December 1, 2021

Ever Ask Yourself: WHY DO MARRIAGES GO BAD? Let’s Find Out

Before you can work on your marriage, it is essential to understand what causes relationships to go wrong.   What causes them to sink?  What causes them to go stagnant?  What causes them to go from harmony to hostility to apathy?  While each situation is different in the details, there are four primary reasons that marriages go bad,




The first thing that sinks a marriage is unrealistic expectations. There is probably no area of life where we have higher expectations and more unrealistic expectations than in marriage. We believe that marriage will make us happy, complete us and heal us from our past.

  • Hollywood has done an excellent job of setting us up with unrealistic and false expectations.
  • Dating sets us up for these false expectations. When you are dating, you adjust your behavior and act in ways that aren’t normal for you.
  • Wedding planning sets up enormous expectations as well. Just read a bridal magazine for some extravagant and unrealistic ideas! Honeymoons are in beautiful, exotic destinations with no sunburn or mosquitos.  There is no traffic, and every event or excursion is all about you.  You are catered to like a king and queen, and everyone “oos” and “aahs” at the two of you, wishing that they were you.
  • Sexual expectations are usually quite high as well. As a result, one or both partners often feel disappointed or misled when the time between the sheets isn’t as frequent or satisfying as anticipated.
  • Role expectations are another area in which many couples struggle. For example, who will do which household chores, manage the finances, lead the family spiritually, discipline the children, plan vacations, etc.?


The truth is every relationship is composed of two very imperfect people.  And when you take two imperfect people, there’s no way it’s going to be a perfect relationship.  So, part of understanding marriage and keeping it out of hostility and apathy is to manage expectations.

Be realistic!  Realize that your mate is not perfect, but neither are you. Good communication and conflict resolution skills are vital in working through unmet expectations.




The second thing that sinks a marriage is unaccepted differences.  We are different.  We not only don’t recognize it, but we don’t accept those differences.  We resent those differences.

You’ve all heard the cliché that “opposites attract,” and it’s true.  But after marriage, opposites attack!


According to the Gottman Institute, sixty-nine percent of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them. Perpetual problems are problems that center on either fundamental differences in your personalities or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. Again, all couples have perpetual problems. These issues can seemingly be about the exact same topics as what for another couple might be solvable; however, unlike a solvable problem, these are the problems that a couple will return to over and over and over again.


Most of us underestimate how profound our differences are. Before marriage, we tend to overestimate what we have in common and underestimate what we don’t have in common with our boyfriend or girlfriend. The key is in learning to accept our differences.

This doesn’t mean to tolerate them.  It means to value them.  It means to celebrate them and realize that God wants to use them in your life.




The third thing that sinks a marriage is unresolved issues.  The most difficult unresolved issues aren’t the ones that were created in your marriage.  They are the ones you brought into your marriage from your childhood and past.  When you got married, you weren’t a blank slate.  All of us carry baggage into our marriage.  It’s like you’re wearing a large backpack and bringing it into marriage.  You carry hurts.  You carry habits.  You carry hang-ups from your previous family and your past into marriage.  The more pain you had growing up, the more baggage you’re bringing into that marriage, and the more problems you’re going to have to resolve.


Marriage doesn’t create problems; it magnifies them.  It shows the areas of your life that you need to work on. You bring far more flaws into your marriage than you realize. Any anger, bitterness, or resentment that you carry from your childhood and past will emerge in your marriage.  Some small thing that your partner says or does could trigger a volcanic eruption from you. They don’t deserve to have the hot lava spewed on them.  They are the person that you love the most, and it isn’t fair.  You are bringing your pain from the past into the present.  It could be that your parents were controlling or demanding.  They may have accepted nothing but perfection from you, and you couldn’t deliver.  An ex-spouse or partner rejected or abused you in some way. No matter what your unhealed personal pain is, it will affect your relationship in negative ways until it is healed. It is not fair to your partner or to you to continue to live in this pain.  Love Recon can help you heal both individually and as a couple.  It is not only a great marriage retreat, but it addresses your personal baggage and damage as well.




The fourth thing that sinks a marriage is unforgiven offenses. Because we aren’t perfect and are prone to self-centeredness, we will disappoint and hurt our partner. Simply stated, we fail.  And the person we can hurt the most is the person that we love the most.  Conversely, they are also the person that can hurt us the most.  We do hurt them, and they do hurt us.  It’s part of living in love and a relationship.  Therefore, we must learn both how to seek forgiveness and how to offer it.  It must become a daily habit.   All offenses, large or small, must be dealt with and not allowed to fester.  Forgive it.  Let it go!  Nothing can destroy a marriage faster than unforgiveness.  Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Evangelist Billy Graham, said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”  If you want a happy marriage, forgive!


Recon Coaching and Love Recon seminars can help you deal with and overcome all of these marriage and relationship killers.  Call today for a free consultation to determines which of our resources and services can be of most help to you!

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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