20170901

5 Unhealthy Actions That Are Destroying Marriages

Most often it seems that the worst habits to keep are the easiest ones to form. Maybe that’s because it requires less effort to go through a drive-thru rather than cook a healthy meal at home, or to watch one more show instead of exercising. Forming and keeping the healthiest habits requires intention and dedication, whether it’s in tending to our physical and emotional health, or the health of our relationships.

Without intention and dedication, we will form unhealthy habits that will negatively impact our marriage. Bad habits in our relationship can pull open the door to divorce, even if ever so slightly. 

The good news? A bad habit can be reversed! 

Here are five unhealthy habits that, over time, can be detrimental to a marriage.

1. Belittling Your Spouse 
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me! This old adage is only partially true: sticks and stones may break our bones, but words willalso hurt us. You should be your spouse’s biggest source of support and encouragement. When we make verbal jabs at our spouse, we are slowly deconstructing the safe and supportive environment a marriage should be. Oftentimes, these belittlements come in the form of jokes but, at their core, they simply are not funny. If you’re using a “joke” in an attempt to speak to a real issue (such as laziness, for example), then have a serious and kind conversation with your spouse about it. Words carry weight, especially when they are belittling words coming from the person who is supposed to build us up. Over time, the words you and your spouse exchange will grow in bitterness rather than kindness.

2. Improper Priorities 
Where does your spouse land on your list of priorities? If they are not second, only after God, then something is off. Your spouse should come before your children, your job, your ministry, or your friends. Our pursuit of God first and foremost will lead us to pursue our spouse with His love and selflessness. Any priority that comes before God and spouse will almost immediately become a wedge in your marriage. This will require sacrifice; sometimes your work or friendships will have to be put aside for the sake of your marriage — this is so worthwhile! Where do you think your spouse is on your list of priorities? Where would they say they land in your priorities?

3. Lack of Intimacy 
If apathy invades a marriage, it becomes evident in the level of intimacy spouses are experiencing. This is including, but not limited to, physical intimacy. Spouses should be s*xually active with one another! Delight in this gift God gave us, free from shame or worry. S*x will strengthen and re-strengthen the connection you have with your partner. Intimacy outside of the bedroom is just as important. Are you spending one on one time with one another? It might be a date night or a late night bowl of ice cream after the kids go to bed. Carve out time when you and your spouse can be together in a quiet setting, enjoying one another’s presence.

4. Disinterest in the Events of Your Spouse’s Day or Week 
Whether it’s actual disinterest or a level of busyness that keeps you from revealing your interest, spouses can grow distant when they stop hearing what is happening for one another while they are apart! Make the time to ask how your spouse’s day at work or with the kids went. Maybe this takes place at dinnertime or while you’re getting ready for bed, but remaining invested in hearing about your partner’s day will prevent you from feeling like strangers in your relationship. The stories you share may very well be the most mundane parts of life, but they will keep you two feeling connected even during the hours you are apart.

5. Little to No Communication About Your Relationship 
How often do you ask your spouse how fulfilled they feel in your marriage? How long has it been since you two discussed the areas of your marriage where you’re feeling strong, and the places that need work? A marriage will never just be perfect — areas to improve upon will always remain! Those areas, however, will have a hard time being brought into the light if they are never discussed. When the state of the marriage is never discussed, room is created for bitterness to build as one or both spouses begin to fill “missed” or unsatisfied in the relationship. When a fluid conversation is maintained regarding the health of the marriage, it will be easier to identify and work on areas of weakness.

If one or more of these bad habits has formed in your marriage, don't be discouraged. Oftentimes, the hardest part is in noticing where we have grown apathetic or inattentive in our marriage — and now we can begin making steps to reverse our unhealthy habits. Start small, knowing that bad habits can take time to break and good habits can take time to grow. Remember that our God is in the business of redemption; He makes all things new! Invite Him to work with you and your spouse as you build healthy habits leading to a lasting, happy, God-centered marriage.

[written by Mallory Redmond]