No one, well at least almost no one, goes into marriage thinking about how they can get out of it. Quite the opposite actually. We happily agree to be completely and totally devoted to this person in every possible way forever and ever until death do us part. I mean we “love” them! How hard could it be, right? Wrong! Somewhere along the way, real life happens and two imperfect people are left to try and figure out what “love” really is.
Although not exhaustive, I’ve created a list, and narrowed it down, of some of the most common problems that bring marriages to divorce and could quite possibly bring your own marriage to an end if not dealt with quickly and properly. This article is not written in any way to condemn people who have already been involved in a divorce. This is meant to inform those who are married or will be some day, so they can avoid these costly mistakes.
1. Unspoken Expectations - Let’s look at how unspoken expectations could break down the bond of a marriage. Say, for instance, that while I was growing up my father brought my mother flowers for every special occasion. He never forgot a birthday, anniversary, or other important date. And because this is what I have been exposed to, this is what I expect my husband to do for me. I would never ask my husband to bring me flowers, I just expect that he will. And because my husband is a completely different person than I am, who was exposed to completely different experiences in his life, and who has completely different ideas of showing love than I do, he doesn’t bring me flowers. Not for my birthday, or our anniversary, not on Valentine’s Day, not any day. Each occasion I get my feelings hurt, I feel unloved by my husband, and truthfully, I’m a bit angry. This may seem like a silly example, but how many times in our marriages do we expect our spouse to do something or be something only to be extremely disappointed when they fail to deliver? And all because we never even communicated our expectations to them. No matter how strange it may feel, we need to have good, open, honest communication to let our spouse know what we desire and let them share the same with us!
2. Unrealistic Expectations - Communicating what we want and need with our spouse is the first step. However, we must be reasonable with our expectations as well. Just because I tell my husband that I desire for him to call me at least 10 times a day while he is at work just to check in, doesn’t mean that this is realistic. Communicating with each other is so important. Talk it out and come to an agreeable decision.
Social media plays a HUGE role in feeding our unrealistic expectations. I want a beach vacation, or a Disney vacation, or a new house, or a bigger house, or a nicer house…even though we don’t have enough money to afford it. Or, I want my husband to be more like her husband and take me on a date, or buy me new jewelry, or listen like he does, or be more sensitive like he is. Seeing the pretty facade posted on someone’s media wall leads us to the LIE that the grass is greener. Do not let the exterior of someone else's life ruin how you feel about the interior of yours.
Television can also lead us to fill our minds with unrealistic expectations. Think about your favorite show you watch on TV right now. Even the drama, the junk, the yuck, in each character’s life is glamorized. Our real life messes rarely play out in such a glamorous way. That’s because TV IS NOT REAL! It’s scripted to be glamorous. And though we would all say we understand that, many times we find ourselves disappointed when our own life doesn’t unfold quite so beautifully.
I would guess if you look back on the last couple of disagreements you had with your spouse, it could be traced back to either an unspoken or unrealistic expectation. Find some time to spend with just the two of you and talk through these things together! First, think through your own expectations of your spouse. Recognize any unrealistic fantasies you have about marriage and then confess them to your spouse.
3. Selfishness - Unfortunately, my spouse and I are sinful, selfish, human beings and many times, even though I know what my husband needs or expects, I choose not to meet that need or expectation, simply because I don’t feel like it. This one is very simple to understand. When we know how to make our partner feel loved and we choose not to, this is selfishness. Easy to understand, harder to apply! In every decision we make that involves another person we can choose to be selfish or selfless. From decisions as simple as where do you want to eat dinner or what should we watch on TV to will I meet the needs in your life that make you feel loved, respected, and supported, we have a choice to make.
4. Unmet Needs - Selfishness and number four go hand in hand. Once we have communicated effectively with each other, we must work unselfishly to meet our spouse’s needs. The reason this takes us being unselfish is because we don’t usually share the same needs to the same degree. Ladies, I know we don’t like to talk about this, but the number one need of most men is sex. But, it is usually NOT the number one need of most women. Therefore, we have to unselfishly put our spouse above ourselves to make sure we are lovingly meeting their needs, and vice versa. When both husband’s and wife’s needs are fulfilled by the other, a bond is created and strengthens as this cycle continues. This all goes back to good communication! When we are talking it out, letting each other know what we need, desire, and expect, and then unselfishly fulfilling these wants, desires, and needs for each other, marital harmony is created!
5. Money - Money is said to be one of the top reasons for couples fighting and for divorce. Can you see how some of the things mentioned above, when not handled properly could lead to problems over money? Let’s look at some possible money troubles.
*Greediness - In this case, the unfortunate reality is that it’s not the fault of money at all. It’s the fault of one or both parties being greedy. More money seems like the answer. If we just had more money we could have the house we want and the cars we want and the clothes we want and then, we’d be happy. But if this is your mindset, more money usually just makes you want even more. And if you don’t have enough money to pay the bills you already have, then you’ve overcommitted yourself. We should only buy the things we can actually afford to pay for. This eliminates stress between couples. Being content with where we are in life and grateful for the things we do have, will create calmness between you and your spouse when the bills come due.
*Disagreements - Maybe you have money to spend, but you can’t agree on how to spend it, or one of you wants to spend one wants to save.
*Uneducated - Perhaps you are like Jordan and me when we got married. We didn’t have a clue of the damage we were doing as we racked up debt. It wasn’t until we owed several thousands of dollars that we realized we had created a problem. I’m sure the money troubles list could go on and on but we will stop here. Instead of fighting about money, commit to praying about it. Try a class at your church or a money education program like Dave Ramsey. Find a plan that works for you and work toward reaching it together!
So as we work at this thing called marriage, we learn that real "love" is not a feeling at all, it's an action. It's a way of living. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
On our own these things are difficult if not impossible to do. But when you have a relationship with Jesus and you spend plenty of time with Him praying over your marriage and reading what His Word has to say, the impossible becomes possible!
You may do every one of these things well and your spouse may be the one who is falling short. Remember, you can only control what you do. But don’t let this deter you from loving your spouse well. Keep up the hard work and pray passionately that your spouse will recognize their deficit and will pick up the slack. Be careful to pray over your own attitude so that you do not become embittered toward your spouse for not doing their part.
If you and your spouse are struggling, please seek help today! Satan wants nothing more than to destroy your family and eliminate your marriage. We would be happy to help you find a Christian counselor in your area. Comment here, send a private Facebook message, or e-mail us at ByFaithSheGirls@byfaithshe.com.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.