8 Marriage Pitfalls to Avoid Like the Plague

Tim and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago. 

I find it impossible to believe it's been that long since we said 'I do.'  What a ride it's been ... the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, with God incredibly strong and kind and gracious through it all.

{And yes, I was a child bride!}

I prowled around the dusty archives, found this piece written 5 years ago, and tweaked it a bit.  And while I believe these truths are still valid, I'll be the first to tell you that neither of us has arrived.  

We love each other at a deeper level than we ever imagined all those decades ago.  Our faith in Christ is our firm foundation, our values fully align, we have quite a history together, and our children and grandchildren are the most delightful blessing in our lives.  

Yet we are still lifelong students in the process of learning to love each other well ... especially because our personalities, interests, giftedness, and love languages are so very different.

{And, BTW, if anyone tells you their marriage is the best it can be, run the other way.}

Here we go ...

Potential pitfalls in a relationship are countless and plentiful.  Too often, these sometimes ghastly occurrences emerge as no big surprise.  Truth be told, we may have glimpsed the writing on the wall, but were somehow unready, unwilling, or unable to wisely deal with attitudes or behaviors {our own or our spouse's} that ranged from mildly irritating to downright abusive.  

You know, those ongoing choices that have proven to be unhealthy or perhaps even dangerous to the emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being of our marriages.

{What constitutes abuse?  Click here for relationship expert Leslie Vernick's clear-cut guidance on what constitutes physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.  And you can find help at The National Domestic Violence Hotline here.}

But we're not talking abuse today. 

Instead, we're focusing on marriage's irritating, foolish snares.  When all is said and done, these pitfalls ultimately emerge as spiritual issues, because no one loves to fan the flames of inappropriate, subtly destructive behavior more than the enemy of our souls who most certainly hates any loving, loyal, compassionate commitment.  

Especially one that claims to be Christ-centered and empowered {Philippians 4:13}.

On the table?  8 marriage bugaboos to be aware of ...

1. Thinking your spouse has a crystal ball.
For years I figured that my husband should just instinctively KNOW my deepest desires and all my hopes and dreams.  Truth is, he didn't have a clue.

Along the way, I discovered that the love of my life was not a mind reader, and if I wanted him to know all about my quirky intricacies, I was going to have to tell him.  And do so with respect, during times of peace, not when my hair was standing on end with frustration.

2. Wanting to be right instead of wanting to be content.
Some spouses are so busy fighting for their rights, fighting to be heard, fighting to win the next argument, or fighting to come out on top that they don't realize that all these futile debates do is produce a lose/lose outcome.  No one emerges as a winner ... and the very-much-aware children end up as the biggest losers of all.

Choose your battles wisely.  Is this worth going to the mat for?  Does it draw you closer to God?  Probably not.

3. Believing that you're the Holy Spirit.
One of the things that the Spirit does so beautifully is convict {John 16:8-10}.  If we are endlessly haranguing our spouse about diet, smoking, finances, in-laws, health, leadership, parenting, church attendance, ad nauseam, we are treading on ground that we don't own.  Learn the art of speaking the truth in love with respect.  After bringing up the topic no more than 2 or 3 times, drop it.

Allow natural consequences to kick in.  And use the energy that you were burning up to converse with God about what's bugging you.  And watch His power kick into gear.

4. Entertaining at your spouse's expense.
Few things are more embarrassing than seeing one spouse constantly correcting the other or making tasteless remarks and insensitive, stupid jokes at the other's expense.  The emotionally abused spouse feels ends up feeling like two cents.  And this craving to be in the spotlight only reflects the big mouth's own neediness and lack of self-esteem, and they end up looking petty and small themselves.

If this is you, please clam up.

5. Demanding that your spouse will meet all your needs.
Let each other off the hook on this one.  Does he get catatonic at the thought of an all-day shopping marathon?  Do her eyes glaze over at the prospect of watching back to back to back games on TV?  There are some needs that can only be met by a same-sex friend or other family members.  Or the rewards that creative work or an interesting hobby can offer.

But ultimately, only the Lover of our souls is ready, willing, and able to meet the deepest, gaping needs that remain unfulfilled in the deepest parts of who we are.

6. Hoping your true colors will remain hidden.
The honeymoon is oh so sweet.  But your true character will most likely show up as you have children.  Or are unable to.  During the myriad of traumas, losses, and crises that will land on your doorstep.  During a pandemic's seemingly endless quarantine.  Or as you age.

Just ask the soul whose spouse has slowly disappeared into the horror of dementia.  Or who pushes a wheelchair.  Applies medication to their life partner's gaping pressure sores.  Cleans out a clogged trach tube.  Or changes their messy Depends.  Faithfully.  Day in and day out.

7.  Assuming your partner appreciates the same love language as you do.
He might hear love through physical touch or acts of service while she craves words of affirmation.  Don't take the easy way out by simply giving your spouse what you yearn for.  Move on out of your well-worn comfort zone and set your mind toward showing love in those ways your spouse longs to experience.

Even if it's a bit awkward and unnatural at first.   Trust me, you'll see your marriage take off like a rocket.

8. Inviting your family and friends into your personal business.
Do not fall into the trap of sharing your marital problems with family or friends who will quickly get pulled into taking sides in your private drama.  Not only will they take sides, but long after you and your spouse have reconciled and moved ahead, they will forever remember the secrets you shared that should have been yours {and God's} alone.

And their relationship with your spouse will be permanently marred.

Let's talk about what you know to be true about marriage ...

P.S. #1
I love you, Tim!

P.S. #2
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talking marriage with
Richella  .  Lisa  .  Jeanne


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