"This one comes into play through each party failing to do little jobs like taking care of pets, cars, garden, repairs, shopping, etc.," notes Jeanette Raymond, PhD, author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! "One or other isn't doing what they are 'supposed' to, or [fulfilling] preassigned roles both have prior to marriage, but that are not spelled out openly -- hence the fights!"
For example, one spouse isn't the breadwinner that the other expected, or one partner isn't consistently getting dinner prepared on time, even though they are the assumed homemaker.
The fix: "The couple needs to make their unconscious and deeply-held expectations of their spouse overt," says Raymond. "Many couples are too scared to do this, because they anticipate it will end the marriage." If that's the case, she recommends investing in therapy as a "safe place to begin sharing their expectations with a professional who will hold the threads of the marriage together for them and give them ways of communicating their experiences in ways that can be tolerated and adapted to."