5 Common Mistakes in Marriage
And how to avoid them.
Marriage can be the greatest source of joy or it can make you feel as if you are the ‘walking dead’. Here are some common marriage mistakes to avoid and solutions to implement.
1. Putting Your Marriage on the Back-Burner
As life gets complicated, so too, do our priorities. Work, children, parents, friendships, and communal responsibilities all call out for our time. It’s easy to assume that our spouses will understand as we tend to the needs of others. We wake up too late and realize that we are strangers sitting across the breakfast table.
Husbands and wives who neglect their relationship forget to make marriage their number one priority. They bring work home and grow distracted, are busy running with the kids ‘no matter what’, putting others first and their marriage last. The emotional connection between the couple weakens.
Our physical connection, too, cannot be ignored. Avoiding, giving up intimacy or using a relationship as a weapon during disagreements all take a heavy toll. Time together cannot be spent simply living as roommates or co-parents. Marriage means friendship, trust, laughter, sharing pain, and forging a love like no other. This becomes possible only when we nourish the relationship with all that we have.
Solution: Stop saying yes to everyone but your spouse. Make time for your partner. Be sure to stay connected both physically and emotionally. Don’t neglect your appearance; show your spouse that you take attraction seriously. Keep check of the direction your relationship is going so that when you notice a distance growing you can pay attention to the problem before it gets out of hand.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
Many men and women have false expectations of marriage. There will not always be flowers, candles and romantic dinners out. Some days will be hard. We will be called upon to sacrifice our time, our likes, and our emotions. Compromise is not always easy to swallow. Life together will be bumpy. That does not mean that we give up.
Some have trouble accepting their spouse and dream of changing them. “If he’d only be a little more ambitious….If she’d only be a little more put together.” Failure to accept our spouse breeds frustration and resentment. Our partner becomes angry, thinking that he’s just never good enough. No one wants to be someone else’s DIY project.
Realizing that our spouse is not perfect does not mean that our relationship is wrong. No one is perfect. The sooner we understand this, the faster we let go of unrealistic fantasies.
Solution: Don’t believe that you will transform your spouse. The only one you can change is yourself. Stop expecting perfection. Focus instead on you trying to be the best person that you can possibly be. Think of your spouse’s positive qualities instead of the negative and watch your love grow.
3. Taking Your Spouse for Granted
The honeymoon high fizzles. We get too comfortable and begin to lose the ‘awe’.
Soon, respect goes out the window. Those things we had appreciated all seem normal now. We forget to be thankful. Gratitude is rarely expressed. Over the years we tend to forget our spouse’s feelings and volunteer their time and services without asking.
Solution: Marriage requires gratitude. We must stop taking our spouse for granted. Take time each day to express at least one of the 3 A’s: Appreciation, Adoration and Admiration. And be careful not to take the privacy of your spouse for granted. Confidentiality breeds trust. When you gossip about your spouse or divulge intimate details to friends you are displaying a lack of loyalty. Maintain the feeling that you value this person in your life. Cherish your partner.
4. Negativity Overcomes the Relationship
All couples have disagreements. The key is being able to find resolution in a positive manner. When we allow negativity to overcome the moment, we get lost in the dark sea of conflict. Sometimes we can’t even remember what we were discussing. Words were said, threats were made, and the situation blew up before our eyes.
Here are some examples of negative behaviors to avoid:
Over criticizing, insulting, name calling, labeling, slamming doors, threatening to leave, saying you want a divorce, questioning the marriage, yelling, cursing, eye rolling, mocking, being sarcastic, blaming, hanging up the phone, sending nasty texts, accusing and condemning. (Of course abusive behavior both physical and emotional is not acceptable ever.)
Some people don’t know how to apologize. While saying “I’m sorry,” they add, “but…” and completely negate their apology. Continuous conflict and disrespectful communication makes it difficult to live together.
Solution: When you are upset, collect yourself before responding. Remember, you can always say this tomorrow, but once said, it becomes difficult to take your words back. Identify your triggers. Which behaviors must you work on? How can you master better self-control? Decide upon positive communication rules that you will live by which will bring you to feel more empowered and wiser.
5. Forgetting How to Love One Another
Happiness in marriage cannot be born from a selfish love. Constantly asking “what did you do for me lately?” or comparing others with our spouse is a self-centered love that will not flourish and grow. Our definition of love is wrong.
Solution: Joy arrives when we realize that we are able to give beyond ourselves. It is not anymore about “me.” It is all about “we.” Recognize that it is not your spouse’s job to make you happy or rescue you from disappointments. Ask not what he can do for you but what you can do for him. Invest in your love by actively expressing your love each day.