7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

7 Ways to Ruin Your MarriageEarlier this week, I spotted a clever post on Money Saving Mom called 5 Ways to Ruin Your Day — Guaranteed.

Of course, nobody sets out with that goal in mind, but as I read through her list, I realized that from time to time, I’ve been guilty of every single one of them (with the possible exception of #3).

And sure enough, when I think back to days I’ve devoted to such self-defeating activities, they don’t normally rank among my most productive or joyous.

I thought perhaps a similar tongue-in-cheek post about marriage might kindle some comparable sparks of recognition.

Nobody sets out with the goal of ruining their marriage in mind, but — unfortunately — that’s the position in which many couples find themselves.

Maybe if we could recognize the habits that are undermining our relationships early enough, we could change our ways before it’s too late.

So, in that spirit, I offer you…

7 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage — Guaranteed:


  1. Put yourself first.
  2. Always look out for #1. Make everything about you. Prioritize your needs and marginalize his. If you have children, put them ahead of Daddy, as well. Your husband is a big boy; he’s old enough to take care of himself.

  3. Dwell on his flaws.
  4. Focus all your attention on those things he does that most annoy you. Blind yourself to any good traits, and zero in on the bad ones. Who cares if he is a hard worker if he’s irresponsible with money? What does it matter that he’s a loving and devoted father if he’s also a complete slob?

  5. Assume the worst.
  6. Assign a malignant motive to anything he does that you don’t like. If he really loved you, he would know how much it bothers you and stop doing it. Convince yourself he’s acting that way on purpose, just to tick you off.

  7. Refuse to forgive.
  8. Whenever he forgets your anniversary or loses his temper or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, make sure he knows that he has seriously flubbed up. Glare at him with disapproval or, better yet, give him a cold shoulder. The longer you hold a grudge, the less likely he’ll be to make the same mistake in the future.

  9. Withhold respect.
  10. Don’t just give him respect — make him earn it. The harder he works to win your approval, the more he’ll appreciate it once he gets it. (Until then, feel free to disparage him as much as you like, both to his face and behind his back.)

  11. Turn him down.
  12. You don’t have to have sex to have a good marriage. The sooner your husband understands that, the better. Why make love when you can make excuses? If he’s in the mood and you aren’t, just tell him to go take a cold shower. Put him off enough, and he’ll eventually give up and stop bugging you about it.

  13. Cast blame.
  14. Don’t accept personal responsibility for any of the problems in your marriage — they are all your husband’s fault. Even your own poor attitudes can be pinned on him: If he were the kind of husband he ought to be, you wouldn’t react the way you do. If he’d get his act together, yours would quickly follow.

The good news is, you don’t have to do all these things at once to ruin your marriage. Just doing one or two of them habitually is usually enough to make most couples miserable.

Of course, if you’d rather nurture your marriage than destroy it, then simply do the opposite of this list: Place more importance on your husband’s needs than your own (Philippians 2:3-4), focus on the positive (Philippians 4:8), believe the best (1 Corinthians 13:7), forgive freely (Colossians 3:13), shower him with respect (Ephesians 5:33), don’t deny him physically (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and own up to your own failings instead of pointing fingers (James 5:16).

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

The A to Z Guide to Building a Better Marriage

Great article on building a better marriage...If you’ve been married for any length of time, you have undoubtedly realized that some habits help your relationship and others hurt it.

Our goal should be to practice doing the good stuff until it becomes second nature and leave off doing the bad things altogether. To help in that endeavor, I offer the following A to Z guide for building a better marriage.

Putting these principles into practice is the best way I know to spell success for you and your spouse. Attend to these areas, and your marriage will do better than survive. It will flourish.

A is for Acceptance

Accept your husband for who he is. Entrust to God any changes that need to be made. Don’t try to change him yourself — that will only make you both miserable. Only God can mold either of your hearts into what they are meant to be. (Ezekiel 36:26)

B is for Belief

Your husband needs to know you have confidence in him, that you are on his side. Be his biggest cheerleader. Believe in him, and believe the best of him.

C is for Commitment

Couples fare better when they are committed to marriage in general and to each other in specific. They are more likely to stay together when they don’t even consider divorce an option. (Matthew 19:6) Be entirely devoted to one another — for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Honor the vows you made to one another and regard them as binding.

D is for Dreams

The Bible teaches, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) It is important for couples to dream as a team. Discuss with your spouse your hopes and desires for the future. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to dream big. Set and work toward goals together and pray that God will help you accomplish great things.

E is for Encouragement

Be supportive. Speak words of life to your husband. Build him up, don’t tear him down. Make it your goal to comfort, encourage, and do him only good as long as there is life within you. ( Proverbs 31:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

F is for Forgiveness

You should not harbor bitterness or resentment in your heart toward anybody, but especially not toward the man you married. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Forgive him freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesian 4:31-32; 1 Corinthians 13:5)

G is for Gratitude

Don’t take your husband for granted. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Express your appreciation to him and for him clearly, sincerely, and often. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

H is for Humility

“Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Pride is extremely off-putting and will only drive a wedge in your relationship: Humility is the ticket to happiness. Don’t think more of yourself than you ought, but hold your spouse in high esteem. (Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3)

I is for Intimacy

A marriage is meant to make two people one: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This will not happen without your intentional investment in each of these areas. Prioritize time together and do not withhold yourself from your spouse or push him away. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

J is for Joy

Somebody once said, “Joy is love singing.” If so, we should learn the words of that song by heart and keep them continually on our lips. A happy marriage is largely about attitude — not only our attitude toward one another, but our whole outlook on life. (Psalm 68:3)

K is for Kindness

Marriage is more about what you give than what you get. Be thoughtful and considerate of your spouse. Put his needs ahead of your own. (Colossians 3:12)

L is for Love

Love is much more than mushy emotionalism or sexual attraction. That loving feeling is nice, but it is not by itself enough to sustain a marriage. For a marriage to thrive, you need the kind of unconditional, self-sacrificing love we read about in Scripture: a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… [and] never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

M is for Maturity

To be mature means to be fully developed. Maturity is marked by the presence of firm, well-established roots and an abundance of ripe, wholesome fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — none of which can be authentically produced unless we remain connected to the Vine. (Galatians 5:22; John 15:4)

N is for Nurture

Much of our marital success hinges on the daily decisions we make: Where will we invest our time and energy? If we choose to focus our attention at home, our marriage and family will likely flourish. If we carelessly neglect those key relationships, they will suffer and our love will grow cold. (Luke 12:34)

O is for Offspring

Just as a couple’s children are a blessing to their marriage, a couple’s marriage is a blessing to their children — in fact, that one-flesh union was designed with the next generation in mind. A child’s best chance for success is with a mother and father who are lovingly committed to one another and to the little ones entrusted to their care. Whether biological or adopted, children bring a certain fullness and joy to marriage that cannot be experienced any other way. (Psalm 127:3)

P is for Prayer

Prayer is the key to lasting love. While most marriages have only a coin-toss survival rate (50% will end in divorce), couples who pray daily together reduce their risk of divorce to less than 1%. That is significant. Pray with your husband. Pray for your husband. When you invite Him to do so, God will gladly work to mold your marriage into everything He meant it to be. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Q is for Quiet

Home should be a haven of peace and rest for every member of the family. Do your best to make it so by cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit. Abandon a quarrel before it breaks out, and learn to control your tongue. Let your words be filled with love and seasoned with grace.(1 Peter 3:4; Proverbs 17:14; James 1:26; Colossians 4:6)

R is for Respect

Marriage should be marked by mutual respect. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives two definitions for respect: 1) a feeling of deep admiration for someone… elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, and (2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others. Men especially crave that first kind of respect and are keenly aware of its absence when it is lacking. Admire your husband. Hold him in highest regard. And learn to communicate your respect in ways that are meaningful to him. (Ephesians 5:33)

S is for Sense of Humor

A good sense of humor is an invaluable asset when it comes to living happily ever after. Laughter is good medicine, and the ability to laugh at oneself can help reduce stress and tension like no other thing I know. (Proverbs 17:22)

T is for Trust

Trust is essential for a successful marriage. Prove yourself worthy of your spouse’s trust, express confidence in him as well, and together place your full trust in God whose grace sustains us all.(1 Timothy 3:11; Proverbs 3:5)

U is for Understanding

Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Treat him the way you’d want to be treated. Study him. Learn what makes him tick. Listen to him attentively, with a goal of understanding not only what he is saying, but why he is saying it.(Matthew 7:12; James 1:19)

V is for Virtue

Proverbs 31 goes into great detail on what it means to be a virtuous wife.My dictionary defines virtue as “moral excellence, goodness, integrity, purity, and strength.” Virtue is the opposite of hypocrisy, laziness, and malice. Certainly, goodness and integrity are desirable qualities in both husband and wife: the more virtuous their behavior, the more blessed their marriage will be. (Proverbs 20:7; 2 Peter 1:5)

W is for Wisdom

If your marriage is to thrive amid all the pressures that threaten to destroy it, you will need a lot of grace and wisdom. Fortunately, God promises to provide an ample supply to anyone who asks: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” That’s a promise every couple should redeem regularly. (James 1:5; 3:17; 2 Corinthians 1:12; )

X is for X-citement

Don’t lose your sense of excitement and adventure. You and your spouse get to DO LIFE together, side by side, hand in hand! Whoever said marriage has to be boring? That isn’t the picture Scripture paints of what the love shared between a husband and wife should look like. It uses words like exhilarated, ravished, delighted, captivated, and continually satisfied. (Proverbs 5:18-19, read in multiple translations)

Y is for Yieldedness

Do you want a happy marriage? Learn to defer to one another in love. Don’t demand your own way. A willingness to compromise on non-essentials goes a long way toward building good will and trust in any relationship — marriage is no different in that respect. (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:13)

Z is for Zest

“Being married is like riding a bike: you’ve got to invest some energy if you want it to keep going.” Don’t lose the momentum! Invest your zest! Do everything you can to maintain that energy and enthusiasm that led you to marry in the first place. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Although, writing as a woman, I have directed this article toward wives, I fully believe that every one of these suggestions should go both ways. And in a healthy marriage, they will.

Although each of these habits and character traits are important for building a marriage that lasts, I know my list is not exhaustive. Which habits have helped you have a happy marriage? What qualities would you add to this list?

Great article on building a better marriage...

How Does Your Husband Spell RESPECT?

How does your husband spell RESPECT - a 30-Day Challenge for wives
Every man craves respect. I think that deep desire to be well-esteemed by family, friends, and foe alike is hardwired into the Y-chromosome. The vast majority of men value respect even over love.

One of the most powerful things you can do to build up your man and strengthen your marriage is to shower your husband with the respect and admiration he so longs for.

The details may differ from family to family, but the underlining principles remain the same.

Here’s how my husband spells respect. And there’s a good chance yours spells it this way, too:

R = Respond Physically

Of all your husband’s needs, this is the one that only you can legitimately address. If you pour all your energies into being a good wife in every other way, but marginalize or neglect the area of physical intimacy, then you have failed.

God designed this one-flesh union to be uniquely characteristic of marriage. Your husband will never feel completely respected as long as you habitually turn him down or slap him away when he tries to get physically close.

E = Express Sincere Thanks

Be grateful for the many things — big and little — your husband does for you, and thank him every time. Show him that you appreciate him in whatever way speaks most clearly to him.

Don’t take your husband for granted and don’t saddle him with expectations. Expectations lead only to discontent. If your husband preforms well, he’ll get no special acknowledgement or show of gratitude, because he was only doing what you expected. If he doesn’t, you’ll feel slighted and angry, and he won’t know why.

“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” – Robert Brault

S = Silence Can Be Golden

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m not advocating giving your husband a cold shoulder, but neither should you give him a piece of your mind. Sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.

The ability to hold our tongue is an underutilized skill for many of us. Yet, the Bible tells us we should “not let any unwholesome speech come out of [our] mouths, but only what is good for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

So next time you are tempted to nag, argue, gripe, or belittle, keep these verses in mind: Proverbs 21:19, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:8

“Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid.” – Harlan Miller

P = Pray with and for Him

Prayer is key to a strong marriage. Don’t wait until your marriage is in trouble to pray. By faithfully bringing your husband to the Throne of Grace — even when things are going well — you can head off a lot of problems before they ever arise.

Don’t just stop at praying for your husband. If he is willing, make it a daily habit to pray with him, as well. Couples who regularly pray together are far less likely to divorce.

E = Emphasize His Good Points

Just as you would rather he dwell on your most praiseworthy attributes than to focus his attention on all your flaws, your husband will also feel better loved and respected when you are expressing admiration instead of fault-finding and nit-picking.

Focus your attention on those traits that first attracted you to your husband. Emphasize his most noble features.

If you will make your default attitude one of warm approval and respect, then on the rare occasion you do need to discuss a concern, your husband will be far more likely to take it to heart.

C = Choose Joy

What does being joyful have to do with communicating respect?

More than you might think!

A smiling, jovial wife announces to the world, “My husband knows how to make me happy!” But a sour, malcontent wife broadcasts the opposite message. A wife who shames her husband “is as rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:24)

Choose to cultivate a happy, joyful attitude, regardless of your circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us we should rejoice, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, knowing that God uses difficult circumstances to teach us patience, to build our endurance, and to mold us into the character of Christ. (James 1:2-3; Matthew 5:11-12)

T = Take His Advice

Undoubtedly you’ve already noticed that your husband tends to look at things differently than you. His unique perspective, together with the way most men’s brains are wired for problem solving, offers you a unique opportunity to get “outside the box” when looking at problems or challenges.

Listen to your husband. Hear what he is saying to you. Don’t get defensive or discount his opinion, but try to see things from his perspective and honor his wishes. God will greatly bless you when you do.

Need some practice to help this all sink in? Then sign up for my 30-Day Respect Challenge over at Revive Our Hearts. You’ll receive helpful tips and reminders delivered straight to your inbox, every day for a month.

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

Give your husband something for Christmas this year he will really appreciate.

Give him RESPECT!

And if you really want to get specific, ask him how he’d like you to spell it.

Check Out My Book

Love and Respect – Subway Art Printables

I’ve been pondering what to get my husband this year for Valentine’s Day, as it’s only a week away.

In years past, I’ve written him poems, like this or this. And once I stitched him a silk-embroidered bed pillow, which has been broadcasting the same secret message for more than a decade now.

But just as I was starting to feel stumped for ideas, Doug made it super-easy on me.

“Valentine’s is coming up,” he reminded me earlier this week. “I thought it might be good for you to turn our Love and Respect lists into some sort of graphic we could post for the occasion.”

I told him I thought that was a great idea and got right to work on it. The next day, I presented him with two pieces of subway art: the one pictured here on communicating respect and another (which you can find on his blog) on expressing love.

Both designs are also available in shades of blue.

Incidentally, Doug’s been making good progress on the book version of 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, which should be available sometime this spring. The parts I’ve read so far are terrific! You can expect more detailed posts from him on related topics as he continues to work on that, so you may want to subscribe to his blog if you don’t already follow it.

Give Him a Gift More Precious than Gold

"Your reputation is in the hands of others.... You can't control that. The only thing you can control is your character."I am something of a legend at the hospital where my husband serves as Chief of Staff. Whenever he introduces me to anybody from work, I always hear the same thing:

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Flanders. Your husband talks about you all the time. I feel like I’ve known you for years!”

But the me they think they know is not the one who wakes up with morning breath or burns dinner to a crisp or leaves clothes in the washer so long they sour or has to hire a repairman to tell her that the reason the icemaker isn’t working is because somebody turned it off.

Not even close.

My husband’s colleagues are only familiar with the Wonder Woman version of me — the one who runs marathons and writes books and tutors calculus and sings like an angel and never sleeps.

Keep in mind, very few of these people know me except through what my spouse has told them. If he were inclined to focus on the negative instead of on the positive, their perception of me might be radically skewed (and their esteem for him would probably plummet, as well).

So my question is this: How does your husband’s reputation fare among your friends? When you are out with the girls or gabbing with coworkers, do you build him up or run him down?

What you say reflects on you as much as it does him.

The Bible tells us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)

Your husband is at your mercy. You know him more intimately than anybody else on the planet. How will you use that knowledge? Will you choose to be a crown or a curse to him?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Scripture warns us. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:21-22)

Fitting, the juxtaposition of those two verses, don’t you think? Part of what makes a woman a good wife and a crown to her husband is her ability to measure her words, to guard her tongue, to let it be governed by the law of kindness, and to use it to speak words of life:

  • “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Whether or not you appreciate the fact, your husband’s reputation is of paramount importance to him. Guys would rather feel unloved than disrespected. For ages, men even fought duels for the sake of their honor. They would sooner suffer death than have their name besmirched.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

Your husband’s good name is your good name, as well (and vice versa), so guard it carefully.Honor him in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Protect his reputation. Don’t let minor irritations or disagreements at home tempt you to badmouth him in public.

Conduct yourself in such a way that others will have no trouble understanding why your husband married you in the first place.