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We asked our readers: What is the most challenging part of marriage? Thousands of women responded, and most agree that communicating with your man is the hardest part about being married. What else is keeping you from wedded bliss? Check out the results below.

the hardest part of marriage

And The most challenging part of marriage is…

Thirty-six percent of readers say that the hardest part of being with a man… is talking to him. Indeed, statistics show "lack of communication" to be one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. So are men and women really from different planets?

quotation mark open If a couple makes genuine efforts at hearing each other with understanding ears, it will not only strengthen their marriage, it will strengthen their friendship. quotation mark close

According to Dr. John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, the differences in communication style may be linked to structural differences in male and female brains. While men's are larger in size, women's have reportedly more neural pathways. Men are left-brained, signifying a focus on logic and problem solving (and SportsCenter….). Women use both sides of their brains, hence why we are able to connect our emotions with language and logic.

A study in the July 2000 issue of Psychological Review revealed that men and women biologically deal with stress differently. Women are hardwired to seek solace in others -- communicating our fears and concerns actually lowers our stress hormones. But men resort to the caveman method of dealing with stress: Fight or flight. For him,"We have to talk..." might as well be two giant mastadon tusks charging straight at his manhood (the "tusks" being your "feelings"). When men are stressed or a conversation gets particularly heavy, they will either accept it as a challenge and fight back... or run like hell. Ever wonder why he's watching the TV instead of listening to your crappy day at the dentist? He chose flight.

In other words, talking about problems calms women down -- but for men, it riles them up. So, instead of barking at your husband for leaving the toilet seat up, it might be more effective to address it from a logical standpoint ("Honey, by simply rotating the toilet lid 160 degrees, you will save my bum from a minor altercation with the toilet bowl at 3 am") rather than an emotional one ("You stupid [bleep]!"). Even simpler? Just say, "I have a problem. Can you help me?"

Polish up your communication skills with these tips on relationship talk:

Talking to men: The one thing all women should know
Effective face-to-face communication
How to fight with purpose

The runners up

Trusting your boo came in second place (with 24 percent of the votes) for the toughest part about being married. Thanks a lot, Jesse James and Tiger Woods... In fact, as of April 1, almost 37 percent of you reported a heightened suspicion to your man's whereabouts ever since news of Tiger's infidelity broke. But before you make a mad dash for his text message history, know this: Lack of trust can be very harmful to a relationship. "Paranoia tears families apart and is a huge roadblock to healing," says Dr. Neil Cannon, a certified sex therapist.

For more on trust and cheating:

Has Tiger Woods made women more suspicious?
10 Signs he's cheating on you
Sex frequency and the desire to cheat
Online sex chat: Is it cheating?

Following trust are concerns over how you spend your money (23 percent), while 9 percent say you just can't agree about how to raise the kids. Differing beliefs can lead to serious verbal and emotional clashes, especially when it's about something that's important to you -- like those totally cute Michael Kors sandles at Bloomies that are totally worth $650 (in your humble opinion). The key to overcoming clashing beliefs is logically communicating your side, then quietly listening to his. Understand where he is coming from. Then discuss a compromise that you both agree upon.

Learn more about improving your finances and family matters:

Talking to your husband about money
6 Ways to control the family's expenses
Good parenting is sexy
How to create family harmony
6 Things new moms can learn from a man

But who could forget the in-laws? Six percent of you attribute your marital issues to having to spend Christmas with his crazy Uncle Charlie. But let's face it -- three hours worth of "Pull my finger" once per year isn't that big a deal. In fact, by putting his family down, you're putting him down. According to one of our writers, "The more mutual respect and enjoyment you experience with your in-laws, the more security and stability you and your spouse will enjoy in your marriage." In other words, don't sweat the small stuff. Life is much too short to worry about something as trivial as his nagging mother.

Oh those crazy in-laws! SheKnows shares some ideas on how to deal with them:

Relationship builder: Enriching your relationship with the in-laws
How to deal with your mother-in-law
How to survive holidays with your dreaded in-laws


What do YOU think is the most challenging part of marriage? Tell us below!

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Comments

Comments on "What's the most challenging part of marriage? Readers reveal!"

Anne Y. Williams April 10, 2010 | 8:06 PM

The most challenging part of my marriage when I was married was my husband trying to control me, and when he couldn't, he would get angry which was a lot. I was married more off than on because of this.

carol l April 06, 2010 | 3:57 PM

Well, as this is my 34th year of marriage I can say that marriage doesn't suck! My husband would do anything for me and does everything for me. He is my best friend, my y naughty man, and we do everything together that we can. He works from home and I would miss him horribly if he didn't. So for me, no, it doesn't suck. And I would also dare say there are many others out there that would agree with me. Marry him...Best thing I ever did.

Vlea April 06, 2010 | 3:24 PM

Wow. First of all, how sad that an article about a sacred institution is titled with "sucks." Marriage is already under serious attack in today's society, and I find it a travesty that we continue to degrade it to some awful experience. I have been married for 18 years, and it isn't always easy, but it's so worth the fight. Marriage is a selfless way of giving yourself to another, and then the fruits of a marriage are our beautiful children. It's not "all about me" all the time. Maybe if it became "all about the other person," (i.e. sacrifice) we'd find many more happy marriages. I think it's time we build up this ageless institution that was meant to be a blessing from God and talk about what's grand about it, not what "sucks."

Swanzy April 05, 2010 | 4:55 PM

I'm not married, but I HAVE lived with my boyfriend for the past two years. Before that, I was in a few serious relationships, and all of them ended due to communication issues. BF #1 could not partake in a verbal fight to save his life... or our relationship. BF#2 (Hm... let's skip him. He was just ugly.) BF #3 did not seem to understand -- when a woman wants to vent about her day, that's not an invitation to tell me what I did wrong. Men always think they need to solve things! My current boyfriend is fairly good with communication. Just not when any form of sports game is on TV. Which is, like, all the time. :) But I pick my battles. A good relationship comes from two people working together. Not one or the other. Teamwork, yo!

Kim March 29, 2010 | 9:46 PM

Even though I want to have an in-depth conversation as soon as he gets home from work (you know, re-capping my day and making plans for the week) he just wants some time to "shut the engines down" -- or veg in front of the TV without conversation! As soon as I realized this and let him have this "down time," he was more open to my gab-fest! LOL

Anouk March 29, 2010 | 1:48 PM

For me it would definitely be conflict about Holidays and sharing our time with families. We live on the other side of the country and whenever we visit our MIL always have a problem. They each think we spend too much time at the other MIL house more... It's quite annoying and we always come back feeling like we are disappointing somebody.

Becky March 29, 2010 | 12:31 PM

Isn't all of this really about intimacy? Communication, , trust, money, kids--all of that's just background noise that starts to define the marriage once intimacy fades. That's really the work of marriage, in my judgement. Remembering and reminding each other as often as possible that it's the two of you against the world rather than against each other.

Rebecca March 29, 2010 | 11:58 AM

I'm not surprised either that communication was #1 -- everything else kind of stems from that. But really, I think the most difficult part is staying motivated -- staying interested in your partner, motivated to communicate better, having a desire to succeed at marriage. Staying interested and involved is definitely a challenge.

Elizabeth March 29, 2010 | 11:51 AM

It doesn't surprise me that lack of communication is a top contender. However, if a couple makes genuine efforts at hearing each other with understanding ears, it will not only strengthen their marriage, it will strengthen their friendship (being friends is crucially important in a relationship) and they will help teach (by example) their kids how to better communicate.

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