As a marriage counselor, I hear all the time: “I had no idea there were problems until he/she asked me for a divorce”. I even hear comments like this outside of my office when I’m talking to friends or at parties. It’s pretty common for people to be sailing through their marriage thinking that all is well until their spouse hits them with a bomb like “I want a divorce”. Nobody likes to be sailing through their marriage unknowingly causing problems. It hurts their spouse and it hurts themselves when they find out how much hurt they’ve been causing and facing a potential divorce.
So how do you know that you’re not the one who’s doing this to your partner? What can you do to make sure that you’re not hurting your relationship and not even knowing it? Below are four things to help you do exactly that:
4 Common Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Your Marriage
1) Putting Your Kids First. Kids are the future. They’re also the most important thing to you as a parent. Kids just fill a hole inside you that you never even knew was empty. So it makes sense that a lot of spouses put their kids first in their life. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your marriage.
Just because you have kids that doesn’t mean that your spouse is chopped Sui. Your spouse is still the one you fell head over heels in love with. They’re also still the one you share intimate moments with that you can’t share with anyone else. You lean on them, you cry on them, they support you in tough times, etc. So it’s important to make sure you continue to treat your spouse like a spouse and lover. Don’t let your kids come between you and your spouse. You can still spend adequate time with your spouse and give your children the time and attention they need to have a healthy childhood. Children need a strong example of what a good marriage looks like. And if you’re not being a good spouse, you’re not being a good parent.
2) Thinking Your Spouse is the Problem. Every couple has complaints about their spouse. Maybe your spouse doesn’t pick up after themselves or they spend too much time shopping. And a lot of times, you think that if your spouse would just pick up their end of the marriage, you’d be a lot happier. So you wait around for them to fix their end of the marriage and when they don’t you just keep on complaining. A lot of the times your complaints are small but sometimes they’re big. And they’re all hurting your marriage.
At the end of the day, you can complain and moan about your spouse all you want – but you are the one ultimately responsible for your happiness. And you can help your marriage regardless of whether they pick up their end of it or not.
Instead of complaining to your friends about how your spouse is making you so unhappy bring it up to them directly. Instead of complaining that “You’re always shopping!” Say something like “Honey, I feel like you spend a lot of time shopping and I’d really like it if you used some of that time with me instead”. Stay on point and remember that you can have control in your marriage. Don’t give in to feelings of helplessness because your spouse isn’t listening. Changing yourself and the way you talk about things can change your marriage – and you don’t have to wait for your spouse to change first.
3) Getting Too Busy. Life is busy for everyone. And it’s a good thing to stay busy so that you’re heading in the direction you want and achieving your goals. But too often, when we get busy we put ourselves and our spouses next to last. It makes sense, right? You married your spouse ’til death do you part’ so you know they’ll be around for a while. But your job might not be so it’s natural to put yourself into your job (or other endeavors) without even realizing you’re putting your spouse second.
Make sure to keep a balanced life. And watch for cues from your spouse or others that you’re getting too busy. One good sign that you’re getting too busy is that you don’t have any unstructured downtime. There should be times during the day and days during the week where you just don’t have anything planned. This allows you to be spontaneous and spend time with the important people in your life – like your spouse.
4) Including Your Spouse in Your Day-to-Day. No spouse wants to hear about every mundane thing that happened in your day. So you feel like you’re doing them a favor by not telling them about it. But this can unknowingly keep your spouse out of your life. If you had a bad meeting, go ahead and send a quick text to your spouse to tell them about it. Let them know what you’re doing in your day so they feel a part of you. This also helps them to feel like you’re thinking about them outside of the times when they’re in the same room. Keeping your spouse involved in your day-to-day is a great way to create affection, trust, and even romance.
Knowing The Mistakes Helps You Fix Them
You’ve probably heard it said that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So there’s no way to know exactly what all the mistakes are that you’re making that may be causing unhappiness in your marriage. But being mindful of these four things will help you stay in touch with your spouse so that you can know along the way what things are causing difficulties in your marriage. And when you know about them, then you can fix them. This will help keep bombs like “I want a divorce” from coming your way and it will help you keep a happier marriage in the meantime.