The Top 3 Marriage Problems Couples Face

After providing marriage counseling for a number of years, I have seen and heard many stories. You could say there is not much I have not heard. However, I am sure there are still stories that would make me cringe. It’s impossible to hear it all, even for a therapist. I rarely react anymore. Probably because I have likely become desensitized to these types of stories. What I have learned through these stories is that couples face challenges and they often don’t know how to deal with them. Sometimes they don’t even know what the core problems are.

Couples that I have met with face many common marital problems. Looking at my own experience and what other therapists have said, as well as research, we find common themes. Despite the themes that show up in relationships, there are deeper more core-related issues that are common and are not usually focused on at first. It’s best if young couples and even seasoned couples figure out where they might struggle in their marriage.

Yes, spouses come in arguing about finances and parenting, but those are usually surface-level. If you want to make your marriage healthier, you need to focus on the things that may be driving your inability to resolve surface-level complaints. That would be for another article though. Today we want to talk about the most common problems we see in therapy for married couples today. I believe 3 problems in marriage are the most prevalent. These top issues that married couples face are financial struggles, parenting conflict, and family drama. These 3 issues seem to be the normal issues presented in therapy and they are very common in my practice today. Although there are more, we will focus on these 3 today.

Why Are These 3 Marriage Issues The Most Common?

Marriage is hard. Many issues pop up for couples throughout their lives together. Some are more common than others. I have seen couples come in with many such as infidelity, addiction, constant arguing, differing values, intimacy concerns, and more. All of these are possible reasons spouses struggle. However, the ones I see most are conflict over money concerns, parenting decisions, and family drama.

It’s not that the other issues don’t affect couples, but if you poll most families, many of them don’t have major problems. When I say major problems, I am talking about to the point of wanting a divorce. The divorce statistics show that communication concerns, infidelity, and other problems are very probable causes, but financial strife and lack of family support were high factors also. When it comes to less severe, but very common reasons that couples struggle, money, kids, and external family concerns always seem to be difficulties the couple is unable to solve on their own. This is true in my family and many others I talk to. Thus, I believe that the top 3 marriage problems that couples have are financial conflict, parental differences, and family drama.

Married couples struggle with financial decisions.

When it comes to finances, couples tend to think differently. When I work with my premarital couples, I will always give them an assessment, usually the SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts). That assessment gives details about different aspects of the individual’s personality and beliefs about important topics in marriage. One of those aspects is finances. The assessment will show whether the individuals in the relationship lean more toward being a spender or a saver. In my experience, couples have opposite leanings most of the time in the way they view money. This example shows how conflicts over finances can be created.

Finances are important in marriage because of how they impact a couple’s livelihood and future. How are you going to eat and pay for your house, clothes, car, gas, and other essentials if you don’t have money? Some spouses feel that experiences are sometimes more important. Believe me, I have heard it all! The frustration is that they don’t know how to get what they both want when it comes to finances. The question is how to make it a Win-Win. Many couples struggle with compromise and feel like their losing control if they don’t have it their way when it comes to money.

Married Couples Fight About Parenting

When it comes to parenting, we were all parented in a variety of ways. Did you have a lax parent or a military officer as a parent? When individuals marry, they bring their past with them. They both think they know the best way to parent. However, they only know what they saw and experienced. Sometimes an individual wants to do what their parents did. Others want to do the opposite because they feel unloved and abused by their parents.

Again, we usually see couples who lean to different standards or some slight difference in how they want to discipline. They also may have differences in values they want to teach their children. We are invested in our kids and want the best for them, which is the cause of most fights centered around parenting. We are passionate! Passion leads to boldness, courage, and speaking up for what you believe is right. If couples see things differently and have passion for their beliefs about the way things should be, they will fight. That is unless they know how to be civil and work towards a compromise. Even then it could get heated.

Marriage Fights Happen Because of Family Drama

If I could tell you how many of my clients talk about the interference and effect their families have on their relationship, it would take me longer than I have time. The stories they have are numerous. How many films in the movie industry show in-laws who disprove of a spouse or don’t like each other? I bet I can guess that every Christmas you will have an intense discussion that you dread all year about what to expect from your spouse’s parents when you go visit them, are you going to do Christmas with them this year, or what they did last year.

Don’t be disheartened, this seems very normal. Family drama is in every family. We are only human and humans fight and disagree. Why? Because we have different opinions, desires, beliefs, and feelings about most things. Yet again, it causes problems in our marriages. We are closely attached to our families growing up…usually. We don’t know anything else. They protected us, fed us, and taught us everything we know. Are we supposed to disown them because our spouse sees things differently? It’s a good question, but one that must be answered by you and you alone.

The answer is never easy, but you have to press forward. Remember, the Bible says to choose your spouse. If you aren’t religious but got married, maybe you should check your integrity. Did you make a promise to the one you married? You’ll have to develop a new life together. Your family does not dictate what you do. You dictate what you do! It’s okay to be different. Your family, as do all, has to accept your choices. They do not have the right to tell you how you should live your life or what you should do. If they don’t like it, they have the right to put walls and boundaries up to protect themselves. They could even say they don’t want to be in your life. That’s all a part of making adult mature choices. You as a married couple have to make them. You also have to accept the responsibility for the waves your decisions will make.


In life, it’s not possible to have your cake and eat it too in most situations. You have to be okay with change. Grieving loss is good too. When you get married, you will have to change. Your spouse will have to change. It’s inevitable to have a great marriage, and sometimes a good one. Expect change. Expect compromise. You have to give a little to get a great relationship. Fights are inevitable, but you can make them healthy and a part of a growing, maturing process that you both are involved in.

A headshot picture of Brandon Coussens, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.


Brandon Coussens is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the owner of Legacy Marriage Resources, LLC in Augusta, GA. He provides couples counseling and individual counseling and specializes in Marriage Counseling, Christian Counseling, and Sex Therapy. Learn more about him in his bio.

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