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5 Life-changing events that can make or break your marriage

SheKnows Logo By Lisa Fogarty of SheKnows | Slide 1 of 6: Couple reading a book on couch

No individual or couple is immune to challenges — even the kind of enormous problems that threaten to rock the very existence of your relationship. While a lot of us accept that we're going to have rough patches in our marriages or committed unions, not all issues between couples are created equally.

It's one thing to argue over whether you should have let your teenage daughter go to a dance dressed in a mini skirt, and quite another to be faced with the kind of emotional, financial or even physical stress that eats you up inside, causes you to lose sleep and ultimately affects every aspect of your relationship — from how and when you communicate to whether you even deem it possible to communicate your feelings with your partner.

There is a light of hope here: If you are both devoted to the greater purpose of sustaining your relationship and are willing to turn inward to confront your problems and tackle them together, you can weather any storm. It won't be easy or comfortable, but relationship experts are here to offer ways in which you can work together to resolve your most serious issues.

For starters, conflict isn't necessarily negative, says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage and family therapist, and it might help to view it with more rose-colored glasses: "It's paradoxical, but conflicts in relationships fortify them," Hokemeyer says. "Without conflict, relationships decay into apathy. They lose their fire and become stale and boring. Conflict, however, signifies that the individuals in the relationship care. They feel strongly about a position and each other. They get angry. They dig in their heels and they wonder why their partner doesn't see things their way. But in time their emotional reaction subsides and they realize they hate living in the angst of the conflict. Slowly they desire to have the conflict resolved."

Here are five of the most challenging relationship obstacles.

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