In today’s world, so many fingers point to “the number one marriage killer.” Some are quick to attack technology while others blame children or infertility as the cause. Experts cite pornography, work stress and financial problems as the top reasons why so many couples choose divorce.
But, in reality, marriages aren’t failing because of any of those reasons. The number one marriage killer is us. Here are four ways we may be destroying our marriages:
We Embrace the Bare Minimum
We watch the movie instead of reading the book. We agree to a single session with the counselor and select the one-day seminar, hoping the easy way will revitalize our marriages. But a week later when we are back in the grind, we demand the money-back guarantee because the change didn’t happen overnight.
We don’t want to commit to a year of therapy, regular date nights or reading all 31 chapters of the book. We expect our spouse to change, to do the hard work, to make the sacrifice. We desire a thriving marriage without the work. Sadly, we prefer the life of ease over effort.
We Are Impatient
We require everything microwaved, instant and delivered overnight. If there was an Amazon NOW for relationships, we would download it, because we don’t want to wait for anything.
We dream that our spouse will drop 20 pounds, become a gourmet chef, find a better job, make more money, anticipate our every need, and read our mind in the bedroom—yesterday. If there are hurts in the relationship, we demand immediate change instead of embracing the process. But all of our expectations actually sabotage any sincere effort because they are both ridiculous and unattainable. Instead of slow and steady we expect fast and flawless.
We Fear Conflict
We prefer distraction over conversation. When there is potential for a meaningful exchange, we steer it in the other direction because we don’t want to risk vulnerability.
We never discuss the tough things, like porn or money problems. Instead, we whisper our feelings once a year, on Valentine’s Day, over dinner and cheap wine, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. We are convinced that if we reveal what’s really bothering us, we will end in an explosive argument. So we endure instead of engaging one another, burying our concerns deeper and deeper.
We Don’t Like to Admit Weakness
We are prideful. We hate to disappoint people, and we cringe to think of them muttering “I told you so” about the guy they labeled a loser or the girl they begged us to “get to know better” before rushing to get married.
Admitting marital problems is even more terrifying if we ourselves are children of divorced parents. There is also the dread of ruining our kids’ lives with the truth that “mommy and daddy are having problems.” So we plod along, raising children, vacationing and running successful businesses in what appears to be an amazing life. But the truth is, we are silently killing our marriage in our people pleasing.
So what can we do? How do we keep from thwarting the thing we committed to “until death do us part”?
We get back in the game, realizing there will be hard work ahead. We stop taking each other for granted, showing our spouses we love and cherish them instead of assuming they already know. We close our mouths when it’s easy to blame and instead shower them with kindness and respect. We touch—we hold hands and give back rubs and recall the fun in flirting and dating.
We prefer honesty—even if it hurts. We unapologetically ask the difficult questions and bring up the topics we previously skirted around. We pray. We listen, we make goals and we come up with a plan.
We recognize that change does not happen overnight, and a thriving marriage is not made by solely observing anniversaries. We give space and grace for our spouses to be vulnerable and for lasting growth to occur. We applaud the small steps and celebrate the giant efforts.
We work hard and choose patience. We embrace conflict and admit weakness. We reflect on the vows we exchanged and the covenant we entered into together. We remember the promise we made for a marriage that thrives, and we never settle for mediocre.