Marriage 101: 7 Bad Habits to Banish From Your Relationship


in Marriage

Successful, happy marriages require work and effort on the part of both partners to remain happy and intact. Yet, too often, couples get caught up in the day-to-day demands of their lives and they forget to nourish the most important relationship in their lives, their marriage. Careers, money pressures and family demands begin to take their toll on the marriage which may cause spouses to drift further apart. This often causes couples to become disrespectful toward their spouse and their marriage and, as a result, childish behaviors sometimes emerge. If you see yourself in this scenario and want to improve your marriage, read on. Here are some bad habits couples often resort to and ways to banish this behavior:

1. Put logic aside. Too often we think that every disagreement should be solved in a logical manner. In relying on this approach, we forget that every relationship consists of two different people’s emotions. Emotional thinking is not always logical and when we stop trying to win every point and, instead acknowledge and honor our partner’s feelings, conflict resolution often comes quicker and with less stress.

2. Peacekeeping is not productive. Peacekeeping, when one partner, rather than discuss the issue at hand, simply says in their best martyr voice, “Whatever you want, dear.”, is not productive nor does it, ironically, result in long term peace in the marriage. While might prevent a conflict short-term, it often creates anger and resentment, which can build up over time. Calmly discuss your disagreements with your partner and solve them productively instead of hiding behind them, as this will nurture long term happiness.

3. Throw out distractions. In today’s high pressure world it is easy to become distracted by any number of things. Spending time nurturing your relationship may mean turning off the TVs, computers and cell phones and sending the kids to grandma’s. Do what you must to make time consistently to focus on your relationship because, although it may seem difficult to do sometimes, it will pay off big in the long run.

4. Quit nagging. While nagging may seem like the only way to express your dissatisfaction with your partner, nagging rarely works. Studies have shown that spouses who are nagged begin to tune out the nagging and respond even less than they did before the nagging started. Focus on expressing concerns in a constructive way, bearing in mind that nagging is a useless waste of time and effort.

5. Commit to the “no blaming, criticizing or name calling” rule. Having disagreements is normal but there must parameters for “fighting”. Make a pact with your spouse that you will not resort to blaming, criticizing or name calling and that you will be respectful of each other. Fighting fair will allow you to air your disagreements and resolve them in a positive manner without inflicting lasting emotional damage.

6. Stop bullying! If one spouse is being a bully, the behavior must stop immediately. Loving and committed spouses do not use bullying to get what they want. Experts also warn that, in some cases where there is bullying in a relationship, this is often a red flag for abuse that, left unchecked, will grow more serious. Seek professional help if you feel anger and manipulation are part of your relationship.

7. Stop stonewalling! Stonewalling is a non-productive tactic people use to express their unhappiness. Stonewalling can morph into “the silent treatment” and a complete lack of desire to solve problems in a relationship. If you are stonewalling your partner, you are indicating that you feel your feelings are more important that the relationship as a whole. Partners who are stonewalling need to recommit themselves to the relationship and work openly and honestly to correct problems and improve their marriage.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dr. Karen Sherman July 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

These are all really good points!
As a relationship expert (, I would like to add that couples need to know that conflicts are bound to happen. In addition to what you’ve written there are other skills they can learn so that they can handle them better. When they do, their partnerships fare much better. I offer a free teleseminar, “The 7 Tools to Manage Conflict Communication in Your Relationship.” To hear it, go to:


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