Wifey Wednesday: 5 Ways to Ruin A Marriage

5 Sure Fire Ways to Ruin A Marriage
Every Wednesday we talk about marriage! Today, please welcome our guest author, Lindsey Bell, who is sharing an awesome word on how NOT to ruin a marriage. And then feel free to link up your own marriage posts in the linky below.

My husband and I will celebrate our ninth anniversary next month. I know there are many who have been married for much longer than nine years, but for us, that’s an accomplishment. Because, let me tell you, years 5-9 have not been the easiest.

In year five, we had our first child together. Any of you with kids know how difficult adding a child into the family can be.

Then, in years seven-nine, we went through four consecutive miscarriages and an adoption. That’s a lot of stress for a three-year period.

Our marriage could have easily faltered under the stress (and it certainly came close at times), but we held on and are better for it.

One of the main reasons it didn’t falter is because we tried our best to avoid these common marriage pitfalls. I’m sharing them with you today in hopes that if you’re falling in to any of them, you’ll pull yourself out before it’s too late.

5 Surefire Ways to Ruin a Marriage:

1. Look to your spouse to fill the voids in your life.

When I first got married, I thought my husband Keith could meet all my needs. But I’ve finally come to accept the fact that he can’t.

He is my husband, not my girlfriend.

He is my husband, not my God.

God didn’t design our husbands to meet our every need. He designed them to complement us, yes, but not to complete us.

If you expect your husband to meet your every need for companionship, love, acceptance, etc, you’re setting yourself up for failure. No man, regardless of how wonderful he might be, is able to completely fill the voids of a woman.

 2. Compare your marriage to the marriages of those around you. 

It’s so easy to look at the marriages of those around us and wonder why ours can’t be “like theirs.” But here’s the thing: we only see a snippet of that other person’s marriage. And I can promise you, the things they advertise on Facebook or Twitter are their highlights. Not their struggles.

When we compare their highlight reel to our weaknesses, we are doomed for discontentment.

3. Allow your children to become your everything.

I’m a stay-at-home mother, so my kids are my life. I spend the majority of my time taking care of them, and when I’m not with them, I’m often thinking about them.

There’s nothing wrong with making your kids a priority, but there is something wrong with making them your primary priority.

The greatest gift you can give your children is a solid marriage. And the only way to maintain a solid marriage through the childrearing years is to keep your marriage as a priority.

So when your husband comes home from work, stop what you’re doing with the kids and greet him. When your husband is talking with you, don’t allow your children to constantly interrupt your conversation. Go on dates with him. Spend time with him without the kids around.

Make it clear to him (and to your kids) that you are his wife first and their mother second.

4. Stop dating your spouse.

It’s so easy to stop dating once we get married. Going on dates, especially after we have children, is work. Plain and simple. We have to plan the date, hire childcare, get the kids ready for the babysitter, make sure the babysitter knows all of our rules, pay a ridiculous amount of money to the babysitter, pay an even more ridiculous amount of money for dinner, and the list goes on.

Dating isn’t as carefree as it used to be, but it’s worth it because it is a great way to reconnect with your spouse without distraction. And for some busy families, it’s the only time a husband and wife really see each other of a week. The rest of the time is spent balancing various kids’ activities, work obligations, and church functions.

 5. Start building relationships with other people of the opposite sex.

When our marriage isn’t going well, it’s easy to look to another person and think things would be different with him or her.

If he were my husband, I’d have more help around the house.

If he were my husband, I’d finally be able to talk to someone who understands me.

If she were my wife, I’d finally get some respect.

But again, what we see from other people are their highlights. Their strengths.

We don’t see their weaknesses, because they don’t publicize them.

I love the quote that’s going around Pinterest: “The grass is greener where you water it.”

Water your marriage, not some other relationship, and the grass will start to get greener.

Let’s talk: What other things could you add to this list?


IMG_0685 (1)Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a parenting devotional that will be released in January 2014. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations: Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com Her website: www.lindseymbell.com Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

About Searching for Sanity:

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

It’s coming soon, so be on the lookout!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below! And when you link up, please share the Wifey Wednesday button so more people can see these great marriage posts!

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  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Sheila! It’s an honor:)
    Lindsey Bell recently posted…5 Ways to Ruin a MarriageMy Profile

  2. What great advice from an awesome writer, wife and mom. You nailed it Lindsay!

  3. Great thoughts and list Lindsey. # 2 reminds me a of a comment someone left on my blog recently – it’s wrong ‘to compare the outside of someone’s marriage to our inside.’.

    I’d add “refuse to take personal responsibility for your own growth and the growth of the relationship”. Sometimes couples wait for the other person to change before they can effect some changes or show some growth of his/her own. Yet a strong marriage is where every person is willing to carry their own weight, irrespective of what the other person is doing.

    Thanks for these thoughts today!
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Learning to Leave and to Cleave (My Engagement Story)My Profile

  4. thank you! I am reading one of these ignite the fire posts each day..I almost skipped over the kids segment–then I read it and realized..oh I do tend to their interruptions..rather than focusing on my Husband! and I had to laugh through your dating section–yes yes..I will be calling a babysitter! thank you :)

  5. I needed to hear number 1 today! Thank you!
    Cassie recently posted…Receiving Gifts- A Yummy TreatMy Profile

  6. A spouse cannot over estimate the importance of not expecting all their needs to be met by the other. II can frequently sympathize with my wife but, not being a woman, I cannot empathize. I can only meet her “listen to me and try to understand what I’m going through” need to a point. This gender limitation works both ways and if it isn’t acknowledged we can easily lament that “My husband/wife just doesn’t understand me.” Naturally, your right. They don’t or even if they do, they can’t effectively communicate their understanding in “your” language so you still feel misunderstood: “He thinks he understands, but he really doesn’t.” I don’t know about other men, but that is a real irritation for me, to be told repeatedly I don’t understand when I feel I do. It implies I am not listening in good faith when perhaps you simply haven’t made your point in a way I can connect with.

    I would suggest rating listing all your emotional needs on the left column of a sheet of paper. Then on a scale of 1-5, with 5 representing the highest priority of having that individual need met, rank all of the listed needs. Now do the same with physical/sensual needs. Over in the right column, using a 1-5 scale again, rank what you feel is the likelihood of your husband being able to meet that need. Notice I said “able” not “wanting” to meet the need. Spouses often want to please their mate, but lack the proper tools or skill sets to do it. He may be willing to listen to you talk about your problems, but is not able to do it in a way that is satisfying to you. You may have to teach him how to listen and not offer solutions and fixes unless requested. He may be happy to do something for you, but needs to do it on his own schedule and you thoughtful reminding is received as nagging. He needs to let you know that he has a plan and hasn’t forgotten.

    However, there may be needs that have no teachable factor. In spite of Gary Chapman’s best efforts, the other cannot meet your love language needs to a point you feel satisfied. All you can do at that point is accept them playing to their strengths and look to meet those needs in another way that is compatible with maintaining your marriage. To continue to expect them to meet that need, and especially to insist they meet it, is courting disaster. They will begin to feel inadequate and you will feel neglected. You will be creating an atmosphere that is conducive to an emotional affair at the least and a physical affair at the worst, although I have heard woman feel more damaged by the emotions behind the affair and if their husband had only engaged in a sexual affair they would find staying married and recovering more probable.

    • I appreciate you so much sharing about how men (and women) can feel inadequate when they can’t ever meet our expectations. This is something my husband has taught me over the years…that I need to encourage the things he is doing and not focus so much on what he’s not doing. Otherwise, he’s a lot more likely to stop doing the good things.

      Good thoughts. Thanks so much for sharing.
      Lindsey Bell recently posted…5 Ways to Ruin a MarriageMy Profile

  7. Lindsey, thanks so much for a good set of advice/things to avoid. And I’m so glad you’ve gotten through these difficult years! The first two strike me as especially important and especially easy to fall in to. I know that expecting my husband to fulfill all of my needs REALLY does not work — partially because in addition to my needs, I often want him to live up to “what my husband should be like” ideas that really have nothing to do with the fantastic person I married. Sigh.

    Unrelatedly, “never stop dating your husband” always kind of tickles me, because my husband and I are huge homebodies and rarely (even before we were married) go out on formal, planned dates (or make formal plans for at home). This works well right now, though I don’t know how it will go when we add to our family (which we will, by God’s grace, be doing soon). Any thoughts on how to keep spending time together when you aren’t too in to going out or planning too much? 😀

    • We are also homebodies, with four kids.
      A couple of times a year (our anniversary, say, and maybe one other) we actually book a sitter and go out for dinner. But that’s expensive, and a rare treat.
      We ‘date’ in the living room. No answering the phone, and no personal electronic devices allowed!
      Sometimes we watch a movie we’ve both been wanting to see. Or we play a game of Scrabble (i’m a sore loser and a crummy winner, but he still plays with me!), listen to music, chat, hang out the way we used to in the dim, distant days before we had children. A small tub of high-end ice cream is often part of the evening, but not always.
      It’s cheap, and it gives us a way to connect with each other. A date doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s whatever works for you to connect as a couple. I have friends who like to go on long drives for their dates. Others who find it hard to talk at home (with housework distracting them) who always pack a picnic or get take-out and head for the park.
      It’s not about spending money, it’s about spending time. Long times, uninterrupted, when you can talk about what’s going on in both of your hearts, minds, and lives.

      • That is super helpful!!! Thank you so much. When you “living room date” do you find someone to watch your kiddos, or do they entertain themselves fairly well at this point? Or is this a past-bedtime hang-out time? Thanks 😀

        • One thing my hubby and I like to do is go for a quick ride down the street to the frozen yogurt shop. We are on a very tight budget, so we had to be creative. We share a cup of frozen yogurt, is super romantic and takes very little planning. 10 minutes later, we are back home, refreshed and glowing…and it only cost us $3! I usually ask a neighbor to keep an eye on our kiddo’s for a few minutes, since it’s such a short amount of time, it’s rarely an issue.

        • Our way to ‘living room date’ is once the kids are in bed. It is getting harder as they get older, but they are used to it. The little ones are still 3 and 5, so easy to put to bed at a reasonable-to-still-have-an-evening time.
          The older two are 10 and 12. They don’t like to go to bed early, but about once a week we tell them it’s our evening to have “just us” time and they can take a book. If there are protests (when there are protests) we remind them that they want us to keep loving each other, and that we therefore have to spend time together. Mostly they are ok with that.
          The other thing we have just started (oldest is 12 at last!) is going for a late-evening walk once the little ones are asleep. The older two can be left for an hour to put their jammies on and read quietly in bed, and we get a stroll around the neighbourhood. That’s especially good when we have things we need to talk about that we want to be sure the kids don’t over hear.

    • One thing we do when we have “at home” dates is to put our phones away and turn off the tv. Otherwise, we’ll both get sucked in to our own things and won’t really end up spending quality time together. Our kids are young enough that they still go to bed early, so we don’t have to get a babysitter for this. But once our kids get older that might change :(

      Some of the at home dates we have done…Yahtzee night (or other game night), read a book together (aloud), dessert for two, spend time outside watching the sun go down, discussion starter questions…Those are a few.

      You definitely don’t have to leave the house to date your spouse. Thanks so much for bringing that up. Great point!
      Lindsey Bell recently posted…5 Ways to Ruin a MarriageMy Profile

  8. Way #6 to ruin a marriage: GET BITTER.

    If you hold on to your spouse’s every offense, things will fall apart more quickly than you can imagine. I’ve seen it in countless marriages and it breaks my heart!

    • For sure. One of the best things anyone ever told me (possibly before we were even married) is “you can either be right, or you can be happy.” This has really helped as I’ve wanted to hold on to my right to feel offended and righteous rather than just letting things go.

      • LOVE this…You can either be right or be happy! Whoever told you that was a wise person!! And kari, yes, getting bitter will definitely do that. I have a hard time letting things go, so it’s a constant struggle for me to forgive and forget.
        Lindsey Bell recently posted…5 Ways to Ruin a MarriageMy Profile

  9. There are a few more marriage tips. 1. Never put done your spouse. Ever. Even if they are not around. Always boast about them. No name calling even during arguments.
    2. Kiss a lot, snuggle up and watch a movie.
    3. Never go to bed angry.
    4. Never leave the house separately if you are angry.
    5. Be affectionate in front of your kids. They will have a happier marriage if they witness your happy marriage.

  10. ButterflyWings says:

    I just can’t rule out making male friends. I did that in my first marriage, to the point of cutting off having any male friends, not even talking to friend’s husbands, some of whom I’d known since I was a young child, all because my husband demanded it – he was even paranoid about me having extremely gay friends (guilty conscience from his own trying to have an affair with every woman he met including my friends). It’s not healthy to cut all male friendships from one’s life.

    Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who recognises that it can be healthy to have friends of the opposite sex that are entirely platonic. Maybe because it’s to do with that most of his friends are female (and I’m completely comfortable with that as I know he sees them as sisters), but he is comfortable with me having male friends too, as he recognises that I see them as nothing more than being like brothers.

    And it’s not like the gender makes a different. Sadly I know a bunch of men who left their wives for a male friend, and women who left their husbands for a female friend. What matters is having boundaries in relationship with friends. If there is even a spark of attraction, walk away.

    Maybe I’m lucky that my husband is the most awesome male friend I have, but I just can’t imagine meeting a guy who would be a better match for me. Although I do believe in many ways, that’s because I love him – when I’m in a relationship, no matter how awful it may be (and my first marriage was beyond awful), I am incapable of feeling attraction for another man. And I think it’s because that is something I’ve chosen, not to notice other men that way. I can be friends with them because I see them as no different from my girlfriends. And I think my husband thinks pretty much the same – it’s that when you have a spouse (or if you’re single and your friend has a spouse), you don’t notice the gender of your friends, they simply are good friends, not a woman/man.

    I think if more people saw their friends that way, there would be a lot less cheating.

  11. What if have been abused. You tried not to do these 5 things. Your husband won’t take you on dates and he actually wanted you to have friends of the opposite sex, but then got jealous when you did. I tried I really did, but I have been abused and now he’s sorry, claims he has changed .( in 10 months) I don’t think so. He has lost my respect, my love, my trust. I don’t feel secure, I’m scared of my future. So for me I can’t help but think the grass would be greener on the other side.

  12. Erin Tarn says:

    I ruined my marriage with compliments. I started the relationship with my wife showering her with compliments. True compliments. Things I truly believed. The problem is that the more I talk to her positively and help to improve her life, the less respect I get from her and the more I feel like I’m married to the average woman and not the awesome woman I married who didn’t subscribe to the common things Western women are all about. Is it possible I created a materialistic, non-family-focussed, harlot through too much positive encouragement?

    • Erin Tarn says:

      I’ve also increased my savings by many times since I met her and I worry that she was always a materialistic person but never had the means to be one.

    • ButterflyWings says:

      No it’s not possible. My guess is she was always that way and just kept it well hidden. And if she wasn’t that way originally, your compliments aren’t what changed her. Never stop being a supportive husband – if she shows you less respect, it’s not because you are being nice and complimenting her.

  13. I want to know how I can connect with my husband and show him respect in a way that feels authentic. He did something that broke my heart, but I know it is in my interest as well as his and our child to act with respect toward him and to move on from what happened. The problem is that I am so hurt inside that I am beginning to feel a dichotomy between the person I am having to be on the outside and the hurt and skeptical person I am on the inside. What do I do?

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