5 Ways to Kill Your Marriage

Some marriages die from neglect. marriagebroken.jpg

Below are 5 ways to kill a marriage. Perhaps you can think of more.

Don’t worry about being gracious.

One day you and your wife are running errands. She says that she would like a Coke. You reluctantly pull up to a convenience store. You turn off the engine and say something like, “You go get it yourself. It’s not me that wants a Coke.”   

You have been invited to join several other people for dinner at your friend’s home. As you enter this home, your friend says, “Watch where you step. There is no telling when my wife last vacuumed the floor.” (Yes, this really happened.)

A lack of graciousness communicates more than bad manners. Rather, it reveals a lack of grace in the relationship. Spouses who practice graciousness communicate, “I will not embarrass you or humiliate you in any way. You can count on me.”   

Say whatever happens to pass through your mind.

Excuse yourself by saying, “I’m just being honest.” Really? Do we really believe that it is loving and wise to say whatever happens to enter our minds with no filter whatsoever? Words can be deadly. In fact, one can crush a spouse with careless words.

Pay little attention to your friendship with your spouse.

It is amazing how many couples stop being attentive to one another’s friendship. I’ve seen this again and again. A couple begins pulling away from each another. Two years later their divorce is finalized. At some point, they often stop being friends. It is not that they are hurtful to one another. Many couples who divorce do not deliberately try to hurt their spouse. Instead, what often happens is they stop investing in their friendship with each other.

Charlotte and I have been married for 33 years. I can not overemphasize the importance of genuine friendship in marriage. Not only is she my wife but also my closest friend. This alone has great implications for marriage and commitment to one another.

Be a different kind of person when your spouse isn’t around.

Marriages begin to come unraveled when trust and trustworthiness end. After all, friendship is grounded in trust. Quite often men and women will begin to live divided lives. That is, a man will go to work and speak to other women in ways that would disappoint and even anger his spouse if she knew. Or, it could be that a spouse behaves in ways that are totally self-absorbed. I once heard of a woman who spent money with reckless abandon when her spouse was not around. Yet, when they were together, she projected a much different attitude toward their finances. Marriages are damaged when husbands and wives realize that they can no longer trust their spouses.

Keep part of your life secret.

Secret texts.

Secret calls.

Secret email accounts.

For some, this begins innocently when one’s spouse is on Facebook and gets a friend request from a former high school classmate. She accepts his friend request. They begin messaging. Often, there is nothing inappropriate said for awhile. Yet, the communication is frequent and regular. She/he may mention to their spouses that they heard from an old friend. Yet, they may not be sharing either the content or the frequency of these exchanges.

All I’m saying is that this kind of secrecy has a way of eroding a marriage over time. Intimacy is built on transparency not secrecy.


What other behaviors can contribute to the death of a marriage over time?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Kill Your Marriage

  1. That’s a good list, Jim. Sandie and I have been married 38 years, and one thing I often tell young newlyweds or soon-to-be-weds is that “like” is more important than “love”. Love is often confused with emotion, and while that’s an important part of love, love between a husband and wife must go beyond emotion. If you’re going to spend the rest of your life with another person, you’d better really really enjoy being around him or her, or there will be a point where you’re just existing, and wanting something more.

    Selfishness is huge in conflict. When a husband or wife starts to think about how much he or she is getting out of the relationship instead of being concerned with how to build up the spouse, that’s a problem. You counsel married couples in trouble; I don’t. I’ll bet you can count very few (if indeed any) whose problems weren’t in some (I maintain very large) way related to selfishness. I’ve seen my own selfishness cause problems in my marriage, and I see it in other couples all the time.

    Fight the good fight brother. Hope to see you on Saturday.

    • Thanks so much Bob. You make some very good points here. Like what you say about the enjoyment of being around one another.

      Also great observations regarding the prevalence of selfishness. You are right. Selfishness, pride, etc. really impact the behavior of a married person.

      Thanks so much, Bob.

      (Hope to see you this weekend. Not certain yet.)

  2. Good thoughts.

    I think neglect of a mutual spiritual life can play a role. I don’t mean simply going to church together, though certainly that. Couples (and families) should pray together, read Scripture together, and talk about what God is doing in their lives and family. We need to be reminded that for Christians our marriages are part of our Christian walk and mission.

    • Phillip, great points! You are so right. I like your emphasis here. If we believe that our marriages are a part of our discipleship and mission, then that really does impact the way we see one another.

  3. This is coming from someone who sees all these things happening, and he wants to point people to a better way. Good, Jim

    I guess the sexual aspect of marriage should also be mentioned. Try to keep frustration to a minimum (a minimalist way of saying it). It’s not the most important thing in life, but it’s not the least either.

    • Good point. Far too many of us are taking our cues regarding sex in marriage from the culture. Consequently, there is often confusion within marriages over what is normal, healthy, etc. What should we/I expect? Far too often, the expectations are unreal and focus more on perfection than intimacy with a real human being.

      For others, I suspect that what many of us are experiencing sexually in marriage is a reflection of what is actually taking place in that marriage. When playfulness is absent and there is little honesty/transparency that exists, I think it it is very difficult to experience the kind of martial sex that is fresh and alive. Instead, it seems to be a reflection of where are relationship is at that point.

  4. The marriages that I have witnessed to flounder are the ones where jealousy is rampant. If both spouses are jealous of friendships with other people, yes, even opposite gender friendships, then trust is soon eroded and the marriage headed for the rocks. Even though as a professor my hubby had female colleagues and office staff as dear, godly friends who saw each other every day, it never occurred to me to be jealous in all of the 45 years of a great marriage – and vice versa. That green-eyed monster can do a lot of damage!!