For Better or Worse: 6 Marriage Milestones

When you take your marriage vows and promise to love your partner “for better or worse” some think of “worse” as not being able to buy the big house in the nice neighborhood. So when serious issues in the marriage arise, a lot of people are not equip to deal with them. Hard times come and go in a marriage, but the whole point is for those times to bring a couple closer together–not further apart. Below are some milestones that most marriages will have to deal with and comments from the experts on the issue.

1. Having children

It’s easy to lose sight of your relationship when suddenly there’s a precious new life that depends entirely on your care. Most likely, you should not only rule out sex for the immediate future. “It’s important to talk about the changes happening in your relationship, from lack of sleep to lack of sex,” advises psychologist Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.

Making sure you’re on the same page, parenting wise, can go a long way to preventing arguments in the long run as well. Napolitano advises trying to stay flexible about how you decide to parent, in order to figure out what works best for you both. There’s no one way to parent. The options are very wide range; from daycare to using the services of a nanny, to figuring out a way to stay at home. It’s about finding out what works best for you, and for your children as well.

2. Infertility

The opposite can also have bad effects on your relationship if you find you’re having fertility problems. You may end up resenting one another for not being as enthused about it as the other is. Or if there is medically a problem. “The best thing to do is explore all your options rather than blame each other for infertility issues,” says Napolitano. So don’t lose hope just yet if you’re having problems. Talk to each other about possible solutions like surrogacy or adoption. Stay allied with your goal: to become parents.

3. Cheating

“Betrayal never happens in a vacuum,” says relationship expert April Masini. Getting over the hurdle of being the victim, or the perpetrator if that’s the case so that you can figure out together how this occurred. Once you reach that understanding, you will become stronger and grow together.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is more than just an old saying. “There’s some truth to it,” says Masini. Getting through a betrayal between you and your partner, you can make your marriage stronger than ever. Keeping an open heart and an open mind is essential.

Don’t act harshly in the head of the moment. Take the time to work through the experience with each other once the truth of the affair comes out. “Temper your own behavior when you learn about an indiscretion, and if you need a time out—even if it’s for a week or more—take it,” says Masini. “Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it does heal a lot. And better yet, it gives you the opportunity to calm down and process what’s happened so you don’t do things you may regret later.”

4. Illness

Serious illnesses, being in and out of the hospital, and mounting treatment bills will take a toll on you personally as well as emotionally–especially with each other. “A serious illness can allow you to see that a spouse really has your back in ways that you may not realize in a healthy, day-to-day existence,” says Masini. “Whether it’s a hospitalization after a car accident or a bout with cancer, you and your spouse can show each other what you don’t usually get to—that you’re there through thick and thin.”

5. Taking care of sick parents

“A sick parent is, in many ways, like introducing a new baby into the family,” says Napolitano. “Caring for this ill parent takes time, energy, and money away from the couple.” The trick is to tackle this new even as a team and not alone: “Maybe one person cooks food for the ailing parent while the other visits,” says Napolitano. It can depend entirely on the seriousness of the illness, but try to keep room in your schedules for each other, not just supporting the ill parent.

6. Financial woes and job stresses

Finances and managing accounts can be scary. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of blaming your partner for losing his or her job, making bad investments, or the state automatically taking a school loan payment out of your shared account. The key is, again, as Napolitano explains, is to remember not to blame one another. Together, it’s better to seek (professional) financial help rather than trying to tackle it yourselves and adding to your stress. There are likely things they can recommend to you that you’re not aware of, to ease your financial burdens. The professional may be able to help you get back to where you want to be; being happy and content in our lives together.

The reality is, no matter how secure you are in your relationship right now; most people will have to face most if not all, of these issues in their marriage. Napolitano goes on to advise that what matters is to take the long view and know that while there will be times of stress, marriages can still not only survive, but thrive.

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