A parody every couple has to find their way out of.
While we all know it takes work to make a good marriage, what are we doing that works against us? The following list is a collection of what any spouse may fall prone too. While some may be too familiar to be funny, work on getting your relationship right by taking a lesson on how to get it wrong:
1. Don’t fight.
Surely there is no such thing as healthy conflict so make sure to keep emotions tidy and sweep potential problems under the rug. Made popular in the 1950’s, avoidance, denial and ignorance continue to be prevalent, albeit futile, tools for keeping up the appearance that a happy, holy home is immune from the struggle to figure out conflict and its resolution.
2. Make passive aggressive digs in public.
If you are doing tactic #1 well enough, this will come naturally. Resentment and bitterness will gradually build up so much that you’ll hardly be able to help yourself to strike when you have the chance. Remember, nothing is quite so hurtful or embarrassing as being subtly betrayed in front of others by the one who vowed to cherish and protect you.
3. Compare your spouse to certain, strategic family members.
We know you know what button to push. If you’re looking for a way to escalate the dysfunctional patterns of behavior instead of seeking a way to live out a different legacy, ignore those distracting warning feelings of possible guilt and regret. A conversation goes to new levels of low when this method is applied.
4. Quote Scripture to prove your point.
Despite the vanity and manipulation involved, pulling out Bible verses from their context to use against your spouse is not always seen as spiritually abusive. Oh, no wait, it is. So, it’s a potent tool to damage not only your marriage but also your relationship with God. Spiritualizing any sin will certainly fast-track your efforts.
5. Keep a schedule like you’re still single.
Life’s demands don’t stop just because you get married or have children or have more children. Surrender to the pressure to be perfect instead of prioritizing what makes up the perfect life for you. Pour into places that make you feel accomplished more so than pouring into the people who show you who you are. The marriage vows meant to clarify that closeness and connection is a worthy endeavor as long as it doesn’t come at too great a cost to personal success and achievement.
There is a great conspiracy led by licensed therapists aimed at couples to convince them to work on their marriage. Our staggering divorce rate has nothing to do with the fact that couples aren’t accessing the help they need. Once you have that day when you say “I do” and “I love you,” the rest is downhill from there. It’s easy to be living the dream when you’re in a fantasy world.
7. Skip repair attempts.
Despite evidence from leading research marriage experts, if you have a rupture in your relationship, it is unnecessary to take responsibility to seek reconciliation and restoration. Argue well enough over who is to blame and even if your relationship is at a loss, you can still win. It is not juvenile to believe that only the one who caused the rupture is solely responsible for the repair. Tip: If you have trouble accepting this, practice tactics #2-4 and if lingering anxiety persists, escape with more of strategy #5, again.
8. Lose yourself in becoming one.
Give in, give up and give over to conformity. Live up to someone else’s expectations and play by someone else’s rules. Enmeshment is a mark of true love that will sacrifice you and waste you up until there’s nothing left of who you really are. It would be selfish any other way. Love wouldn’t free you or allow you to live into more of who you were created to be. Your satisfaction must be directly dependent on your spouse’s ability to make you happy. That pressure and expectation will likely only make the hearts grow fonder.
9. Kiss dating goodbye.
Again. Dates take planning, romance, budgeting, time. Those are luxuries in short supply, not standard necessities for a healthy marriage. It’s a myth that business leads to boredom and burnout and bitterness. Resigning to merely exist as roommates isn’t too bad a fate when you’re settling to make comparisons with other worst-care-scenarios.
10. Read marriage articles as if that’s working on your marriage.
To apply, personalize and be accountable to the actual material is an entirely different matter. Credit and appreciation should be extended for the minimal amount of effort. If you begin to feel convicted by any of your reading material to increase your efforts, work instead to teach your spouse how they must change. They especially enjoy this.
If you resonate with any of these strategies because you or your spouse is more than a little guilty of being good at them, let this be a playful but poignant encouragement to stop sabotaging your relationship. Spend that energy in a way that builds respect, trust and intimacy. Even if you don’t know exactly what to do, sometimes the beginning is knowing what not to do. Every failure gives you feedback so keep trying and find out together what will grow connection and life to your relationship.