Nov 072017 11 Responses

9 Toxic Attitudes in Marriage

Attitude is a predisposed state of mind. While we use the word in reference to how we think, it’s related to the concept of posture. In the same way that the body has a natural standing, so too, each of us has a settled way in which we think about things.

While attitude develops over time through a mixture of personality, history, and experiences, in the end it is a personal choice. My high school principal used to end the morning announcements each day by saying, “Have a good day or a bad day. It’s your choice.” While there are exceptions, the general concept is true. Our attitudes are things we choose.

In marriage, attitude defines far more than any outward circumstances.

9 Toxic Attitudes

1. “You should make me happy.” Marriage should add to our happiness, but our spouse isn’t in charge of our joy. A general happiness with life and self are something we should bring to a marriage more than something we should get from it. When you expect your spouse to make you happy, you are expecting from them something they can never produce. (See: 3 Things Marriage Can Never Do for You)

2. “Because others have hurt me, I won’t trust you.” Trust is earned, but when you say “I do” to someone, it implies they have earned that trust. While they must continue to be trustworthy, spouses shouldn’t hold their husband or wife accountable for a pain caused by someone else. When underserved distrust is present, it weakens the marriage.

3. “I never have enough.” There is nothing wrong with wanting more as long as the desire doesn’t prevent you from feeling gratitude for what you have. Some couples can’t appreciate one another because they live in a continual state of lack. Never satisfied, they struggle with continual discontent. Those who can continue to strive for more while also feeling a deep sense of gratitude for what they have, create the best marriages.

4. “It doesn’t matter what I do.” We don’t control every aspect of our lives, but we have far more control than we realize. Owning what we should own empowers us and others. When we fail to realize how much influence we have regarding who we are and what we do, it limits our ability to connect with others.

5. “I deserve _____.” We do deserve some things in a relationship, however, when entitlement takes over, a couple is in a dangerous spot. By feeling entitled, a spouse will stop working and start expecting to simply have things given to them. (See: Four Rights of Marriage)

6. “It’s not my fault.” Defensiveness crushes connection and productivity. When a couple settles on an attitude of defensiveness where every criticism is either meant to be personal or is received as a personal attack, the couple can never improve anything. They are destined to be stuck with problems because healthy communication can’t take place.

7. “Life isn’t supposed to be fun.” It’s true that there is more to life than fun, but enjoyment is a key aspect of the lives we’ve been given. When we don’t seek playfulness and fun, the relationship can grow stale. While some people are more serious than others, every healthy relationship should include enjoyment, laughter, and fun.

8. “It’s better to get than to give.” A healthy marriage is about mutual sacrifice and submission. In a good relationship, the couple continually seeks the well-being of the other. With both pursuing this path, neither is taken advantage of or over-run. When this isn’t the attitude, an individual begins to make the relationship about them. They believe getting is better than giving so they continually seek things for themselves at the expense of their spouse. The relationship becomes one-sided and not fruitful.

9. “I’m just so tired.” Tired as a temporary condition is part of life, but some people have an attitude of weariness. They are always tired. Either because they don’t know how to rest, they haven’t built endurance, or they find identity in the attention that comes through saying they are weary, they live in a continual state of exhaustion. This condition prevents healthy connection with others.

The Attitude Connection

The previous 9 attitudes are toxic. When any of them are present they corrode the relationship from the inside out. A couple should review the attitudes and if any are active in their marriage, they should take concrete actions to identify them, find new ways to think and start making better choices. However, if they cannot consistently (not perfectly, but consistently) change attitudes, they should seek professional help. Their relationship isn’t in danger unless they ignore these toxic ways to think and allow them to continue to have a negative impact on them.

Each of these attitudes have specific ways in which they hurt our marriages. Notice:

1-3 erodes our friendship.

4-6 erodes our partnership.

7-9 erodes our intimacy.

While the damage doesn’t stop there, it likely starts there. Happiness, trust, and contentment characterize a strong friendship. When our relationships aren’t defined by those things, we struggle to walk side-by-side with each other. Being helpless, entitled, and defensive prevent us from being good partners. These mindsets weaken our ability to influence ourselves and attack problems. When we don’t control ourselves, pursue after accomplishments, and have an open attitude toward correction, we do not believe the other one will have our backs in time of need. Playfulness, service to each other, and energy are keys to a strong intimate connection. When they are absent, it first negatively impacts intimacy.

Consider which part of your relationship is the strongest–friends, partners, lovers. Are any of the three attitudes correlated with that strength present in your relationship? Probably not.

Consider which of the three is your weakest area–friends, partners, lovers. You can probably identify at least one of the attitudes which is the cause of the weakness.

11 Responses to 9 Toxic Attitudes in Marriage
  1. […] Marriage isn’t about happiness, but it should add to our happiness. While some wrongly make in...

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