1. People & Relationships

5 Ways to Kill a Marriage

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You might be a murderer and not even realize it. You could be slowly and brutally killing your marriage right now. We take many small steps every day. Some of these steps help our marriage grow, while others can eventually suck all the life out of a relationship. Just as you would cut fat out of your diet to get in shape, you should eliminate these bad habits for the health of your marriage:

1. You never communicate.

Every marriage counselor, therapist, and mom will tell you that communication is the air of marriage and any relationship. You can't survive without it. No one can read anyone else's mind. So, you might believe that your spouse should magically know exactly what you're thinking and what you need. But that is not realistic. You have to share your feelings, needs, and wants - or you'll never have a chance at getting any of it. Communicating with your spouse does not guarantee you'll get what you want all the time, but it does put you one step closer to compromises that could satisfy both of you.

Also, sharing your emotions has lots of benefits. It increases the intimacy between the two of you, which can make you feel closer and more secure in your relationships. It's also a chance to tell your spouse how you feel about him or her, which makes your spouse more confident in your love, more willing to bend, so you both achieve happiness and more apt to share his or her feelings for you.

Diagnosis: If you stop communicating or never start, you'll grow apart. Worse, one of you (or both of you) could end up confiding in someone else, which could lead to an emotional affair or even a sexual affair, either of which could permanently damage your marriage.

Relationship Rx: Talk. Check in with each other regularly. Be sure to verbalize what's wrong, but also what's right with the relationship. Discuss what to do to make you both happy. If you're having trouble communicating, get professional help from a marriage counselor or therapist.

2. You never have sex.

Sex is what separates the marriage relationship from other relationships you have. It reinforces feelings of love, brings greater intimacy, and it should feel good. Relationships certainly can survive without sex. Some older couples stop having sex after either the husband or wife suffers some illness or is unable to have sex. That's all right. But if you're both healthy, and the sex stops because of a lack of desire, you need to address the issue, especially if one of you would like to have sex. Because talking about sex can make some people uncomfortable, they fail to speak up if they have a problem with their sex life. Again, you need to communicate, even about things that might not be easy to address.

Diagnosis: A marriage without sex can definitely wither and die, especially if one of the people in the marriage is unhappy about this. Although a lack of sex is not a free pass to have sex with someone else, it has led to sexual affairs, which can destroy a marriage. In addition, a lack of sex can really pull a couple apart, so that each of the people in the relationship feel as though they are leading lives independent of the other. It can tear away at intimacy and an individual's confidence.

Relationship Rx: The good news is that many common sexual problems can be resolved with the help of medical professionals and counselors or therapists. If your issues are simpler, such as you don't have time for sex or you're too exhausted after dealing with everything else in your life (think work, child rearing, household chores), you can fix those things on your own. For instance, you can make time for sex by fitting it into your schedule and you can share more of the responsibilities, so that you both feel less tired and stressed. Some counselors have suggested simply touching and kissing to get you in the mood for sex, even if you are sleepy. Commit to having sex and you will if there are no medical or mental issues interfering.

3. You argue all the time.

Some people think that getting married means your relationship suddenly gains superpowers. The two of you will finally agree on all sorts of things about which you previously disagreed. You'll never argue again, and you'll always be the picture of happiness that you were in your wedding portrait. Helllllooooo. This is completely unrealistic. If you argued about something before the wedding (and never reached any resolution), you will argue about it after the wedding. No relationship has superpowers. Marriage isn't some sort of shield that keeps you agreeing forever. Some arguing is actually a healthy part of a strong relationship. Lots of arguing, however, can be detrimental to the relationship but also to an individual's well being. Who wants to be angry all the time? It takes a lot of work and can put you in a real funk, not to mention the stress it causes.

Diagnosis: No one wants to fight all the time. It just takes all the fun and joy out of your relationship. It also can make you both bitter and angry. These emotions are ripe for breeding resentment, which is like poison for your marriage.

Relationship Rx: Learn how to argue properly. There are ways to disagree, so that you are respectful and you both hear each other out. Also, you can learn to agree to disagree on certain topics and reach resolution on others. Finally, you must truly choose your battles. Don't argue over every little thing. You have to have tolerance for one another. Realize you're different people with different ideas and habits. So, forget about the fact that he leaves the dishes to soak before getting around to washing them. But do point out that you feel like you need some more help around the house. Distinguish between the things you need to discuss and those you can let go. Whenever you do bring up these touchy subjects, do it in a respectful way. Leave sarcasm and one-upsmanship to comedians.

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