The 7 reasons marriages fail.

The 7 reasons marriages fail. January 28, 2014

My wife, Ashley, and I have devoted much of our adult lives to battling the epidemic of divorce and helping couples rediscover the timeless principles that lead to a strong and vibrant marriage. Along the way, we’ve noticed some patterns of behavior that usually lead to divorce. I’m convinced that if couples will stop doing these things, the quality of marriages will rise and the divorce rates will drastically drop.

In no particular order…

1. Speaking negatively to (or about) your spouse.

When couples start nagging or insulting each other or complaining to their friends about their spouse, they’ve put themselves on the fast track to divorce. The tone of your words will set the tone of your marriage.

2. Taking on a Win/Lose mindset.

Couples in trouble tend to see every disagreement with their spouse as a fight where there will be a “winner” and a “loser.” Healthy marriages recognize that a husband and wife are united and will always share the same fate, so in every disagreement, they will either win together or lose together, so they work together to find a solution where they can both win.

3. Confiding in a “friend” of the opposite sex.

Once you find yourself having a conversation or sending a text message that you hope your spouse doesn’t find out about, you’ve stepped way out of bounds. Most affairs start as “friendships” that cross the line. For more on this, check out my popular post on 5 ways to build an affair-proof marriage.

4. Surrounding yourself with negative voices.

People who choose divorce usually have friends who celebrate the “pursuit of happiness” even at the expense of your marriage and family. Surround yourself with people who love you, love your spouse and love God and their influence and wisdom will lead you in a better direction. For more on this, check out this 2-minute video with my amazing wife Ashley and me.

5. Basing your choices on your feelings instead of your commitments.

Our culture seems obsessed with Hollywood love stories and movies based on the feelings of love. This creates a huge problem, because our feelings are fickle (which is why most Hollywood marriages fail). A strong marriage is built on commitments, not feelings. If you make your choices based on commitments, your feelings usually have a way of catching up eventually.

For new ways to enhance the intimacy and passion in your marriage, check out our new video series, “Best Sex Life Now.”

bestsexlifenow 7

6. Starting off the wrong way.

So many marriage problems could have been prevented before the marriage even started. If you’re reading this and you’re not yet married, please commit to starting your marriage off the right way and take a minute to watch my short video on The 6 Questions to Ask Before Marriage.

7. Giving up.

The couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced; they are simply the ones who decide that their commitment to each other is always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws.

For additional tools to build a happy, healthy, rock-solid relationship, check out our bestselling book “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” which you can now download straight to your iPhone or iPad by clicking here.

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Patrinella Sartin

    These are truly essential qualities to have before marriage.

  • Janet

    I think what you say is so true, I have been married and divorced and have met a man who.is very good to.me and my children, I take this advice you have written greatly..

    Thank you

  • Amelia

    But what about when verbal abuse is involved– How do you save your marriage when the abuser refuses to seek help or admit a problem?

  • Steve Idle

    Great insight Dave…I always look forward to your posts.

    Steve

  • Amy

    I have been in this situation and did end up getting divorced. I do not believe that God wants us to be in a relationship where we are treated this way. I never think that divorce should be taken lightly. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but at some point I realized the way I was treated mattered. I never wanted to have children that would encounter these experiences, which is why I divorced before my decision no longer involved just me and my husband at the time. I had experienced the verbal abuse before I was married, but for some reason it didn’t click until about 5 years later. We all make mistakes and situations like this should not be taken lightly. Pray about your situation and with God’s support you’ll make the right decision.

  • melissa

    My husband and I have been married for 10 years together for 13 and he has fallin out of love with me, and said he don’t know if he could ever love me again, so he wants a divorce. But I love him and he says he doesn’t know what else to do cause that’s how he feels. I feel if we work on it we will be stronger than ever, hes never cheated and doesn’t want to cheat on me cause he says Im beautiful and wants to stay friends with me but I want our marriage to work. We have 2 beautiful children a boy and a girl ages 8 and 5. I really think he is rushing this divorce and will regret this later but I don’t want this and I want it to work.

  • ruth

    dave your page has been inspiring

  • Linda

    So you’re supposed to suck it up and not complain when you’re being disrespected on a daily basis? When there’s no passion at all, no intimacy, and you get barked at for nothing? And feelings have nothing at all to do with marriage? That’s a strange view.

  • Jay

    Melissa, my wife and I went through something similar. With us there was adultery involved by both of us. It was a very hard road to overcome what we had done to each other. The first thing I had to realize is that love is not a feeling, it’s an action that you show the other person. My wife used to belittle me all the time an make me feel like I was less of a man. As a man I couldn’t take it and it would make me lash back at her and it became a victious circle. It had gotten to the point where she had hired a lawyer to start the divorce. We put everything else ahead of our marriage. We finally sat down and decided that we would take 30 days to concentrate on each other. We had to put our lives in the right order. First comes God. Second comes our spouse. Third comes our children. Then everything else. Our child had come before our marrage. What i didn’t realize was that if I didn’t put my wife first then she wouldn’t feel like she was a priority to my, and the same with me. Once we turned that around in time everything worked out. That was 7 years ago and now we are best friends. I pray that this helps some. God bless you both.

  • Cindy

    I was married for 22 years to a man that I thought was going to be my forever husband. I trusted him and didn’t think he would ever cheat on me because he always told me he wouldn’t. He was always verbally abusive to me and to our daughters but was not physically abusive. After 22 years of marriage I found out he had been cheating on me since early in our marriage. It wasn’t just one woman, it was multiple women over the years. There were clues but I just simply had enough faith in our marriage that I never thought he would do that to us. When I found out he had cheated and left him I started having other people come to me and tell me that they knew he had cheated. Some of my friends even told me he had hit on them. He still denies his cheating even though I saw with my own eyes. My daughters saw him as well, and my housekeeper walked in on him with one of my ex friends. I left and divorced him. That was 2 years ago. I have since then married again and am putting your advice to work in my marriage. My husband has also been divorced previously and we both intend for this marriage to be forever. We are committed to making it work. Thanks for the advice you post.

  • Marie

    My hubby is my best friend and my everything and have an awesome marriage of 10 yrs. With us getting older things have changed physically with my hubby because of physical issues he was born with. I feel totally marriage is about commitment not feelings especially intimate feelings cause that has not been possible as much as we would like for us and don’t get me wrong it hurts when my Hubby can’t have our alone time but I have to step back and remember why we got married and we made a promise to be by each other think and thin… Great article.

  • Cristie

    I wish I’d know the 6 questions to ask BEFORE the marriage. Instead, I’ve wound up with these seven AFTER the wedding. I’ve stayed in for 25 years because of my Christian beliefs. I thought that because we are both Christians that everything would work out. It’s been a miserable experience. You can have the same beliefs but not the same values. I’ve learned there are a LOT of ways people can be unequally yoked. When the person shows you who they really are…BELIEVE THEM! It’s generous to ‘look for the good’ and to forgive because we all makes mistakes and to justify bad behaviors but take the time to see if it’s a pattern because it won’t change.

  • cody

    No Linda your not…and I’m no expert….I just read a lot lately…and I like everything that Dave Willis puts out…and this is coming from a person that has done plenty to and I mean plenty to make my wife want to walk away…and were at that point now…bc of the things I’ve done…and I’m talking about years of infidelity… But your spouse has to want to change.. And I think had I not 5 months ago I know where I would be…but I did have a “come to Jesus” meeting…and I did…never before in my life had that happened…and it took almost losing my family (and I may have already, because were still working through it)…but what I’m saying it takes both parties wanting to try….for me I had to quit my old ways….and I have its a hard struggle I’m faced with…but all those 7 points above are so true…the only thing I would add is never lie to one another….about anything no matter how petty it may seem at the time it only grows into bigger ones later on to the point it gets out of control….at least that’s what it was in my situation…the truth is easier in the long run…so lastly…I thank God for opening my eyes and seeing what I have…now I pray he leads us back together…but it takes two Linda…and sometimes you might have to sit down and talk about it and try not and make it a blame game….because we all bring our own baggage to our marriages….because were human…

  • Susan

    My husband and I have been together for 17 years, 14 of those years we have been happily married. We have never had a fight or an argument. We always compromise on everything. We never take each other for granted, always love each other to the fullest and are respectful of each other. We laugh about everything that goes wrong, because what good is it going do to be frustrated and angry. If we have a bad day at work, we never take it home. After all, its not our spouses fault we had a bad day now is it?! We talk about everything and we don’t keep secrets. When we are out on a date, we are with each other fully without the electronic devices coming between us. We share in the household chores as well as the outside chores. I love my husband more now then I did when we got married. He is my best friend, I cant imagine life without him.

  • LaVeda

    You have so many good points. I’ve been married only eight months and love my husband. This is my second marriage ( I divorce my first cause he cheated). I have three sons in previous marriage . My husband has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. I’ve been going through alot of babymama drama and munipulation from step daughter. My stepdaughter wants her father to spend time with at her house sometimes during 2am at her house or out. I voice my concerns about this countless of times. And my husband doesnt agree with me. He states he is only spending time with his child. I getting so weary and considering divorce.

  • bob

    The book “friendship to marriage” ( available on line) has a good read on the do(s) & don’t(s) of a successful relationship. Unconditional love, & forgiveness, would be our best chance to complete a happy (married) life. God will heal the broken pieces, if we ask him, but if the wound is broken, over & over, the relationship is based on hurt, not love.

  • Paula

    Linda, I could continue with your post. I am there. We are only together to raise our daughter, this is an understanding between the both of us. We both have a divorce under our belt, the only reason I am still here is because of the commitment I made to the Lord & my daughter. We both are good parents, she has no clue of the issues…yet. We do not argue, he is a likeable man, but the tension, I feel like he has sucked the life out of me. I say when she does recognize this is not the way a married couple acts, that is when I will leave, with her. God has heard this from me, I believe he understands. I want her to know love the way it is supposed to be. Some insight on us. We have been married for 22 years, blessed with a daughter late in life. She is 6. My 1st. I raised my step daughter who is now 26. I was going to leave, got pregnant. I feel there was a reason for this so have stayed. I guess I am saying it is up to you but I also question why I stay, why I am supposed to. I can hear my Grandmother saying now, “you made your bed” so now I’m laying in it, praying for guidance daily and sticking to my vows. Guess I just needed to vent and to let you know you are not alone.

  • Phil

    I really like all of what I read from Dave he has a lot of good things out there to help couples

  • Phil

    He has taught me to think so differently about how a marriage is to be

    GREAT READING!!!!

  • Phil

    He has taught me to think so differently about how a marriage is to be.

  • Stacy

    Thank you for this post. I was married very young and also divorced by time I was 21. Mind you, I was not walking with the Lord at that time. I raised 3 children on my own and spent 25the years single. I may have had a relationship here and there but nothing real serious. A MIRACLE HAPPENED!!! I GOT SAVED!!! Once I spent time allowing God to love on me, my heart

    began to open toward love. I learned forgiveness from my “Heavenly Father”. Over time, I began to change my prayers from “God, please send me a good man” to “God, make me and mold ME into the woman you want me to be, to prepare for the man you have in store for me”. See, I had to get “right” with God…He was the only one that could restore my heart and then and only then did He send my mate. My marriage, home, etc is built with God as the foundation and for the first time in my life, I have a good man, my husband. I do NOT talk negatively about him. Amazingly, it makes a big difference. This posting is real…and I used to do all of these things that are a recipe for disaster!! To those of you in a negative situation, as long as you put God first, rather than a human, God will lead you and answer your prayers!! Putting faith in humans will always disappoint as WE are all imperfect!!!

  • Veronica

    I love my husband so much. We have been married for 2 years it will be three years this summer. We have been friends for 14 years and together for 12 years. We are recently having a very rough time for the last year. I found out he cheated on me this time last year. He doesn’t consider it cheating because they didn’t physically have sex. It’s driving me insane and I can’t stop being angry. Right now I’m the one getting in the way of us moving on. When I found out he cheated I was 5 months pregnant. I thought I was overreacting because of my hormones but I had the baby 4 months ago and the wound is still so fresh. How do I stop being so damn mad? I feel like its hopeless now.

  • anonymous

    I am trying hard to stick this out but I have forgiven him before for cheating and now has done it again. Although this is so different for me now that I’m older, he now sees that I am not the same person anymore. He is now the man I’ve always wanted him to be, but this time, I can’t seem to let this go. I lash out, tell him I want to divorce him, I am really mean and this is not the person I am or want to be. Through all of this, he still continues to be the man I wish he could’ve always been. This will be our 22nd yr anniversary and I honestly don’t feel like before. I will always love him as the father of my 2 kids, but I can’t seem to love him as a wife should. I’m really scared that this could be it because I’m not feeling the love towards him as I did before.

  • Shalanda

    I found out last Sunday my husband cheated on me last year. The wound is very fresh and I’m trying to find a way to move past it. He’s doing everything in his power to win my forgiveness. I just feel like it’s so easy for him to say “we can get past this” because he’s not experiencing the pain that I’m feeling. This year will only be 3 years of marriage for us. We’ve both been married before. He has 4 children from his previous marriage and I have 1 from mine. We have none together. The thing that really kills me is that his last marriage ended due to infidelity. I thought I married the new and improved person that knew better from his past mistakes but I guess not. I feel like a fool. He says because he made this mistake, that doesn’t define who he is, but my trust is totally broken. I never imagined him doing this to me. I love him and have been putting him through the ringer this past week but I really want this marriage to work. It’s just hard to forgive and forget. Reading other people’s comments has been helpful. I appreciate these articles and this platform. Pray my strength in the Lord.

  • DARRELL

    I LOVE YOU ANDREA KIDD

  • anonymous

    That’s exactly what I feel when he says the same thing about getting past this. I don’t think he would be quick to forgive & forget if i was the cheater. It’s been 2 years since I found this out and I am still so angry and can’t get over this. I will keep praying and have faith that God will lead me in what I should do.

  • andrea kidd

    I was looking forward to reading a post my husband left here yesterday 2/4/2014 since we have been struggling with his affair going on 4 years.. i must say i am quite disappointed that it has not been added.. i would like to know why

  • Michelle

    Jay, I’m having a very similar experience as Melissa. Can you tell me how to engage my husband in a 30 day commitment challenge? I’ve been thinking of that but in our current situation, I’m not sure I could get him to accept the challenge. I’d appreciate any help.

  • Brandon

    Forgiveness. Forgive him for the hurt he has caused you, and the strain his mistake has placed on your marriage. Forgiveness does not mean you condone his actions, but it frees you from the pain and allows you to heal. There is a Biblical justification for divorce after adultery, but it isn’t a requirement. If you want to move forward in your marriage, and you want to feel better for yourself, forgive him, and turn it all over to the Lord. It is up to your husband to seek forgiveness for his sins from the Lord.

  • Darrell kidd

    I know I left a very long note about my life of being married, but it did not post .said it was being reviewed, never the less my computer crashed and even if you cant post please send me copy to my email.I really wanted my wife to read my feelings about events of my life

  • susan

    Great advice!

  • Danielle Patzius

    My husband and I have only been married 2 1/2 years but we have been together much longer. We grew up together and we have 2 children. When we fight sometimes it can get pretty nasty but once we’re done we’re back to loving eachother with all our hearts. Lately we had been argueing a lot more because his job was not allowing him to ever be home. I felt like he was putting his family on the backburner for his job and I was very spiteful. Asside from that tho he still seemed to be planning our future together. We were planning on remodeling the house and he was trying to talk me into another baby. Then he went to work one day, we got into an argument on the phone and he never came home. Its been 4 weeks since he left. He’s been coming by once a week and taking the kids but only through the day. He was being very civil about things for the most part at first but has gotten hateful a few times and sometimes he ignores my calls and texts. And then last sunday he made love to me and told me hes been missing me, and everytime I talked about working things out he’d say we’ll see how things go. I’ve apologized for everything and offered marriage counseling. Then yesterday he sent me a text saying he’s filing for divorce. Now everytime he talks to me he screams at me and calls me names. He says he’s going to take the kids and the house from me. He won’t talk to me face to face. He left money in his car so I can come get it when he’s not around. He won’t even come by to see the kids. I don’t understand whats going on or why he’s acting this way. This is not the man that I know. The man I know was loving and caring and a wonderful father. Im starting to wonder if he’s on drugs and he’s not working as much as he says he is. I’ve never seen him act this way and I don’t know what to do. I do not want a divorce. I know the man I love ia still

  • Danielle Patzius

    My husband and I have only been married 2 1/2 years but we have been together much longer. We grew up together and we have 2 children. When we fight sometimes it can get pretty nasty but once we’re done we’re back to loving eachother with all our hearts. Lately we had been argueing a lot more because his job was not allowing him to ever be home. I felt like he was putting his family on the backburner for his job and I was very spiteful. Asside from that tho he still seemed to be planning our future together. We were planning on remodeling the house and he was trying to talk me into another baby. Then he went to work one day, we got into an argument on the phone and he never came home. Its been 4 weeks since he left. He’s been coming by once a week and taking the kids but only through the day. He was being very civil about things for the most part at first but has gotten hateful a few times and sometimes he ignores my calls and texts. And then last sunday he made love to me and told me hes been missing me, and everytime I talked about working things out he’d say we’ll see how things go. I’ve apologized for everything and offered marriage counseling. Then yesterday he sent me a text saying he’s filing for divorce. Now everytime he talks to me he screams at me and calls me names. He says he’s going to take the kids and the house from me. He won’t talk to me face to face. He left money in his car so I can come get it when he’s not around. He won’t even come by to see the kids. I don’t understand whats going on or why he’s acting this way. This is not the man that I know. The man I know was loving and caring and a wonderful father. Im starting to wonder if he’s on drugs and he’s not working as much as he says he is. I’ve never seen him act this way and I don’t know what to do. I do not want a divorce. I know the man I love is still in there somewhere and if he would just come back to me I would be the best wife I could be but I don’t know how to convince him to do so especially if he is on drugs. Any advice and prayers would be helpful.

  • Traci Bates

    I’ve been married to my first and only love for 18 together for 25. He has addiction issues. I’m worn, very emotionally drained from them throughout these years. He will get through one addiction only to start another one. He’s in counseling actually be is seeing 2 different therapist but kinda going against what he’s going to therapy for. I have to throw a huge fit and threaten divorce or leave for a day for him to promise to stop etc… its just toxic and very unhealthy. All I hear from him though is that he can’t change over night and that he’s trying. How long should I hang on? I’m numb! I’m bitter! I’m angry! I’m not nice! I have so much resentment that there has never no friendship between us for years.

    On top of the addiction issues he is very insecure and is constantly thinking I have someone else or talking to someone through social media etc… THAT’S NOT TRUE! I’M VERY FAITHFUL! I remained very faithful even through the 5 years he stayed in bed and in our bedroom day in and day out. He would go to work, come home, shower, and be in the bed until time to go to work the next day or whenever his next workday was. Yes he’s on depression meds. He would get up if it was for something he wanted to do like go to the casino.

    I just don’t know what to do. I feel like the best thing to do is run away from the marriage with my kids. I feel its so toxic that it’s healthier to be divorced which I vowed to never ever do.