Marital Mayhem: 4 Principles Guaranteed to Mess up Any Good Relationship

Written by Dr. Dave Currie

sexlove_mayhemFrom over a quarter century of working with couples, four principles have repeatedly surfaced as part of those marriages that fell apart. While you might not like what you hear, especially as it hits close to home, these lines of thought have contributed to countless broken families. Be warned.

1. Indulge your selfishness
There are few guarantees in life. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed way to wreck your marriage, never forget the cardinal rule: Marriage is all about your own personal happiness!

We teach our kids that it’s better to give than to receive. But if you’re paying attention to the messages coming from our society today, you could be excused for thinking that actually it’s better to receive…and then receive again! We’re supposed to look out for Number One, aren’t we? Sometimes, getting our own way means stepping on a few people along the way…even if it’s our spouse.

Of course, the other side of selfishness is selflessness. The selfless person says, “Whatever I can do for you is all that matters.” But it seems that if you want to guarantee your own happiness, you need to operate on the “me” principle. It’s about having life’s table sloping towards me; the ebbs and flows of life must favour me. It’s about getting my needs met and my desires gratified. It’s about getting everything needed to please me.

If marital breakdown is what you want, never let go of your need to be satisfied first. Don’t worry about what your spouse needs; they’re on their own there. Live by this creed and you will be free from your spouse’s expectations and demands. It’s so natural to put yourself first. It’s what we all do. It’s often too big an effort to think about others first, so we don’t.

2. Justify unfaithfulness
The next big step towards marital disaster can be summed up in the phrase, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

The thing to remember about unfaithfulness is that it’s so easy to slip into. You may hear “unfaithfulness” and automatically jump to “affairs”. Now, an affair is a great way to shipwreck a marriage, no doubt about it. But unfaithfulness comes in many more subtle forms. It doesn’t start at the bedroom door, but in the windows of your mind. A look here, some lust there, maybe throw in a bit of pornography and a dose of flirtation with others, and you’re well on your way before you even leave your spouse.

We live in a world where words like “faithfulness” and “commitment” are no longer in vogue. The idea of tying myself exclusively to another person for the rest of my life is viewed as archaic. Where’s the freedom in that? Our sophisticated society regularly reminds us that if a relationship fails to bring me happiness (see point #1), the prudent thing to do is to discard it, or at least work around it. If my spouse isn’t meeting my needs, simply find someone who will.

“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do us part…” Those words used to mean something. But in a culture that is quick to break its vows, perhaps a more honest pledge would be, “Till something better comes along, for as long as I feel like it, as long as we both shall love” – sad, and with tragic consequences.

3. Expect it to be easy
You don’t have to go looking for storms in your marriage; they will come to you. There are forces intent on destroying your relationship; so if you want it to go down in flames, you just need to stay out of their way and let them do their work. Allow yourself to be blindsided by life’s difficulties.

The trials are inevitable. For some, it will come in the form of financial hardship. Others will face health struggles, meddlesome in-laws, wayward kids, communication problems, sexual problems or just a lack of connection. Troubles like these wreak the most havoc when they take us by surprise and we are completely unprepared for them. Remember: when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Just assume your married life will uncomplicated and problem-free; then when the crisis hits it will absolutely knock the wind out of your relationship.

Couples intent on surviving the storms of life prepare for them. They expect them to strike in one form or another, and when they do they are ready. Sometimes they even find that the trials draw them closer together! The ordeal becomes glue that binds them, rather than a wedge that drives them apart.

So if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to mess up your relationship, assume that your marriage shouldn’t have issues and adjustments. This denial will kill any hope of something solid ever developing.

4. Pursue the quick fix
Building a good marriage takes time and effort. But for some reason, many people think they shouldn’t have to work on their relationship; it should just come easy.

Wouldn’t it be great if life was like a sitcom? No matter what problem the character is facing, it’s all wrapped up neat-and-tidy after 22 minutes. Adopt that mentality, and your marriage is doomed for sure. Demand instant change in everyone but yourself, and your marriage will buckle under the strain. If your marriage has a deep wound, don’t attempt to heal it – just slap a Band-Aid on it and continue on your merry way. If you ignore the issue, it’ll take care of itself. Sorry…wrong.

You see, becoming a good husband or wife requires change. It requires adjustment. Any change, especially and character change, takes time. A lot of time. For those who don’t want a good marriage, the answer is simple: don’t take the time, don’t make the effort, don’t make changes, and yet expect things to improve. It’s like a flame: deny it oxygen, and it goes out. Think of time and effort as the oxygen in your relationship. Cut off the supply and watch the marriage shrivel.

Summary: We’ve approached this from the viewpoint of crisis, failure and breakdown. These principles work. They consistently mess up many marriages. If you see yourself in any of these four principles, take it as a warning and get the help you need. You will never regret making the effort to make your marriage work.

5 Responses to “Marital Mayhem: 4 Principles Guaranteed to Mess up Any Good Relationship”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    You are right Amie, we can’t just leave it at “Marriage is hard work” becuase it goes so far beyond that. I think the sentiment is that a healthy relationship does not just happen. We need to put effort in to nuture and grow our love for one another. But it is also right to say “Marriage makes a hard life easier”. Our cooperation together enables us to deal with the struggles of life more effectively.

  • Sharon says:

    we’fe been married for 25 years and it does take work, if we didn’t work at it, we would of been seperated by now and with God everything is possible, it wasn’t easy at first now we are good

  • Amie says:

    “Marriage is hard work” is a meme that destroys a lot of good relationships and encourages a lot of people to stay in horrible and damaging ones. Marriage is not hard. Life is hard. A healthy marriage makes it easier.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    So true akin….marriage is hard work and when the tough times come we need to be willing to put as much work into it as we put into other things in our lives. Having made that commitment over 36 years ago to my husband I can honestly say that it hasn’t always been easy but it is definitely worth it.

  • akin ibitokun says:

    I appreciate this. I see all these 4 demons you listed scattering marriages of believers and unbelievers in our world. Here, almost every couple want hitch free marriage without any determination to work it out. Thank you

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