Before we even dig into this two part series on fatal marriage mistakes, it’s important to make something perfectly clear: we are NOT assuming that all men (or even all people) are the same. Each and every one of us is going to have a different set of needs and desires, hot buttons that upset us, and give different levels of importance to the whole spectrum of topics that can make or break marriages…
That said, we want to focus on some typical male characteristics that many husbands display – and many wives overlook – to warn you about some of things you may be doing (or not doing) that unintentionally drive him away. Men can be notoriously bad communicators, and even though some of them are more open than others, it’s enough of a trend to be concerned about potentially unspoken problems in your relationship.
It’s also worth noting that many of these points are universal – and not JUST things women do that drive their husbands away. Whether you’re male or female, be aware of these serious mistakes that could be doing damage to your marriage – but ladies, pay extra close attention.
Be on the lookout for these potentially “fatal” marriage mistakes:
1. At Odds With His Family
This, of course, will depend on the nature of his relationship with his parents, siblings, and extended family – but if you’re at odds with (or bad mouthing) his family members, he’s likely going to harbor some resentment, even if he doesn’t say anything.
It puts him in a tough position of feeling like he has to choose sides in a conflict, or at the very least, act as a buffer between you and the family member(s) you have a problem with. To say the least, this can be exhausting. If he has a good rapport with his family, he wants you to too.
If you don’t get along with his family members, he might be hesitant to go to family gatherings, feel on edge when you’re in a room with them, and so on. All of this will chip away at the closeness he feels with you. You don’t have to love them as your own (and there’s no telling what kind of people they might be), but avoid being overtly critical and do your best to keep the peace. You risk alienating him if you don’t.
2. You’re Too Needy
While many men like to feel like providers and protectors, there’s a point where it becomes too much, and crosses over into the territory of annoyance and feeling like a burden. Even if he’s an action-oriented, decisive, “leader” kind of man, he still wants you to be able to hold your own.
If he’s constantly stopping what he’s doing to help you, making the vast majority of the decisions for you family, responding to your calls and text constantly throughout the day (and it feels like a chore), he may begin to resent just how much you seem to “need” him.
This one is something of a balancing act, and will depend a great deal on your husband’s personality. However, nearly every man will have a balancing point of feeling like he’s adding value to your life… Somewhere between you dismissing his help entirely and relying on him for every little thing.
Pay attention to his body language. If he seems exasperated or annoyed when you call him for the third time that day or ask him to solve a problem for you, you might be acting too needy.
3. He Can’t Be Himself
If he feels like he has to stifle his personality around you – or worse, if you specifically ask him to – that’s a BIG problem. This could be anything from pursuing his interests to the way he likes to dress, his sense of humor to the people he spends time with… If he feels under scrutiny for his choices, that feels like control, not a relationship. If he feels like he’s walking on eggshells and can’t say what he thinks or feels, or he has to regularly stop himself from doing what he wants to do, it will build a rift in the relationship that is extremely difficult to come back from.
Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t speak up if he’s being destructive or unsafe, or that you have to sit idly by while he does “whatever he wants” (in a way that hurts you) – but be reasonable here. He’s going to have his own interests and personality, and trying to squeeze him into a box of exactly how you want him to be is a sure fire way to force him into breaking out of whatever parameters you’ve set.
4. You Don’t Appreciate Him
Feeling useful, appreciated, and perhaps most importantly, not taken for granted is paramount for many men in a marriage. He wants to know that he is loved, that you recognize what he brings to the relationship and the life you share, and that you aren’t just expecting him to do things as a matter of course – that you’re thankful for his contributions.
You don’t need to dote on him with praise every day, but if you’ve all but stopped thanking him for help around the house, don’t seem concerned with his thoughts and feelings, or voice your expectations more like demands, he might start to feel like you don’t need (or want) him around…
5. He Doesn’t Feel Good About Himself Around You
Whether or not they express it, many men see marriage (and the company of the woman they love) as a sanctuary – a safe, comfortable place away from their professional and social lives where they can relax, be vulnerable, and stop thinking about the pressures of the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, this feeling can come crashing down if his home life is fraught with criticism. If he feels on edge, that you’re scrutinizing his every move, that he’s going to come home to negativity or hostility… That idea of “sanctuary” is all but shattered.
He may be more sensitive to these kinds of things than you think, especially after a long day of work. You should be building each other up, not tearing each other down – and for men in particular, those knocks at his confidence and self-esteem stack up. Instead of feeling warm and fuzzy when he’s around you, he’ll start to feel like the person he thinks you see. Consciously or not, he’ll equate feeling bad about himself with being around you – and that does not bode well for your marriage.
6. You Don’t Care About Your Appearance
This can be a bit of a touchy subject, so let’s clear the air right away: this DOES NOT mean you have be finely dressed at every moment, that you need to always have your makeup done, that you can’t let him see you in grubby clothes or with bags under your eyes…
He doesn’t expect you to be a supermodel, he doesn’t expect you to perfect… He just wants you to care about how you look because he does. When you put in some effort, from getting dolled up on a special occasion, taking an interest in diet and exercise to stay fit, or surprising him with a special outfit in the bedroom, it feels (to him) like a you’re doing it for him (and maybe you are!).
Most men can’t help but be visual creatures, and physical attraction is just part of their biology. When you care about your appearance, he feels like you’re making an extra effort for his benefit. It makes him feel sexy and important that you want to look your best for him!
The opposite is also true, unfortunately, even if it isn’t intentional. If you aren’t making any efforts to maintain your appearance, he may start to interpret it as a lack of interest in him, or that you don’t care about his perception of you. Surely there’s a balance to be found, and every marriage will be a little bit different… But you’d be surprised how far a little bit of effort in this department goes!
In part 2 of this series, we’ll look at another 6 mistakes that can have devastating consequences for your marriage. Until next time, keep these things in mind, talk to each other, and work together to build a better, stronger marriage!