As the Houston relationship counselor, I hear this one a lot: “She fights with me over the stupidest little things. You left the seat up. You forgot the milk. You shouldn’t start more than one book at a time.” Obviously the specific complaints vary from person to person and gender to gender, but it comes down to the same thing: big fights over things that seem like they should be incredibly small. What’s your spouse’s problem?

The thing that most people miss—especially when they feel like they’re being attacked—is that there’s often a pattern or a message behind the issues that their partner is trying to communicate. Unfortunately, sometimes even the partner doesn’t quite understand what that is, just that he or she is frustrated and annoyed and you are the cause. So, instead, your partner complains about something that seems to make sense—even if it’s not that much sense.

Of course, the big problem with all of this is that the real problem isn’t being solved, and focusing on the small things may even be making it get worse and worse until you need to seek out marriage help. Want to know what the secret—what that message behind the message—really is? “I want you to change for me.”

Changing Doesn’t Have to Be a Bad Thing, Says Houston Relationship Counselor

In popular culture, one partner wanting the other to change has received a bit of a bad rap but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Most successful long-term relationships require each of us to bend a little bit because we want to make the other person happy.

When your spouse complains about you forgetting the milk, maybe what she’s really saying is that she doesn’t feel like you listen to her because you’re always ignoring or “forgetting” what she says. And that fight over starting too many books at once might be his way of telling you that he feels overburdened by responsibilities and wants you to help out more instead of relaxing with a book—or maybe that he wishes you’d spend time with him instead.

If your partner were to put it in those terms, you’d probably be far more willing to work on the problem, but interpreting these complaints can be tricky on your own, and you may need marriage help.

The Houston Marriage Counselor Can Get to the Real Problems

Don’t feel like you’re all alone. If you need help dealing with ongoing fights over small things, contact the Houston marriage counselor today.