By Laurie Puhn
Almost every couple has one: that seemingly trivial fight that just keeps cropping up, day after day, month after month, making you feel as if you're stuck in your very own version of Groundhog Day. Perhaps it's about your husband's leaving his cereal bowl by the sink rather than in the dishwasher, or your forgetting — oops! — to tell him that his mother called. The issues that trigger bickering can seem insignificant, but when fights keep on resurfacing, your otherwise happy marriage...
"People are surprised that, even in this most intimate relationship, there’s a lot that needs to be discovered," Kim Lundholm-Eades, a marriage and family therapist and co-owner of CenterLife Counseling, says. "There isn’t a Spock mind meld that goes on between a couple just because they’ve gotten married."
Here are some things that you need to know about marriage that you may not have heard yet.
You've got to sweat the small stuff.
University of Michigan social research professor Terri L. Orbuch, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, says, "Many couples say that what surprised them most about their marriage is that they really have to address the little things that are irritating them, which is the opposite of what you hear in the media about letting the small stuff go." .
For 24 years, Orbuch has followed 373 couples for a long-term study called the Early Years of Marriage Project. In interviews and questionnaires, the couples have reported that small irritations -- like never loading the dishwasher or always being late to the movies -- became big issues if they didn't talk about them.
"It’s very important to talk about what’s irritating you in a nonthreatening way and to compromise," Orbuch says. "Don’t let these things fester."
Families matter more than you think.
Once you’ve had a few holiday meals with your future in-laws, you may feel that you know how to negotiate your relationship with them. But doing so can be surprisingly hard.
Michelle, 31, a New York writer who's been married for six years, says, "The most difficult part of my marriage has been dealing with our families.. My in-laws desired an instant closeness," she says. "They want so much to treat me like the daughter they never had. But I feel like that would be a bit of a charade for me. Also, I think it may have hurt them at the beginning that I didn’t change my name."