If you continue doing these 19 things, you are guaranteeing yourself an unhappy marriage (and life).
Most couples enter marriage seeing the world and especially each other through rose-colored glasses. They believe their love is enough to carry them through to living their dreams of happily ever after with each other.
Unfortunately, as time goes by the rosiness of the world (and each other) fades. Their marriage isn’t as happy or fun as they imagined on their wedding day. And they’re left worrying that maybe they’re doomed to an unhappy marriage or, even worse, become one of the 50% of couples who divorce.
If any of this sounds painfully familiar to you, don’t worry. You’re not condemned to a life of misery or even divorce.
You can bring the joy back to your marriage, but it will take work. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to make you and your marriage better.
Here are the 19 things you must stop doing right now if you’re committed to bringing the joy back to your marriage:
- Communicating with your spouse over social media. A marriage is between the two of you. It’s not between the two of you and all your friends, family, casual acquaintances or that random person who friended you last week.
- Just expecting that things will work out. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is that a good marriage just happens. A good marriage takes effort not passivity.
- Doing emotionally draining activities. No one can survive doing things that wear them out and their marriage certainly won’t survive either. If an activity that’s crucial to your marriage and family drains you, find a way to change the way you think about it or the way you get it done.
- Worrying about things you can’t control. Look the only thing in your life you’ve got any shot at controlling is you. Worrying about what your spouse is (or isn’t) doing will never change a thing. So stop worrying. Instead say what needs saying or do what needs doing.
- Dwelling on past mistakes. Living in the past and dwelling on the mistakes that you or your spouse made isn’t going to change a thing. Your life and your marriage are in the present. Learn from the past, but focus on now.
- Focusing on what other couples are (or aren’t) doing. Looking to what successful couples do to create their happy marriage as inspiration for yours is great! But, if all you wind up doing is comparing your marriage to theirs, that’s not great. All that will get you is more misery.
- Putting yourself, your spouse or your marriage last on your priority list. What you pay attention to grows. If you don’t nurture yourself, your spouse and your marriage, there’s no way things will work out well.
- Keeping secrets from your spouse. Trust is a necessary ingredient of all successful marriages. If you believe you need to keep parts of your life hidden from your mate (besides the fabulous surprise birthday party you’re throwing for them) then you need to ask yourself why. Chances are the reason is not helpful to having a healthy marriage.
- Neglecting to show gratitude for your spouse. Your life partner needs to know that you appreciate them being in your life. Letting them know you’re thankful for them is another way of expressing your love for them.
- Being controlling. Trying to coerce your spouse into behaving the way you believe they should behave will never work. You married a person who is separate from you – not your puppet (or worse, slave).
- Expecting that what hasn’t worked in the past will work in the future. To steer your partnership back to happiness you need to try different ways to make things better. Remember, Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
- Pretending you’re someone you’re not. Too many people believe that if they simply meet their spouse’s expectations of who they should be then their marriage will work out. If you’re doing this, your marriage may work out for your mate, but it will never work out for you. Being unashamedly you is your top priority.
- Trying to change your mate. We’ve all heard stories of how people (especially women) marry intending to change their beloved. Well, your honey will never change unless they choose to change, so accept them as them.
- Believing you can please everyone. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be all things to all people. So give up trying to please your spouse, your in-laws, your parents and your friends all of the time.
- Taking your eyes off of the goal. When you married your sweetie, you married them with the goal of living together happily forever. Yet somehow you forgot to keep that in mind and that’s how you wound up where you are today. (But since you’re reading this I know you’re resetting your sights.)
- Failing to ask how your marriage got to where it is today. Yes, you need to understand how your union got to where it is today so you can avoid making the same mistakes going forward.
- Neglecting to do your part. Whether or not your marriage works requires the efforts of both of you. It’s not just their job to make things better. You have to do your job of being the best spouse you can be too.
- Choosing short-term comfort over long-term benefit. Sure it might be easier right now to ignore the problem than to address it, but ignoring too many things just builds resentment. And resentment spells doom for a marriage.
- Forgetting that how you think determines how you experience your marriage (and the world). If you’re always expecting your mate to do something annoying, they’re going to do something annoying. If you expect your mate to have the best of intentions with what they you, you’ll be more forgiving and less defensive when they aren’t perfect at everything.
Look, your marriage didn’t go from the honeymoon phase to where you are today in the blink of an eye. It took time for the bad habits to take hold.
So don’t expect that you’re going to immediately and completely eliminate all 19 of these behaviors immediately, You’ll need to put some work into this.
Also, you can’t expect your spouse to immediately recognize your efforts as good for them. (See #19 above.) At first they’ll probably be a bit confused about the changes you’re making. Heck, they may even feel threatened or angry.
But persevere. Bringing your marriage back to the rosier path toward happily ever after will take both time and effort. If you break the bad habits that aren’t working for the benefit of your marriage, the results will definitely be worth it.
Looking for more help with your marriage? Read more tips about how to fix things in Unhappy Marriage?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are wondering whether or not they fix their unhappy marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
This article originally appeared on Marriage.com.