Relationship Expert Reveals the Biggest Issues in Canadian Marriages
A successful marriage is all about growth. Marriage is a commitment that’s by no means easy, and takes equal effort on both sides of the partnership. When it comes to regrets and revelations, Canadian married couples know all too well about the highs and lows of the journey from “I do” to “happily ever after.” To get the inside track, we’ve enlisted relationship expert Alyson Jones to unearth some of the most common issues that married couples in Canada face today, and the revelations that'll help them have a happy and healthy marriage.
Issue: a lack of (or poor) communicationThe “keystone to a good marriage,” as therapist Alyson Jones puts it, is communication. It’s not surprising that many of the issues most married couples face are most often rooted in problems with communication. Many couples will tell you that not having certain conversations prior to getting married ranks high on their list of relationship regrets.
“Communication and problem solving are very important skills in a relationship. If you cannot find a way to communicate, you will not be able to find a way to resolve the issues.”
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Issue: a lack of romanceCouples and family therapist Alyson Jones notes that many Canadian married couples feel they've lost a sense of romance in their marriage. They worry that the spark is gone, and dwell on what they imagine a romantic marriage should look like. Warns Jones: “Although we tend to think of romance as the cornerstone to intimate relationships, too much of a good thing can actually harm the relationship. People who are highly romantic in nature tend to have very high, and often unrealistic, expectations.”
The fix? Never underestimate the small gestures when it comes to romance. “Sometimes the most romantic things are the smallest things – a good conversation, a thoughtful gesture, and some time together… simple and authentic moments that really bond people,” she explains.
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Issue: the wedding hangoverThere’s a reason they call it “the big day” – but at what point does the scale of your wedding begin to overshadow your marriage? Alyson Jones warns that "the commitment aspect of the wedding tends to take a backseat when the wedding becomes a competition of the biggest, best and splashiest nuptials.” Then comes the wedding hangover, says Jones. “Many people thrive under the attention they get throughout their engagement and wedding day, only to feel disappointed and disconnected after the big day has passed.”
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Issue: having a hard time with imperfectionGet comfortable with imperfection. “People are flawed and they will disappoint each other. This is inevitable,” according to Alyson Jones. Embracing the good, the bad and the sometimes-ugly of your marriage life – and each other as individuals – is key to finding joy in the experience overall. “Life is meant to have all the elements. There is no relationship of substance without some disappointments and difficulties… There is duality in our relationships, and therefore, experiencing all of our emotions helps us to appreciate and enjoy our life and who we share it with,” says Jones.
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Issue: there are many stages to a marriageLike any other aspect of life, it’s the journey that matters most, and this is particularly true when it comes to marriage. Take it from our expert Alyson Jones: “Marriage is not stagnant, nor should it be… There will be some days you think your partner is the best human being in the world, and other days you feel annoyed by everything your partner does. This is just the reality of relationships.” For those couples who accept this early on, the ups and downs to come are much more manageable.
Embrace the highs – and lows – of your marriage journey. Ultimately, it’s the rough patches in between that will serve to bond you the most and make you appreciate those high points even more.
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Issue: giving in to those “bad days”“We all get triggered by our partner,” says Alyson Jones, quick to add, “and we all trigger our partner. But the truth is that there are also times we are aware of this and we are looking for a reaction. We all have our bad days, and our human moments when we are not at our best.” She adds: “Sometimes we just have to recognize this in ourselves and our partner and not take it so personal.”
Nobody’s perfect. Often, more so than the other person’s actions, it’s our own reactions to things that might be fueling the fire in relationship conflicts. Be accountable for the part you play on these “bad days” but also be quick to forgive yourself – and your partner – for being human and giving in to a bad day.
Issue: letting your marriage get “stale”Many couples have regrets in their marriage that stem from feelings of being “stuck” or stagnant in their partnership. As Alyson Jones describes: “We need to bring new information to each other… there needs to be space and respect for each partner in the relationship to pursue the things that have meaning for each of them.”
Interestingly enough, the remedy for this, says Jones, is often found in discovering new interests as an individual and bringing that into your relationship, whether via stories or by having them join in. “It is good to keep developing new skills and interests… A good relationship that has movement in it thrives and grows throughout a lifetime.”
Issue: loss of selfLoss of self-identity is a common complaint amongst married couples, and it’s crucial that couples recognize the value in respecting each other as individuals and not just as one half of a partnership. A key way to enjoy your partner (and have them find enjoyment with you) is to be your whole and most authentic selves.
“When you are living an authentic life,” says therapist Alyson Jones, “you can move forward in your life – and a relationship needs to have enough room and respect in it that both people can be true to who they are.”
Ultimately…When it comes to making a marriage work long-term, it’s all about intention and actions. As a final thought, therapist Alyson Jones says: “We need to keep choosing each other. In some manner, we have to continue to choose each other… We need to feel we belong, and that we are significant to our partner.” How can Canadian couples achieve this in a marriage? Jones advises, by "telling each other what we value in them, and by demonstrating that our partner is a priority in our life.”
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