The following are twelve marriage killers that can take a marriage down if not taken very seriously. They must be avoided to the best of your ability. And if they can’t avoided then they must be tended to immediately so they don’t deal fatal blows to your marriage.
My advice to young couples is simply this: Don’t permit the possibility of divorce to enter your thinking. Even in moments of great conflict and discouragement, divorce is no solution. It merely substitutes a new set of miseries for the ones left behind.
Guard your relationship against erosion as though you were defending your very lives. Yes, you can make it together. Not only can you survive, but you can keep your love alive if you give it priority in your system of values.
Any one of the following evils can rip apart your relationship if given a place in your lives.
The Marriage Killers Are:
• Over-commitment and physical exhaustion.
Beware of this danger. It is especially insidious for young couples who are trying to get started in a profession or in school. Do not try to go to college, work full-time, have a baby, manage a toddler, fix up a house and start a business at the same time.
It sounds ridiculous, but many young couples do just that and are then surprised when their marriage falls apart. Why wouldn’t it? The only time they see each other is when they are worn out! It is especially dangerous to have the husband vastly over committed and the wife staying home with a preschooler. Her profound loneliness builds discontent and depression; we all know where that leads. You must reserve time for one another if you want to keep your love alive.
• Excessive credit and conflict over how money will be spent.
Pay cash for consumable items, or don’t buy. Don’t spend more for a house or car than you can afford, leaving too few resources for dating, short trips, baby-sitters, etc. Allocate your funds with the wisdom of Solomon.
• There are two kinds of people in the world, the givers and the takers.
A marriage between two givers can be a beautiful thing. There will be friction, however, for a giver and a taker. But two takers can claw each other to pieces within a period of six weeks. In short, selfishness will devastate a marriage every time.
• Interference from in-laws.
If either the husband or wife has not been fully emancipated from the parents, it is best not to live near them. Autonomy is difficult for some mothers (and fathers) to grant’ close proximity is built for trouble.
• Unrealistic expectations.
Some couples come into marriage anticipating rose-covered cottages, walks down primrose lanes, uninterrupted joy. Counselor Jean Lush believes, and I agree, that this romantic illusion is particularly characteristic of American women who expect more from their husbands than they are capable of delivering. The consequent disappointment is an emotional trap. Bring your expectations in line with reality.
• Space invaders.
I am not referring to aliens from the planet Mars. Rather, my concern is for those who violate the breathing room needed by their partners, quickly suffocating them and destroying the attraction between them. Jealousy is one way this manifests itself. Another is low self-esteem, which leads the insecure spouse to trample the territory of the other. Love must be free and it must be confident.
• Alcohol or substance abuse.
These are killers, not only of marriages, but also of people. Avoid them like the plague.
• Pornography, gambling and other addictions.
It should be obvious to everyone that the human personality is flawed. It has a tendency to get hooked on destructive behaviors, especially early in life. During an introductory stage, people think they can play with enticements such as pornography or gambling and not get hurt. Indeed, many do walk away unaffected. For some, however, there is a weakness that is unknown until too late. Then they become addicted to something that tears at the fabric of the family.
This warning may seem foolish to my readers, but I’ve made a 25-year study of those who wreck their lives. Their problems often begin in experimentation with a known evil and ultimately end in death —or the death of a marriage. The restrictions and commandments of Scriptures were designed to protect us from evil, though it is difficult to believe when we are young. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). If we keep our lives clean and do not permit ourselves to toy with evil, the addictions that have ravaged humanity can never touch us.
• Sexual frustration, loneliness, low self-esteem and the greener grass of infidelity.
These are a deadly combination!
• Business failure.
It does bad things to men, especially. Their agitation over financial reverses sometimes sublimates to anger within the family.
• Business success.
It is almost as risky to succeed wildly as it is to fail miserably in business. The writer of Proverbs said, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (30:8).
• Getting married too young.
Girls who marry between 14 and 17 years of age are more than twice as likely to divorce as those who marry at 18 or 19 years of age. Those who marry at 18 or 19 are 1.5 times as likely to divorce as those who marry in their 20s. The pressures of adolescence and the stresses of early married life do not mix well. Finish the first before taking on the second.
These are the marriage killers I’ve seen most often. But in truth, the list is virtually limitless. All that is needed to grow the most vigorous weeds is a small crack in your sidewalk. If you are going to beat the odds and maintain an intimate long-term marriage, you must take the task seriously. The natural order of things will carry you away from one another, not bring you together.
How will you beat the odds?
How will you build a solid relationship that will last until death takes you across the great divide? And how will you include yourselves among that dwindling number of older couples who have garnered a lifetime of happy memories and experiences? Even after 50 or 60 years, they still look to one another for encouragement and understanding. Their children have grown up in a stable and loving environment and have no ugly scars or bitter memories to erase. Their grandchildren need not be told, delicately, why “Nana and Papa don’t live together anymore.” Only love prevails.
That is the way God intended it to be, it is still possible for you to achieve. But there is no time to lose. Reinforce the river banks. Bring in the dredges and deepen the bed. Keep the powerful currents in their proper channels. Only that measure of determination will preserve the love with which you began, there is very little in life that competes with that priority.
This article was edited from the classic book Love for a Lifetime: Building a Marriage That Will Go the Distance -written by James C. Dobson, published by Multnomah Gifts. This book is for every man, woman, or couple who wants to strengthen the foundation and/or celebrate the success of their marriage relationship. And it’s ideal for gift-giving —not only to couples celebrating their anniversary, but to newlyweds. Plus, you could give it to married couples, men and women who are engaged, and any couple who want to enhance their marriage.
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7 responses to “Twelve Marriage Killers”
(USA) You forgot to add: a husband that is a big flirt and constantly gawks & stares and says suggestive things to other women right in front of his wife. I have taken this for 40 years and yes… I AM GETTING A DIVORCE!
(USA) Me and my husband were separated for some time, now we are trying to work things out. I feel so disrespected when he has to turn and look at other women, it’s like he just cannot help himself. I have voiced myself to him, so now he just tries not to look right away. It is very frustrating, and it makes me feel as if I am not enough for him.
(ANGOLA) I respect my husband & amp; do everything for him, but because he doesn’t like going to church & amp; he spends the weekend drinking alcohol with his friends and helps nothing home, that’s why I decided to divorce.
(USA) I am sorry to hear of the disrespect your husbands have given you, and the way that this has made you feel. Now before you think of divorce I have something to say. According to Willard F. Harley, Jr. (the author of “The Four Gifts of Love”) each of God’s children (yeah, that includes your husband) have a love bank. We deposit Love tokens when we contribute to someone’s good experiences, and withdraw some tokens when we help in creating someone’s bad experiences.
When you first meet someone, they start contributing to a new love bank created for the new relationship. If they start out the relationship by rubbing you the wrong way, they’re scraping the bottom of the bank which does not feel good so we don’t care to be around them anymore. But on the other hand, if they make you feel good then they deposit tokens in the bank.
Most likely the second one is the one your husband falls into. He kept growing the amount of tokens in your love bank until you allowed the “M” word (marriage) to enter into your relationship. Many people will stop adding as many tokens and withdrawing more than they were, because they don’t feel that they need to. This thought contributes significantly to the deterioration within marriages. And the main reason for this is either people don’t know (or care) of this invisible bank, and/or they think your turn on’s and off’s are the same as their turn on’s and off’s, or as he calls them “Emotional Needs.”
I know you may be thinking, “yeah, yeah, this is all good but how is this supposed to help me and my situation?” Well, I can’t promise anything, but if you are willing to delay the thought of divorce for a little bit I think there might still be hope.
Willard F. Harley, Jr. suggests that there are 10 main emotional needs and that the needs that one has will change during time, and how important those needs are at different times. He suggests that you and your spouse get together and discuss and rate which emotional needs rank in each others top 5 and to rank which one’s are most important to you of those that you choose.
The 10 that he lists are as follows, “Sexual fullfillment, Recreational companionship, physical attractiveness, domestic support, admiration, affection, conversation, honesty and openess, financial support, and family support.” Within the book there are further descriptions of all 10 of these emotional needs. But only by knowing the other’s emotional needs can you start adding substantial deposits to the “Love Bank” and stop making withdrawals. If nothing else, remember Matthew 19:8 which tells us that divorce was only permitted because of the hardness of hearts, not because God wanted it.
(FIJI) Thank you Drew! I enjoyed reading your comment.
I have a problem with my future husband. He drinks a lot and has some friends who he hangs out with. I think they’re a bad influence on him. He experienced a divorce a few months ago this year, so I think he has depression. The way he deals with his depression is not good because sometimes he beats me. Remember, we are not yet married. He just proposed and his family met mine but there is no final decision as my family is awaiting degree of divorce from his previous marriage. I don’t want to deal with such things this early.
I’m sorry to say this to you, because I realize it will hurt you. But I think you already know this –it’s better to deal with this now than to deal with it after marrying. PLEASE wake up. What you are starting to experience now is only a little peek into what you will experience in a multiplied way later in marriage. His friends are only a bad influence if this guy lets them… he makes the choices to follow, not them. Thank God that you are seeing this before you went ahead and married, and ESPECIALLY before you would have any children. There are ALL KINDS of red flags waving at you here to NOT marry this guy. Please don’t think that the “love” you may feel now will continue to grow after marrying. It won’t. It will be choked out by his selfish, self-serving behavior. Don’t lower yourself and be so desperate to marry him or anyone else that you would ignore these types of warnings. I fear that you will live to GREATLY regret it. I hope you can be strong and break off with this guy. Someday you will be thankful! Please know that I’m praying strength and God’s wisdom and comfort for you.