What are five relationship-killing habits that we need to know about in order to stop doing them?
Taking One Another for Granted
I cannot go a day without telling my beloved wife “I love you,” but also “thank you” for all that she does for me and for our daughter. My senior-high girl is the last one in our nest, and after so many years, my wife has done so much for both of us. I left her a note of appreciation the other day saying just that: “Thank you for being such a great wife and a great mother. You have done so much for both of us. I need you. We need you!” I think it’s too easy to take our spouse for granted. I know I have. Just a simple verbal “thank you” or leaving them a thank you card. When we take our spouse for granted, they can feel unappreciated and unwanted. That could easily hurt the relationship, if not kill it altogether.
Contribute To Running the Household
I try to always pick up after myself. If there are dishes in the sink, I do them. When I have dirty clothes, I put them in the clothes hamper. If the trash needs taking out, I do it, if she doesn’t beat me to it first. There are some things that she doesn’t want me to do that I’ve done before, and I respect her preferences. I used to do laundry, but she asked me to not do the laundry (color blindness doesn’t help!), so I don’t try to force it and do things she doesn’t want me to do. She loves to cook, and even though I do sometimes, she would prefer that I not do that either, so I do as she asks. However, I am not above cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the floor, or cleaning out the litter box. I think we should contribute to the chores that need to be done around the house because if we don’t, we treat the other spouse like a slave, and that does not go over very well.
Why Nagging Doesn’t Help
I learned long ago that the only person you could ever hope to change is yourself. You can’t change other people, and nagging does not help. In fact, it can make a spouse dig their heels in even more. God alone can change the human heart (Prov 21:1), and I make a very poor imitation of the Holy Spirit. Try to not criticize, blame, demean, attack, manipulate, or make them feel stupid. It never works and actually serves to make it only worse. Stick with the issues. Make the issue or problem the focus, not the person. Play fair, and don’t ever say “you never” or “you always” because these are never always true.
Too Much In with the In-Laws
When God performed the first wedding ceremony, He said, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). You could put it this way: A man should leave his family and leave his family out of his new family’s business and should leave and cleave to his wife. Of course, this applies to the woman too. Too much in-law involvement can create friction and bring unfair expectations from the other spouse’s parents and is an intrusion of one family into another.
Don’t Compare Spouses
If you say “my friend’s wife always does” or “my friend’s husband always does,” you are comparing your spouse unfairly to another. You know only what you hear about or see. Rarely is it as good as it sounds when talking about how good another spouse is. Paul said when others do this, “they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor 10:12).
The best way to sustain a good marital relationship is to pray together, to serve one another, to love one another, to contribute to the household chores, and to not take each other for granted. Be appreciative. A thank you goes a long way toward strengthening a marriage, and it is worth every bit of effort, isn’t it?