Do you pay more attention to Facebook and your smartphone than to your husband? Do you hide big purchases from your partner? These behaviors hurt your marriage. But it’s not too late to change bad habits. Here are the 9 worst relationship mistakes and how to start fixing them today…
Addiction to anything: Addiction on any level – social media, food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, or gambling – can sour a marriage fast. “Your addiction quickly becomes a third party in your marriage,” says Lisa Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, Calif. Big red flag: If you feel like you’re cheating on your husband when you are doing it, you are.
“Recovery from any kind of infidelity takes time for both partners to deal with the anger, resentment, guilt, and shame that results,” Bahar says. So stop, and think about what you really value and how your addictive behavior is affecting your relationship, Bahar recommends. “Exploring your values will help you gain the determination to do the hard work to repair your marriage.”
Addictions are powerful. You must first want help and then pursue counseling. “Once you are on the road to recovery, you’ll be in a position to work on your marriage,” Bahar says.
Does every conversation turn into a fight? Good communication boils down to learning to ask for what you need; don’t expect the other person to be a mind reader, Bahar notes. Avoid vague statements and assumptions, Bahar says: “Make more ‘I’ statements and clearly assert what you want.” (Think he’s not listening? Try these other 9 communication tricks.)
What holds us back? Blame bad patterns we saw in our families growing up, such as conflict avoidance, fear of how your husband will respond, unresolved traumas, and more. “Learning to really listen to each other is so important, but can be surprisingly hard to do,” Sheinbaum says.
Treating your husband as the enemy:
Have a bad day? That’s not a good excuse for picking a fight. When you’re cranky and out of sorts, it’s your responsibility to be aware of that and ask for some extra space, or find a way to take care of yourself, Tessina says.
Let your partner know it’s a difficult day – he may step up and be more thoughtful and considerate than usual.
But if you’re always cranky, take a look at your lifestyle, and figure out what you need to improve.
Don’t dismiss what your spouse says, either through body language or verbally – like the eye roll that lets your husband know you don’t respect him, says Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a relationship expert and author of several relationship books including Kosher (Harmony) and the recently published Kosher Lust (Gefen Publishing House).
Seeing red when it comes to the green stuff:
Love of money may be the root of all evil, but arguing over it is the root of many marriage woes. Squabbling over money is the top predictor of divorce, according to a 2013 study from Kansas State University. Couples tend to use harsher language when arguing about money and take longer to recover from the conflict, the study of more than 4,500 couples found.
Researchers recommended that financial planning be part of marital counseling and that couples share their credit reports before marrying. “Many couples don’t know how to discuss money,” Tessina says. “When couples don’t talk about money comfortably, problems are discovered too late. Are you keeping money secrets? Are you struggling over how the money is spent or saved? Financial planning is important for a happy marriage.” Not telling your husband about a new shirt you bought doesn’t spell disaster for your marriage, but omitting large purchases or other major money commitments does.