I was once so unhappily married that I planned my husband’s funeral on the off chance he might conveniently drop dead. During that time in my marriage, I was convinced that our problems were all his fault. If I could just get someone to fix him and turn him into a good husband? I was convinced everything would be fine. We eventually worked on and improved our marriage. Today we’re happy. It was during that process, however, that I learned something dreadful. It was this: I was to blame for some of our problems. I’d contributed to our bad marriage by practicing the following bad habits.
1. The Silent Treatment. I’d failed time and time again to tell him what I wanted, what I was thinking, how I felt, and how his actions (or inactions) affected me. Once I started speaking up for myself, our marriage improved.
2. Not Prioritizing Sex. I had my excuses. I was exhausted. I was stressed. I was busy. I was not in the mood. In reality, however, sex just wasn’t on my priority list. Once I made it a priority, I was able to solve the problems that stood in the way of enjoying it. I made sure to get more rest (so I wasn’t so exhausted), for instance.
3. Fixating on Fairness. What it takes to improve a marriage isn’t always fair. You might have to be the big person most of the time. You might have to make the first (or 100th) move to warm up your marriage, be more affectionate, or keep things civil. You might have to assume the role of leader, while your spouse merely follows along. It’s not fair, but it’s reality. Would you rather have a fair marriage or a happy one? I choose happy.
4. Complaining about problems rather than solving them. Become a problem solver, not a problem voicer. Define what’s wrong. Research possible solutions. Try these solutions with an open mind, even the ones you don’t think will work.
5. Stockpiling. Whenever I got mad at my husband, I would try to convince him that he was a despicable human being, and I did it by listing 100 ways he’d wronged me over the years. This allowed me to feel superior, but it didn’t help my marriage. It made my husband resentful—and that resentment made him less likely to do what I needed and wanted to be happy. Forgiveness is a decision. When you feel like you can’t forgive, it’s because you are holding onto the old hurt as if it were a precious jewel, and you are afraid to let it go. Think of the grudge as a toxic, co-dependent relationship. The time has come for you to walk away from that relationship.
6. Nagging. Nagging is a type of control. The problem with control is this: it’s an illusion. We control no one in this life. We hardly even have the ability to control ourselves. If you don’t believe me, sit in front of a piece of cheesecake and see if you can control yourself for an entire hour and not take a single bite.