Don’t Let Your Emotions Take the Wheel

Our teenage daughter got us hooked on an MTV show called Catfish. As you can see from Urban Dictionary’s definition, this show follows hosts that help people find out if they are being “catfished” and who the “catfish” really is. It seems to be an emotional roller coaster for the victim as they find out that the person they have strong feelings for isn’t who they say they are. In some cases, the victims are willing to move across the country to be with a person they’ve never met (and perhaps never talked to on the phone or video chatted with). When they realize that they’ve been duped, their whole world is turned upside down.

As a family we typically sit there shaking our heads wondering how someone could have such strong feelings toward a person they’ve never met. How could someone be willing to pick up and move to another state to be next to a person who won’t even talk to them on the phone? As crazy as that sounds, I do know the answer to why someone would do that – emotions.

Our emotions are powerful things. They are neither good, nor bad. They just are. Emotions are tools meant to work in conjunction with our brain to help us problem solve and protect ourselves. For instance, a feeling of fear should trigger our brains to determine a safe course of action. Should we flee or stay and fight? Hurt feelings should relay to the brain that another person’s behavior isn’t appropriate and we need to determine whether to address the behavior or let it go. In other words, our brain needs to be engaged whenever we feel something. Otherwise, it’s just our emotions running amok . . . hence the folks on Catfish. When they contact the hosts of Catfish you can see that they are finally engaging their brain and thinking things through, which is great. Prior to that, however, it was all emotion, all the time. Emotions had full control of the wheel.

This was an issue I have had to work through most of my adult life. My counselor tells me that I’m a “heart” person, so I tend to hand over the wheel to whatever I’m feeling prior to letting my thoughts join the party. As helpful as emotions can be, I’ve found that they can be destructive in relationships if not put in check. We’ve all heard of “crimes of passion” and experienced arguments that result in hurtful words that can never be unspoken. Letting emotions speak for you leads to damaged relationships – especially in marriage.

Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way that assist me when I need to let BOTH my heart and brain take the wheel:

  1. When you feel something, stop. Don’t react. Instead, if you are able, take a moment to examine the feeling and name it. Are you hurt or offended? Are you angry or frustrated and who are you angry or frustrated with – someone else or yourself? Sometimes we can’t take a lot of time with this based on the circumstance, so if you need to step away and come back to the person and/or issue, do that. It’s always better to take a step back and reflect before words are spoken that can’t be unspoken. Identifying what you feel will help your brain determine next steps.
  2. Determine whether what you are feeling is based on something external or something internal. Was that person truly rude to you, or were they simply sharing information and you took it personally? So often arguments and conflicts arise due to miscommunication and misunderstanding. We tend to lash out at others for a feeling that is cultivated from our own issues. Being a heart person, myself, I have been guilty of having hurt feelings and accusing others of hurting me when it was the way I interpreted their information that caused the feelings. I just took something personal that was never intended to be.  And, if I’m engaging my brain appropriately, this should trigger me to work through exactly why I’m taking the information personally so I can move past it.
  3. Try to respond to the other person using your thoughts and not your emotion. If your emotions and your thoughts have determined that you need to address someone who has truly hurt you with their words or actions, try to let your brain do the talking and keep your emotions in check. This is tough – believe me . . . I know. But if we try to talk to someone when emotions are high the conversation will almost always go south. Speak clearly, identifying what the issue is , how you now feel about it, and request ways to work through the issue together. In marriage, this means that you avoid “you” language and use “I” language: “I am hurt following our conversation earlier and I’d like to talk about ways we can move past that issue and find a resolution.” or “I was feeling frustrated when we spoke and I feel like we said things we didn’t mean. I’d like to start over and find a better solution.” Again, not easy to do. But, emotions tend to put the other person on the defensive. And, if you are married to someone who shuts down when emotions run high, then you want to stay as calm and rational as possible.

I’m sure there are many more tools to help when it comes to managing our emotions, but these have been the most helpful to me and I hope you find them helpful as well. If you have some great tools I’d love to hear from you. We can’t control how we feel, but we can manage what we do with those feelings!

 

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Addiction & Marriage

A couple of months ago I received an email from Caleb Anderson asking if I’d be open to him writing a guest blog post on addiction and the effect it can have on a marriage. I honestly don’t know much about addiction, having never experienced it myself or suffered through it with someone close to me. But, I can only imagine how it could wreak havoc on not just the addict, but on the relationships surrounding the addict. So, I invited Caleb to submit a blog post and it is full of helpful information. Please take time to visit his website. And, my dear friends, if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction please seek help.

The Hidden Dangers of Drug Abuse

 It is well accepted that drug abuse can cause long-term physical and mental damage without treatment. However, something few people discuss is the impact drug and alcohol use can have on a relationship. Drug addicts tend to have more relationship issues and engage in more sexually risky behaviors than others. This, according to ABC News, may be due to an active DRD4 gene, which can trigger thrill-seeking behavior in the brain.

Regardless of the cause, repairing a relationship after an infidelity is difficult and is made even more so when drugs and alcohol – and all the things that go along with them– are involved.

Helping or hurting?

As found by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 24 million Americans suffering with addiction at any given time. And many of these continue to do so through the enablement of their spouses. There are a number of reasons that a partner might continue to aid or ignore these types of behaviors. Fear of being alone or triggering unpleasant emotions are the most common. Allowing these behaviors to continue only exacerbates the problem and can lead to further marital issues down the road, including lying and cheating, which addicts often do as either a means to obtain their fix or as a distraction from the reality of hurting a loved one.

Tackling treatment

The first step toward mending a damaged relationship is to seek help. And while the infidelity is an issue that will need to be addressed, the addicted person must face more intimate issues on their own. If you are seeking to help a friend, loved one, or partner with addiction you must speak with them about your concerns. Don’t initiate a conversation while they are using and let them know you’re confronting them with care not castigation. The following tips may help open up the dialogue:

  • Avoid hostile tones. An addicted person may get defensive when they feel as though they are being accused.
  • Be aware of treatment resources available locally. Have available the telephone number for your local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Consult with other close friends or family members who may be able to provide additional support.
  • Point out the ways in which your spouse or partner’s drug use is affecting not only you but may likely damage their career or relationship with children.

The Health Encyclopedia of the University Of Rochester Medical Center explains that addiction is a brain disorder and, as such, requires professional intervention for healing. Keep this in mind as you talk with your loved one. It often helps to look at addiction as a disease and infidelity as a symptom.

When Happily Ever After Ends

Even with an open heart and a clear understanding of addiction as a disease, some relationships simply can’t recover from an affair. When the infidelity has led to the birth of a child, an emotional attachment to the other person, or has resulted in contracting an STD, it may be time to take the high road and ride away from the relationship. If the deception has killed the love that once held you together, try to keep your cool and don’t fall apart. Avoid the temptation to badmouth your partner to friends and family – especially if you have children. Speaking of children, don’t get them involved until it absolutely necessary and make a conscious effort not to use them as leverage.

For some, an addiction-related infidelity may be a new beginning. Once the addicted partner is in recovery, the couple can both move forward with a clear mind and, hopefully, a clean slate. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction and infidelity, don’t hesitate to get help. A simple phone call could save not only your relationship, but your loved one’s life.

Author

Mr. Anderson co-created RecoveryHope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families. Image via Pixabay

Spouse in a Box

spouse-in-a-boxWhile leading a study recently by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I had a huge “ah ha” moment. Well, not really that huge because I’ve known this was not a good way of communicating for quite a while, but oh boy does it keep creeping in to conversation even when I’m aware of it! What am I talking about, you ask? The two words you should remove from your vocabulary when talking with your spouse, your children, your friends, or anyone – “Always” and “Never.”

The lesson we were discussing called it “putting your spouse in a box” and we do this more than we probably realize. I know I’ve been guilty of it, and my husband has been guilty of it, and even my children have been guilty of it. The “You never let me do what I want to do” and “You always say no” comments that kids toss around may seem very familiar. Or, “You always <insert your spouses bad habit here>” or “You never <insert what you wish your spouse would do more here>.” However these two words come into play in your daily conversations, they are simply hyperbole. Because, I mean seriously . . . do any of us ALWAYS or NEVER do anything specific? Do we ALWAYS say no to our children or do we NEVER do something nice for our spouse? I honestly doubt it.

So why do we say it? Well, I think we use these terms for several reasons. We use them in the heat of the moment, for instance. When emotions are charged we  think straight to the absolute worst case scenario or the most dramatic thing to say. For instance, after picking up your husbands socks for the millionth time you may say in a fit of frustration, “You NEVER put your socks in the hamper!” Or, we may use these terms because we focus too much on what we aren’t receiving from our spouse and not enough on what we ARE receiving from them. For instance, your spouse takes you to dinner for Valentines Day, but you don’t receive the flowers you were hoping for. Your response could be, “You NEVER give me flowers anymore.”

Drs. Les and Leslie called this putting your spouse in a box. What this means is that by saying to your spouse, or anyone for that matter, that they “always” or “never” do something is like placing a limitation on them or a label. The label could be that they will never pick up their socks, therefore they are a slob. Or, perhaps they will always behave a certain way in a certain situation, therefore they are insensitive and unloving. If we were to genuinely look at what we are frustrated with when it comes to our spouse I bet we’d see that their behavior CAN be changed and most likely WOULD change if we worked on it together. But, if we label them and stuff them in the “always” and “never” box then why would they bother to make changes? Would you make changes if someone had already assumed that you’d “never” or “always” do something? Probably not.

So, friends, let’s get rid of the box and respond differently when frustrated or angry. Address that instance of the situation and work with your spouse to find a solution. Say things like, “It is frustrating when you leave your socks on the floor and it would be helpful if you’d make more of an effort to get them in the hamper.” or “I really enjoyed our Valentine’s dinner. I thought I wanted flowers, but spending quality time with you was much better.” Letting our spouse know our frustrations is important, but lumping one instance into a “never” or “always” phrase is unfair and not productive. And, we all want to be productive when working on communication issues with our spouse so get rid of that box!

 

The View is Worth It!

img_1111Steve and I just spent a heavenly two weeks on two Hawaiian islands to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. The top activity on both of our lists to do while there was hiking – especially on beautiful Kauai island. This is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, and one of the most scenic. Out of all of the trails we explored, the Kalalau Trail was the one that we thought would be the most challenging, and the most scenic.

This trail is actually one that is famous and most popular with hard-corps hikers because it’s 11 miles ONE WAY and you are only allowed to hike the entire thing if you get a camping permit and camp at the 11 mile marker before making your journey back. And, oh boy, after hiking just a fraction of this trail I see why! We hiked just a little over four miles of the trail, round trip, and were wiped out! You see, this was not just a hiking trail, but a trail that was extremely wet, muddy, full of slick roots and rocks, and uphill for much of the way. There were two streams to cross, one of which was pretty treacherous.

I love hiking, especially with Steve. But my idea of hiking is more leisurely and involves being sure-footed enough to look up and around at the nice scenery. On this hike, however, I looked down the entire time out of fear of falling (which several folks did around us – again, very slippery!). It was a bit scary to be close to a cliffs edge and trying not to slip and fall. So, really, not my ideal hiking conditions. Steve, on the other hand, loved the challenge. He became my cheerleader throughout the hike, assuring me that the view would be worth it. He kept rooting me on and telling me what a good job I was doing. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have made it without his encouragement. He was very patient and very kind.

img_1114So the view . . . this beginning part of the trail leads to several lookout points that give you a breathtaking view of the Na Pali coastline (see pic above). Stopping for just a few moments to soak that view in was well worth it. Then, after just over two miles and crossing two streams we ended up on this beach (pic to the left) that was peaceful and so beautiful. We couldn’t swim in it due to the rough current, but we could enjoy the view! Steve and I must have sat there for well over 30 minutes just soaking it in. Again, worth it!

We had to hike our way back out, back through the slick mud (downhill!), cross more streams, and get back to our jeep. On several occasions I wanted to give up before we even got to the beach. Just the thought of having to hike back through the slick mud made me sick to my stomach. I expressed myself to Steve several times and he kept assuring me, “Baby, it’s going to be worth it.” I’m so glad I listened because it was definitely worth it!

I think marriage can be like this hike – messy, treacherous, unsure, slippery, and maybe even something we dread at times. We can all get stuck in the muddy ruts of marriage issues and feel like we will never get to the scenic view. Or we wonder if the view is even worth the effort. I’ve been there in my marriage and I know that feeling of looking down that muddy path wondering if the work I put into it will be worth the end result. Will that scenic view be all that I thought it would be? What if I fall along the way? Can I do this?

Now that I’ve reached the 20-year anniversary of my own marriage I can share with you that YES . . . Yes, the view is amazing, YES you will stumble, but your marriage CAN survive it, and YES you can do this. A long, healthy partnership between two people who love each other is a gift and something that is only attainable through hard work, devotion, and love. Honestly, I don’t know too many things in life that are as precious to us than those that we have to strive for, to work hard for or stretch ourselves for. We value most dear those things that we look back on and appreciate the journey to get there. As my sweet husband said to me after the fact, “It’s not as much about the destination as it is the journey.”

As bumpy as marriage can be, the journey is well worth it. Hike that mountain, my friends, and savor the journey along the way.

Keep Politics Out of It

Signpost of political parties

Signpost of political parties

This is not my favorite time of year. I simply can’t get away from politics. Even something as benign as the NFL can’t escape it. Watching my favorite team play was plagued by announcers discussing a player’s right to not stand for the national anthem. Those conversations are overshadowing the purpose of the league – it’s entertainment, not a political arena. Or, rather, it shouldn’t be.

For me, “politics” brings up so many icky words, and maybe for you too (especially with our current presidential race): lies, manipulation, deceit, debate. We expect this in political races, such as the one for the presidency. But, when it happens in our personal lives (or even in a beloved pass-time like the NFL), it just feels awful and can truly ruin relationships. Honestly, I don’t know how politicians survive the “politics” of it all. The down-right ugliness of what they do to one another is terrible.

So, this type of behavior simply has no place in our lives – especially our marriages. Listening to the presidential candidates go back and forth, accusing one another of lying, trying to convince us all that the other is bad while they are good, and literally pointing out every negative thing about the other at every opportunity, is exhausting. The sad thing, though, is that this same behavior can be found in marriages. How often do marital arguments end up being about who’s “right” and who’s “better” and highlighting what the other did wrong? If we are honest, I bet we’d all have to admit that we’ve had those very arguments before. The bottom line is this: our spouse is not our opponent and shouldn’t be treated as such.

So how do we keep the “politics” out of our marriages and remain a team? Here are a few tools that have helped my marriage – and several I picked up from marriage counseling, so I can vouch that they are good tools!

  1. It’s better to be in a right relationship with your spouse than it is to be right – Sometimes we just have to be right about something. I’m known for my tenacity and will argue with a sign post, so this was tough for me. It wasn’t that long ago that I lacked humility in my marriage and needed to be “right” all the time. After some time in counseling and realizing the value in humility, I’m a different person today. Now, when we argue, I remember that I want to keep a “right” relationship with Steve so I listen more and try not to insist on my own way. This isn’t easy, and I’m not always successful, but it has created more harmony between the two of us. And, through this behavior I think we’ve cultivated humility on both sides, which has increased intimacy overall.
  2. Sometimes it’s not necessary to point out your spouse’s flaws – We all have flaws and, unfortunately, it’s all too easy to point out our beloved’s flaws when we are upset or trying to win an argument. Most likely, our spouse is very much aware of their own flaws and pointing them out isn’t helping them or the situation. Instead, focus on how YOU feel about whatever conflict is going on and stick to first person language like, “I feel like” and “I think that” instead of “you” language that places blame and points fingers. The truth is that it takes two to create conflict, two people to argue about it, and two opinions to create the argument in the first place. The more each spouse focuses on their own feelings and thoughts and less on issues with the other, the healthier the conversation will be.
  3. It’s not about choosing sides – Many couples have mutual friends. It can be tempting to share arguments with friends in an attempt to get them to agree with our argument and to be on “our side” of things. This can be destructive to not only your relationship with your spouse, but with your relationship with your friends. My rule of thumb is to keep arguments between me and Steve. I have learned over the years to keep as much of our relationship between the two of us as possible and only share those personal details in counseling. I would never want our friends to think less of Steve and more of me, and I believe he feels the same way. We aim to lift one another up in front our friends – not tear each other down. Remember, we are not fighting for political office so there is no need for our friends to have to choose sides.

These are just a few tools that have helped me and my marriage relationship. I hope you can find them helpful in your relationship as well. And good luck over the next couple of months as we endure the rest of this crazy political season!

 

Couples that Play Together, Stay Together

f6ba0cdf538220ec24711f5537251cf6Say what you want about the mobile app phenomenon, “Pokemon Go,” but it is doing wonders for relationships. My husband and I spend hours walking around college campuses, parks, and other new areas of our community trying to “catch them all.” At first, it was this fun little game that got our behinds off of the sofa and out walking. Then it became something we looked forward to after work as we ventured to new places in search of the more rare varieties of Pokemon. Along the way we’ve run into other couples out doing the same thing – even entire families.

Steve and I enjoy playing together, so it wasn’t a stretch for us to enjoy a game like this. Every Tuesday evening we play Destiny on the XBox One with an out of town friend. We love board games and spent much of last year painting miniatures for one of them. Today, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of new board games that are currently in production. Having fun and playing together is a regular part of our relationship and we enjoy every moment of it. Actually, I am more relaxed and happy when we play together – much more so than if we were to watch TV together or go to a movie. There is something about the fun interaction that brings us closer together.

Studies have shown that what I feel when we “play” together is akin to the feelings I had earlier in our relationship – relaxed, happy, and excited. Hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and adrenaline all factor in depending on what you are playing together. Games can engage your mind and creativity in such a way that collaboration or, even competition, can make conversations lively and fun for couples (although, I more like the creative and not the competitive 🙂 ). However we play, we should play often.

Research from the University of Denver supports the idea that finding moments to be together free of financial, family or other stresses — just to have fun together — is not an indulgence. “The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time,” says Howard Markman, a psychologist who co-directs the university’s Center for Marital and Family Studies. “The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant.” (ABC News Report, July 16, 2008) And even Berkley Science Review published: “psychological research suggests that couples who play together feel closer, experience more positive emotions, and as a result are happier together.”

I’d agree wholeheartedly with this research simply based on my own personal experiences having fun with my husband. We haven’t always enjoyed one another like we do now, and I can easily recognize the stark difference in our relationship between then and now. Whatever the reason we were not having as much fun in our relationship back then, we have certainly found a way to have fun now. And I couldn’t be happier!

So, whatever you and your spouse do to have fun, do it often! Revel in the time you spend together laughing, thinking, talking, and sharing. Even if you’re walking around chasing cartoon characters with your phone, just get out there and do it together.

Oh, and just so you know, they even have “Poke-Date” sites out there for singles looking to meet up with others who like to catch Pokemon. So, maybe catching Pokemon together is turning out to be a great way to find a mate! Who knew?!

 

Ladies: 9 Sure-Fire Ways to Guarantee Your Marriage Will Fail

Written by: Sheila Qualls

The Colgate Pump saved my marriage. Yep, I’m talking about toothpaste.

You see, before my husband and I got married, we’d never experienced the kind of intimacy that goes into sharing a tube of toothpaste.

When our tubes became one, the union was not destined for happiness.

unnamedI squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle (or at the end or wherever I picked it up). He, on the other hand, preferred that WE squeezed the tube starting at the very end so that we could neatly roll up the empty portion of the tube as we used it.  (Crazy, right?) He wanted OUR tube of toothpaste to be smoooooth and uniform until the toothpaste was gone.

The way I see it, toothpaste still comes out no matter where you squeeze the tube.

So I took the opportunity to showcase my lineage of independent, strong women and let him know that I would squeeze the tube however I pleased.

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

No one goes into marriage conjecturing ways to destroy their union. But why are so many couples unhappy and why do so many marriages end in divorce?

Bad marriages don’t happen by volition. They happen by default when couples fail to consciously focus on the kind of relationship they want to build.

After almost 30 years of marriage, I can’t tell you how to divorce proof your marriage. You can’t control someone else’s choices. But I’ve learned what will undoubtedly drive your man away.

Don’t think you’re immune. Any relationship is susceptible to destruction. Many times, unknowingly we drain the life out of our marriages and subject them to a slow death.

Here are 9 sure-fire ways to guarantee your marriage will fail:

  1. Refuse to Let Your Man Treat You Like a Woman

Let me first say that historically women have been treated unfairly and relegated to second class citizen status, and the feminist movement was needed and probably long overdue. But somewhere between the bra burning women of the 60’s and the sexual revolution of the 70’s, the feminist movement took a turn for the worse.

  • Male bashing has become a recreational past time for many women.
  • Men are consistently portrayed as dimwitted.
  • TV, movies, and female Internet bloggers perpetuate a negative image of men.
  • Women either want to be treated like men or they want men to behave and think like women.

Women aren’t designed to be like men. Many hallmarks of the feminist movement are counter-intuitive to a healthy marriage. Don’t let your man be a man when it suits you.  Allow your man to care for you and treat you like a woman as he is wired to do.

  1. Maintain a 50/50 Relationship

Fifty/fifty sounds like a great model for marriage. It’s appealing. I bought into it myself  because it sounds reasonable and fair: He does his half; I do mind and we meet somewhere in the middle. The problem with this type of arrangement is that someone always feels like they’re getting the short end of the stick. Then:

  • We begin keeping record of our deeds.
  • Our love becomes conditional.
  • Our thinking goes something like this: If he helped out with the kids more, I wouldn’t be so grumpy all the time and it would be easier to love and respect him.
  • He owes me.

While 50/50 sounds good, it never works. When we go into marriage with a 100/100 mindset, our focus shifts from receiving to giving. Showing your husband unconditional love is important to maintaining a  healthy marriage.

  1. Avoid Conflict

Conflict is never fun. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s going to happen in a marriage. And when it does, you’ve got to deal with it to keep the marriage healthy. It’s easier to ignore the elephant in the room rather than face it head on.

God tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. He knows how He designed us. When we  harbor unresolved conflict, it festers and morphs into something nasty.  It doesn’t go away. It grows. Talk it out, no matter how uncomfortable it is. And learn to fight in a constructive way. If you have a hard time forgiving, get help.

  1. Put Your Husband’s Needs Last

Why should  you put husbands’ needs first? You married a grown man. He can take care of himself, right?

Well, he didn’t marry you so he could take care of himself. Part of the benefit of a marital relationship is mutually caring for one another.

When you continually put the needs of your children, your family, your job, your friends and the neighbor’s cat ahead of your husband, he will eventually get the message that he is unimportant to you. His behavior and attitude will reflect that.

Put your husband first.

It may be inconvenient at times, but your marriage will grow stronger when he knows you are on his side and you value him.

  1. Be Reluctant to Forgive

Let the offenses pile up. He hurt you, and he should have to pay for as long as you deem necessary.

The problem here is that un-forgiveness breeds bitterness. As the offenses pile up, marital intimacy breaks down. As you work things out, be quick to forgive. If you can’t, seek help.

  1. Never Tell Your Husband That You Love and Appreciate Him

You probably told him you loved him before you married him, right? Why repeat it? If you change your mind, you’ll let him know.

Your man needs to hear you say that you love and appreciate him. No matter how confident your man may seem, he still needs to hear regularly that you love him and that you appreciate the effort he puts into providing for your family. If you’re the breadwinner, tell him you appreciate the effort he puts into the home or your kids. Your love and appreciation will bear fruit in your marriage.

  1. Disrespect Your Husband (especially in front of your kids or other people)

If your goal is to destroy your marriage, continually disrespect your husband and your chance of ending up in divorce court increases exponentially. Respect is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE  for men. Sadly,  most women understand this. We can disrespect our men in ways we don’t even realize are disrespectful.

Not because they’re overly sensitive but because our words go into their brains through their male filter. And that filter doesn’t work the same way a woman’s does.

That’s a fact.

And it’s by design.

Growing up, my role models were strong women. Dominant women. I routinely witnessed women disrespecting their men –publicly and privately. Disrespect is a sure-fire way to drive him away and shut down the emotional intimacy in your marriage. And it can occur in a myriad of ways.

  • Verbally criticize him
  • Undermine his decisions
  • Fail to acknowledge him when he comes home from work
  • Roll your eyes when he speaks, if you disagree
  • Act like his momma
  • Point out how stupid he is by challenging his decisions
  • Constantly criticize him in front of others
  • Encourage your kids to make fun of him

Respecting your husband is counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, and counter feminist in today’s society. When you respect your husband, he will almost always respond in a loving way. Any man met with a constant barrage of insults will either emotionally shut down in a relationship or seek respect elsewhere.

  1. Use Sex as a Bargaining Tool

Use sex to control your husband. Make sure he knows that he’s got to pay to play. This act is particularly detrimental to marriages because men need physical affection from us. God designed them that way. Using sex as a bargaining tool or a way to control him, may encourage him to go someplace where he doesn’t have to work so hard to get his needs met.

  1. Don’t make room in your life for God

It’s easy to fall into habits that can destroy a relationship.

The closer you are go God, the closer you’ll be to your mate. God designed it that way. When you’re focused on pleasing God, it doesn’t matter what your mate does because your actions aren’t contingent upon his. You love and respect your mate because God tells you to do so, not because he deserves it. Strong marriages don’t just happen. They occur when couples focus on putting their spouse’s needs ahead of their own. We’re all naturally selfish, so the only way we can successfully focus on others is to focus on Christ first. When our eyes are focused upward, we naturally move closer together.

When we allow our selfish tendencies to take over, we put ourselves on a path to destruction.

Toothpaste is a silly thing. But toothpaste wasn’t the root of the problem. I wanted to win. I wanted to have my own way. When the goal becomes winning instead of mutually satisfying each other, a silly thing like toothpaste can squeeze the life right out of your marriage.

Re-published with permission from Sheila Qualls of realmomsdontjudgewejustsuggest.com. She is passionate about helping women in all stages of find the funny in life’s awkward moments and shares her life’s tales–the humiliating and humbling–in an attempt to help you to laugh as you navigate the ups and downs of marriage, motherhood and more.

Sheila a 30 year veteran of marriage. She and her husband have 5 children, and they live in Colorado. She blogs at Real Moms Don’t Judge. . . We Just Suggest.