as couples and work towards fixing things so you can enjoy marriage.
Marriage is there to be enjoyed and not suffered or endured. Those planning to get married must be clear on what they want. Marriage is a fantastic union. Face up to the challenges and deal with them in love and you will enjoy it.
Kilton Moyo is a pastor, guidance and counselling consultant and author of The Church at War. You can call or WhatsApp on
+263 775 337 207 or +263 384 841. See email above.