Top 10 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

Few people probably Google “ways to destroy my marriage,” but we all need to pay attention to some marriage-destroying communication behaviors. Sometimes we learn from knowing what NOT to do. 🙂 Bear in mind, I’m not one given to sarcasm, and this post is literally dripping with it. I hope you aren’t offended, but a few of these certainly got my attention, maybe they’ll grab yours, too, although I pray not. 🙁

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So here goes…

Top 10 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

10. Be on the lookout for what’s wrong instead of what’s right or good – then give voice to it. Because research shows the brain has a more intense reaction to negative stimuli than positive, you will certainly make an impression. Maybe a lasting one. Why build someone up when you can tear them down instead?

9.  Start your discussions with aggressive criticism and sarcasm, as though you expect a fight. You’ll be sure to get one. Dr. John Gottman (the guy who can predict divorce with a 94% accuracy rating and has studied a large sample of couples for decades) calls this a “harsh startup.” While you’re at it, be sure to predict sarcastically their motives in a negative light, even if his or her behavior is the opposite.  You’ll set them up to fail, which is what you want, right? Whatever we pay attention to grows!

8.  When your spouse brings an issue to your attention, defend yourself and find a way to blame him or her for the problem – whatever you do, do NOT take any responsibility. This is known as a defensive response, and it’s one of the 4 harbingers of divorce. Heaven forbid you respond maturely, which is recognizing that you also contributed to the conflict and that your spouse has a viable point.

7.  When you and your spouse disagree, be sure to correct him or her – and do so in front of others.  Openly disagree to “educate” them, beginning with the word, “No,” or the phrase, “You are wrong,” especially if it is a small issue. Research shows sharing a contradictory opinion in an emotional environment shuts down the part of our brain that is open to influence. Sure, the less you argue the more influence you will have, but who needs influence when you can just make someone miserable in your presence? It’s called being contentious. Do so in front of your kids and you get extra credit.

6. Point out your spouse’s flaws, mistakes, shortcomings, and weaknesses to him or her regularly – daily. Treat them like they are so messed up or childish you just can’t even believe they can function without your help. Gottman labels criticism as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in predicting divorce. During conflict, marriage disasters have a .8 to 1 ratio of positive to negative … healthy marriages have a ratio of 5:1 – and that’s during a conflict! What’s going on when there’s no conflict? Healthy relationships are at a 20:1 ratio of positives to negatives on a consistent basis. The disasters? STILL .8 to 1.  Extra credit if you lecture about problems that don’t even exist as if they do, or might possibly occur sometime in the future.

Top 5 Ways To Destroy Your Marriage

5. Don’t be interested in your spouse’s world – whatever you do, don’t ask him or her questions. Research shows that people love to talk about themselves and it raises affinity. Keep your ego going and just talk about yourself. Oh, and if your spouse shares something about him or herself or something they’re involved in, be sure to not respond in anyway. Don’t ask a question, sure, but better yet, just change the subject, leaving them wondering if you even heard what they said. You’ll know you’re getting this right if you’re asked, “Did you hear me?” and, “Do you want to know about it?” frequently.

4. Have lousy listening skills.  Remember to begin by interrupting and taking control of the conversation, then move to failing to make eye contact, not asking questions, and checking your watch so the person can “get the hint” and be done.  Whatever you do, especially if you are male, don’t nod your head, or make little “listening comments” like, “hmm,” “uh huh,” “no kidding,” and the like – it can make you more attractive… and who wants that? 🙂 Be sure to turn the conversation into things about YOU – talking on and on about yourself again.

3. Scowl. Research shows that smiling increases feelings of altruism and affinity. Why on earth would you want to do that? Having your spouse actually like you more is not going to speed up the divorce proceedings. Making them worry about why you are upset – now, that is helpful! And why would you want your kids to think you are approachable?

2. Disengage and avoid your spouse. This is called, “stonewalling,” by Gottman. It’s very effective at keeping conflicts unresolved and upsetting your spouse by your lack of engagement. Avoid discussing problems, especially hurt feelings. This will cause the part of your spouse’s brain that holds loss to fill with negativity and resentment until they rewrite your marital history as something negative, according to Gottman’s work. If you fail to point out positives and affirm him or her and then on  top of that, with hold affection, you’ll actually help your spouse start stonewalling, also! You can even cause him or her to start to feel lonely, then eventually, especially if you throw in a bunch of hostility and anger, you can help create depression in your spouse. You’ll be getting really much closer to divorce if you can nail this one!

and finally…

The #1 Way to Destroy Your Marriage

1. Don’t pray for your spouse or your relationship. Research shows that prayer can positively impact your relationships. So why ask God to get involved? Especially if it works??!

most important thing to improve your marriage

So glad to be on the journey with you! 🙂

What do you think of the list? Any big ones that I missed? Any you’ve personally experienced?

Can’t wait to dialogue about these things with you! Our eCourse for The Respect Dare is starting NOW – it’s a new year, how about a new you? (psssst…use code respecthim and get $40 off tuition!)

Here’s a few more posts you might find useful:

Want to Change Your Husband?

Why Your Husband Doesn’t Respect YOU

A WILD Story about the “N-Word” and Grace

Is Complaining Ruining Your Marriage?

How Being Defensive is Destroying Your Marriage

Six Ways to Overcome Your Husband’s Anger



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