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. 🙁
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!
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??!
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! Oh, and if you think of us, can you please pray for our launch of Daughters of Sarah and our website?
Love to you!
Here’s a few more posts you might find useful:
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
One more thing?
It’s not a small thing.
Seriously, if you lead women’s studies, and you want to do marriage ministry that makes a crazy wild lasting difference, you need to pray about joining us for Boot Camp.
We have marriage and family ministry for you – ministry that makes a difference – it’s His, but it’s amazing, and we’d love to help you grow as a leader – and make a greater impact in the neck of the woods He’s entrusted to YOU.
I’d like YOU to pray about Boot Camp – September 7-12, 2016. More info HERE. Here’s a discount coupon good for $50 off each for you AND a friend – if you use it by May 15: bringafriend2016
If you feel called to lead others, to be a Titus 2 woman of influence in your neck of the woods, please seriously consider joining us in ministry. We’re training others to use the incredible discipleship method He has given us – and He’s growing ministry all around the world as a result.
Such a great list of things to watch out for. Thanks for the warning, Nina!
Love this! Sometimes, it is helpful to look at things from the opposite angle like this. Very powerful! Thank you for sharing and for your ministry, Nina. I am so grateful for what God is doing in and through you. 🙂
Nina, absolutely wonderful, -just excellent! Especially the part about us praying for our spouses to wildly love the Lord Jesus. How incredible to have a spouse that is seriously committed to Christ! That is fixing the core problem. Then together, both can work on all the peripheral issues (not understanding/ implementing/ obeying scripture, etc.). Thank you so much Nina, as always, so helpful.
Number one way to ruin anything: Having only a superficial relationship or no relationship with the Lord. Not pursing serious holiness (Hebrews 12:14) or real humility (I Peter 5:5-6). This leads to God opposing our proud, confident applied behavior analysis/ techniques used to shape and modify (via reward, guilt, value-for-value, shame, etc.) our spouses behaviors. ALL layered onto an unregenerate heart or possibly two of them. No matter how well you execute behavioral techniques, marriage takes vast spiritual strength and God’s unseen power to succeed. Help us, Lord God to trust first in your strength, then apply some helpful cosmetic behavioral techniques.
Here is an example of not getting the foundation right, using cosmetic behavioral techniques and having it end very badly. Acts 19:15-16: “. . . . . . . . . and he said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who the τίνεςἐστέ are you? And the man, in whom was the archon (evil), leaped on them and tore them asunder.” It’s NO game when someone lives not dependent on Christ’s grace (but layers on behavioral techniques.) It’s actually an invitation to have everything just blow up in our faces. Layering behavioral techniques like love languages, respect talk, date nights, listening skills, all manner of psychological/ reward schemes on top of a rotting, termite infested foundation is like trying to deal with that POWERFUL archon of Acts 19 in our own human “strength.” Read that entire chapter in Acts that’s exactly what is going on.
One other great way to ruin things is to be a PROSECTUTING attorney vs. a DEFENSE attorney for your spouse. That is, assuming our spouse has bad-will vs. assuming good-will toward you.
Finally, NOT having a strategy that you both agree on AHEAD OF TIME (and practice some dry runs of) to keep arguments from spiraling in a destructive pattern. It seems like the problem for most couples is the very SPEED at which negative interactions take place/ unfold. I would say the most effective model I have seen is 1) Someone calls a time-out and both make certain to respect that time-out and agree (on the spot) to a time to re-engage. Hopefully, that puts the conflict in a state of suspended animation so seriously harmful words don’t get spoken in anger. 2) Get with God separately and get your hearts open by individually examining them before the Lord. 3) Re-engage at the agreed later time, carefully take turns: Listening, Understanding, Validating, etc. Maybe use questions like: “What am I not hearing that you need me to hear?”, “Do you think I understand you?” “How do you feel about this?” “What really is the difference between an archon and a demiurge in the Word-of-God?” –just kidding, but try not to be so serious that you don’t have any fun closing the loop of conflict because it is actually really fun and very good for both of you. So, “What am I not hearing that you need me to hear?”, “What do you need here?” Feelings & needs. Maybe repeat back what is said for the express purpose of understanding but not using the exact words. That way your spouse knows, you know (They know you understand). Then simply alternate talking/ listening until both of you feel understood, both feel validated, both feel honored. It just seems like in so many of these collisions, if each felt safe and validated to share feelings, then felt safe and validated to share needs, those issues would be getting solved vs. everything being a festering LOVE TEST of mind reading/ miscommunication. (We engage in a “power struggle” trying to push the other person into reading our mind and loving us in all the ways our parents didn’t… —and it’s still not working —and you know why —see Acts 19.)
I also love Nina’s admonitions to deepen our relationships with God. Actually, begging Him to change us. Obey His teachings. I also continuously pray for Wisdom (James 1:5) because I often lack it so badly that I can even amaze myself with my own stupidity. Honestly, its like being retarded at times. I really mean this: the clearing out of (or making conscious) your subconscious patterns/ motives–changes your world! If God is the “Light of the world” and you are covered in filthy smudges that are in need of light, healing, transformation –then, you, begging God and taking responsibility to undertake such a cleaning and transformation –are then cleared– so that the individual being that is truly you can shine the Light of the Creator more brightly! This effects Everyone in your home!
We CAN be totally healed, it’s just our parents, our spouses, our children cannot heal us, period. Only the Lord God can do that. He is LOVE and gives this LOVE freely. We just don’t usually experience it the way we should so we walk around thinking it’s our spouse’s job, or that we are meant to just live on scraps or be empty the rest of our lives, absolutely NOT.
Thank you, Rebecca, for elaborating. Our marriages are worth the hard work, effort and sometimes very deep and painful struggles. I pray and do beg God to change me and I choose to do my part in that process. I am a new creation!
Kristin, A new creation, Awesome. –that’s the answer. Have you really trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior? I mean are you all in to the point where if Jesus Christ is just a Legend or a Lunatic or a Lair you have lost absolutely everything (All in)? There is no value in seeking to demonstrate the symbolism of the gospel (a good marriage) until you have first received of its substance—Christ Himself.
Think about God’s love for you if you are His. Bible concepts are operating at dual levels (historical and spiritual) in the Word-of-God. Think about the Song of Solomon 4:9 “. . . You have made my heart beat faster with one glance of your eyes, . . .” Okay, historically that applies to that couple but it also applies to you and the Lord. All that has to happen when you are praying to the Lord God is for you to glance upward toward Him and God’s heart beats faster. That’s how much He loves you (–and that is how much He loves me too.) Anyway, it’s actually really unbelievable how much God loves us. God’s love is perfect and so He always responses to His children with perfect love. I told that to a women recently and she said I had mental problems (I laughed so hard she started laughing too. . . ha, ha, ha, ha.) We both had a good laugh! –I know it sounds crazy in this perverted world but I’d rather be a fool in the eyes of women than a fool in the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 1:21-25, Revelation 21:18.)
Excellent advice! God told me a while back, “If you will focus on learning what you need to know, I’ll make sure Michael learns all he needs to know.” It’s trusting God to take care of him, and it’s none of my business how He does it! (= Thanks for sharing!
Our marriage has all these elements…yikes.
This stuff comes naturally. 😉
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