How To Unintentionally Sabotage Your Marriage

June 25, 2018 |
Marriage problems & ...toothpaste?

The Colgate Pump saved my marriage.

When we married and our tubes became one, our union was destined for disaster.

The problem? Toothpaste.

I squeezed the tube in the middle (or at the end or wherever I picked it up). He, on the other hand, preferred we squeezed the tube starting at the very end so we could neatly roll up the empty portion of the tube as we used it.

He wanted our newly established family toothpaste tube to be smoooooth and uniform until the toothpaste was gone.

The way I saw it: Toothpaste comes out no matter where you squeeze the tube.

Thank God for the Colgate Pump. Just push the trigger on top. No squeezing involved. And, here we are, happily married and sharing the same tube of toothpaste more than 30 years later.

Bad Marriages Aren’t Intentional

Toothpaste was really minor in the realm of our marital issues. But unresolved minor issues make the major issues seem bigger. 

Was I really upset about the toothpaste?

No. Lots of issues loomed over our marriage. Toothpaste was simply a visual manifestation.

Was I plotting ways to destroy my marriage? Not intentionally. I didn’t realize my attitudes were destroying my marriage.  

Bad marriages aren’t intentional. They’re unintentional when people fail to intentionally focus on the kind of relationship they want.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

This verse is written in the spirit of togetherness. And that’s something I didn’t have a clue about when I first got married.

After more than 30 years of marriage, I can’t tell you how to divorce-proof your marriage. I can tell you that without a biblical foundation, I was driving my husband away. 

8 Ways To (Unintentionally) Sabotage Your Marriage

Here are eight ways I sabotaged my marriage without even knowing it:

1.) I Didn’t Make Room In My Life For God

I believed in God, I just didn’t see how He was relevant to my everyday life and marriage. The closer I am to God, the closer I’ll be to my husband. When I’m  focused on pleasing God, it doesn’t matter what my husband does because my actions aren’t contingent upon his. I love and respect him because God tells me to do so, not because he deserves it. When my eyes are focused upward, it’s easier to see things in the proper perspective..

2.) I Thought 50/50 Was The Way To Go

8 ways to sabotage your marriageFifty/fifty sounds reasonable and fair, but it never works. He does his half; I do mine. I was only half in. My love was performance-based not unconditional. As long as he contributed his half, everything was okay. In reality, someone always ended up feeling like they got the short end of the stick. A lot of times that was me. I learned I needed a 100/100 mindset. This shifted my focus from receiving to giving. 

3.)  My Husband’s Needs Weren’t Important To Me

I grew up in a culture of dominant women. Didn’t he get the memo? You’re a grown up. You can take care of yourself. He didn’t marry me so he could take care of himself. Part of the benefit of a marital relationship is mutually caring for one another. Luckily, I got the memo before it was too late. 

4.) I Didn’t Know How To Forgive

I forgave, but I never forgot. The offenses piled up. I thought he should pay for the hurts he caused me. Unforgiveness breeds bitterness. As the offenses pile up, our marital intimacy broke down.

5.) I Rarely Expressed Appreciation

My husband needed to hear me say I appreciated him on a regular basis. I saw him as confident and self-assured. No matter how confident he seemed, he still needed to hear I appreciated him. I discovered appreciation is a fruit bearing attribute in marriage.  

6.) I Wasn’t A Respectful Wife

This was doing more harm to my marriage than all the others combined. Respect is huge for men. I didn’t know at the time. I was disrespecting him ways I didn’t even realize were disrespectful. Not because he’s overly sensitive but because my words go into his brain through his man filter. And that filter doesn’t work the same way a woman’s does.

Disrespect was shutting down emotional intimacy in my marriage. When I am respectful to him, he almost always responds in a loving way. 

7.) I Used Sex As A Bargaining Tool

I made sure he knew he  knew he had to pay to play. God designed my husband to need physical affection from me. Using sex as a bargaining tool or a way to control him could have eventually encouraged him to go somewhere he didn’t have to work so hard.

8.) I Refused To Let Him Treat Me Like A Woman

My generation was one of the first when women were expected to work outside the home. Anything he could do, I could do, too. I grew up on the cutting edge of the women’s movement. I was taught women and men were the same. We’re not. I can’t let him be a man when it suits me. I have to allow him to care for me and treat me like a woman because that’s what he’s wired to do.

By allowing my selfish tendencies to take over, I put my marriages on a sure-fire path to destruction.

Minor Marriage Problems Can Become Major Issues

Toothpaste was a minor thing. But toothpaste wasn’t the issue. The issue was learning how to mutually forgive, appreciate and respect each other.

When the minors become the majors, a silly thing like toothpaste can squeeze the life right out of your marriage. 

What are some ways you could be sabotaging your marriage without knowing it?

Candid ConversationsIf you liked this blog post, keep your eyes open for Sheila’s upcoming book, Candid Conversations, where she has partnered with 25 other Christian women. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Coming August 13th, 2018. Now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle.

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  • Reply Heather Margiotta June 25, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I love this so much. Esp the point you made about unhealthy marriages aren’t intentional. It’s unhealthy because they are unintentional.
    Heather Margiotta recently posted…How I Pray Through My Home And Why You Should Too

  • Reply Jaime Hampton June 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks so much for this, Sheila! Toothpaste was one of our minor issues too, but somehow we still got through it 🙂 I don’t think we can ever hear too often ways we can be more intentional about our marriages, or remember to stop and look at our attitudes and behaviors through the lens of our spouse for a moment. I needed this today!
    Jaime Hampton recently posted…5 Lessons From the Tightrope: Finding Your Balance

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 25, 2018 at 9:23 pm

      LOL! Amazing how big issues hide in such little things.

  • Reply Alice Mills June 25, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Some really good advice here. It takes some time and intentionality to mature into a good marriage.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 25, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks. You are right, Alice. Marriage has to age like fine wine. We have to be intentional about it. It’s easy to get distracted.

  • Reply tiffany June 26, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I can relate to not forgiving. Learning the pathway to Forgiveness really changed everything for use! Love this testimony to God’s faithfulness in your Marriage Sheila!

  • Reply Erin June 26, 2018 at 10:50 am

    One of the greatest misunderstandings, I believe, about marriage is that it is 50-50. Hopefully the sum is always equals 100% but rarely is it 50/50.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      You are right, Erin. 50/50 is a trap a lot of people fall for.

  • Reply Melissa June 26, 2018 at 10:59 am

    These are amazing tips and areas that I focus on with my marriage therapy clients and areas I strive to not fall into with my own marriage. Thank you for this sound advice!
    Melissa recently posted…Book Review: Battle Ready

  • Reply Leigh June 26, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Lol about the toothpaste story! So true that little things can be symptoms of bigger problems. Marriage takes work and vigilance, but it’s so worth it when you can come together and live life God’s way.

  • Reply Jenny Gericke July 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    This is SO great! I love your humor and vulnerability. As a new wife, I see myself tempted to each one of these. Trying to start with #1 – keeping God first and making room for him because without that, the rest won’t come! Thanks for sharing!
    Jenny Gericke recently posted…When You Feel Like a Bad Person

    • Reply Sheila Qualls July 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Congratulations, Jenny! I am glad you enjoyed the post. Keeping God first is obviously the most important. Everything else flows out of that.

  • Reply Nitish Banka October 5, 2018 at 4:49 am

    Forgiveness and appreciation are biggest factors of unintentional relationship issues which I believe rest nice article.

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