11 ways you may be sabotaging your marriage
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Collateral Damage1 of 12
By Jenna Birch for Woman's Day
Of course you want the happiest marriage possible, but little things you do—some of which you don't notice—may be damaging your relationship. In fact, you may intentionally opt for these actions because you believe they're helpful, even though the opposite is true. Steer clear of the following mistakes to keep your marriage on the right track.
Keeping Quiet2 of 12
1. You wait for your husband to speak up if he needs something, especially sex.
Men want to be strong, not vulnerable, and many feel they can't admit to having additional needs. If he senses you're too busy for, or not open to, hearing his desires, he'll stay mum—and miserable. "Ask him what he's thinking and wanting,” advises clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. "Don't wait for him to bring it up because he probably won't."
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A Little Acknowledgment3 of 12
2. You don't tell your husband you appreciate him.
Whether he's the breadwinner or a stay-at-home dad, acknowledge his efforts, or your man may feel you take him for granted. "Even if you work equally as hard, it's essential to show your heartfelt thanks," says Dr. Brosh. "Saying 'I appreciate all that you do for me' is so easy, but lack of appreciation leads to resentment in marriage." Flip side: If you don't feel like he appreciates you, tell him.
Actions Speak Louder4 of 12
3. You complain he doesn't show affection when he actually does.
No matter how head-over-heels in love your husband is with you, he isn't likely to talk about it. "He might show his feelings through being a dad and/or provider or even mowing the lawn instead," Dr. Brosh says. While you may not get the long conversation you crave, don't overlook these expressions of love and support.
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Passion Pitfall5 of 12
4. You ignore your lack of libido.
"If he asks for sex, and you usually turn him away, you're on your way to a loveless marriage," says Dr. Brosh, who explains that skipping out a few times can quickly turn into a long dry spell. "If you aren't into it, it's your responsibility to understand why. It might be physiological or emotional, but addressing the problem shows you care." Talk to your doctor about revving your sex drive. "Ignoring the problem is as bad as ignoring him," says Dr. Brosh.
Ex Factor6 of 12
5. You subconsciously put your ex on a pedestal.
Some women fondly look back on former flames as time blurs the reasons you fell apart. Careful, though: "A long-gone ex can affect established relationships," says relationship expert Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women... is Men. Mentioning an ex's best qualities may incite unhelpful arguments about what your husband could be doing better. Focus on your spouse's top attributes, which likely outnumber old what's-his-name's, and communicate problems instead of making comparisons.
Bad News7 of 12
6. You think all men are bad.
Maybe your exes mistreated you, and you're just waiting for your spouse to do the same thing. A big problem with that: You can't develop intimacy with your husband when you hold onto past hurt, says Orlando. "Accept what happened and your part in things, forgive yourself and the other party and change the behavior," so you can make a fresh start with your husband, he suggests.
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Solo Effort8 of 12
7. You try to make the relationship work all by yourself.
A one-sided effort can't improve a problem-plagued marriage. "A relationship takes two," says Orlando. "If one is gun-shy, or not on the same page emotionally, there will be disconnection." Recognize if you're alone in keeping the marriage afloat and seek a pro's help in getting your hubby on board to repair what needs work.
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Assume Nothing9 of 12
8. You assume you know what he's thinking.
Assumptions breed hostility, says marriage therapist Carin Goldstein, creator of BeTheSmartWife.com. "Instead of creating a dialogue with your spouse, you're writing the script in your head," she says. Every time you catch yourself assuming, Goldstein suggests a quick check-in. Start by sharing your concerns with your husband, and then ask for the real deal.
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Fight Fair10 of 12
9. During disagreements, you ignore his perspective.
If your husband suggests watching your spending, don't immediately snap back about his pricey season tickets to Knicks games. "We get stuck in the offense-defense trap when we don't take time to understand our spouse's feelings," Goldstein explains. She suggests asking questions about where he's coming from. "You don't have to agree," she says, "but you do need to understand his point of view."
Getting Serious11 of 12
10. You rely on sarcasm to communicate.
We're not talking about playful teasing; this is when your words mask the message you want to convey. "It can be a passive-aggressive way of expressing anger or hurt," says Goldstein. If the knee-jerk reaction toward your husband's waning interest in exercise is asking, "How's that gym membership going?" stop, and self-correct with, "What I mean to say is: You're not going to the gym anymore, and I'm concerned for your health."
Missed Connections12 of 12
11. You don't connect with him every day.
You know you need to nourish your marriage, but checking out of it is easy when life is busy. "You're not watering the garden, so to speak," Goldstein says. If you're feeling like your husband is merely a roommate, ask yourself, "Why are you avoiding him?" Goldstein suggests. If you're not sure, consult a therapist to work toward fixing the issue.