Having a happy relationship after you get married will take patience, determination, and the will to find common goals and things that make you both feel relaxed and excited.
But what do you do when your spouse expects you to move back in with your parents even though you've just bought a house together? Is it acceptable for a while to avoid arguments and keep your relationship going instead of seeing your marriage end?
My friend Christina has been married to her husband, Patrick, for a year and a half. They don't have kids yet because they've been struggling to be able to buy their house.
"That was our main objective. I wouldn't want to have a family and still rent an apartment. That just wouldn't work. My husband agreed to that, and our relationship seemed to be headed in the right direction," Christina said.
The problem is she feels they were getting along a lot better before they got the house. Six months ago, they realized they could finally afford house payments. This was mainly due to Christina getting promoted, and she's currently paying the mortgage from her salary, and her husband takes care of the monthly bills.
"I didn't mind doing that because we were in it together. He's going to get promoted, too, eventually, so there was no need to wait. We could have a home, and I was so excited when we moved in," Christina recalls.
Unfortunately, she didn't get to stay in the house too long. Just a few weeks after they settled in, her husband started arguing with her almost every day.
He wasn't happy with how often she cleaned; he saw dust in every corner, the seasoning in her dishes was suddenly off, she visited her parents too often, or had guests coming at the wrong time.
"It was always something about me, and I was surprised he just saw all those mistakes, but nothing he did was wrong. I tried to explain, but he just argued more and shouted at me," Christina said.
She assumed Patrick needed some time to calm down or that he was stressed from work, but his behavior didn't change. Instead, the arguments happened several times a day. And three weeks ago, he told Christina they needed to have a serious talk.
"I felt the same way. I was tired of arguing and explaining myself all the time. Something was wrong, but I was sure we could fix our relationship if we really tried," Christina told me.
What Patrick had said to her was very different, though. He actually told her she was causing major issues in their relationship and that they needed some time away from each other.
"It wasn't just me, and I wasn't the one who kept bringing up reasons to argue. I told him that, but he kept pushing his point. He just repeated I needed to go for a bit, so I asked where if this was our home," Christina said.
That's when Patrick came up with the idea that she should live with her parents for a while until everything was well with their relationship again. He added that he would consider a divorce if they couldn't agree on giving each other some space.
Christina didn't think it was that serious, but she didn't want to put her marriage on the line either.
"I thought it would be ok if I stayed with my parents for a week or so, and I told him that. He instantly looked relaxed and told me he cared about me and wanted things to work out after all," Christina said.
She packed part of her things and went to her parents' home. She's been there during the last three weeks while also paying the mortgage. She only got two texts from her husband during this time, and he never picked up her calls.
"He wants me to live with my parents; I pay the mortgage for our house. I told him this was for two weeks at most, but he's against me coming back after three weeks. And he says he'll change the locks. It's our house, not his, and I'm paying for it," Christina added.
While she was focused on avoiding arguments until now, she doesn't think it's possible if Patrick avoids her like he's been doing. Her parents also believe she should go there and check what's going on, and they're willing to accompany her if she needs it.
"I don't think it's as bad as that, but maybe I'll go with mom and dad just in case. My friends told me they had heard loud music there several nights. And I'm beginning to think maybe he's seeing someone. He doesn't seem interested in our relationship anymore," Christina said.
She's not sure if she needs to consider an affair, but she's very uncomfortable with her husband's attitude. They haven't argued, but they have barely said a word to each other lately.
What do you think about this situation? What is actually going on with Patrick, and why doesn't he want his wife to live in the same house anymore? Is it likely he's started another relationship, and Christina needs to find out and decide if she still wants this marriage or not?