6 Mistakes That Destroy Your Marriage…

I can’t take another day – I feel so alone! My marriage is a servants delight, cook, clean, work, go to school, take care of the children, make sure the laundry is done, supper on the table when the husband gets in, and lay down and let him have his pleasure whenever he feels. Do not expect any thoughtful gestures or kindness to be involved in this relationship, except when we go to church or are near his family, then by all means, open the doors for me, be cordial, and act like the wife is something special.

While I’m working on a post to address what a wife like the above can DO to FIX some of these issues, it occurred to me that we might want to start with AVOIDING some of the common mistakes we make in marriage. And if you’re a husband, you might find some quick help here. Not surprisingly, for wives, however, these issues are all covered in The Respect Dare.

  1. Wrapping our identity up in another PERSON’s opinion of us, instead of God’s. The culture (both Christian and secular) teach us that happiness and joy resides in other people’s responses to us, when in fact, other people’s responses are things that really belong to other people.
  2. Criticizing our spouse – instead of addressing problems in a healthy way, while failing to ask God if you are to “overlook an insult” or “confront a sin against you.” If you are constantly having issues with many things, people won’t want to spend time around you. Research shows that criticism is extremely damaging to relationships. Criticism also usually makes other people defensive – it is a verbal attack.
  3. Becoming defensive yourself. This is a response to #1 and #2, but understand that research shows defending yourself exacerbates the problem and escalates argument. It is absolutely the WRONG response and does not work. The bible tells us defensiveness can become such a habit that you undermine the positive effect your wife or husband can have with your kids, if you have them. It’s also not a biblical response, and is sin, rooted in pride.
  4. Walking away from disagreements or conflict, and shutting down emotionally. This is known as withdrawal – it’s a disengagement from the conversation, where you just stop participating. It increases negativity in the relationship. The “withdrawal” is a consistent and repetitive non-engagement. It’s not the same as saying, “I want to talk with you about this, but am going to take a break from this for a while so we can both calm down.” With that, there’s re-engagement later. Stonewalling/Withdrawal occurs when a spouse flat-out refuses to participate in the discussion.
  5. Harboring resentment and communicating with CONTEMPT. From yesterday’s post, you see the marital math and how RESPECT is the solution to this problem. How to get to that place will be something I talk about in upcoming posts. Contempt’s presence in a relationship is the highest predictor of dissolution, according to research. The thing you need to understand is that contempt is an end result for many because of #’s 1-4 above.
  6. Allowing yourself to be a doormat, blaming others for how they treat you. Yes, they may have sin, but there are MANY options available to you to respond in healthy ways to criticism, defensiveness, withdrawal, and contempt that is levied at you. NONE of them make you a doormat. NONE of them conflict with the bible, as a matter of fact, ALL of the responses are biblical.  More to come in future posts, so subscribe to stay tuned.

All of these things are based on research by Gottman. And while you might be in a place where you don’t know what you don’t know, understand this for the time being:  THERE IS HOPE.

I’ve been there, and done that.

closer to God brother on the journey

And contrary to what the enemy would have you think, you are NOT alone, and you CAN do something about your marriage.

Dare you to start today by asking God to help you. To confess that you don’t know what to do. To confess that you need His help.

And join us in the journey by doing The Respect Dare with us.  We start Dare 6 next week, doing just one at a time, dialoguing with you as you journey.

Dare ya. 🙂

And if you are parenting little people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. 2014 is nearly full, but 2015 might be an option. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussions! :)

But today, I’m wondering what YOU think about something… I know I’ve made every single mistake on that list. NOT KIDDING. Not exaggerating. What mistakes do you think you’ve made in your marriage? What do you see God doing?

Love to you,





titus 2 women leadership

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

21 thoughts on “6 Mistakes That Destroy Your Marriage…

  1. the withdraw caught my eye. My husband doesn’t want to discuss anything, he calls it arguing. This morning he was fine as I left for my dog training class, when I got home, I felt his dark mood, I asked him if there’s anything wrong, he said he’s been thinking about the negative things in our marriage & I won’t change. I asked him which things & how wd he like me to change? he said he doesn’t want to talk about it. I then left again, when I got back, he won’t talk to me. He gets very moody then says it’s my fault for how he feels, I’ve been telling him for a long time that we are responsible for ourselves & I can’t read his mind & would like to discuss our issues, but he won’t. Our kids don’t like to come over due to his being opinionated & critical. Been married for 42yrs now. I get so tired of this. He also gets drunk about 2x a month

    • Eva,
      It is hard if he won’t step up and take responsibility for his own actions. I recommend you spend some time in prayer and ask God to reveal the things in you that might need a change. You will be surprised by what you hear! I know I was.. and though I did not want to believe I had a problem, or that the things my husband needed to change were much more important, God doesn’t see it like that. We each are on our own path. Verses like why judge the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in yours..
      God told me that my husband would never change unless and until I did. I have been working hard.. begrudgingly at first, now witha heart full of praise as I have seen the results coming in.. slow as they may be, I see them and it fills my heart with joy and hope restored!
      Just work on you. Pray that God helps you be all that he created you to be, and that you can live up to the expectations in Ephesians 5.
      Good luck! Hang in there and listen to NO ONE except God. I have many people in the world who have tried to tell me to give up and divorce my husband.. God told me not too. So I am not. and my marriage is healing. Its been over a year since I started this.. and things most definately got worse before they got any better.. but I can see the light again.. God is good and faithful

      • I have changed over the years, I was very co dependent, I have (and am) learning to set boundries. He used to call me up when I was out & tell me to come home, when he worked I would call in for him due to hang over etc. he got very reactive when our kids were middle school cause they had minds of their own & he liked to tell them what to do. I wouldn’t speak up when I was hurt but sucked it in. I have learned to confront him. Not every little thing, but I pick my battles. It would take way too long at once to tell you our history, so in a nutshell he’s immature, selfish, has anger issues, is critical & opinionated. He became very unsocial, home all day watching tv & internet, lazy, he got hurt at work in 2001 & when he got better, he didn’t go back to work, but let me support him all these years,he takes his moodiness out on me, but I don’t take it any more. His good points are, he would give you shirt off his back, generous, good handy man & mechanic. , he doesn’t go out & spend money. He’s very loving when he’s in the mood, he’s good to our grown children, but still opinionated they don’t like to visit much cause of him. I have (and am always learning) to be happy without depending on him, we’re ok except when anything personal comes up to talk about. If I stick to the weather & small talk, we get along. I try to build him up, I do pray for him but wish I can live without him & not get so stressed out in his bad mood.

        • Eva,

          You sound so similar to my story.. My husband too was injured and never returned to regular work (yet). I say yet because we are still young.. I am 36 and he is 40, but we have been together for 15 years. In our short time, we have been through it all.. drugs, abuse of all kinds, infidelity, kids, marriage, injuries, deaths, births, LIFE! I too deal with an angry alcoholic at times. Though right now I am in a reprieve since he got a DUI this summer and is in Diversion classes. My kids both adult and ones still at home struggle with dealing with him at times, but he too is a loving caring father who would do just about anything for anyone. He is a loving caring man, but when crossed, watch out! I think that is just part of who MEN are..
          I can talk to mine about personal stuff, but he NEVER wants to talk about or hear about what is upsetting about him to me.. Instead I choose to model what I would like to receive and pray that he notices and reciprocates. ANd like I said.. its been about a year and I am seeing some steps in the direction I like! I have suffered and fasted and prayed on my knees for hours, days, weeks and months. I learned to pray the right way, and be humble and know that we each have our own journey. I may feel like GOd needs to move more or faster on my husband, but that is not my call.. I pray for continued growth for me, and that my husband finds a relationship with the Lord. Until that relationship is found, not much will happen. Mine likes to deny God, but I know what is in my husband’s heart.. I think all wives can see their beloved in a way no one else on earth can. We are more able to see them as God does if we ask Him to reveal this to us.
          I’m praying for you my dear. I am sure there is much I can learn from you so please keep posting. We are all here for you.

  2. Dare accepted! 🙂 I can truly relate to this blog, and am so Thankful for your words. With all of the information and seminars my husband and I have attended and absorbed, we each, yes, both of us, are so quick to forget all that we have learned, especially about 1-4. I am grateful that I have read this blog, but prior to doing so, (reading the blog), felt God working in my heart and mind today during a very heated discussion. When my husband gets very upset, you all know the signs, voice raised, yelling, even going higher pitched, pacing, hand gestures and the like. Today, I was able to say “ok, this conversation has changed to an argument, and I’m not going to argue right now. I understand you are upset, and I get that, but I need to stop this from proceeding any further until I have had time to digest this new information a little further”. My husband took this so easily and instantly calmed down and very softly asked “When can we pick this conversation up again?” to which I was able to tell him “on Monday, when the kids are back in school and we are alone.” He completely accepted that! AMAZING! We actually hugged and went our ways for the day anyway as friends- I’m still in awe- I had previously just disengaged, shut down, and in my own pride, I must admit that I never thought of it as “stonewalling”, but That is exactly what I would do, and knowing that we are going to pick this conversation back up on Monday, I will have a fresh perspective, he will have also had a chance to really think about what he was getting so upset about was really worth getting upset in the first place- Thank You Nina, for sharing your wealth of knowledge, and perception of the Truth according to His word-

    Which brings me to another question…My husband was very upset that I would not obey a direct order from him. Am I being stubborn for not obeying him? Especially if I’m not comfortable with it or does that not matter if I’m not comfortable with things because wives are to respect and submit to the husband?

    • TB –
      Any good you see is Him! 🙂

      And the “break” is BRILLIANT and super-important – researched as a great way to deal with these things.

      Regarding your question, it depends on what he wanted – I have no idea, only you can know that. If you aren’t comfortable with it because it is sin, that’s his issues, not yours, but ask God what you should do. Even Sarah chose to follow Abraham into sin respectfully, but Abigail did not, so it’s between you and God if it is a sin issue. If it is not, and the two of you can’t agree, he’s responsible for the outcome, so his vote trumps yours – but be sure you’ve gently explained what your concern is after talking with the Lord about it.

      Love to you, so glad you are here!

  3. Hi, I’m Leah and I’m super guilty of #1 and #2 but I more criticize other people and it really bothers my husband. LOVE being here and learning and then sharing it at leahheffner.com

    • Hi Leah,

      When ever I see one of your posts, it so reminds me of myself! My husband too does not like when I criticise others.. strangers even.. He says it is a negative attitude and is unattractive to him! Well God knows that I want my spouse to find me attractive so I have been trying to only say positive comments, no matter who I am around so that this will become my new habit.

  4. i dont agree with #4. if i simply shut down and walk away it makes my husband stop yelling at me??? i’d love to hear more, I am trying to help Jesus save him by my quiet example and by my life so I soak up ur blog. Ty for it

    • Thanks for the question, SMF. The “withdrawal” is a consistent non-engagement. It’s not the same as saying, “I want to talk with you about this, but am going to take a break from this for a while so we can both calm down.” With that, there’s re-engagement later. Stonewalling/Withdrawal occurs when a spouse flat-out refuses to participate in the discussion. If my husband was yelling at me about something, I’d probably start with, “Sounds like this upsets you a lot,” and see what he did next. “How can I help?” might be the next question I’d ask. If he continued yelling, I’d do the break statement above and leave the room. Those things are different, if that makes sense. 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity to clarify! I’ll amend the post to reflect the above. 🙂

      SO glad you are here!
      Love to you!

  5. I am withdrawing right now and shutting down emotionally. My husband reacted to an issue the other evening in a way that was very hurtful to me. He has not apologized, nor does he usually ever. I am the one that has to start the conversation, and I am just not there yet. I have done the Respect Dare once, and I read your blog all the time. I know I will come around, but today I am tired of always having to be the one to get us back on the right path.

    • JL –
      I get this. And I love how transparent you are! Sometimes I wish the men in my life were more like me – taking initiative on the repair attempts. Praying for you, lovely!
      SO glad you are here! I’ve done TRD about a bazillion times and will keep doing it until Jesus comes back! LOL
      Love to you,

    • JL,
      I feel your pain.. Mine too has difficulty coming to me and admitting his part in our issues. It is hard when it feels like you are the only one trying to hold things together. All I can say is pray.. Pray that God changes those things in YOU that need changing and pray that your husband will find and develop a personal relationship with the Lord. As I have learned in this Respect Dare process, we CANNOT pray that our spouse changes. All we can do is pray that they will hear and heed the promptings of the Lord. It takes time and there will ALWAYS be times when old habits sneak in.. Ive been working this for almost a year now and just this past month have I REALLY been able to see progress on my husband’s end of things.. GOd has his own timing and purposes. Its hard to be patient and remain not just prayful and hopeful, but also filled with Praise for what we do have.. I found the last part to be the real key.. praise God in all things.. even in the midst of our troubles.. praise him. I let go of a lot of negetivity in my life with this one thing.. I think this is part of what needed changing in me.. I know my husband is happier when I am not so negetive! Even if its not directed at him, its just unattractive to ALWAYS be complaining

  6. I’ve also come a long way out of a deep pit! yeah!
    The one I want gone is the defensiveness, oversensitive, moody whatever you want to call it. What is it? I think it’s a chip on my shoulder and a deeply rooted in #1. It has a way of manifesting itself in relationships with others too. Dare I say, my kids. (teenagers)
    Nina, I love the way you speak truth into my life.

  7. I love seeing your posts and realizing how far I have come! I know I still have a long road, but at least now my eyes are open to what I was doing.. Thank you for the Respect Dare and being here online for all of us..

    • YOU are WISE to see where you started as your benchmark! Good for you!! God is awesome – and any blessings are straight from Him. SO glad I haven’t gotten in His way! 🙂
      Love to you,

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