Every marriage is unique. We each have our little idiosyncrasies and nuances that make up our relationship. We also may have some habits that seem innocent, but that are actually silently waiting to kill our marriage. It is important to recognize when something innocent can turn into something much worse. Here are four examples.
1. Husband/wife bashing
Husband or wife bashing seems to be culturally acceptable nowadays. We see it in most sitcoms on TV and everyone laughs. We hear our friends and co-workers complaining about the annoying little things their significant others do, and we find ourselves doing it too. Unfortunately, what seems like an innocent conversation starter can turn into something much worse. You may get bad advice or the wrong kind of encouragement. It also can turn into something you do more often than not. You may start looking for things to complain about to share with your friends. While it is OK to talk about your spouse with your friends, make sure that what you are saying is something you would feel comfortable having your spouse hear you say.
When you first start dating you tend to be on your best behavior. You want the person to like you, so the little bad habits you have get locked away for a while. Then you start to get comfortable. You let little things creep into your relationship, like being lazy, complaining too much or even getting angry over little things. The niceness in your tone of voice has all but disappeared and sometimes you find yourself treating your friends better than the person you love the most in the world. Getting too comfortable with a person can make you forget that he or she still needs to see your nice side. Your spouse still needs to hear "Please" and "Thank you," and you need to remember that he or she still has feelings that you should always be conscious of.
Every once in a while evaluate how you are treating your spouse. Did you use a tender voice to ask for a favor or did you bark a command? Did you take your eyes off the TV as your spouse gave you a kiss goodbye this morning, or did you rush through it so you wouldn't miss a word of your program? If you find yourself falling into these situations then take a moment to refresh yourself and turn up the charm every once in a while.
What you consider a traditional relationship, your spouse may not. Your ideal relationship may be sending your husband off to work each day while you take care of the house and kids. You have dinner on the table for him when he gets home and on the weekends you spend time together doing yard and house work before going out to have some family fun. However, he may think a traditional relationship is something completely different. Maybe he works odd hours that do not fit into the social norm you planned. Perhaps you have to work to put him through school, or you may end up living in an apartment in the city instead of a mansion in the suburbs. When we set these kinds of expectations for ourselves, it sets us up for failure. Things don't always go according to plan. Being able to be flexible is important in a marriage. If you have too many expectations that are not met you may start to resent your spouse or think they are the reason you are not happy in your situation. You should have the attitude that no matter where life takes you, as long as you are together, you will be happy.
Wishing your spouse would change in one way or another is a dangerous path to follow. We all have little things that might bug us about our spouse, but that doesn't mean he or she has to change in order for you to be happy. None of us are perfect. Usually these are things that were obvious before you got married, like the fact that she doesn't like to cook, or that he never puts his clothes away. If we get married thinking we can make the other person change these habits, we will be disappointed. While people can change, and you spend a lot of your first few years of marriage ironing out the things you can and cannot live with and what you can compromise on, if there is still one small thing that drives you nuts, let it go. Do not keep expecting that he will suddenly stop leaving the toilet set up, or playing music too loud. A lot of the time we take these annoyances too personally. We think that our spouse is purposely trying to bug us, or that if they really loved us they would change; but people are human, and sometimes we do things out of habit or so naturally that we do not even realize we are doing it. Love your spouse for who he or she is, and take a deep breath when you trip over her shoes sitting in the middle of the floor or smile through the burnt meatloaf you've eaten three nights in a row. This will help you through those moments instead of blowing up about them.
Every once in a while it is important to evaluate your relationships, how you treat people and identify some bad habits you may be falling into. None of us are perfect, but we can prevent some small things from turning into something bigger.