5 Negative Thought Patterns That Lead To Divorce

Photo: Maridav
woman wincing with squiggled lines on chalkboard behind her

After the honeymoon stage in a relationship is over and our partner raises complaints about us or does things we don’t agree with or is somehow absent, we often start to make or draw slightly negative conclusions about them or the relationship.

Typically, it starts off as a fairly benign negative thought one day, but if their actions continue to match that thought, we can start to think that is the overriding truth about them or the relationship.

Negative thinking doesn’t only affect you, it can damage the connection, communication, and passion in your marriage if these thought patterns become habitual.

In order for you to be happy in your marriage, you need to control the negative thoughts you have about your spouse and the relationship before it’s too late!

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The repetitive negative thought patterns explained below can literally destroy your marriage and pave the way for divorce.

5 Negative thought patterns that lead to divorce

1. Generalizing and assuming the worst of your partner.

When you make generalizations — such as, "They always do this..." or, "They never do that..." — in a negative way, you are judging, exaggerating, and focusing on the negative. This is likely to affect how warm, affection and kind you are to them.

People who do this say to themselves time and time again things like the following:

  • "They never make any effort."
  • "They always have to be right."
  • "They're lazy."
  • "They're taking me for granted."
  • "They never want to be physically intimate."
  • "They're moody."
  • "They're selfish."

While you are definitely not alone in this type of thinking, if you repeatedly think or say things like this to yourself it will affect what you notice and how you treat your spouse.

What do you think it does to your partner if you think the worse of them?

It feels terrible to have the worse thought of you, and even if you're right, thinking the worst of someone is not going to inspire them to change, which is really what you want.

What to do about it:

It’s when you lift someone up, trust, and empower them by thinking the best of them, that will raise their standards.

If your spouse knows that you expect the best from them, they won’t want to let you down, so encourage and appreciate what they do well rather than criticize what they’re not doing.

2. Comparing your husband or wife to others.

"If only they were more like Susan’s husband." Or, "If she looked after herself like Rachael does, I wouldn’t be like this."

Comparisons are pointless, degrading and unfair. Every one of us is unique, shaped by our own unique experiences and interpretations of the world.

What to do about it:

Instead of wasting your time wishing your spouse was more like someone else, share the traits you admire in others and positively motivate your spouse to change their behaviors.

When an "if only" thought comes up, switch your focus to something special you admire and love about your partner.



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3. Frequently fantasizing about being with someone else.

I’m not talking about idly daydreaming about what it might be like to date Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, or any other celebrity you’re attracted too. What I’m referring to here is thinking about or longing to be with someone else.

This will not only create distance between you and your partner, over time it can kill your connection and attraction, which will inevitably damage the marriage.

What to do about it:

When people share with me that they are doing this, I ask them to explore what it is they feel is missing and what they would like to change. Then we look at ways to make this a reality in their marriage.

If this resonates with you, use it as a tool to strengthen your relationship, and start by giving whatever it is you wish to receive.

4. Expecting your spouse to know what you want.

"They should know what I want." Or "They should know what to do."

It’s not only unfair to expect your partner to know what you want or what to do, it’s unrealistic. Most of all thinking this way harms you. It’s frustrating to think like this, it winds you up and like all of the above thinking like this doesn’t change anything.

What to do about it:

Free yourself by expressing and explaining things calmly and affectionately to help them help you.

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5. Comparing your relationship as it is now to how it was at the beginning.

Over-analyzing about how great things used to be and how they have changed or asking yourself "What happened to us?" is a sure way to make you feel down and hopeless about your marriage.

Don’t get me wrong, it's great to remember and share the good times. Doing this can strengthen your marriage!

What you want to avoid is making it seem in your head as though the good times are now over.

What to do about it:

In couples therapy, I ask those I work with to each share their happiest times. Then we discuss how to create more happy moments in the present and future.

Thoughts are powerful. They affect how we feel and what we are motivated to do.

The good thing is that our thoughts can be changed with awareness and by refocusing them, thereby changing our experience of the relationship and stopping divorce.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I admire you for doing so, as it takes a great deal of self-honesty to grasp that you could be causing damage to your relationship with your thoughts, as well as courage to change them.

Bonus tip: When any negative thought comes up, ask yourself: "How is this helping me or my relationship?"

Then, if you are honest, answer in your head, "That’s right, It’s not," and allow the thought to drift away, leaving room for you to focus on what you do want rather than on what you do not want.

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Nicola Beer is a life and marriage coach and the founder of the Save My Marriage Program.