Like most guys, I have my share of disgusting habits. My sweet wife, Ashley, didn’t discover most of them until after we were married, and she’s been patiently working to convert me from my “caveman” ways ever since.
I still rip off my toenails instead of using clippers and I often scratch my feet in public because I forget to use my athlete’s foot ointment, but overall, I feel like I’m making good progress!
Those kind of unpleasant habits may be gross, but they’re probably not going to wreck your marriage. I have found, however, that there are some consistent habits that can undermine the bond between husband and wife and ultimately lead to divorce. This is not a comprehensive list, but below are some of the most common and most destructive bad habits in modern marriages.
Break these “bad habits” and you’ll see instant improvement in your marriage:
(In no particular order)
1. Failing to give focused attention to each other.
We’ve all got a lot on our minds, but we’ve got to be intentional about giving our spouses our best (not what’s leftover after we’ve given our best to everyone else). When you’re together, be focused on each other. Really listen to each other (don’t just tune out and pretend like your’e listening). Be willing to turn off the phones and electronics and have interruption-free conversations.
2. Ignoring important issues instead of working together to fix them.
I’ve seen too many couples hit the “snooze button” on their issues instead of working together to solve the problem. Avoiding important matters can cause an underlying resentment and unnecessary stress in the marriage.
3. Giving more criticism than encouragement.
For some reason, most of us have an easier time offering criticism than we do giving encouragement, but it’s vital to reverse the trend in your marriage. Be your spouse’s biggest encourager, not their biggest critic. Be the one who wipes away their tears, not the one who causes them.
4. Confiding in friends instead of your spouse.
When you get into the habit of opening up with friends more than you open up with your spouse, you’re sabotaging the sacred bond that must exist between a husband and a wife. I’m not saying never confide in your friends; just never use a friend to fill an emotional gap that you and your spouse should fill together.5. Not having a unified financial plan.
Financial-related stress is now sited as one of the top two causes of divorce, and it’s almost always preventable. Whether you’re flat broke or super rich, it’s vital that you and your spouse work together to outline your financial goals and priorities. Never let money become more valuable than your marriage, and work together to get out of debt! Money is a good servant, but it makes a poor master.
6. Giving your spouse what you think they “deserve”
One of the worst habits in marriage is when a husband and wife start keeping score of each other’s shortcomings and then using that scorecard as justification for not giving their best to their spouse. Love has nothing to do with what someone “deserves.” Love means choosing to give your best to someone even when they’re at their worst. It can be very difficult, but love is always worth the effort.
7. Airing “dirty laundry” about each other.
When we’re frustrated with our spouses, there’re a temptation to vent by sharing their “dirty laundry” to friends or with the world on social media. This is always a bad idea. No marriage problem was ever solved (or even improved) by venting publicly. Instead of venting, work together to find solutions. The resources below can help you get started.
For more tools to build a rock-solid marriage, check out our FREE video series The 4 Pillars of a Strong Marriage and read our bestselling book iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is now also available for download on iTunes for iPads and iPhones.