Of course, you could get help, but if you really want to destroy your marriage, here goes ...
Obviously, we all want to be in a happy marriage. No sane individual will search the internet for ways to sabotage their marriage.
However, awareness of the ways your own negative behaviors cause problems in your marriage allows you to better deal with them and find more productive ways to engage with your partner.
If done right, it is one of the most beautiful experiences any one can have. As Martin Luther said, “There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
However, you are sure to ruin that if you insist on sticking with attitudes and behaviors that are neither healthy nor cooperative.
Here are seven ways you might be sabotaging your marriage or intimate relationship without even knowing it.
1. Having unrealistic expectations.
Movies and magazines make us think of marriage as something idealistic and romantic. However, marriage is not always rainbows and butterflies. You won't only be holding hands and watching sunsets together. You will also deal with difficult life situations and major adult responsibilities. There will be good days, but there will also be bad ones. Sometimes you will get along with your spouse — and sometimes you won't.
To maintain a healthy marriage, both partners need to build marital skills and make compromises for each other to keep the bond strong. Each must understand that love is not enough to fix everything. Disagreements are normal. You simply need to learn to deal with and move past them.
Intimate love doesn't come naturally. You have to learn how to cultivate it, to make an effort to maintain it, and to support each other during difficult times.
2. Taking things too personally.
When you take things personally, you become defensive about every little thing that happens. At times, the anger your partner takes out on you is likely caused by a fight they had with a colleague, stress at work, oncoming illness or some other reason.
This is why it's important to ask your partner what is going on for them, and then listen to the answer, rather than make assumptions. It is crucial that you work to understand the reason for your partner's anger, and to be compassionate towards them.
Similarly, things may be said in the heat of the moment during an argument that each of you probably didn't mean it. If you hold onto a grudge about something your spouse said when they were angry, you disrupt your relationship with your partner, as well as your own well-being. At the same time, while you need to take responsibility for your actions, don't assume your partner's actions were a result of your behavior.
3. Focusing on the negatives.
We are wired to easily find the things that are wrong rather than focus on things that are right. If you always notice the things that your partner did not do, rather than the things they actually did, you are probably only seeing the dark side of the picture.
Don't discard the efforts your spouse puts in by considering it their duty. Learn to shift your perspective so the positives outweigh the negatives. If you consistently focus on the negatives and ignore the positives, your marriage is probably in danger.
4. Preferring to be right rather than happy.
There's no good reason to compete with your partner. You and your spouse are on the same team. Marriage isn't a contest of who is right or who is wrong, or who wins and who loses.
In order for you to be right, your partner must end up being wrong. If you are of the view that you must be right and you must win all arguments no matter what the consequences, this will mean the loss of your marriage.
5. Being reactive rather than responsible.
Reacting and showing negative reactions in the moments is an easy trap to fall into. We typically feel free to share our anger, judgment, blame, and hurt, but we refuse to take responsibility for our own feelings and behaviors.
No one can make you feel anything. It is your own thoughts and expectations that create your emotions. Be proactive and responsible by working to understand and recognize your triggers. Find the reasons behind why your spouse's particular behaviors hurt you so much. Allow yourself to feel your uncomfortable feelings as they arise without judgment so you can do the necessary work to free yourself from them.
6. Blaming your partner rather than being compassionate and constructive.
The blame game can take a serious toll on any relationship. This will make the partner who is being blamed feel trapped, suffocated, and helpless.
Try sitting down together to make a list of each other’s behaviors and expectations. Then work together to come up with solutions to these issues. Keep in mind that you are both doing the best you can based on each of your abilities, skills, experiences and life lessons. Have compassion for each other and move away from blame while taking responsibility for yourselves and your relationship.
Playing the victim or being a blamer will solve nothing, and only put your marriage in jeopardy.
7. Trying to control behaviors rather than to influence them.
We all want a degree of control in our lives. Yet, for some, that also means a need to have control over the lives of everyone who enters into their path. The fact is, partners try to control each other’s behaviors when they don't trust themselves. What we need instead of control is the power to influence our environment, especially our partner.
Rather than expecting your partner to be a certain way, focus on changing yourself in ways that are likely to influence your partner as well.
Not only will you serve as a good role model to your partner, but you will have a greater chance of getting the outcome you want.
More importantly, you will enjoy a happier relationship and life.
Ruining a marriage is easy. Making things work is the difficult part.
Avoid the above sabotaging behaviors by interjecting care and compassion to create loving marriage.
As Dave Meurer says, “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
Moshe Ratson is a couples therapist in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. He assists couples in overcoming problems in their marriage and relationships to ultimately emerge more skillful, stronger and happier. If you need guidance in dealing with relationship challenges, contact Moshe Ratson, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) and premarital counselor.