9 Effective Ways To Improve Your Marriage Using Inversion Thinking

It's much easier to come up with ways to destroy a marriage than to save one.

Using inversion thinking to improve marriage Ave Calvar | Unsplash

I’ve written before about cognitive biases, and today, I’m going to speak to a different one and help you use it to improve your marriage (or any romantic relationship you’re in). We humans have what is commonly referred to as a "negativity bias," which is a fancy way of saying that we’re better at thinking of worst-case scenarios than we are at thinking up positive solutions to our problems. 


What does this have to do with improving your marriage? Well, if you ask someone, "Can you think of nine significant ways to improve your marriage, starting today?" they might be able to do it… But if you ask someone, "Can you think of nine ways to ruin a marriage as quickly as possible?" the mind has an easier time solving that problem. This is because our brains, at a deep level, have evolved to be better at perceiving threats and making us feel anxious than they are at making us feel happy, grateful, or calm.

So today, we’re going to get into nine ways that you could rapidly destroy a marriage, and then invert those things and focus on what we should do, to bring about positive change in our relationships. (You might be tempted to skip ahead to the "positive" list, but there is value in reading both. Success relies not only on completing tasks on the "to-do" list but also on avoiding tasks on the "don’t-do" list.)


Here are 9 ways to rapidly ruin a marriage:

1. Cheat on them

Nothing shatters trust like breaking your word and sleeping around with other people. This is in the number one spot because of the speed of the destruction that it renders.

2. Be dishonest

Sure, cheating is one way to lie… but don’t stop there. There are infinite ways to hide in an intimate relationship. Lie about your finances. Lie about your hobbies, passions, and interests. Tell your partner you’re thrilled with the relationship while quietly simmering with resentment. If there’s something that’s bothering you, keep it to yourself.

RELATED: The 4 Most Damaging Types Of Lies People Tell In Relationship

3. Have a sex life that is entirely focused on your needs

Everyone knows that relationships are all about what you can GET… not what you can give. Take this to the extreme by ensuring that your sex life is all about you, and never consider what your partner’s needs might be.


4. Over-dependence

Make your partner your sole emotional support system. Don’t have friends, don’t have hobbies, don’t ever have a coach or therapist or a men’s group or women’s group to go to. So long as your partner feels you leaning all of your emotional weight on them, you’ll be doing this tip justice.

5. Suffocate them with your jealousy

Have so little trust in your partner that you need to grill them about their every move. While you’re at it, put a tracking device on them at all times so you know that there’s zero chance that they would ever have even a sliver of an opportunity to cheat on you.


Jealousy will ruin your relationship #collectivelymarried

♬ original sound - Collectively Married - collectivelymarried

6. Be financially irresponsible

Finances and general money issues are some of the leading causes of divorce, so we definitely can’t forget about this one. Spend like an entitled child (aka well beyond your means). Keep money secrets from your partner constantly. Never discuss money. From now on, your motto is, "Don’t ask, don’t tell."


7. Give all of your time and attention to work, your friends, and hobbies — leave your partner to fend for themselves

Criticize your partner for having so many needs, and then spend all of your time focusing exclusively on your own.

8. When your partner tries to bring up issues to you about your relationship, deny it all

Repeat after me: "Blah blah blah… all this talk and it never gets us anywhere. Can’t you just be happy? Why does everything have to be serious all the time with you?"

RELATED: How To Talk About Problems In Your Relationship Without Making Them Worse

9. When you sense there’s a significant issue that’s getting in the way, do nothing about it and let it fester for as long as possible

The average couple waits six years before seeking help for known relationship issues. Quitters! If you want to excel above the average couple, try waiting for at least 10+ years.


Alright, deep breath. Next? Let’s look at the inversion of the above list… so that instead of ruining our marriage, we’re bolstering it.

Here are 9 effective ways to improve your marriage using inversion thinking:

1. Be completely loyal to them — not just sexually, but energetically as well

Some people think that never engaging sexually with anyone else counts as being faithful to their partner. But I think (if we’re being honest with ourselves) it goes several steps beyond that. If someone casually flirts with others when they’re away from their partner, divulges too personal of information that they know their partner wouldn’t want to be shared, or does anything that they know their partner wouldn’t be happy with if they found out about it… it all counts.

You shouldn’t be sexually leaky with other people when you’re in a relationship (which includes flirting and sexual leakiness). But if someone regularly engages in behavior that they know they wouldn’t want their partner to know about, then, in my book, that also counts. Ultimately, we should all be aiming to be in total integrity with ourselves. When someone does away with any sneaky behavior, their conscience feels lighter, and their marriage improves exponentially.

Bottom line: don’t do anything that you feel would need to be kept a secret from your spouse.


2. Be honest with them, even when (and especially when) it is difficult to do so

Communication is the bedrock of any good marriage. And honest, kind communication is the only version that we should be aiming for. Why? Because passion is a function of communication. We need to keep the river of communication flowing to feel connected to our significant others. So… three things you can check on before saying anything to your spouse: Is it honest? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

RELATED: This Is What Real Love Feels Like When You Are Actually Honest About Everything

3. Be aware of and regularly invest in both of your sexual needs

As the saying goes, "Sex is only 5% of a marriage… but it’s the first 5%." When there’s no sexual intimacy between you and your partner, you both feel it. So making this area of your lives a consistent priority, in a way that works for both of you, is of vital significance. Discuss what your ideal sexual frequency looks like, and what the nature of that partnered sex looks like, and then do whatever needs to be done so that you both have the bandwidth, energy, and ability to follow through on it.


4. Always ensure you are getting your needs met from a diversified set of sources

One of the major pitfalls of modern romanticism is the idea that you should be able to get all of your social needs met through your partner. In reality, this puts an incredible amount of pressure on one person to be everything to you, and slowly erodes the quality of your relationship over time. 

To counteract this relatively recent notion, ensure that you have a variety of people that you connect with regularly. This will look different for different people. You can connect with close friends, coworkers, family members, or people that you engage in shared hobbies with. Even the most introverted people can still benefit from having a way to get their social needs met outside of their intimate relationships. So, if it’s been a while since you last spent time with a friend, it could be time to phone them up and make plans.

5. Trust your partner, and allow them to have their own life outside of your relationship

One of the fastest ways to suffocate your spouse’s personhood is to not allow them to have their own life outside of your marriage. Both for their sake and yours, you want to emphatically encourage them to have their own life. Their hobbies. Their friends and relationships. The more holistically nourished your spouse is outside of your relationship, the happier they’ll be, and the more of themselves they will be able to bring back to your relationship and family.

This especially matters if your spouse can often fall into a pattern of self-sacrificing (either with work, your kids, other people in their lives, etc). If they commonly put themselves on the back burner and put everyone else first, it behooves you to advocate for them making their own needs a consistent priority. Remind them of their hobbies that you see them neglecting. Encourage them to take time for themselves away from the kids or their other adult responsibilities. If you notice that it’s been a while since they did something just for fun, reflect that back to them. Ultimately, the happier and more holistically fulfilled they are, the better off the marriage will be as a whole.


6. Recognize that your financial and energetic resources are shared, and act accordingly

Money is one of the biggest things that couples fight about and is commonly listed as one of the main drivers of divorce. When one or both partners neglect to acknowledge that money is a shared resource that impacts how both people feel, issues quickly arise. If you think about other shared resources (time, energy, social capacity, etc.), it makes sense how if one person was spending the other partner’s resources at a rate that doesn’t suit them, it would wreak havoc. Yet people don’t tend to perceive money through the same lens. Even if you both work and have separate bank accounts, the way each of you interacts with money impacts the other.

The solution? Regardless of your unique money situation, recognize that your financial resources are shared, and act accordingly. Be aware of your partner’s stuff with money (we all have our version of it) and be respectful of their process. Act in a way that honors each of you, and stay in regular communication about your finances so that you both feel safe, heard, and respected.

7. Put in the work to stay connected and regularly create positive experiences that you both share

One sneaky way that some people neglect their relationships is by investing all of their energy into work, friends, or hobbies. Certain leaks are more socially acceptable than others, but engaging in a strategy like this is still a way to exit a relationship without appearing from the outside like you’re doing anything overtly wrong. Ensure that you are putting in proactive effort and meeting the needs of the marriage and not just your own needs. By prioritizing regular date nights, time to debrief about your respective days, and shared time, you’ll make sure that the relationship is getting the nutrients it needs to continue to thrive.


Is there a certain area of your marriage that has been feeling particularly neglected as of late? Sex? Date nights? Vacations? Deep, revealing, intimate conversations? Quantity time together where you can just co-exist in the same room? Whatever it is, make a concerted effort to lean into that over the coming months, and your marriage will flourish.

8. Always be open and receptive to anything your partner wants to share with you, especially when it comes to the state of your relationship

When your significant other dares to name something to you about the state of your relationship, the worst thing you can do is shut down, react defensively, and take it at face value as just being about criticism. If we can cultivate a pause… take a breath… and see the reflection for what it is (a bid for connection of your partner wanting to be closer to you), then we can bypass the knee-jerk reaction and lean into love. Thank your partner for the reflection, take the time to make sure that you understand it fully, and then agree on some mutually beneficial action that will make relationship progress inevitable.

9. Be proactive about addressing issues, and seek outside support before you need to

It’s a shocking statistic that bears repeating: The average couple waits six years before seeking help for known relationship issues. Don’t contribute to that statistic. If there’s a problem and you’re both contributing to ignoring it, it will only get worse over time. Neglect amplifies and multiplies problems… it doesn’t make them go away.

If there’s an issue that you and your partner have been aware of for any length of time and you feel like you’re at an impasse regarding how to resolve it, it’s time to get outside support to move through it in a way that minimizes damage and speeds up progress. Whether it’s mismatched libidos, arguments about money, value differences in raising your children, or any other thing that you just can’t seem to resolve, often, getting a third-party perspective from someone who isn’t as close to the problem can be a game-changer. Sometimes that third-party perspective can come from a close friend, family member, men’s group, or women’s group… and sometimes you need to call in a specialist. Either a local coach or therapist or an online coach or therapist.


Over time… neglect, laziness, ignorance, and selfishness will erode the quality of any marriage. Conversely, time, effort, focus, proactive love, and intention will drastically improve the quality. I hope that this article has highlighted a key area of two that you can double down on, and put some focused effort into over the coming months. The more aware we are of the blindspots… the areas of our relationship garden that might need some tending to… the better.

RELATED: 5 Small Nuggets Of Advice To Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

Relationship coach and writer Jordan Gray helps people remove their emotional blocks and maintain thriving intimate relationships.