What's Wrong With My Marriage? Common Mistakes Made by Husbands and Wives

We are surrounded by poor examples of marriage. Television, movies, and commercials are full of dysfunctional couples who make us laugh at their antics. While bad marriages make great comedies, it’s tragic when we realize how their portrayal is a little too close to reality.

Simply turn on the television and you see an example of a husband bending over backward to please his wife, who is always right. She will nag, withhold sex, and manipulate to get her way. She will do anything to prove her point or punish her husband for bad behavior. He in turn, will lie through his teeth, bribe the kids, and jump through many comical hoops to make his wife happy. He’ll do anything he can to keep her from being angry or give her what she demands.

While these marriages may make a great comedy, they give us a terrible example that becomes all too easy to follow. While I believe that deep down we know better, we can easily be misled into believing that this is the way marital relationships should be. When that happens, we can fall into the same trap, making the same mistakes.

Common mistakes wives make:

Since I am a wife myself, I know full well the mistakes we make. Believe me, there’s enough blame to go around, but to be fair, I’ll start with my own gender.

  • Nagging – We are notorious for nagging. Don’t nag. It doesn’t work anyway and it only makes you madder and your husband more defensive. When you are tempted to nag, hold your tongue instead. Ask him if there’s anything that you can do to help him.
  • Withholding sex - Sex is not a bargaining tool. Don’t use it to manipulate your husband into getting what you want or to punish him for doing something wrong.
  • Manipulating – We are so good at orchestrating things to our advantage. We’ve learned which buttons to push and which feminine wiles work. Instead, try being open and honest. Don’t keep a hidden agenda. If you want something, say so. Express your hurt feelings without being pouty or angry.
  • Always being right – Admit it when you’re wrong. Resist the urge to prove your point, even when you know that you are right. You don’t always have to have the last word. Let your husband win once in a while.
  • Punishing your husband – Don’t treat your husband like one of the kids. It’s not your job to discipline him when you don’t get your way. We know how to punish in all sorts of ways. Besides withholding sex, we are experts at the silent treatment and the cold stare. It will do us well to remember the old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t do things that you know he won’t like out of spite.
  • Belittling your husband – Give him compliments instead. Tell him when you are proud of him. Affirm him every chance you get. If you constantly make him feel like a failure, it will be so much easier for someone else to come along and stroke his ego.
  • Asking your husband stupid questions that don’t have a right answer – They hate this. They like to win. When we ask questions like, “do you like my hair curly or straight?” they feel trapped. If they say they like it curly, then we’ll say, “What’s wrong with it when it’s straight?”
  • Depending on your husband to make you happy – When we put our hopes in any other person, we will always be disappointed. Your husband will not be able to meet all of your needs or become everything you’ve ever wanted. Having unrealistic expectations such as this will cause a lot of heartache. Instead, work on being content and developing peace in your own life so that you aren’t constantly looking for more.
  • Being overly clingy or jealous – Give your husband some breathing room. If he constantly feels that he has to look over his shoulder, he’ll be more likely to start keeping secrets. A healthy marriage learns to develop trust. Trust that your husband will be where he says he will be and will do what he says he will do. (Don’t however, carry this one too far. Being trusting isn’t the same as being naïve. If there’s a reason to doubt, then you’ll have to do some research, but that’s another subject.)
  • Putting the kids, work, or hobbies ahead of your husband – It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that happens during the day and expect your husband to take care of himself. Be sure that you are paying attention to him and including him on plans and activities. By focusing on your relationship with your husband, you’ll set a much better example for your children.

Common mistakes that husbands make:

It takes two. The husbands we see on television and movies are often weak and timid. It’s no wonder that their wives run all over them.

  • Complaining about their wives – The more negative you are about her to others, the more you’ll begin to believe what you say. I once heard a man at a gas station complaining to the manager about his wife. He kept digging, trying to get the manager to join him and complain about his own wife. The manager, however, wouldn’t do it. “Nope,” he said, “My wife’s not like that. She’s great.” Which man do you think is the better husband?
  • Lying – Man up. If you want to do something and you think you’re wife is going to be mad about it, then don’t do it. If it’s that important to you, however, talk to her about it. Just don’t lie. If you want your wife to trust you and believe what you say, then you are going to have to start being honest.
  • Expecting sex without trying – A woman needs a little romance. Put some effort in wooing your wife. She wants to know that you still think she’s beautiful and sexy. When you expect sex without trying, she doesn’t feel loved. She feels like you’re only meeting a physical need.
  • Bribing the Children – If you have to worry about what your kids tell your wife, then you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. It goes back to being honest. Don’t get the kids involved. This will only teach them that you are divided and they will quickly learn to use that to their own advantage. Set a better example for them.
  • Buying into the idea that you’ll be happy if she’s happy – This puts a lot of unrealistic pressure on both you and your wife. You’ll never be able to meet all of her needs. Jumping through hoops, walking on eggshells, and making her believe things that aren’t true sets up unrealistic expectations.  
  • Putting work, sports, beer, friends, or anything else ahead of your wife – Love your wife and cherish her. Make her feel as if she’s the most beautiful and important woman in the world. Put the work away to listen to her. Turn the TV off every once in a while. Don’t stand your wife up to go and hang out with your friends. Put her needs ahead of your own.
  • Being overly jealous and controlling – Give your wife a little breathing room. Allow her to have friends and interests that don’t include you. Don’t be insecure and untrusting. Trust is a two-way street. If you want her to trust you, then you’ll need to trust her yourself.

Recommended Reading

The next time you watch a comedy that portrays a dysfunctional marriage, look for reflections of truth in your own life and marriage. Are you following their poor example? Are you giving into the stereotypes that are portrayed?

Often, the biggest problem in our marriage is ourselves. Look at your own heart and actions. Are there things that you need to change? Are you making some of the common mistakes listed above? Stop trying to fix your spouse and work on your own issues instead.

Try putting some effort into your marriage. Put your spouse ahead of your own needs. If you start being intentional in your relationship, then your spouse will often follow suit. Love and respect breeds love and respect.

For more tips towards a happy and successful marriage, read "Healthy Marriage Tips: Who's Keeping Score"!

How can you put some of these tips into action? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. If you found this hub helpful, be sure to vote it up. Thanks for reading!

More by this Author


profile image

spike03 6 years ago

Before entering into marriage make sure that you are ready emotionally, financially and spiritually, nice hub very useful.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Spike! Very good advice! I can't say that I was any of those things when I got married 18 years ago... but thankfully I learned a few things along the way. By all means, though, I would advise the same.

profile image

alberich 6 years ago

What leads to a divorce? Well,some psykologists talk about the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Personal Criticism, Contempt, Defense Attitudes and the Silent wall. Any of these approaches leads to a disaster in a relation.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I just wish that my wife would admit all of her faults and admit my perfection! That way we could have the perfect relationship!

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Good luck w/ that one LeanMan! Why don't you tell her that and let me know how it works out? :)

dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

Hi Lisabeaman, thank-you for leaving a comment on my putting your marriage first before the children, because I see that as one of you topics, and I am so pleased that others out there think like you. I could not agree more with your points, excellent hub, I am rating it up!

TheMonk profile image

TheMonk 5 years ago from Brazil

"Asking your husband stupid questions that don’t have a right answer"

lol! I always respond that with a question: "How do you like it best?" Usually she already has the answer and are just looking for reaffirmation. :)

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks TheMonk! That's one that I'm guilty of quite often, even though I know better. Seems like you have a great response ready! Good job - I'm sure that gives you some peace and harmony!

DawnM - I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier! Putting the marriage before the children is so important and yet sometimes is hard to remember. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the encouragement.

SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

You pretty much covered the common mistakes Lisa. I would add 'invalidating feelings' to this comprehensive list; both men and women are guilty of trampling on the feelings of their significant others. Nice hub.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks SpiffyD! Invalidating feelings would be a great one to add - I couldn't agree more. Feeling like no one understands or that their feelings are being belittled is an awful place to be. I think that would be true for parenting as well. Thanks for the comment!

renegadetory profile image

renegadetory 5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

Great hub! Reading the book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr, Laura really opened my eyes (I read it before I even had a boyfriend, let alone was married). I think you touch on many of the same issues. Marriage is about 2 people and both the husband and the wife should be considerate of each others needs.

I think I'm guilty of putting my needs before my husband. I try not to, but I'm probably most guilty of that one. Thankfully, I do try each day to be a better wife and mother.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks renegadetory! I haven't read that book, but I'm glad that you've found it helpful. It does seems sometimes that many individuals don't work on their marriages until there's a problem. It's great to see that you are being proactive and working to be a better wife and mother each day. I think you will prevent a lot of problems down the road. Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Steve LePoidevin profile image

Steve LePoidevin 5 years ago from Thailand

I enjoyed your hub. Divorcing after twenty years of marriage resulted in a lot of reflection on my part. I think one of our biggest mistakes was not giving ourselves time alone together, either as a short weekend getaway or longer extended holidays. We spent most vacations with relatives and rarely did anything without the kids.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thanks Steve! I'm very sorry to hear about your divorce. The mistakes that you are reflecting on are all too common. I appreciate you for sharing that and hope that others will be reminded to make time for one-on-one time with their spouse. Thanks for the comment!

jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

These are well thought out findings. Its really hits all the buttons. We often behave in ways that would never be considered productive if we would behave that way at work. If something does not work; then we would not repeat the same set of steps that lead to the same negative results. At least, we would try to make things more efficient and cost effective. Yet, when it comes to marriage, we do the same things expecting awesome results. Assess your behaviour based on outcome. Don't just live in the moment. Excellent advice. I wish everyone would take it to heart. Take a moment to look at what is working and fine tune the relationship. We do it elsewhere. Its time we begin at home. Thanks for sharing.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Thank you so much jeyaramd! I really appreciate your comments. You are very, very right with your points. I don't know why we continue to give others our best and then give the leftovers to our own family. Thanks again!

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Lisa, pretty well written hub. I'm not married, so I guess nothing you said applies to me presently. LOL! But, I thought I would leave a comment and you'd get a laugh from it anyways. Voted up! :)

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Hey thanks Cagsil! You know... if you keep reading articles on marriage and relationships, it's quite possible that you will be well prepared for one of your own! You never know what's just around the corner :) Maybe we'll see some tips and tricks from you on marriage in a few years? (Let's see if you get a laugh from this!)

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

You're welcome Lisa. However, I'm pretty sure I could make a marriage last and even at present write hubs about relationships. I've written on hub on relationships- jealousy specifically and even have a poem on relationships and marriage. But, tricks and tips? No thank you. LOL! :P

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Sounds like you're all set Cagsil! Now we just need to find the right lady... :)

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Good luck with that Lisa. I've tried and each one of them has hung themselves. I've ran into 3 women that I've actually proposed to and one I actually bought a ring for, but all 3 of them were the destructive cause for our relationship failing. ;)

Pat 5 years ago

So what do I do if we know we have these problems but he doesn't want to talk about it. Just work on my problems and hope he fixes his? We barely got married 4 months ago and we are already having problems. We lived together almost a year before we got married..and now when we are supposed to be healthier and further in our relationship it seems harder than ever.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ Author

Hi Pat... I'm so sorry to hear about your marriage problems, especially so early into it. I wish I could give you a simple, magic answer that would fix everything! Part of me wants to answer "yes" to your question... yes, just work on your problems and hope that he fixes his... which I believe works if the problems are minor. If they are really big issues, though, that won't be enough. Only you know the difference. If the issues are big... don't try to fix it on your own. Seek marriage counseling, visit with a pastor at your church, even if he won't go with you or support you - do it. Talk to someone you can trust.

I do wonder if your problems are recent... or if they were there before your marriage. The answer to that might provide a few clues to dig a little deeper.

I wish you all the best and pray for healing in your life and marriage.

strkngfang profile image

strkngfang 5 years ago

Very nice hub. I am currently in an unhappy marriage where I am low man on the totem pole. My wife is solely focused on her daughter(22) and now grandaughter(1), who both live with us and I've been "hung out to dry". She thinks I can fend for myself and the marriage will be fine, but in truth we are rapidly growing apart. I have a few hubs that tell of my frustrations.

Dotcom 4 years ago

"Buying into the idea that you’ll be happy if she’s happy "

O. M. G. This is completely my marriage to a T. It really sucks! I feel like everything depends on how happy I am and the big problem with that is I have a lot of uncontrollable things going down that are stressful right now. This past weekend my husband made a slight remark of how I've been depressed for 3 weeks and not only has it been untrue, but for the 1.5 weeks I was down it was about things that were out of my control. My mom was trying to blackmail us to do things (things that would have wreaked havoc with my marriage, mental health, and child's health) denying us from seeing dying grandfather when he visited visit. I had to made the choice of looking out for my child and husband, but it came at the cost of not being allowed to see my grandfather (who was staying with my mother). Was I depressed and withdrawn the week this happened? You bet. I don't know what was more annoying. Him constantly asking what he could do for me or him griping about it. It'd be one thing if it lasted for a couple months, but this was for a week. I'm a human being not a robot!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article