Six Tips To Handle Marriage Problems

Updated April 15, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Whether you are experiencing marital problems in the first year of marriage or after retirement, fighting through the tough times is difficult. While some marriage issues might be minor, like who is emptying the dishwasher tonight, others, like infidelity, can rock the relationship to its core. Here are six tips for handling marriage problems, no matter how large.

Set aside time to talk

You don't have to handle marriage problems on your own

Although you may want to discuss a problem as soon as you spot it, blowing up at the moment is rarely helpful. Speaking out in a flash of anger usually results in nothing more than hurt feelings and more fuel for the fire later. Talking about an issue is even more useless when one spouse can not actively listen.

To best address marriage problems, agree on a time when you and your spouse are willing and able to talk through the issue. Get a babysitter, silence your phones, and turn off electronics. Do everything possible to limit distraction and focus on the issue at hand. If you cannot solve the problem in one sitting, you can always set aside more time for it in the future.

Avoid bringing up the problem outside of the scheduled time to talk. Never continue the argument through text or email afterward, and avoid repetitive messages to your spouse’s phone or computer, no matter how tempting it is to speak your side of the argument when they cannot argue back. Separating the conflict from the rest of your relationship will keep the issue from sneaking into areas of the marriage where it does not belong.

Talk AND listen

As important as it is to make your spouse see your point of view, remember that they have their own. Although it is easy to believe that your perspective is the right and only your solutions make sense, often, the right approach to problem-solving is the one that takes both spouses’ feelings into account. There is always a middle ground for working through an issue, and marriage problems are no different.

When discussing an issue with your spouse, remember that listening is a big part of communication. While you may not like what they are saying, being sensitive that what they say is true to them is an excellent way to see the problem through their eyes. Criticism hurts, and it is easy to get too focused on the things they might claim you are doing wrong. However, listening to their thoughts will make them feel appreciated and more likely to work with you instead of against you.

Try to avoid getting hung up on who is right and wrong. Instead, work toward equal talking and listening with your spouse to find the root of the problem. When both perspectives are spoken and heard, you can find a solution that works for both of you.

Focus on behavior

It is easy to forget that our spouse is more than what they do. People often try to understand others regarding their actions, but in marriage, this can lead to blanket statements and accusations that are not true, only causing more resentment and anger down the road.

When discussing marriage trouble, focus on the problem, not the person. Avoid statements that start with “you,” such as “you are so lazy,” or “you never help me.” Instead, try to word concerns in ways that place the frustration on the action, like “When I do not get help around the house, it makes me feel angry.”

One way to do this is to focus on how the behavior makes you feel. This takes the blame away from the person and puts it on the consequences of the action. It also minimizes the chance that your spouse will take personal offense and fire criticisms back. It also presents an opportunity to discuss how the behavior can change. Your spouse will find it easier to change something they do than who they are as a person. Communicating this way takes planning and practice, so it helps to think about how their actions make you feel before bringing them to their attention.

Find a common goal

One of the most important things you can do when working on an issue in marriage is to decide the end goal for you and your spouse. Do you want a particular behavior to change? To stop? Do you want to start doing something new? If you walk into a serious talk about your marriage knowing that you both want the same thing, you will have an easier time coming up with ways to make that goal happen.


Sometimes, you and your spouse may want different things. You may have to compromise when deciding what your end goal will look like in this situation. To do this, focus on big-picture ideas. Think about what you have in common and what you would consider an overall improvement to the marriage. Even if the end goal is very general, like being more empathetic toward one another or keeping the family together, you will at least be on track to working as a team.

Set realistic expectations

The easiest way to make your marriage goals a reality is to set realistic expectations of one another. To do this, it is helpful to avoid words like “always” and “never.” For example, you would not want to say something like, “I always want you to help me clean the house,” or “I never want you to ignore me,” because, at some point, the other person will not live up to your expectations.

Ultimatums are another no-no when it comes to working through marriage problems. Ultimatums can quickly become emotionally or mentally abusive. You would not want to tell a spouse anything like, “I will only put you first when you get better with money.” One person should never have to do something to get love, respect, and affection back, especially in marriage.

As soon the argument starts to include words like “always” or “never” or resorts to ultimatums for either party to get what they want, the opportunity to work together as a team is gone. Remember, your spouse is not perfect, but they should not need to act a certain way or do something to stay in your good graces.

Keep it personal

When two people enter a marriage, the expectation is that the person they choose to spend their lives with will respect them enough to promote their reputation, not destroy it.

Although you may think you are simply blowing off steam, you do not know how you are changing your spouse’s image in the mind of your confidant. It might be hard to repair the damage when the marriage issues resolve with friends and family still looking down on the person you love.

This is especially true with social media. As therapeutic as it is to vent your frustrations, you may never be able to fix how you portray your spouse online. Remember, many opportunities present themselves through social media, including new job opportunities and friendships. Do not paint your spouse in a bad light over a short-term disagreement.

This rule does not apply when it comes to abusive situations. If you are in an abusive or dangerous situation, speak out NOW! Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)!

Get help!

You don't have to handle marriage problems on your own

There are many signs of marriage problems, and what is an issue in your marriage may not be in someone else’s. If you and your spouse cannot find common ground or work through your problems, marriage counseling can help.

Couples therapy is a beneficial way to process and work through common marriage problems that couples encounter. Online marriage and couples therapy may be an excellent alternative to in-person therapy, particularly for couples with busy schedules. Online marriage counseling provides affordable treatment with a licensed therapist from the convenience of your own home, and it works, too. One review of 14 studies found no difference in effectiveness between online therapy and in-person sessions. Ready to take the next step? Sign up with Regain to get started.


Whether you’ve been married for one year or fifty, you should know that marriage problems are not unusual. Just because you run into a rough patch in your marriage does not mean you’re doomed to divorce. All problems, big and small, benefit from the little things you do to work together, but when you seem to hit the end of the road, a licensed therapist can help.

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