7 Marriage Mistakes That Loving Partners Can Make

by Sally R. Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT

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Marriage is not as easy as it looks from the other side. Falling in love might be fairly easy; however, being half of a good marriage is not usually so easy. It takes work, knowledge, skills, talent and a good sense of humor … not to mention a healthy dose of emotional intelligence.

Sometimes people try to make things better in their marriage but actually make it worse. Here are some of those well-intentioned marriage mistakes that loving spouses can make.

Marriage Mistake 1. Being Too Positive

Positivity is important in any relationship. Looking at the goodness and what is right is so much better than dwelling on the negative and what is “missing”. Wanting to get your spouse from a negative place by encouraging “looking on the bright side” or forgetting about upsetting things is not always helpful, however. Sometimes you have to deal with the sad, disappointed, frustrated or angry feelings.

If you rush to change a mood, you risk the possibility that your partner will feel that his or her needs and feelings have been discounted. You also might risk the chance to experience intimacy and learn from your partner and the relationship. Hear your partner out before trying to change the mood or tone. Ask a lot of questions that get him or her to talk more with you about whatever is bothering them.

Marriage Mistake 2. Offering Advice

When your spouse comes to you with a problem, it is often so easy to figure out how they can solve it, right? Wrong. Offering advice often gives the message that you are not really listening or that you don’t care. It is much better to listen and be a “sounding board” or a “shoulder to cry on” rather than offering solutions.
After you have a good understanding of the problem, then you might be able to make some suggestions but not unless you get a clear request or indication that your input is desired.


Marriage Mistake 3. Playing the “Devil’s Advocate”

As a good spouse, you want to be on your partner’s side rather than letting them know what is wrong with their argument. Unless they ask for you to give them the arguments that they may encounter, don’t offer it.

Your relationship is the most important thing to consider here. Believe in your choice of a mate. You married a smart person and he or she will eventually figure things out. They just need someone who is on their side.

Marriage Mistake 4. Convincing your partner that you know what is best for him/her, even when you have his or her best interests at heart.

You may be brighter than your spouse. You may have an objective idea or view that makes a lot of sense and seems like the best solution; however, it is not your life and the decision must not be made by you.

Instead, ask questions to help him or her think things through and remind your partner that you are on their side no matter what happens.

Marriage Mistake 5. Protecting by not sharing important information

The temptation might be to ignore problems rather than to deal with them. After all, what someone does not know can’t hurt them, right? Not so.

Secrets can be very destructive to a marriage. Hiding things from bills and finances to affairs can damage the trust and integrity of a relationship.

Not being open about important things that bother you can also lead to distance in a relationship.

Marriage Mistake 6. Keeping the Peace

Keeping the peace does not always lead to a healthier relationship. In fact, doing whatever you can to keep the peace can keep problems from being talked about and resolved.

Disagreements can be good for a marriage and good for families. Modeling healthy conflict resolution helps children learn how to do it in their lives. Holding in disappointments and disagreements can be physically damaging and lead to conflict and distance between spouses.

Marriage Mistake 7. Putting your partner’s needs higher than your own and not taking good care of yourself

There are a lot of women … and men … in relationships, that devote significant energy to making their spouse and their families happy. While this feels like the right thing to do so much of the time, the danger of burnout is high.

Those who do a lot in a relationship also often find that their expectations for reciprocation are not met which leads to hurt and disappointment.

You know what they say on airplanes, don’t you? Put on your own oxygen mask before putting one on someone else‘s. The same is true in relationships. Take care of your own physical and mental health and you will be a much better partner.