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Dealing with Threats to Your Marriage

Updated on October 8, 2012
Your marriage may be threatened in more ways than you imagined.
Your marriage may be threatened in more ways than you imagined.

There are many threats beyond infidelity and finances

Marriage, like other relationships are vulnerable to many threats. Although infidelity and finances are involved in the destruction of many marriages, they are not the only threats to the marriage relationship.

Since marriage is a relationship, it involves a reciprocal interaction between two parties. When one spouse does not reciprocate, there is a strain in the relationship. At that point, the relationship is no longer functional. The interactions are no longer reciprocal. There are times that one spouse may give more than the other. The interaction is not purely 50-50, where the give and take of the relationship is always rewarded. The 50-50 way of thinking works for some relationships, but not marriage. During the stages of marriage, there are times that one spouse may not be able to give back. Such times are often stressful.

When the interaction is way out of whack, marriage can be destroyed. The relating back and forth has ended. With the relating interrupted, the ‘marriage’ is no longer functional. This can happen through extreme selfishness, dissimilar marital expectations, or other events. By other events, there are times when accidents, illness or responsibilities create a situation that impinges on the marriage interactions. When the spouses are unable to interact with each other, the healthiness of their interactions is impacted. When the interaction is blocked, the marriage is changed. Some couples can adjust to such changes, yet for many such changes mean that the relationship is over.

Religious differences can destroy a marriage. When significant differences exists, the ‘common ground’ necessary for a marriage to work is often reduced. The more values, culture and experiences that couples share in common, the greater the momentum exists for the marriage to continue. When the religious differences are diametrically opposed, there can be significant conflicts. Within some religions, when there are major differences between husband and wife, it could put one of the spouse’s life at risk. With greater frequency, one spouse is killing their partner due to differences in religion or differences in interpretation of religious principles. Although the couple may believe that love can overcome even religious differences, over time the differences will need to be dealt with. Given the life threatening potential, such differences are a major threat to marriages.

The couple may have worked through their religious differences. Although the couple has made the relationship functional, there may be extended family members who have not worked through those issues. Those family members may agitate the differences and create a hostile environment at family get togethers.

Extended family members can destroy marriages in many ways. When a couple does not have clear, functional boundaries in place, many extended family members encroach on a couple’s time, finances or daily life. The encroachments may be as mild as giving advice, or it may be in the form of taking over segments of their lives. The encroaching of extended family often happens in the area of raising children, and religious issues. Other areas that encroachment occurs include political values, lifestyle, friends and alcohol use. The encroachment may be of either a benevolent or a malevolent origin. The extended family often claims that they are doing what they do because they ‘care’. Whether or not the motivation of out of caring, love or some other motivation, the effects of the encroachment remain destructive. Even though the encroachment had good intentions, it often brings destruction to a marriage. In some cases, the destruction is direct. You can see how the encroachment has weakened the marriage. In other cases, the encroachment brings secondary damage. This kind of damage involves how the attitudes of the spouses are soured by the encroachment. The soured attitudes in turn lead to tension developing between one of the spouses and the extended family. Although this damage may not be readily seen, its effects can damage the marriage as well.

There are other threats from extended family. The extended family may not attempt encroaching, but that does not mean that they are good for the marriage. The values and lifestyle of the extended family often influence such choices within the marriage. One spouse may not approve of the lifestyle of the extended family and attempt pressuring the other spouse to sever their connection with extended family. Cutting off the extended family can be a double edged sword. It can cut off negative influences, yet also sever support and sense of connection. As some spouses cut off connections with the extended family, they may be doing so to their own hurt.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol are a perennial threat to marriages. When drugs and alcohol take over a person, they leave no prisoners. When addiction kicks in, there are often many victims. The addict’s behavior effects their spouse, extended family, friends, associates and neighbors. Since addictions are often found in clusters, there are often many potential problems in marriages where addictions develop. Some couples overcome the problems, although the majority are overwhelmed by the challenges of addiction.

Violence and threats of violence are destructive to the marriage. The destruction is not limited to the physical effects. There are emotional, spiritual and relational damage that will need to be addressed and dealt with. When the violence is ignored or dismissed, it often grows worse rather than better. Domestic violence destroys many marriages. Although the violence is often viewed as the culprit, the violent act is often the aggressors solution to some other issue. When violence is used to solve problems, the situation and problems have become dysfunctional.

Friends can also be destructive to a marriage. When the connection to friends is stronger than the marriage bond, there are potential problems. When the friends are a bad influence, there are problems. When there is a lack of friends, the couple has issues that need their attention. The threat of friends come from when they are either too influential or when there is a lack of friends.

There are many other potential threats to marriages. These are some of the most frequent issues besides infidelity and finances. You will need to talk with your spouse about what your marriage needs and what you view as potential threats. When the threats have been identified, then you can develop plans to deal with them.

Resources to help

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  • Admiral Murrah profile imageAUTHOR

    Admiral Murrah 

    6 years ago from Texas


    Knowing what to do about threatening things when you are in the midst of them is very confusing. The very person you need is not available as you are faced with big challenges. When couples are in the midst of crisis, they often need to take things one at a time in small steps. They may be very talented, yet when in a marriage crisis their attention span is very limited.

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 

    6 years ago from California

    Nice to meet you. Had coffee with a friend who has many of these things going against her marriage at the moment. What to do about these things is confusing for many couples.


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