(photo shows a gay couple wearing pajamas sitting on a bed, facing away from each other, looking sad.)
Every relationship is different. But there are some issues that challenge every couple. While the degree of difficulty can vary widely across couples, there are three issues that EVERY couple fights about.
What are they? Can you guess?
ALL Couples Fight About Money, Sex and Time.
Every couple fights about each of these issues. There are others that almost every couple fights about (children), but EVERY couple fights about money sex and time. These are issues that are part of every relationship and vary in importance and meaning across couples and their unique situations.
Let’s talk about each.
Fights About Money
When I say every couple fights about money, here are some of the issues they fight about:
how much to spend,
how much to save,
who should pay for what,
who should be earning more,
who is better at managing it,
who should be in charge….and on and on.
Which one of these do you fight about and which are most harmful to your relationship?
Couples of different socio-economic levels fight in different ways about these issues. They have different levels of stress about these issues, but all couples of all economic levels fight about money.
Fights About Sex:
When couples are fighting about sex, they are fighting about:
how much sex to have,
what kind of sex to have,
when to have it—both days of the week and times of day—,
who should initiate it,
how significant it is to the relationship,
whether other people should be involved,
what they are supposed to like and how much they are supposed to like it… the specifics of these fights are numerous!
Which one of these do you fight about and which cause the most stress?
Many people like to attribute these fights and the causes of these fights to different genders and sexual orientations, but these fights occur across the spectrum. To add to it, there is not a lot of support in many countries around healthy sexuality so there is added shame about even discussing it!
Fights About Time:
When time comes up in the roster of fights, couples fight about:
how much time to spend together,
how much time to spend apart,
how much time spent working,
how much time is spent doing chores,
how much time is spent with family, friends, and hobbies and who gets to do more,
what time things should happen,
who spends more time doing chores,
how long they should take,
who takes more time to complete tasks…there are many levels of the fights that occur around time.
Which one of these do you fight about and how hard is it to reach agreement?
These fights are common to couples at all stages and structures of relationship—from the newly dating to the couples celebrating 50 years together—fights about time are universal.
Which of these do you struggle with the most?
Obviously, not all couples have the same type or intensity of struggle in each area, but disagreements and conflict about each of these topics hit each couple UNTIL they understand the why of these disagreements and get to a better resolution of that why. Getting to the root of each struggle is paramount to lessening the intensity, frequency, and duration of the challenge and even in creating a resolution for conversations about mone, sex, and time .
The reasons we fight about these issues may surprise you.
These are three very different issues and at first glance, they appear to have little in common. However, there are three core reasons we all struggle across all of these issues. Often we are so focused on the resolution of the argument that we do not stop to wonder about the real reason we are fighting. Complaints like,
“My partner spends too much money!”
“My wife never initiates our sex life!”
“You spend too much time at work!”
are the focus of the conversations my couples want to have. As humans, it is natural that we become fixated on getting what we want or on getting an agreement that there is a problem (as you each define it), that we do not see the patterns common to all three of these conversations.
There are powerful reasons that underpin each of our conversations on these topics. With understanding, we can forever alter these conversations and utilize them not only to resolve the argument but to become closer and more powerfully connected. Below is a diagram that illustrates these reasons.
In all three of these issues, we bring all three of these dynamics. Understanding these can help us navigate a deeper aspect of our struggles around money, sex, and time.
Have you ever taken the time to understand:
What were you taught as a child about money, sex, and time growing up, and how your experiences influence the ways you see and interact with those things today?
Your shared goals for your sex life, your financial relationship, and the way you allocate time to your work, family, and relationship?
The ways you listen to and communicate with each other about these three topics and whether you are able to hear both the ‘facts’ of the topic (CONTENT) and the meaning and feelings in the conversation (PROCESS)?
All three of these have a powerful influence on how these conversations go and consequently, how we feel about these aspects of our relationships.
The emphasis on resolution, on getting what we want out of the conversation, and on winning the argument skips the most potent possibility for actually CREATING what you want for your relationship in the areas of money, sex and time.
Turning your focus to the real reason behind the struggle can bring you closer. Doing so also creates the greatest possibility for connection and growth beyond the recycled fights and impasses that have fed the struggle.
Take the time to wonder together at these aspects of the conversation and notice how the dynamic changes as you do so. Develop a process to bring these aspects into each conversation going forward and watch the fights dissolve and the closeness grow.
I have created a tool to help you use these questions to develop a healthier way to navigate your conversations about money, sex and time within your relationship. Here it is:
Additionally, I am also creating a workshop for those that want to go deeper into understanding these dynamics in their relationship. The Workshop ("Learn the Trick to Get Through the 3 Biggest Fights Couples Have") will be Live in Seattle on August 27th from 9-4. The Zoom series will be Wednesdays from 4-6 pm (PST) on August 31, Sept 7 and September 14th. There are limited seats for each, so be sure to let me know you’re interested.
Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for a replay of the free talk about this or email me with questions, to receive the free guide or to be added to the waitlist for the course.
I am excited to help you get past these fights to a healthier, happier relationship!