What are irreconcilable differences in marriage?

blog image 1- conflict.jpg

Do you and your spouse sometimes feel like you are at logger-heads and feel like there is no solution in sight?

Do you always wish you could turn back the clock and change your partner or the situation?

This post will attempt to explain the different types of irreconcilable differences and how to distinguish them from just serious differences. It will also attempt to show you how to deal with these challenges.

Encountering differences in marriage is a common phenomenon; starting from colour preferences for sleeping patterns and everything in between. Couples need to know that some of these differences are what attracts us to our spouses since opposites attract. They also make up for our weaknesses and strengths. Therefore, differences are not entirely a bad thing as popularly purported.

There are however some differences that can literally ‘kill’ a marriage, destroy a home, cause depressions, poverty, and even death. These are the differences that need to be dealt with as soon as they are discovered or uncovered. Failure to do so inevitably leads to so much strife and unending conflict in the marriage life.

Financial Discipline: This refers to habits that people form around investing, divesting and planning on how to uses one’s money. The lack of Financial discipline leads to many challenges both in an individual’s life and more seriously family life. Lack of financial discipline has led to so many broken homes and increased homelessness in today’s community. Due to poor or lack of financial planning, spouses abscond their financial duties such as payment of rent or mortgage, late payment of loans, not honouring financial obligations that are legally required such as payment of taxes and bills. Impulsive shopping and too much credit debt is a sign of financial indiscipline as well. There is nothing as sad as seeing hard working couples, earning a good living but they are choked up to their necks in debt, caused by irresponsible spending behaviour. Most of these couples end up in divorce or separated because they could not stop blaming each other and fighting about the debts unceasingly. These problems could have been avoided right at the beginning.

  • It is paramount to know your fiancé(e)’s financial history and spending patterns before crossing to marriage. You need to know his/her opinions regarding investing business, savings, mortgages, gambling, budgeting among other pertinent issues in marriage. ASK questions about everything financial. Ask questions about planning together. Ask questions and do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your future spouse’s Financial discipline or the lack of it. I do not believe that backchecking is snooping when it comes to finances.
  • Once married, continue the discussion about budgeting and investment plans. Maintain transparency about incomes, wages, and expenditure. This communication goes both ways. Avoid spending wantonly on unplanned items or activities without consulting each other, even when you are the main income earner.

Work- family life balance: Every spouse is often times proud of his/her partner’s hard work. However, career paths should be discussed before marriage in order to understand each other’s ambitions and who should stay with the children(should you envisage having them). Things should not be left to chance, especially when children are involved. Allow for each spouse to air their passions and fears. This will also help in looking for alternatives together; such as working from home as opposed to working from the office. If one spouse has to travel extensively, it is important to know how the other feels about it. If external help is needed in helping with the children, this should be discussed in detail. If family members would be involved, again, this should be discussed in detail, with everyone involved.

Communication: This is another reason why people break up. Some state that they could not understand each other, one was not completely open with his/her talk, or the other was too rude and uncultured, one is a hypocrite and the other cannot shut up… He did not tell me he was going to buy that…, she did not ask about this and that…the list is endless. Communication does not only stop with the couple, but also with the children in the family, relatives, and friends. Violence and abuse of any kind is not a method of communication and should be condemned at all levels. When violence becomes the only way to summarise your discussions, I believe that is the time to go your different ways.

  • Set up clear channels of communication earlier on and practise using them repeatedly until they become second nature. For instance, sitting down and discussing accounts or budget, and involve the children in planning processes.
  • Put it in writing. Write down every plan or deliberation that you come up with. This helps in reducing conflicts and blame-shifting in the future. Remember to add the timeframe for each activity so that you can have a set time limit for each goal.
  • When necessary seek advice from experts in order to help make more sound decisions. Avoid the “know-it-all” attitude. When it comes to communication. Allow room for your spouse to pitch in, and discuss issues amicably.
  • If communication is a challenge between the two of you, seek help from a communication specialist or a marital counselor.

External interference: Marriage does not exist in a vacuum. There are friends, siblings, in-laws and in some cases, children from previous marriages. Each spouse comes with a baggage of each of the aforementioned people. While marriage is the fusion of two different worlds(Individuals past lives), there is the risk of letting in the baggage right into the middle of the relationship. Friends jump in to give advice or still want to hang out “as always” with their buddy, or in-laws trying to make decisions on behalf of a couple. This is a sure way rock the marriage boat, and if the couple is not careful, it might capsize.

  • However much you might love your past life, it is time to reset the boundaries and set limits regarding your friends’ interference with your marriage life. The same applies to in-laws or previous spouses. Make it clear that there is a part of your life that no longer belongs to them and that is perfectly okay.
  • Create a limit of times to be spent with buddies and let your spouse know about what you have decided.
  • Children from previous marriages should be treated as bonafide members of this new relationship unless there is a reason it cannot be so, and this should be made clear right at the beginning of the relationship, with the reasons clearly stated.

Individual goals and preferences: When each spouse is having totally conflicting goals, the relationship cannot stand. Some individual differences are so vast that I cannot cover them all in this blog. Some include Personal ambitions, Spiritual preferences and beliefs, Sexual compatibility and personal hygiene. Some of these are so personal that they cannot be compromised for the sake of marriage. For instance, a lady who is dedicated to her career and does not want to have children may find it hard to marry a man who wants a stay-at-home- wife to take care of their children. A man who does not believe in the uniqueness of a sexual relationship to exclude other women may find it hard to stick to one lady as a wife.

  • Such differences may be difficult to iron out once married. It is therefore very important to discuss these matters way before committing to marriage. Personal differences vary from one person to another and should therefore be discussed in-depth between the two lovers.

These are just but a few differences that may lead to marriage breakup. As you can see, they are not really that irreconcilable especially with a little wisdom, from hither and thither. Please do not forget to leave me a comment below. Feel free to spread the wisdom to others. What are the other irreconcilable differences, in your view, that need to be addressed in a marriage relationship? Please join the discussion below or on Facebook. I would really appreciate if you could follow me on Twitter by clicking the link below.

To a mutually beneficial marriage.


Follow Me

Most read

Want Guruhellen's E-Magazines sent straight to your inbox?

If you do not receive the confirmation email, please check your Junk E-mail folder just in case the email got delivered there. If so, select the e-mail and click Not Junk, which will allow future messages to get through.