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.
I 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.