No one gets married and then sets out to destroy that marriage.
However, many marriages are in trouble because the following behaviors persist. These are behaviors I have witnessed after having hundreds of conversations with married people:
1. Be set in your ways. “I was this way when you married me and I’m this way now!” (Now that is mature!) This is the person who insists on his way. He goes to great lengths (and expense) to get tickets to see his favorite basketball team play. Yet, when his wife wants to go to a play or see her favorite team play, he goes on and on about how they are unable to afford this.
2. Take your spouse for granted. You spend time and energy talking about dinner and what was wrong with the taste or the appearance. Don’t thank her/him. “After all,” you rationalize, “no one thanks me!”
3. Put your work, hunting, sports, church, or most anything else before your marriage. As a result, your spouse only gets whatever time, energy, or attention that you have left.
4. Hurt your spouse where he or she is vulnerable. Is your old boyfriend making lots of money? Bring this up about the time that your husband is struggling just to keep his job. Is your wife struggling with her weight? Point out how nice an attractive woman looks now that she has lost all of that weight. Make jokes about how heavy your spouse is getting.
5. Stop taking care of yourself. Give little or no attention to your appearance, weight, hygiene, or dress. Let yourself go.
6. Take your sex life for granted. Assume that those who REALLY have a great sex life are those who are single and promiscuous. Assume that those who are married, faithful, and committed are all experiencing a sex life that is lacking and boring. Start thinking that the porn star who is being paid to have sex with another is the one who is REALLY experiencing an exciting sex life.
7. Instead of focusing your energy on nurturing your relationship, focus your energy on entertaining your lust. This can range from watching shows on television that appeal to your lust to sitting in front of the computer gazing at pornography. The focus shifts away from deepening the intimacy in marriage through trust, commitment, and tenderness. Instead, lust becomes the focus and self-gratification the goal. No longer are the man and woman making love. Instead, they are focused on their own stimulation and their own gratification.
8. Play with “harmless” temptations. Have a secret friend who your spouse knows little or nothing about. This may be someone at work who sends you personal and intimate text messages. This may be a special Facebook friend with whom you are enjoying a deep and intimate emotional bond. Perhaps this is someone from the past. This may be someone who pays you lots of attention and you find yourself excited to see this person whenever possible. Perhaps this is a person at church who has a way of flirting with you when your husband is not around.
9. Attack one another with hurtful words. Your arguments have turned brutal. You are not sure when this started but at some point your language toward each other became crude and demeaning. At first, you couldn’t believe what you called her. Now you both are using very degrading language toward one another.
10. Be more concerned with your image than the reality of your marriage. Be more concerned with what her parents or your own parents think of you than with the reality of your marriage. Be more concerned about what your friends might think than in dealing with problems in your marriage. In other words, act like everything is wonderful when others are around. This kind of thinking prevents a person from seeking counseling and prayer. After all, what might others think?
11. Do nothing. Don’t initiate. Don’t forgive. Don’t take her out. Don’t arrange for the baby sitter. Just sit there — mentally, emotionally, and physically. Your marriage will die a slow death.
12. Pay little attention to Jesus. After all, if you get serious about obedience to him and your own discipleship, you may have to seriously think about the next loving move you need to make in the relationship.
13. Refuse to forgive. Harbor grudges. Stay angry. Let your resentment fester.
What else would you add to this list? What have you seen or even experienced which contributes to the demise of a marriage?