I grew up in a relatively stable Christian home, but that is not to say everything was always rosy. Peculiarly, I had several close friends from broken and dysfunctional homes and only now – in retrospect – can I see that it was a blessing in disguise.
Now married, and with significant relationship experience courtesy of an eventful dating life before settling down, life has gifted me the privilege of learning from my previous relationships, my parents' mistakes, and my friends' parents' mistakes.
What's more, I have undertaken extensive research in a bid to actualize my desire to have a great marriage. In this light, below are some costly mistakes many married people make; often, without a second thought regarding consequences.
- Turning to many people for advice
Sourcing help from many quarters, especially unqualified individuals, is asking for trouble. It breeds confusion and usually results in conflict between the couple and the advising parties, particularly when the advice fails to work.
Additionally, if only one partner takes the advice-sourcing initiative, it comes off as airing dirty laundry in public, something that the other partner may not be okay with. The latter state of a couple, therefore, ends up being worse than the former. The two best sources of marital advice are qualified counselors and older, more experienced couples.
- Treating friends, visitors, and strangers better than family
In a family, few things feel worse than being treated less warmly as compared to outsiders. It makes family members feel unworthy and unloved because actions are the ultimate proof of love. With time, it causes a disconnect and resentment, and before anyone realizes what is going on, all intimacy is gone. Regarding warm treatment, pampering, and kindness, family should always come first.
- Respecting outside authorities more
Thriving relationships keep the fire of respect burning. In marriage, the problem comes in when the number one position respect-wise is usurped by outside parties such as a pastor, a celebrity, a boss, etc.
In such cases, spouses follow the directives of the one they respect most, regardless of dire consequences to their union. Simply put, it is a case of flipped priorities, and it kills intimacy and breeds contempt in a healthy marriage.
- Not spending enough quality time with family
Success is more than just financial prosperity; it includes having a stable family and a balanced lifestyle to achieve happiness in all spheres of life. Married men, especially, get it all wrong by spending too much time away from home chasing financial success.
As time goes by, family bonds deteriorate, and intimacy takes a hit. Once the man realizes his mistake, it is often too late: at this point, his presence alone may result in stilted conversations due to unfamiliarity. He achieves financial success at the expense of family bonds.
- Failure to have a vision for the marriage
When a married couple fails to develop a marital vision, the union becomes a victim of circumstances as each party strives to achieve personal goals. In difficult situations, the marriage takes a back seat because there is no marital mission to be prioritized.
A conjugal vision can be as simple as both parties committing to growth, spending time together, cultivating trust and always being there for each other.
- Nurturing a spirit of competition through comparison
Many couples make the mistake of comparing their marriage to other seemingly better performing marriages. This results in stress, a feeling of inadequacy, and the pressure to compete, which kills the joy and shifts focus from the little meaningful details of life that contribute immensely to marital bliss. If not attended to, either spouse starts feeling like they would have gotten a better deal out there: a path that eventually leads to cheating.
- Taking on unnecessary debt
Besides infidelity, money is the biggest marriage breaker statistically; and often, debt is involved. In a family setting, debt is usually a result of trying to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle, which leads to financial stress. Such a lifestyle, if sustained, eventually digs the whole family into a hole and instigates accusations and factionalism that ultimately leads to feuds.
- Impatience and unrealistic expectations
All great things take time to build, and expecting to have an excellent union too soon leads to unnecessary pressure, disappointment, and dissatisfaction. According to one celebrity lawyer, unrealistic expectations financially, emotionally, etc., are the reasons behind most divorces. Progress, love, emotional healing and any kind of nurturing take time, effort and acceptance.
Investing love, time, effort and honesty is the only way to cultivate a great, trustful relationship with open lines of communication that is truly satisfying. More than that, adopting a long-haul mentality, as opposed to entertaining thoughts of exiting the union once hard times come along, is the only way to weather marital storms and develop a union that is better than the sum of its parts.