Just as a house left abandoned falls to ruin, so does a marriage. A lack of intentional upkeep is at the heart of many divorces, and that lack often comes in the form of one of several neglectful habits.
We often hear the words “We drifted apart,” spoken by those whose marriages crumble, but what does this phrase actually mean?
Usually, it simply means one or both partners simply stopped trying. And that is a tragically easy thing to avoid.
Once the honeymoon phase wears off, marriages take a little more effort. We’re no longer driven by the euphoric feelings of new love, and it becomes just a little bit harder to keep putting work into the relationship. But without intentional upkeep, most couples lapse into a handful of habits that cause their marriages to self-destruct—these habits cause division, pain, and eventually, the total separation of two people who once promised to love one another forever.
If you could keep that from happening in your own marriage, wouldn’t you?
But becoming aware of these destructive practices can help you stop them before they form. To help you avoid them, let’s take a look at these 6 habits that will ruin your marriage.
Second only to dishonesty, disrespect is another major relationship-killer.
Disrespect can look like many things. It can come in the form of mean-spirited criticism. It can look like the refusal to help around the house. It can be a lack of regard for your spouse’s space or alone time. It can be manipulation or neglect or public humiliation.
These are only a few examples, but at its core, disrespect occurs when someone decides to stop honoring their spouse’s feelings and needs.
As we’ve said, marriage is supposed to be a safe place for both partners. It’s not supposed to be fraught with the anguish of knowing the person you married doesn’t care about you anymore.
If you want to preserve your marriage, treat your spouse with respect and dignity. Know their wants and needs and tend to them in a loving way—even when you don’t feel like it.
Continuing to be respectful and kind, even during difficult periods of a marriage, is often what saves relationships. So don’t let disrespect creep in and leave your marriage in shambles.
Dishonesty is one of the cardinal sins of any relationship, and the erosion of trust can end a marriage faster than just about anything else.
One of the principal benefits of marriage is an environment where it is safe to be vulnerable. This is where trust comes in. With it, your spouse can feel free to experience the full range of love and intimacy that a relationship can offer. They can confide in you. They can rely on your word. To trust is to be comforted.
The need for trust is a threat that moves through every part of a marriage—finances, judgment, child-rearing, and so much more. It is essential.
Without fear, though, love and intimacy are inhibited. The relationship is filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
This is the kind of environment that causes divorce.
If you want your marriage to last, be open and honest about everything—even the mistakes. Especially the mistakes. Dishonesty is one habit you want to avoid at all costs.
Fighting to Win
Selfishness is the bane of a good marriage, and it’s one habit that will cause a breakup every time.
If you or your spouse approaches the relationship with the “What’s in it for me?” mentality rather than the “What’s good for us” mindset, problems are going to arise.
Because when people like this fight, they’re not trying to resolve conflict in a way that’s best for both parties. They’re fighting to win. And when one partner wins, everybody loses. Each “victory” causes higher and higher levels of resentment, until the marriage finally crumbles.
So if you want your marriage to fail, try to win every argument. Be more logical, find better words, be louder, be meaner—just win. You’ll be guaranteed to lose your spouse.
But if you want your marriage to succeed, practice empathy during fights. Be kind. Be gentle. Replace the word “fight” with “disagreement”. You’re not battling an enemy—you’re speaking to the person you love most in the world.
Remember that, and you’ll avoid this relationship-killing habit.
Disconnection may seem benign compared to some of the other habits on this list, but don’t underestimate it. It’s the high blood pressure of relationships—a silent killer.
So what does this look like? Have you ever seen a couple that just seems inert? When they have free time, they rush to their screens rather than interacting. They don’t talk to one another about their hopes, dreams, and fears. They don’t offer one another support, nor do they ask for it.
This is what disconnection looks like. It can feel like the two of you are “settling in” to your marriage, but in reality, you’re settling apart.
Don’t let this happen! Make it a point to connect with one another, to find out what’s going on in your partner’s life. Otherwise, one of you is in for a rude awakening one morning when the other decides this life just isn’t for them, and they’re leaving you to go live in Europe.
How did they go from the person you knew to one who is standing before you right now, divorce documents in hand? You don’t know, because the two of you became disconnected!
Having regular connection times at the end of the day will keep this from happening. Unless you take time with your spouse, you’ll never have time with him or her. So get active in your relationship, and re-connect.
Problems happen in marriage. Even if you avoid every one of the habits on this list, something will go wrong. You’ll have a lapse in judgment or you’ll lose your temper and say something awful or one of you will simply grow unhappy with the general state of your lives.
And if you simply brush these things under the rug, you’re signing your relationship’s death warrant. When you suppress a problem for long enough, it explodes.
Why is this? Because marriage is about helping to meet your spouse’s needs. Marital problems occur when this doesn’t happen. Those same problems are resolved when those problems are given attention and resolved.
But in many cases, this resolution never happens. One or both spouses think that, by avoiding “fights,” they’re doing something great.
But really, they’re just hastening the end.
So when problems arise in your own marriage, don’t ignore them. Attend to them, search for a resolution together, and above all, communicate. Do that, and you’ll avoid those relationship-destroying emotional explosions a few years down the road.
Neglecting Physical Intimacy
Last, but certainly not least, neglecting physical intimacy is an easy way to wreck a marriage.
Many people are uncomfortable talking about sex, including within marriage. But sex and other forms of physical intimacy are essential for a good relationship—this is something you share exclusively with your spouse.
This requires a deeper level of communication than what you have with anyone else in your life. Partners should be willing to talk about what they desire in terms of intimacy. While this can feel uncomfortably vulnerable at first, it can lead to a wonderfully passionate relationship.
But sex isn’t the only component of physical intimacy that’s often neglected—things like simple hugging, kissing, hand-holding, and cuddling are often just as absent after a few years of marriage. Don’t make a habit of brushing off the art of touch—it strengthens and maintains marital bonds, even when things aren’t going well.
Get to know your partner’s physical wants and needs, and do your best to accommodate them.
Avoid the Path to Hardship
Avoiding the path to marital hardship isn’t always easy, but the rewards are great. There will be times when you simply don’t want to put in the effort, but by actively avoiding these 6 habits and working to be intentional in your relationship, you’ll give your marriage the best chance it can get.