5 Ways to Ruin a Good Marriage

5 Ways to Ruin a Marriage by Serving Joyfully

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The danger to most marriages isn’t infidelity, or any of the other “big” things we tend to think of when we think of marriages dissolving. Even if infidelity is involved, the problems started long before that line was crossed. No one in a healthy marriage wakes up and says “I think I’ll have an affair today.” 

No, as I mention in my book, Intentional Marriage, ruining a healthy marriage is a “slow fade” to borrow the Casting Crowns phrase. It is one bad decision at a time, a little bit of complacency at a time. So, if you’re interested in ruining your marriage? You can try these steps:

1. Criticize your spouse. 

Girl, you deserve the absolute best, and if you aren’t getting it, you need to tell him all about it. Nag him about everything. Analyze, criticize and micromanage everything he does. After all, if he isn’t doing it your way, he’s doing it wrong. If he hasn’t messed up lately, be sure to bring up all his past mistakes!

While you’re at it, complain about him to your girlfriends, crack belittling jokes about him in social settings, whether he’s standing right there or not.  I mean, how else are you going to fit in with your friends? What can we talk about if we don’t make fun of our husbands? These days, you’re accused of being a fuddy-duddy if you don’t.

Finally, while you’re criticizing, go ahead and ream him about his family, too. They are just the people who raised him for all these years.

2. Be selfish.

Focus on your needs and wants, not his. He isn’t meeting your needs and that’s all that matters. He doesn’t deserve any effort from you. Make a mental list of all the ways that he isn’t living up to his side of things in your marriage. But don’t dare think about any of your own failures. Refuse to change until he does. 

Since you’re being selfish, you should probably go ahead and tack on some unreasonable expectations, and expect him to fill the void in your life that only Jesus can fill. If you aren’t feeling complete or fulfilled, it must be your husband’s fault. Yet another reason you shouldn’t do anything to meet his needs. They aren’t as important as yours anyway.

If you do have faults, you can easily find excuses and justifications for them.

3. Ignore your spouse.

Dating? That ends after you say, “I do.” right? Don’t spend time with him. Don’t try to learn his love languages.

Don’t make him a priority. You need time with your girlfriends. Your kids need time with you. You live with your spouse every day, you shouldn’t have to make time with him a priority. Go ahead and multi-task when you’re spending time with him. It’s not your fault that you just have too much stuff to do.

And, obviously between his lack of attention and your to-do list, he should understand why there is little passion in the relationship. You shouldn’t have to try and force it. Don’t bother.

Since you’re already married, there is no need to make any effort–not at kindness, or appearance, or spending time together.

While you’re ignoring him, you need someone to talk to, so you might as well go ahead and friend your old flame on facebook and strike up an innocent “remember when” conversation. Or have a couple of close friends of the opposite sex to confide in and spend time alone with. You need a male perspective about things, that’s all.

4. Fight dirty.

Having an argument? Be sure to take everything he says in the worst possible way. And then bring up all his past mistakes. And try to read his mind. You already know what he’s thinking and what he’s going to say so why let him speak at all.

Don’t like to argue? That’s okay, you don’t need to. You can just sulk and stew, until your anger and hurt feelings take root in your heart to make you bitter.

You should be as intolerant and unforgiving as possible. Mistakes are not allowed in this house. At least, not his. We aren’t thinking about yours. Because you’re always right. Always.

5. Play the comparison game.

Your husband isn’t meeting your needs, but all of your friends have perfect husbands. Susie’s husband is more thoughtful. Kelly’s husband makes more money than yours and takes her on vacation. Sally’s husband is more fun and outgoing. The list just goes on and on. Why can’t your husband be more like that, because then, you would be happy.

Combine all the best qualities of your friends’ husbands and combine them into one perfect man, making it impossible for your husband to measure up.

And, there you go. You’re well on your way to a ruined marriage.

However, if you would like to nurture your marriage instead, I would recommend that you check out my book, Intentional Marriage. In it, I share some devotionals and challenges to encourage us wives to be more intentional in loving our husbands. But it really just starts with intentional daily kindness, and commitment to your marriage.

Obviously, this is written very tongue-in-cheek. But unfortunately, these are habits that take root in our marriages every day. I have been guilty of many of them myself. 

What would you add to the list of what not to do?




  1. says

    Great reminders… nagging is so easy to do! I definitely struggle with that one (and the others here and there!). Thanks for the post and reminder to NOT go to my default and nag today.

    I found your post on the “Make Your Home Sing” Monday Link-up :)

  2. says

    Another common and disastrous approach is not communicating expectations. Sometimes I expect my husband to do certain things (such as taking out the trash when I mention it’s full), but I don’t tell him I expect these. He doesn’t do them and I get frustrated.
    If I’d communicated my expectation regarding the trash, he’d be more likely to do it (and then I wouldn’t get upset!). That’s a simple example, but it can happen with more consequential issues, too: spending money, disciplining kids, time with in-laws, etc.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      So true Shannon! Men and women’s brains work differently in some ways, and those little “hints” don’t always translate in the ways that we think they should.

  3. Jill says

    Shannon – yes! The apology I offer my husband the most is, “I’m sorry for expecting you to read my mind”. Fortunately he has a great sense of humor and it’s become a running joke between us (not that I don’t still try and make an effort to verbalize what I need more often).

    I would also add to the list that when your husband is down, don’t make him feel worse. I know a woman whose husband lost his job when the economy tanked & she faults him regularly for the ripple effect it’s had on their finances. I know another gal who happens to be the breadwinner in their marriage and she never misses an opportunity to point out that she makes more $ than he does. What a way to make a man feel small!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Jill, I know one of those very proud breadwinners as well. It makes me sad for her husband and thankful that my husband doesn’t lord finances over me in that way. It would make me feel terrible and I can’t imagine how it makes her husband feel. That is definitely a good way to kill any ambition our husbands might have.

      And in general that’s a good point about kicking our husbands when they are down. We should be building them back up instead.

  4. says

    Visiting from Titus 2 Tuesday Linky Party…
    Your post was spot on! Happily married now, we are both on our second marriages. I would add that assuming should be added to the list…assuming that he/she is going to act, react, respond or be just like the ex is a difficult cycle to break. Unfortunately in our society, second marriages/blended families are now all too common yet the baggage from the first tends to sneak up and getcha if you’re not careful!
    I look forward to learning more from your future posts!
    God bless,

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Jennifer, that is so true! This is my first marriage, but I was involved in an unhealthy, abusive relationship before and there is definitely some baggage. And things that my husband has to overcome that he shouldn’t have to, such as my insecurities, etc. That’s a great point.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Thanks, Kris! I love the new format of the link up! And, I completely agree that we’ve probably all done at least some of them.

  5. says

    I agree with the selfishness point, especially. Bible teacher Martha Peace, author of The Excellent Wife, says that most of our conflict is caused by selfishness, and usually, when I peel back all the layers, she’s right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. says

    I’ll admit, I had some cringing going on as I read this, along with head shaking in agreement. One thing I would add to the list is to stop showing affection~ hugs, hand holding, smiles for no reason, text messages just because, random gestures of appreciation~ you know, all those little ways we show love that get forgotten in the day to day. Dropping those will definitely contribute to the slow fade.
    These lists should be required reading for young / new couples, with frequent updates so the importance of the messages don’t get lost in the busyness of life.

  7. says

    Oh, Crystal. I loved this post; some of these take place all too often and need to be fought against. I’m reading Elisabeth Elliot’s, Let Me Be a Woman, and it is excellent and convicting in so many of these similar ideas – who we are to our husbands, our OWN sin and humanity, and how we have the power to love and care for or tear down.

  8. says

    I think the ignoring part is the hardest. Not because I want to, but because children need what they need now! Sometimes I forget that he does too. Good reminders.

  9. Amanda Ann Cavaiuolo Palmer says

    We never go to bed mad at each other, it was one of the promises we made to each other 15 years ago!

  10. says

    quite interesting this is targeted to women only. Far too often men are the inattentive ones and are unreceptive to their wives. I am all for women doing all of these things, but we aren't the only ones in a marriage. And even if you do all of these things, if your husband just isn't receptive, then your marriage will tank anyways….

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Michelle, the Bible is clear about the expectations for both men and women. There are articles that speak out to men as well. However, my focus is women for a few reasons.

      1. My blog audience is made up mostly of women, so I feel it’s only fitting that I address the people who are reading :)
      2. We can only control ourselves. I cannot control how my husband reacts to anything I do, or what he chooses to do. However, I can do everything in my control to be sure that I can answer with a clear conscience about my marriage. I feel that there are certain things in scripture that we are called to. Period. There are few disclaimers. Our actions should be based on God’s commands and not on outside influence. In fact, we are called to especially act with kindness and love in trying circumstances.
      3. Constantly blaming everything on the other spouse is almost never correct, and it is very damaging to any relationship. It’s definitely something that we need to avoid.

      We as women, should do the right thing, regardless of what those around us are doing…even our husbands. I’m sorry if you have consistently done all the right things and your husband wasn’t receptive, but I have found that is almost never the case.

      • mmjcas says

        Agree! If we (the wife) do our part, then our men will most likely fall into automatically doing theirs. We are the wife, our influence is huge. We are often the ones who emotionally control how our marriage is working (or not)…..I am giulty of ALL of these things, and I hate it. So thank you for reminding ne that my actions and words can destroy my husband, his confidence, and ultimately our marriage.

        • Vicki says

          If we do our part then our men will do what they are accustomed to doing; or what they saw in their growing years; basically what comes easy for them – because in their minds “all is well”. Our needs will never be met unless we consistently communicate them and expect the best. Then realize we have a variety of people in our lives to meet our needs – our husbands cannot be everything to us (which can be discouraging if we loose perspective).

  11. Rosilind Jukic says

    Excellent article and the points are right on! – and to those who criticized…to be sure, every coin has two sides, but the first step starts with me.

  12. says

    What not to do: go defensive,turn every about your responsibility around to 'every bit his responsibility as well'. There, full circle.
    A discussion about your side is not a negation of the existence of his side.

  13. says

    Put off criticism until he brings up a point of criticism about you, then avalanche him with your saved up list to shut him up.
    And: the double bind – demand he always speak his mind/talk about his feelings, then sulk and get depressed because 'he's always complaining' or 'not manning up'.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      One step at a time, Jennifer. In my book, the first challenge is to avoid nagging or negative talk to your husband, because I think that’s a good place to start overall.

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