These are some of the things that destroy a marriage I see constantly which could have been easily avoided.
No two marriages are ever the same. Yet most marriages suffer from a few common problems that can kill even the strongest relationships. When spouses start to suffer in their toxic relationship, divorce is not the solution to their problems. Figuring them out to fight for the marriage is.
Since knowing is half the battle, I’ll explain 7 things that slowly poison your marriage and will provide a protip for each of them so that you can work being the happiest couple on earth even if you’re struggling to save the relationship now.
Let’s dive right into it without wasting any time.
If you’re unsure about where you currently are (or worried about your marriage) take the marriage assessment quiz here.
The most common reason for the breakdown of a marriage is the lack of proper communication. More often than not husbands complain that their wife expects them to read minds. They won’t tell them what they did or didn’t do. However appealing mind-reading might sound, since husbands can’t do that, there comes the never-ending arguments and bickering.
Regular communication keeps the sparks in marriage alive. Without that, you can’t know your partner’s needs and wants. If you barely talk to each other because your jampacked schedule keeps you preoccupied, press pause before it ruins your relationship. Shutting your partner out or holding grudges instead of properly communicating can break a relationship beyond repair.
Protip: Pay attention to each other even when time isn’t in your favor. If your spouse seems unreasonable when you’re trying to sort something out, don’t yell at them. Actively listen to why they’re feeling this way and be empathetic. This can solve half the problems that arise in your daily life. Don’t sweep anything under the rug. Rather face them head-on and come out stronger.
I do have a more in-depth look at communication exercises for couples which you can try if your communication is there and you’re just trying to polish things up. If communication is stagnant already I also have some conversation starters for married couples (not just boilerplate stuff).
A Morass of Lies and Secrets
A marriage is supposed to be built on trust and commitment. When couples start lying and keeping things from each other, that begins to affect the intimacy they share. Being fiercely honest to your partner takes a certain amount of vulnerability and when that’s gone out the window, the emotional intimacy follows.
Nothing remains hidden forever. So, if and when the truth comes out, it erodes the foundation of your marriage. The cover-up lies tend to mount up and at one point it becomes impossible to bring the skeletons out of the closet. When the trust is shaken and isn’t being restored, it’s only a matter of time before the marriage collapses.
Protip: You can overcome dishonesty once the unfaithful partner shows genuine remorse and work hard to rebuild the trust in the relationship. It might take a significant amount of time for the hurt spouse to forget and forgive. But, relationships can weather more storms than you’d think.
Lack of Intimacy
Intimacy includes a lot more than just sex. It’s about making your partner feel wanted. When your sex life is dwindling, so is your emotional intimacy. It can be a breeding ground for serious relationship issues like constant bickering, stonewalling, and infidelity. A marriage without intimacy is not a marriage that is going to go off the tracks sooner rather than later.
Marriages strive for intimacy and communication. This study suggests that intimacy doesn’t only affect your marital satisfaction, there is also a positive correlation between good health and regular sexual activity. When that is gone, it seriously affects your partner’s self-esteem and resentment starts to build up.
Protip: Make sure you make time just for the two of you. Plan monthly date nights if not weekly. Get to know each other’s deepest desires and fantasies to spice up your sex life.
Be open to incorporating something new in the bedroom as long as both of you’re comfortable. Touch each other more often. A kiss before leaving for work or a hug from behind can go a long way.
Built-up Resentment and Contempt
Resentment and contempt are two of the most damaging things in a marriage. If not dealt with it productively, resentments tend to make a marriage reach the breaking point. Contempt is called the sulfuric acid of a marriage for a reason. When you’re not giving your partner enough respect and treating them contemptuously, you risk destroying your marriage.
Many couples tend to harbor resentment toward each other rather than forgiving them for what they did. Sometimes it’s because they’ve never received the apology they were looking for. It makes them bitter and they start belittling their partners even without meaning to do it.
Their resentment makes it harder for them to show the respect their partner needs to communicate and solve the problem. The sarcastic comments, name-calling ruins the marriage that once was filled with love and respect.
Protip: Instead of holding grudges, express what needs of yours are not being met, and how can your partner help. Approach them with love and kindness instead of rolling eyes or throwing a sarcastic comment. In a marriage, you’re supposed to be a team player.
You’re not playing against one another. Rather you complement each other. So, let contempt to go and forgive each other to make the best of this marriage.
This is one of the major causes of conflict between married couples. Once you say ‘I do’, your partner should have a detailed idea about your debts, spending habit, and financial goals. When spouses lie to each other about these issues, they commit financial infidelity.
How does this look like? Can be anything from lying about impulse buying to having a secret bank account. While the reason behind this kind of infidelity varies, it clearly shows a lack of trust in the relationship. According to experts, this is no less harmful than cheating on your partner.
When couples get to know about their spouse’s secret credit card or bump into the invoices, it’s only going to kill an ailing marriage faster. If you think your small lies will go unnoticed, think twice. It all adds up and comes back to bite your marriage later.
Protip: The lying partner needs to fix this with integrity and brutal honesty. They need to come clean and be open about everything they’ve been hiding so far. If necessary a financial advisor should be involved. If you’ve been dishonest, sincerely apologize and make a commitment to never lie to your spouse ever again.
If you’re the one who has been betrayed and your spouse is showing the willingness to start all over again, with total honesty this time, productively express your anger and frustration to move on. Once you’re past this, both spouses should make an effort to regularly talk to each other about finances so that there are no more secrets.
One of the biggest culprits of marital discontent is giving in to unrealistic expectations of a fairy-tale marriage. When couples expect their relationship to look like rom-com movies, they set a certain standard that needs to be met by their partners. When that doesn’t happen, feelings of resentment and frustrations begin to arise. Those ruin relationships in more ways than one.
It’s not practical to expect your love-life to stay the same when your work schedule changed or kids got in the way. Your spouse is not the same person anymore you say? They were supposed to make you the happiest person on earth, but they do the polar opposite of that? Remember that your marriage will evolve over time.
So will you and your partner. That’s the beauty of marriage. If you try to keep it where it was you’ll soon find it stagnant and stale. We’re responsible for our own happiness. What your spouse can and should do is to support you while you do that. When your expectations are realistic, it’s easier to make your spouse understand why you need them and how they can be of more help.
Protip: Keep your expectations in check and be empathetic toward your spouse’s limitations. While couples should form habits of fulfilling each other expectations, they should also help each other see what can be met and what can’t.
You certainly should have high expectations of love, respect, and intimacy from your partner. While they should be met to have a great married life, unworkable ones have to be left behind.
Stonewalling happens when one spouse constantly refuses to engage in a conversation or argument. Couples tend to give each other silent treatment due to many reasons such as constant nagging, nitpicking, criticisms, and fear. One spouse tries to keep the peace by staying silent while the other wants to feel heard.
Despite the underlying causes, stonewalling hurts a relationship beyond restoration. When one spouse stonewalls another, the other one tends to feel hurt and unheard. If this is practiced repeatedly in a relationship, it hurts their self-esteem and they start going down the slippery slope of self-doubt.
It affects intimacy and both spouses start to feel more distant from each other. The stonewalled partner will be resentful toward the relationship. The person who’s stonewalling isn’t in a good place either. They’re being deprived of the amazing connection they could’ve built with their partner if they could communicate.
Protip: In order to stop stonewalling from destroying your marriage, you can start to communicate differently with your partner. If you’re the one who’s been avoiding your spouse every time they started a discussion because it felt like a contest, tell them how you feel.
Ask them to tone down the criticism a bit if that’s what is the culprit. If you’re on the other side of the spectrum who’s been stonewalled by your spouse, figure out how you could be more supportive to make your partner feel safe around you. That way you can start being there for each other and things will start to look up.
If you notice carefully, all the problems that destroy a happy marriage are linked to each other. With the help of regular communication and your unending love for each other, they can be avoided.