10 Ways You're Ruining Your Marriage

Marriages end with all sorts of excuses. The reality though is that marriages only end for ten reasons. If you've already read The Marriage Commandments, you know what those reasons are. You know the 10 principles you have to keep to keep your marriage strong. But most don't know. So, based somewhat on those 10 principles, here is a quick rundown of 10 ways you might be ruining your marriage.

1. You put your church first.

Unless you're in some weird cult, you didn't make a vow to your church. You did, however, make a vow to your spouse. If you have to choose between your spouse and your church, pick your spouse. And, no, putting your church first does not mean that you are "putting God first," unless your god is your church (and it shouldn't be). If you're in ministry, make sure that it doesn't supersede the priority owed to your spouse. If you're a congregant, find a church that spiritually feeds both of you. Move if you have to.

2. You've replaced your spouse with your children.

Idolatry is the act of creating a surrogate for God. Likewise, you shouldn't be using your children as the surrogate for the relationship you should have with your spouse. Too many people rely on their children for their sense of purpose, their emotional support system, and their personal need for companionship. Those roles should be largely fulfilled by your spouse. Don't use your children to give you what should come from your spouse.

3. Your marriage is inconsequential to your daily life.

Did you take your vows in vain? If you're living as though your spouse is merely an inconsequential accessory, then yes, you did. Being married should fundamentally transform your lifestyle. Everything, including your trips, expenses, hobbies, career choices, and religious activities, should be influenced by your spouse for the good of your marriage. You're married — not roommates or even "friends with benefits." Start acting like it. 

4. You've stopped having purposeful sex with your spouse.

The pulse of a marriage is often best measured through the quality of physical intimacy. A persistently dead bedroom is sure sign of a dead marriage. Sexuality is the bedrock (yes, that's a pun) of a marriage. In great marriages, sexual expression is an intentionally purposeful act of reconnection. It comes in many forms — everything from a reassuring caress to a full-blown, week-long sexcapade. But it's not just a means to a happy ending. Sex should engage the body, mind, and soul — not just the nerves and oxytocin. If your sex life consists of nothing more than a routine impersonation of a sluggish beached whale atop an emotionally detached starfish, you've forgotten why you started having sex in the first place. Get back to purposefully reconnecting.

5. You complain about your spouse to others.

If you want to poison your marriage, a surefire way is to belittle your spouse in front of others. Complaining about your spouse's deficiencies to others won't inspire your spouse to greatness. Your friends may even love your hilarious stories of your spouse's stupidity, but your spouse doesn't. Even if your spouse has a beautifully self-deprecating sense of humor, it's only funny if it's self-deprecating. No one wants to be dishonored by the one person who knows them best and is the foremost authority on their character and competence. No one benefits when you shame your spouse. 

6. You're an angry person.

Your hostility toward your spouse is a problem — it's not cute, funny, or needed. Your "personality" doesn't excuse your flawed behavior and lack of self-control. Christ even went so far as to equate hate with murder. When you allow resentment and anger to fester in your heart, you're killing your marriage. 

7. Your best friend isn't your spouse.

Infidelity comes in many forms. When your level of emotional intimacy with someone outside your marriage exceeds what's within your marriage, you're headed for disaster. You need boundaries in all your relationships. Even if you don't have a sexual relationship with them, your friend, sibling, pastor, parent, teacher, child, or co-worker can easily usurp the intimacy and fidelity you owe to your spouse. Make sure that you're consciously aware of the intimacy levels within all of your relationships, and ensure that your "soulmate" is your spouse. 

8. You waste money. 

The old cliche that "time is money" is actually a profound synopsis of economics. All money is simply a means by which we trade the finite hours of human ability and effort. When you waste your family's money, you're literally wasting the limited hours of your spouse's life spent earning that money. The theft of money is the theft of time. Make sure that you're spending your spouse's life wisely. 

9. You've stopped wearing your wedding ring.

A wedding ring is a nearly universal symbol of your marital status. When you choose to not wear one (and it is a choice), you're choosing to falsely present yourself to those around you. You're sending the message that you're available, which makes you either a liar or a would-be adulterer. Now, some of you probably hide behind some silly excuse about your ring not being practical for your vocation (mechanics and body builders, for instance), but that's also not true. Get a cheap silicone ring and wear it with pride. 

10. You use your marriage for your own pleasure.

Your marriage shouldn't be centered on what you can get from your spouse. Support, sex, money, love, appreciation, etc. are all things that we want from our spouses, but the selfish pursuit of such things will eat your marriage alive. When husbands and wives try to get whatever they can from one another, they end up feeling used and empty. Instead, focus on giving. Make your marriage a relationship where both parties strive to ceaselessly give to one another. Imagine how great your marriage will become when you both wake up in the morning knowing that you're both ravenously committed to giving joy to one another. And it applies to all areas of your marriage. Want a better sex life? Instead of focusing on your pleasure, focus entirely on pleasing your spouse. When both spouses reciprocate by giving, a great time is had by all and you get to fulfill #4 (see above). 

— John