Everyone has habits that annoy their spouse, but some behaviors can destroy your marriage if you don’t change. The good news is it’s probably not too late to change those habits and rebuild your marriage. Below are the seven common habits that can destroy any marriage if they continue.
Addiction. Being addicted to social media, gaming, food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, smoking, or gambling can destroy the strongest marriage. If you are addicted to anything, stop and think what’s more important to you – your marriage or your bad habit? Addictions are powerful and hard to abandon, but if your spouse is complaining about how much you drink, gamble, game, or shop, see a counselor immediately and begin recovery if you want to save your marriage.
Expressing Contempt. John Gottman found that couples who express contempt for each other are more likely to divorce than couples who are respectful. Contempt happens when you are resentful of your spouse and haven’t worked through the anger and frustration triggered by unrealistic expectations or mistaken beliefs about marriage. If you believe happy couples never fight, for example, you may be avoiding dealing with the hidden anger that can destroy a marriage. Good marriages thrive when couples are honest with each other about their feelings.
Financial Dishonesty. Many couples find it difficult to discuss money, spending habits, and financial goals. But it’s important to be honest with each other about whether you want to save or spend and your goals about career, home, children, and retirement. Money problems are a top trigger of stress in a marriage. If you or your partner is irresponsible about spending and lies about money, you can destroy trust in your relationship and marriage. If you have money problems, see a financial advisor.
Fighting Dirty. If you are more focused on being right and fighting to win than connecting with your spouse and communicating honest emotions, your marriage is probably in trouble. If you hit below the belt when angry, use personal information to hurt your spouse during a fight, and criticize him or her unnecessarily, you are skating on thin ice in your marriage. Fighting is fine, but it needs to be done fairly. If you or your spouse fight dirty, see a counselor to stop this bad habit before it’s too late.
Abusing Your Spouse. We get angry from time to time and may say something hurtful to our partner, but if emotional abuse is a regular part of your interactions or if you push, threaten, or hit your spouse when you are angry, that’s a terrible habit and can lead to divorce. If you are in an abusive relationship, get help immediately or get out of the situation.
Neglecting Sex. No one wants to be close when they are angry, frustrated, frightened, or tired. However, if you get in the habit of rejecting or neglecting sex with your partner, you are going to slowly drift apart. If either of you feels your sex life is inadequate, have a talk with your spouse and work out a plan to fix this important part of your marriage. Even if you have to schedule sex for a while to get back in the habit, make the effort or your marriage may be doomed.
Can’t Compromise. If you or your spouse introduce ultimatums into your relationship, such as “my way or the highway” your marriage is in serious trouble. It’s important for couples to compromise so both partner’s needs are met. If one spouse is in control of the relationship and always gets his or her way, the marriage is headed for disaster.
Recognize some of these bad habits in your marriage? What can you do about them? First, admit you have a problem and decide to do something about it. Take responsibility for fixing the problem and don’t blame it all on your spouse. Express your concerns positively rather than being critical. Try to give your spouse five positive communications for every negative comment. Bad habits can destroy a marriage if you don’t recognize and change them today.
Even if your marriage has reached a point of no return. There are options for how to end the marriage in a respectful manner. Collaborative Divorce is a private divorce process that allows the divorcing spouses to maintain the important family relationships and for both spouses to emerge from the divorce process much healthier emotionally and financially than in an adversarial divorce.