Almost 22 years of my life has been spent in marriage.
Overall, these years have been good, if not great at times.
There are other times however, when marriage has been anything but good. Sadly, a majority of these times where brought on by my own stupidity.
I’ve made many of the following mistakes throughout the course of my marriage. Thankfully I have a loving and forgiving wife.
As a rule, remember that everyone makes mistakes.
Every marriage has arguments.
Every marriage also has highs and lows.
The important thing: how the ebb and flow of marriage is addressed.
I’ve written before about the marriage killers as well as the secret to a lasting marriage, but how the mistakes we make in marriage are addressed is key to improving your relationship.
Here are some of the common mistakes made in marriage.
- Lack of respect. A fundamental component of a healthy marriage is respect. It’s interesting that there are times when I see people treating their neighbor with more respect than they do their spouse. Little things like saying thank you, talking them up rather than down to your friends and co-workers, and letting them know you appreciate them and your relationship will go a long way to increasing the respect between you.
- Little sex. It’s been reported that there are as many as 20 million sexless marriages in America. While sex is not the end all, be all to marriage, it is an important component. If little sex is occurring in your marriage (and you’d like more) discuss this with your spouse and/or seek professional help.
- Always being “right”. Probably one very unattractive quality in a person is the know-it-all syndrome. Add to this the idea of always having to get in the last word and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Admit your mistakes or that you perhaps don’t have all the answers. And if you still insist on always being right, riddle me this – if you’re always right, what’s that make your spouse? So what’s it like being married to a loser?
- Saying “I told you so.” Much like the previous point, rubbing in your being right is never a good idea. It sounds too much like a parent-child relationship. And when it comes to parenting your spouse, can you say… disaster!
- Dishonesty with your spouse. Lies and secrets can harm any relationship. They can create a distance and lack of trust between you, making it hard for both of you to enjoy the marriage. Own up to your decisions in life. If you’ve got some things going on outside your marriage that you don’t want your spouse to know, that speaks more about your integrity than it does theirs. Live according to your core values. It makes life much more enjoyable for everyone, especially you.
- Hurtful sarcasm. While some of the exchanges aren’t meant to be harmful, if one of you thinks the comment is hurtful or disrespectful, it is. One way to look at it, if one of you thinks something is a problem, then it’s a problem.
- Unclear boundaries with family members. Part of creating a marriage and a family requires boundaries around the marriage and the family. Picking up the phone to include your parents, or your children, in your marital difficulties often only exacerbates the issue.
- Too much story telling. I’m guilty of this one by providing too much detail in the discussions with my spouse. While there are times when the story needs to be expounded and the details serve a valuable purpose, providing too much often gets in the way.
- Distance. Whether the space between you is physical or emotional, it’s hard to have a meaningful relationship with someone who’s not there. If your life requires that you be physically apart from your spouse at times, this doesn’t mean you have to be emotionally apart. Use technology to your advantage. In-network phone calls are unlimited. Chat with each other over the web. Video conference one another or send video emails. You can remain connected even though you’re miles apart.
- Unfair fighting. While disagreements and arguments are bound to happen, it’s vital to stay on topic in the discussion. Bringing up all your partner’s faults and failings doesn’t help the situation. Neither does raising your voice. As my grandfather would say, anytime a person raises their voice in a conversation, it’s about power and pride.