We spend a good deal of time going over what types of behaviors and habits make for stronger marriages. Things like spending quality time together, practicing communication skills, understanding the importance and methods of forgiveness…
All of these are important components of maintaining the health of your marriage. This time, however, we’re looking at something a little different –what NOT to do.
These practices can chip away at your marriage and poison the way you think about yourself, your spouse, and the relationship. If you want to stay happy and connected, follow this list of don’ts:
1. Don’t Play The Victim
When things aren’t at their best, take responsibility for your own thoughts, actions, and mood. If you cast yourself as the victim, you paralyze yourself from taking steps to change the situation. Your life and happiness are what you make them, not simply the product of what happens to you.
Self-pity and blaming others (especially your spouse) doesn’t help to make things any better, simply because they prevent you from taking action for yourself.
2. Don’t Criticize
Focusing on the negative aspects of your partner, your situation – even the room you’re in – can have unintended consequences. This negativity starts to become normal, and eventually you end up with a pessimistic view of yourself, your marriage, even the whole world! This makes you more irritable, harder to satisfy, and on the lookout for problems and things to complain about at every turn.
Instead, try the opposite – look for the good in every situation, focus on your favorite things about your spouse, and try to spin irritating situations into positive lessons.
3. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
We’re all going to have times when we are too emotional, stressed, making mistakes, doing embarrassing things, etc., but if we can’t shake them off or laugh at ourselves later, they can become a long list of damaging experiences that chip away at self esteem – and ultimately drive a wedge between you and your spouse.
If we can’t laugh at ourselves or own up to our mistakes (without beating ourselves up too much), that low self-esteem can affect the way your spouse sees you, the amount of joy you’re able to bring to the relationship, and even your ability to be happy on a day-to-day basis.
We all make mistakes, we’re all human, and forgetting how foolish we can all be is a sure fire path to stress and unhappiness.
4. Don’t Complain About Your Marriage To Others
No one is going to truly understand what your marriage is like except for you and your spouse. Complaining to friends and family is asking for biased advice, damaging people’s opinions of your spouse, and enabling you to avoid dealing with problems directly.
The ins and outs of your marriage should stay private, and if you have an issue – talk to your spouse! There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice if you’re in trouble or don’t know how to proceed, but don’t make a habit of using your family or friend time to complain about your marriage. You’ll also be hurting your own perception of the relationship, and those opinions will be reinforced by the people you complain to – even if they are just trying to empathize.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
No two marriages will be exactly alike. We all have to figure out the nuances of the dynamic we share. Additionally, what you see on the outside doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story of another couple’s relationship. Instead of comparing your marriage to others (usually the ones you deem to be “better” than your own), look to making yours the best it can be.
This type of comparison is not just unrealistic; it’s also unfair to your spouse as well. It can make you both feel insecure about yourselves, and about the relationship you share. Instead of making comparisons, take note of what seem to be good ideas or good practices, and try to incorporate them into your marriage.
Make your decisions with confidence, be proud of each other, and don’t let the illusion of some “better” marriage make you doubt your own.
Take great care to avoid these bad practices, and you can prevent your marriage from spiraling into negativity. So much of how we treat each other (and how we think of ourselves) comes from having a positive outlook, the courage to tackle issues as they arise, and taking responsibility for how we think and feel. Stay positive and make the most of your marriage!