Marriage is a commitment between two people, committed to live together as man and wife, until separated by death. It is not therefore temporary or for trials, rather it’s a lifetime companionship steering the partners through life’s challenges into one of, hopefully, bliss.
Marriages are however intricate, complex, multifarious associations, attacked in every area of their existence and takes the spouses concerted efforts, to defend and protect their marriage from all forms of imposition. The underlying benefits of protecting/defending the marriage from collapse cannot be compared to any other presumed benefit from other unions. Its tough work and many spouses have been known to give up by divorcing, separating or being uninvolved – DLT (divorced but living together). Spouses can avoid the collapse of their marriage, by identifying and avoiding marriage sins that encroach and slowly destroy their relationship. No spouse is immune to these sins but if your marriage is important, you will do all you can to save it from collapse.
These seven deadly sins of marriage are not anything exceptional. I left out some “common” sins (adultery, fornication, and other sexisms) because they are a result of major sins. In my research I found out there are bad marriages but no good marriages. A bad marriage is like a house in disrepair, broken windows and shutters, gust and dust blowing in the house, leaking roof and all. It’s a discomfort to be or live in such a house. On the other hand, a normal marriage can be compared to a house that is constantly been maintained. The gust and dust do not blow into the house because the windows and shutters are all properly fitted, the roof does not leak, because it’s well maintained. I also realized that there is nothing like a perfect marriage. Every marriage requires constant maintenance; a normal marriage can quickly turn into a bad marriage if not watched. The difference between the bad and normal marriages is in one, the spouses don’t care, or they have no more energy to maintain their marriage, while in the other, the spouses will do anything to make sure their marriage survives another day, another week, another year. It’s the spouse’s willingness to accommodate each other that makes the difference – it’s all about love, because what you love you protect.
1. Passing Blame –Dawn Lipthrott in her blog Relationship Journey asserts passing blame “allows us to put responsibility on everyone and everything besides ourselves!” It’s an act of selfishness.
If you find yourself blaming your spouse, ask yourself “what was my role in this and what could I have done differently.” Also remember if you confront your spouse, you are only asking for a fight, regardless of how right you might be. Consider other options to confront failed plans. David approached his failures by enquiring from the Lord. How do I proceed from here God, I am clueless. He will answer you and provide the courage and wisdom that you need. David kept his source of strength; he maintained his relationship with God.
Ease up, lighten up and learn to build your faith in God. If your faith in God is strong, then there’s very little you need to worry about. But when it’s easier to blame, try to change your communication style by making simple comments. Turn the heat on yourself rather than on your spouse – for example “I should have taken that car for service last week before it broke down” or “I wonder if Laura’s attitude will improve if we let her go to the teen camp” and so on.
2. Nagging your spouse – To nag is to annoy by persistently finding fault on the other, or complaining and making endless demands. One spouse feels like he/she has the mandate and dexterity to consistently point out what should be done, when and how. This fuels stubbornness in the other spouse and not making time for the other. It’s no wonder the bible in proverbs 21:9 says “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife”.
Nagging is a selfish act and accomplishes nothing less than resentment. If there’s anything that pushes spouses away from each other, it’s nagging. An article posted in Mindconnection’s website suggested, “Nagging is a compulsive behavior condition. People suffering from this condition are convinced that they are successfully managing things when the opposite is actually true. A nagging person may appear to be in charge, but actually is not. This behavior undermines your goals, your relationships, and fuels the misery of all involved.”
The bible reminds us that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks [Matthew 12:34], it’s important therefore we speak sound words, words that build and not destroy. We’ve got to be careful what we speak, because those words have a way of coming back. When you speak negative words, you attract those words to the person you spoke to. When you see your spouse and the first word that comes out of your mouth is negative, you have planted a negative seed in your spouse and the same to your children. Do you wonder why your children avoid talking to you? It’s the seed you planted in them. Besides your way, there’s another way of doing things. Don’t work yourself into frenzy because the dishes weren’t cleaned when they should have been. Understand that even if they were not washed when you wanted them washed, the world would not come to an end.
Learn to lighten up, and not to take issues like they depend on you. Have a gratuitous spirit; appreciate those around you and when things are done correctly. Consider practicing not to point out when things are not done differently. In your conversation, avoid using words as “never”, “now”, “always” – no one enjoys being inculcated in a deleterious manner. If you are a nagging partner, stop nagging and you will be astounded at the levels your relationship will rise to.
3. Punishing your spouse – Some spouses, feel it’s a prerequisite to punish their partner for a deed or wrong committed against them. The moment this happens, the cracks are all over the marriage floor and something needs to be done if the marriage will be saved.
The spouse unleashing the punishment feels superior to the ‘victim’; he/she feels the urge and importance of not letting the spouse “get away with” whatever happened. Marriage is a relationship where both parties have an equal say. Regardless therefore of what happen, the first thing would be to look for a resolution. Even if it one spouse feels they may have reached the end of purgatory road, no spouse can be a judge over the other. Punishment ferments resentment, and a feeling of helplessness, a feeling of not being loved or appreciated, and eventually looking for consolation elsewhere.
When you punish someone you love, you are really punishing yourself, and it’s not like the other spouse can’t retaliate. If you fail to do a deed for your spouse, because you had a disagreement, you end up being hurt the more. Instead of punishing, consider putting burning coal over your spouse, by doing good. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” [Romans 12:20]
4. Lack of proper Communication – Communication is the worst known destroyer of relationships –including marriages. Knowing this, it’s not clear why spouses unleash this dangerous weapon to each other, to the detriment of their marriage. Communication is not just about words, but actions as well – remember the old adage; actions speak louder than words. One can easily communicate negatively by what they do or do not. An observation by marriage counselors indicate that communication should be nurtured in the early years of the marriage, otherwise it becomes very challenging to change later in life.
Unresolved issues play a leading role in lack of communication, and unless they are addressed, communication will continue to be evasive. Concerns such as being judgmental to each other, lack of trust, and so on could also corrupt communication. Making a mockery of each other, talking to each other in derogatory manner, and lack of respect when in conversation also inhibits communication between spouses.
Communication is not a one-way street; etiquette requires one listens when the other talks. When this rule is violated, you have a shouting match, with each seeking to be heard. This increases frustration and further destroys the communication goal -albeit the two are ‘talking’ to each other. Communication is not so much about talking than is to listen. It’s okay to sit and talk about nothing, or just sit and do nothing. Communication is sometimes just being there physically and mentally.
If your marriage lacks or fails in communication, you (spouses) should, at the least, avoid careless criticism -you should by now have known that – it yields nothing but resentment and withdrawal. Dr. Willard Halley advises “Good communication avoids … disrespect” such as: “disrespectful judgments”, Sarcasm, ridicule, judgmental statements and accusations, and “fits”. Grow up and act like the mature person you are. Communication is not shouting to your spouse, nor making condescending comments, or reading the riot act and replaying history. Good communication overlooks all that, and helps the weak communicator to open up and share their concerns.
5. Lack of Gratitude – To show gratitude is to be thankful or appreciative. When this lacks in marriage, it leads to the assumption that someone is taking the other for granted and could lead to complaining and discouraging the other spouse.
The general assumption that – one will always be there, dinner will always be cooked, clothes will always be ironed/folded without taking the effort to appreciate the doer of those little deeds could be disastrous. This sin is common among men. Do you ever stop to think who made the meal that you just ate, or who cleaned the bathroom, folded the clothes and dusted the room? Do you ever stop to ask who made the bed, who made sure the kids ate, who made sure the lights were turned off? A simple act of gratitude would, by simply saying “Thank you” is very appropriate at this point. I read somewhere that the spouse who does not show gratitude, could be suffering from the “I deserve being served” mentality, particularly if he/she brings home more/pork.
Dallas Munkholm in his article Gratitude- the Marriage Miracle suggests “expressing your gratitude, genuinely saying “thank you”, has the power to change, heal and empower a relationship. Gratitude, i.e. true gratitude is empowering to both the giver and the receiver as the expression of unselfishness and trust creates magic in their souls”. Lack of gratitude locks your powers and your potential thus rendering you unable to achieve anything beyond what you have.
Emily Dickson says in her article Seven Deadly Sins of a Relationship, “… while you might have some problems with what your partner does, you should also realize that your partner does good things too… take the time to say thank you…this little expression can go a long way”. When this lacks, it depletes the much needed energy, to carry on that marital journey.
6. Lack of Affection – This can simply be defined as a feeling of liking. Expressing affection is learnt as children and if one grew up in an environment where affection was not expressed he/she may have a problem expressing it. Fortunately, affection can be expressed in many ways.
The act of liking and enjoying the company of your spouse can be affected by several things including and not limited to resentment, lack of respect, poor or bad communication, and unresolved issues . Men may feel fulfilled by bringing the pork home, fixing the yard, washing the car, and doing the chores and repairs around the house. Women on the other hand are touchy; like to be held, kissed and told more times than you can remember how much they are loved.
While to most couples affection is associated with sex, affection is physical and the more it happens the higher the affection grid goes. It’s affected by emotional issues and can turn on and off at instantaneously. A friend of mine took his wife to an office function, but on their way home, his wife, a little upset, asked him “who was that lady you spent so much time with”. He had apparently talked too much to another lady (whom he had introduced his wife to), but the wife was uncomfortable with that. This is where it should have ended, but my friend was angry. After spending such a great evening together the one thing she saw, was him talking to another female! Regardless of how he tried to explain, his wife remained adamant, “I’m just saying you spent too much time with her” she relented. She was not being hateful or obnoxious; she was just speaking her mind. Perhaps if he talked to the other lady whilst holding his wife’s hand, it would not have been as bad.
Spouses need to identify those moments of expressing their affection to one another and disallow the little foxes from ruining the field.
7. Unrealistic Expectation – These are the expectation a spouse may set for the other and when the spouse fails to meet them there’s a feeling of betrayal, frustration and resentment. James P. Krehbiel in his article Unrealistic Expectation in Relations suggests, “Unrealistic expectations are connected to issues of power, manipulation and control. We might embrace an underlying assumption which says, ‘People must act the way I want them to, or else I have no use for them’.” Some expectation such as one spouse supporting the other while he/she stays at home and taking care of the children may be reasonable, but when reality hits home, it may no longer be realistic as the income and lifestyle hit different roads.
Spouses should be willing to bend their expectation for the sake of their marriage, if it doesn’t happen the way they had planned so what? If you can’t drive this make and model of a car or can’t live in that neighborhood the Jones’ live, so what? If your children don’t attend the same private school as the jones’s so what?
Let me assert here again and say marriage is complicated and we can do better by not complicating it any further by being considerate with our spouses. Expectations are normal in marriage but we must not be selfish, and peg the expectations on how well the spouse is supporting the family.
The core of unrealistic expectation is selfishness, which brings division and destroys relationships. Whenever selfishness displays itself through any of the spouses, it becomes apparent that God is not involved and there is no more trust or faith in God.
Spouses should try as much as they can to avoid anything from separating them. This is what the bible says in Matthew 19:6 “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Don’t allow unrealistic expectation to wedge through and separate what God has put together.
What breaks the marriage is not the sins committed, it is the failure to admit that these sins are breaking the marriage; it’s the failure to admit that your effort is needed to salvage your marriage. It’s a pride thing, as each spouse holds their hands waiting for the other to make the first move. Marriage is a partnership where individual goals are mutated into a single goal. Indeed if spouses are to be seen as one, then selfishness should not exist nor should individual motives be accommodated.
Marriage bliss is an apex and to get there, spouses go through valleys, climb mountains and cross rivers – whoever says otherwise is not being honest. There should therefore be no victim or victor since the left hand cannot fight the right hand. Don’t let that marriage fail, stretch your hand a little further, diligently work on areas you identify as deficient, most of all, talk to the Lord about the challenges you are fcaing – He will help you through.