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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.
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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.
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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.
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!