Avoiding conflicts in your relationship is essential for long-term happiness, but is it worth agreeing to compromise in every situation just because your spouse always gets upset first?
Would you feel like what you want doesn't matter much if this keeps happening and they make no effort to avoid offensive words? What if your in-laws got involved, too, and took sides?
Is there any way to keep a marriage going, or is it better to just let go and move on to be happy again?
My friend Andrea has been married to her husband Tom for two years. They don't have kids yet and are both focusing on promotions and improving their income. When they got engaged, they had a hard time affording to rent a place together since they had both been living with their parents until then, but they worked overtime and made it happen.
"It mattered a lot back then to have our place and to feel like it was our home. Just visiting each other in two different houses where we had to follow the rules and couldn't spend all our time together was ok, but not enough to make our relationship happy. We agreed on working long hours if we had to, but together, we made it happen. I always thought that showed how much Tom cared about me and our relationship," Andrea said.
While Tom's initial effort definitely convinced Andrea he wanted to be with her, things didn't stay the same for long. Tom's mom and dad, Alicia and Nick, got annoyed when they found out what the couple wanted to do.
And more than that, they refused to let Tom get his clothes for a few weeks until they calmed down and agreed to let him come inside their house and pack his things.
"That was unexpected. I mean, I realize they were attached to him since he's their only child, but our relationship had nothing to do with that. And they couldn't really want him to live there permanently," Andrea said.
The first few weeks of living together were quite tense since Tom had to find a way to make his parents accept his decision, but he also needed to buy clothes as they wouldn't let him have his things for a while.
"I tried not to interfere in that and just make our relationship exciting as we learned about each other's habits and spent more time together, but it was hard. And Tom wasn't putting much effort into it at all. We argued a lot, and he shouted at me. He apologized at the end of the day, but he started again whenever he wasn't in a great mood," Andrea said to me.
She assumed her boyfriend's attitude would improve once the disagreement with his parents ended, but he found other reasons to be displeased. He didn't like the seasoning when his girlfriend made dinner, and if she got takeouts, he told her she was wasting time on useless things.
"I know cooking at home is nice, and I wanted that to be a part of our relationship. But when I worked later than he did, I couldn't do that. And he didn't understand me at all. Instead, he argued as soon as I walked through the door with a takeout order. He could have gotten the food, but he just waited for me to arrive," Andrea said.
Once he got promoted, Tom argued a lot less, but it still happened once a week. The couple got married, and Andrea was determined to do all she could to have a happy relationship and start a family later on.
The problem is her in-laws were not supportive and kept telling Tom he had to watch out because he couldn't trust her.
"I told him they were just gossiping and he could pick me up from work anytime, and he assured me everything was ok. But then he started sending texts at unusual hours, interrupting my work projects with calls, and getting angry when I couldn't reply. And just one year after getting married, he offended me every chance he got, even if it was just me forgetting to get ice cream from the store," Andrea said.
She got promoted three times in the last year, and she's now earning double what her husband gets. As it turns out, Tom isn't happy about it and keeps reproaching his wife for trying to make him feel bad.
"I haven't said anything about his salary, but as soon as he wakes up, he shouts at me and tells me to stop blaming him. And he keeps offending me even if I told him that has to stop," Andrea added.
And now her mother-in-law, Alicia, has joined in their arguments too. Every time Tom gets annoyed with his wife, he will say whatever he wants, and then his mom calls and continues the offenses.
"He offends me and texts her; she calls and shouts at me after he's done. It's like I have to apologize for earning more and for not being a housewife. I never was that, but suddenly, they can't stand me anymore," Andrea said.
Her parents have been away on a trip abroad for several months, and they haven't been in touch much, but every time they answer Andrea's messages, they advise her to think carefully if she still wants this marriage.
They don't think her marriage with Tom can last if he's being disrespectful. And he's no longer apologizing for anything he says, either.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Tom to be constantly annoyed with his wife because of the difference in their salaries? Should he tell his mom to avoid calling Andrea and making things worse in their relationship each time they have an argument?