How to Undermine Your Marriage Without Trying
A good marriage is a valuable thing. Most of us want to know and be known by another person – to love and be loved fully despite our flaws and shortcomings. It can be the closest bond shared by two people. And yet, even though we long for this, we can (and do) unknowingly sabotage our marriages. The behaviors and attitudes discussed below are some of the ways that we undermine our unions – that you can damage your marriage – without being aware of it:
- Believe Jerry McGuire. As Jerry in the film Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise proclaims his love for Renee Zellweger (Dorothy) by declaring, “You complete me.” This attitude is troubling and harmful to relationships. According to Eunia Lee, LCPC with Stenzel Clinical Services, the implications are: “You complete me because I need to be completed, and therefore, I choose to be with you. Being with you is about me. My needs. My wants. My feelings. And that is why I value you.” This is selfishness at the core; many marriages have broken up over this attitude. A person can only be complete in themselves if they are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually grounded and growing. Then marriage can be the union of two “complete” people who love each other well in healthy ways and build a marriage that will last.
- Bury your feelings. Burying your feelings because you’re afraid to express them is like taking termites out of the living room and releasing them in the basement. They will continue to eat away at the supportive structures of your relationship. Without communicating your feelings, distance will grow between you and your spouse. There will be misunderstandings and arguments, which can result in bitterness. Then you will be forced to deal with the feelings, live in misery, or leave the relationship.
- Stop dating. Romance is an essential element of a healthy marriage. However, many couples fail to have regular dates because they are swamped with parenting, sports practices, dance recitals and recitals, household duties, etc. In short, romance gets lost in the busyness of life. If you want to make deposits in each other’s “love bank,” then it is critical that you carve out the time and make an effort to schedule regular dates and plan periodic getaways for just the two of you. Otherwise, you will unintentionally sabotage your relationship.
- Always insist that you are right. This means that you never admit that you are wrong and that you have a difficult time apologizing. You might ask yourselves, “What is it costing me always to insist that I am right?” It could be costing you peace in your home, closeness, fun with your spouse, friendships, a good working environment, etc. Consider The more you give up your right to be right, the more capacity you have to love and be loved. Rather than undermining your marriage with the belief that you always have to be right, consider adopting these two attitudes:
I give up my right to be right, even when I am right.
You mean more to me than proving myself right and you wrong.
- Keep financial secrets. Financial cheating can torpedo the trust in your relationship and mark the beginning of the end of your marriage. Using multiple credit cards to hide large purchases, hiding shopping bags and receipts, having a secret account, or any financial dishonesty will destroy your marriage.
- Engage in “harmless” flirtations with others. So, what’s the big deal? You’re just having a little fun with a friend or co-worker. Unfortunately, what you feel is harmless or fun may lead others on and cause unwanted advances. You could be pulled into strong temptations that you hadn’t bargained on. Your actions could make your spouse feel insecure, angry, or deeply hurt. If you want to flirt, go ahead and flirt – but only with your spouse!
- Maintain records of who does what. You want to ensure that everything is fair and equitable and that you and your spouse contribute equally to the marriage. You don’t want to do more than your fair share. This thinking is based on the premise that marriage is a 50-50 arrangement. Unfortunately, this scorekeeping habit can wreak havoc in your relationship. There are times when you will need to lean on your spouse, and there are times when your spouse will need to depend on you. Marriage is about “we,” not “me.” If one of you wins, both win. If one of you loses, both lose. Marriage is not about who did what but what we can do as a team.
- Make comparisons to other marriages. You see other couples on social media building their dream home at 30, landing the perfect job, taking exotic trips and vacations, and laughing and enjoying life. Maybe these people are in your church or neighborhood. You use these couples as the measure of your marital happiness. Your relationship seems mundane and dull by comparison. There is a reason why Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” You lose the joy of your unique relationship. No two marriages are the same because no two people or couples are alike. And when you compare your relationship with others, your spouse may be made to feel inadequate and unappreciated, or worse. They may even feel unloved.
- Poke fun at your spouse. From personal experience, I know this doesn’t endear your spouse to you or benefit your relationship. In fact, like the other behaviors in this blog, making fun of your husband or wife will undermine your relationship. Why? These “kidding” remarks are sometimes an attempt to make your spouse “lower” so that you may feel superior to them. They can also communicate an attitude of superiority: “I’m more intelligent than you. I have it all together, but you obviously don’t.” This is not a message that draws you closer together!
- Ignore spirituality. Praying together, worshipping together, growing spiritually together – these spiritual practices form a solid connection with each other and God. This bond will protect and strengthen your marriage during challenging times. This bond may be the only thing at times that holds you together through the storms of life. Ignoring spirituality is denying oneself a source of strength, comfort, courage, and peace.
Now that you are aware of these behaviors and their effects, discuss them with your spouse and be open about how you can work together to correct those that are evident in your relationship. As in all marriage matters, communication is the key. And remember, it is “we,” not “me.” If one of you wins, you both win.
If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please contact me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.