can't get along with my spouse

Let me ask you a question… When you think of your home, what is the feeling that comes to mind? Is it a feeling of peace, calmness, of excitement? Of a place that you want to be? Or, when you think about your home, is it something that stresses you out? Is it something that maybe gives you a little bit of anxiety?

We’re going to talk about why that might be and how you can make it better. Many people have asked us about this topic, and in fact, it’s something that my own marriage has gone through.

Why Do My Spouse And I Not Get Along At Home?

Why do my spouse and I not get along at home? When my husband and I got married 10 years ago, we immediately left the States and went to be stationed in Korea. My husband was in the army at the time. We moved literally halfway across the world- we didn’t know anyone, we didn’t know the language, (we really didn’t know anything) and started our lives there together.

It was incredibly difficult because back when my husband and I were dating, our entire relationship before we got married was long distance… so we never had to share a home or a space. And honestly, the only times when we were together were long weekends. All the rest of it was long distance dating. We would have these “spurts” of being together for many hours at a time, but then, we were separate.

Here’s why that matters: we got into a rhythm of being able to be independent people and only having to compromise, negotiate, or give up things we didn’t want to do for only a short period of time.

This compromise for a short period of time was very manageable, so we didn’t realize what was happening or what was going on until we got married. Then, all of a sudden, we were living together 24/7 and we couldn’t escape each other. We weren’t just spending time together for a long weekend and then going back to our normal independent lives during the week. No, this was all day, every day. All of a sudden, we were faced with having to learn to compromise with each other. (And I have to be completely honest with you… we did not do a very good job at it for many, many years.)

It led to fights. It led to resentment. In fact, it led to so many frustrations in our marriage, to where, many times, I was asking the question of, “Why did I even get married?” or, “Did I marry the wrong person?” We very much “butted heads” and our home became the place that we fought.

Whenever he would come home, or I would come home, we would have to come face to face with the differences that the two of us had. It ended up causing more problems in our relationship… and even more problems came from the fact that we didn’t know how to talk about it or fix what we were going through.

You and your spouse may be having problems at home for different reasons. I’m going to talk about a couple of reasons why you and your spouse are not getting along at home and also share about my personal situation and my personal experience.

Learning How To Compromise

One reason (that I’ve already started talking about above) why you and your spouse may not be getting along in your home is because you haven’t learned how to compromise with each other. You haven’t learned how to speak each other’s language, and in fact, you are filtering everything your spouse is saying, doing, or acting through the way that you perceive the situation… Which could be very different from what your spouse’s actions and intentions actually are.

Here’s what this looked like for me and my husband. Many times he would come home after a 12 hour Workday, wanting some time to just decompress and relax. His personality and temperament needs the ability to decompress. But that was totally opposite of me…

You see, during those days, I was home alone ALL day. I didn’t have friends in Korea yet. I couldn’t even speak the language of the country I was in. So I was desperate and hungry for connection- especially connection with my new husband. But his reality was that he had a stressful day at work…

When he would come home from work, I would have one expectation and he would have another expectation. (And we never actually communicated what our needs were.)

Instead of going to him (as I should have) and saying, “Hey honey, I look forward to connecting with you. I’ve just missed you. I want to talk to you. How can I help you decompress after getting home?” And instead of him saying, “Hey honey, I can’t wait to talk to you and hear about your day, but I just need a couple of minutes, to just sit and chill for a bit before we talk.” You see, if we had just communicated with each other that way, it would have saved a lot of heartache, a lot of fights (and a whole lot of yelling).

Instead, what ended up happening was, he would come home, he would go into the bedroom to read, to unwind, to disconnect for a minute, and I would feel like he didn’t want to be around me. I felt unwanted. I felt unseen. And I felt unneeded. I felt unloved because I was filtering everything through my own perception and not through his perception.

“I was filtering everything through my own perception and not through his perception.”

You see, he wasn’t intending to hurt me. He was wanting to unwind so that he could then spend time with me later, but I wasn’t seeing it that way. I was only seeing it my way– through my personality, temperament, through my background, through the way that things have affected me in the past. That was the story I was telling myself.

When he wouldn’t connect with me, I would try to do everything I could to get his attention. At Marriage Helper, we talk about push behaviors, the pleading, the whining, the manipulating, the unnecessary crying, starting fights, controlling, hovering… and those are the exact things I would do to try to get my husband’s attention. But it was only pushing him further away.

Because it was just the two of us, we were only seeing things through our own, individual perspective. We were filtering the other person’s actions through the way we were interpreting it. We didn’t take a minute to pause, stop and actually ask the other person what they needed; to see it from their point of view.

Instead, we continued to fight against each other when what we needed to do was to come alongside each other and remember that we were on the same team.

“We continued to fight against each other but what we needed to do was to come alongside each other & remember we were on the same team.”

Both of us wanted the ability to unwind, to feel peace in our home, to connect, but we were both going about it the wrong way. And maybe this is what’s happening in your marriage when your spouse comes home, or when you come home. Maybe you dread the time when they walk through the door. Or maybe you dread going through that door because you feel like it’s just going to be another fight tonight… thinking, “We’re not going to be able to agree on anything and you don’t know what to do next.”

My encouragement to you is this: start thinking, “How can I see this through my husband’s perspective?” Or, “How can I see this through my wife’s perspective?”

Try To See The Situation From An Outside Perspective

Instead of only thinking about it through your perspective (and this is difficult to do, especially if you haven’t been practicing it) take yourself out of the situation and try and see it from a third party point of view. This is why something like Marriage Coaching can be extremely helpful! In Marriage Coaching, an unbiased third party (who has the interest of helping the marriage) can help you see things through a different filter, a different lens, and a different point of view, so you won’t react in negative ways. Even just changing that one thing can make such a difference in being able to bring peace into your home!

Are You Seeking To Be Heard? Or, Are You Seeking To Hear One Another?

So, the first thing to consider is this: Are you and your spouse seeking to be heard or are you seeking to hear each other? That is the first tip for having peace in your home.

If you don’t feel peace in your home, then it’s not going to be a place that you’re going to want to be at or come home to anyway. So when thinking about how to make your home a safe Haven, a place of relaxation, a place of intimacy, a place that everyone in your family wants to be, then another question that I want to ask you is this (it may sound familiar since I asked it at the very beginning!). When you think about your home, what are the images or the feelings that come up that are associated with it?

If you have negative feelings about your space, maybe you feel stressed because it’s cluttered or it’s messy. Maybe you feel stressed because there’s fights that happen there. Or it just seems like every time something bad happens, it happens in your house. Maybe your bedroom is the place where you and your spouse have fought the most. Or perhaps you just have different places in your house where things typically happen and it doesn’t have a positive memory associated with it.

Is Your Home A Place Of Peace?

So the second question I want to ask you is this, is your home a place of peace? I know this might sound crazy, but even the way you have your house set up- do you have peaceful things in your house? Are there peaceful colors? Peaceful music playing? Things in your home that bring you comfort? Pictures of your family, pictures of fun memories that you’ve had together?

Or… does your house feel messy and disorganized? So much so, that it brings you stress just being in it because you’re thinking about all the things you need to do (or have to do). Your environment may not even be set up in a way for you to feel comfortable in it.

If you don’t feel comfortable in your environment, it’s going to be difficult for you to relax in it. And if you’re unable to relax in that environment, then you’re more on edge. You might get stressed out easier, which may lead to more fights, disagreements, and just an overall sense of stress in that environment.

I mean, take a second and just think about a spa… If you’ve ever been to one or a massage place, then you know when you’ve been in those places, they create it in order for you to feel relaxed. The music they play, the way the lights are, even the way they speak, right? When they greet you and walk in, they’re not overly happy and exuberant. Rather, it’s very low and calming because they want you to feel calm.

So now think back to your home. This may be a strange thing to even consider thinking, but how can you begin doing things differently inside of your home in order to make it a more calming place for you to be? Maybe you start considering playing some softer music or maybe you start purging a bunch of stuff that you need to get rid of in order to have more space. Or maybe you even just start with your bedroom and make it a place that is comforting and relaxing; a place you look forward to being in. Take that concept and apply it to all of the areas of your home! Because if you want to be in your home, if it’s a place that is conducive to relaxation, calmness and intimacy, then the other people in your family will appreciate that as well.

Changed Routines Trigger Loss

But the third thing to consider when you and your spouse are having a difficult time getting along in your home is (especially in a time where a lot of us are going through changing situations in our lives) the rhythms and routines that we have been used to have been uprooted up ended and completely turned over (!!)

There’s a sense of normalcy that we as humans seek. We are creatures of habit. We like routine. Even the people who say, “I’m spontaneous, I’m up for anything. I love when nothing’s the same and everything’s different.” They still thrive best when there is some kind of routine in their life; there is something they can expect.

When we get in those patterns of typical and expected behaviors, it brings us comfort. But when we go through a change, it disrupts our lives. And to an extent, it can be what is considered as a loss.

When our days begin to change, when our schedule shifts (especially when it’s something that we weren’t prepared for) we can experience that as a sense of loss. There’s a loss of the time we used to have, a loss of our schedule, a loss of our normalcy. All of those things can be considered loss and our body perceives that the same way as they perceive any type of loss- major loss, minor loss. Now I will say that a change in my daily schedule is NOT the same as me losing a loved one to death. But what I am saying is we must not eliminate or disregard the impact that changes of daily behavior have on our lives in a positive and in a negative way.

Whenever you are experiencing a sense of loss in your life, don’t discount how that might be affecting your normal everyday behavior.

You may be more stressed out than normal, more on edge. You may even feel depressed or anxious more than you normally do when there’s been a change that occurred in your life.

All of a sudden having to work from home… or all of a sudden being put into a new position at work… or moving… or your kid going to school… All of these are changes that disrupt our lives. It takes time to settle into a new normal.

During that time where you’re learning how to settle, your body goes through changes- mental changes, physical changes just in learning how to understand what’s going on. So don’t fight the feelings about changes in schedule, behavior, and patterns of life that have happened (especially recently). Understand that it’s normal to even be sad about some of the changes that have occurred, or angry, or frustrated, whatever that might be. Give yourself permission to even grieve the changes that have happened.

“Understand that it’s normal to be sad, angry, or frustrated, about some of the changes that have occurred.”

To be completely honest, when my team in our office began working remotely and my kids started not having school anymore, for a while, I loved it. I really loved the break. I loved having the chance to be with my kids more than normal.

But the first couple of weeks, I felt very unsettled. I just had to learn what that meant. I had to give myself permission to be okay with feeling unsettled, but once we got into a new rhythm and a new routine, I loved it.

But then, when I heard that my daughter’s pre-K graduation had gotten canceled, I didn’t realize I was going to be that sad. I didn’t realize I was going to cry about it. If I had tried stuff this feeling down, it would have just gotten worse. I probably would have been more on edge that evening. I probably would’ve lashed out at my husband about something stupid because sometimes you just need to allow yourself to feel the feelings that you feel. It’s cathartic. We need the ability to express those. We need the ability to let our body work through those emotions.

“Sometimes you just need to allow yourself to feel the feelings that you feel.”

There’s a lot more that can go way deeper than what I just said when it comes to the body and how it experiences change- and with major changes even how it experiences, which is fascinating to learn about, but it’s not what I’m going to focus on now.

Instead, what I want you to take away from this is realizing that when there’s a change in your life or in your spouse’s life or in your family, that it’s normal for there to be stress associated with that. And it’s even more reason to be conscious about the way that you’re interacting with yourself. Be aware of how you’re treating yourself, giving yourself even more grace. Also, be aware of the way you’re treating the people around you, especially the people that live in the same house as you.

Listen, Create A Calm Environment, And Take Time To Adjust To Change

So here are the three things to ask yourself. If you have been finding that you and your spouse are not getting along at home, the first is: Are you seeking to be heard more than you are seeking to hear what your spouse is going through?

The second is: “How can you better make your house a place of calmness, relaxation, and intimacy?”

And the third: “In what ways has your schedule, your spouse’s schedule, or even your family schedule changed over the past several weeks or several months? Have you allowed yourself the time to settle into a new normal?”

It is normal for you and your spouse to not get along. In fact, fighting is healthy for relationships. We have another video about that, but that doesn’t mean that it is an acceptable way to just have your communication from here on out. You don’t want to have a marriage where all you do is fight, but you also shouldn’t be alarmed if you and your spouse fight, and in fact, you and your spouse might have a relationship where you fight a little bit more than other couples around you.

My husband and I have personality temperaments that are more prone to disagreeing, being very stubborn, and adamant about wanting to get our ways. But you know what? My mom is a peacemaker. She would avoid conflict with every bone in her body if that meant that no one would fight. People are different. And so take all of these things into consideration, but also realize that fighting doesn’t have to be your new normal.

While it’s okay and even healthy for you to have disagreements in your relationship, you must be able to reconnect positively after a fight happens in order to make sure that your relationship is on a healthy trajectory forward.

And if you’re having trouble with that, we can help you create a better path forward. We have marriage coaching, we have online courses, and we have workshops that you or you and your spouse together can go through that can transform the way that you and your spouse communicate for good for the rest of your marriage. It’s not going to fix everything, but it’s going to teach you how you can communicate, how you can have conflict and how you can compromise in ways that will absolutely strengthen your relationship and make it better than ever before instead of tearing your relationship apart.

And we want to help you because we believe in solid, strong marriages and we believe that no matter what has happened in your life or in your relationship, that you can have an amazing marriage as well.

If you want more information on how to have healthy disagreements with your spouse, check out this video!

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