Challenges Most Couples Face During the First Three to Five Years of Marriage:

Finances
Relating to the opposite sex
Loneliness
In-laws
Romance and affection
Spiritual growth together
Roles of husband and wife
Communication
Values and lifestyle choices
Trials and suffering
Where to attend church
Differences (including male/female, backgrounds, religious training, regional)
Travel
Debt
Children
Entertainment
Weekends
Traditions (how to handle holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations)
Resolving conflict
Work and Career
Vacations
Priorities (schedule)
Sexual intimacy
Roles of mother and father
Selfishness

Most couples face common challenges in marriage. If you don't discuss and resolve the differences between you and your spouse, you're headed for rough marital waters. In our book, Starting Your Marriage Right, we outline four ways to resolve "great expectations."

1. When you married, you began a lifelong commitment to love and forgiveness. Remain committed. Love always. Remember, "love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)

2. Your marriage won't grow without communication and understanding.
Communication means talking and active listening. You'll know you understand your spouse when you can verbally express your mate's actual needs and desires and he or she agrees with that expression. Communication is vital to clarifying your needs. The Bible urges husbands to "live with their wives in an understanding way."(1 Peter 3:7) Guys, that means you have to seek to understand. Ladies, that means you have to help him understand you.

3. You've heard the old saying, "walk a mile in my shoes."
In order to develop God's perspective of your mate, you may need to do just that. Remember, God selected your spouse for you. Accept His provision, knowing that He has an agenda for your life through unmet expectations.

4. Don't give up on your dreams. All of the things you imagined your marriage to be may not come true. God may have a new dream for you to live together. Talk about your dreams. Then dream together.