10 Little Habits that Can Lead to Divorce (and How to Avoid Them)

10 Little Habits that Can Lead to Divorce (and How to Avoid Them)

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” - Mark 10:9

Divorce. Most people would be hard-pressed to think of a family who hasn’t been scarred by this word. It’s a word that doesn’t escape us— from the youngest child to the aging parents having to watch their adult children’s lives overturned by its whisper. Regardless of ages and stages, socio-economic class, race, religious belief, or sexual orientation, it is a word that typically leaves destruction in its wake. But, unlike so many other tragedies that plague us, it is one that can be avoided.

Typically two people don’t start off down the path into wedded bliss with a hope that their marriage will end in divorce. Usually, it starts as a doubt, a thought, or a fear whispered into the darkness after being severely wounded. For others, the word is hurled across the room as an ultimatum or a consequence in a fit of rage. It is rarely the first option and rarely does a couple decide on this outcome amicably. Divorce is just not part of the fairy-tale dream-- but it is a reality that many face. Sadly, the warning signs are often apparent to others before those in the center of the problem realize what is going on.

There are probably many divorced families who would agree that the path to marriage doesn't begin with the catastrophic. It's the little things-- the words and behaviors, the habits and actions that steer the marriage train down a destructive path. Perhaps if more couples were diligent about establishing good habits, more marriages would move back from the ledge-- one step away from the "d-word" and one step closer to a marriage that thrives instead of endures.

In case you are wondering which habits lead to divorce, we've compiled a few for you:

  • 1. Accepting mediocrity

    1. Accepting mediocrity

    Unfortunately, "good" marriages are on the rise. They have surpassed "great" marriages and pulled ahead of the "bad" as well.

    These couples find themselves struggling to maintain-- bills and children, jobs and hobbies, friendships and bosses all clamoring for their attention. And somewhere between the first baby and the third "5th birthday" party, the two once-crazy-about-each-other college grads have morphed into roommates who fall into bed exhausted each night after binge-watching Netflix for the last 2 hours of the day.

    Thriving is not a word that many people would use to describe their marriage. "Enduring" is a more common way to describe what was once a "thriving" relationship.

    It's not that either person really feels any differently about the other, its just that they haven't kept their marriage as a priority, and settled for something comfortable-- something mediocre. 

    Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/nd3000

  • 2. Surface communication

    2. Surface communication

    Nothing is achieved by failing to address one's feelings or actions. Nothing good happens when one person plays the passive-aggressive game either.

    If couples are unwilling to discuss the small things (personal idiosyncracies and pet peeves) as well as the big stuff (spending habits, pornography, and money) then how is there ever mutual trust and personal growth?

    How can a marriage thrive when one person, or both, tiptoes around afraid of conflict?

    Vulnerability in a marriage needs to be the norm, regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel. Ask the hard questions, choose to fight instead of run away. Don't turn a blind eye to things that you know could be better if you just both took some time to have an awkward conversation.

    It may not be pretty, but it is always worth the effort. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 3. Letting your "self" get lost in the marriage

    3. Letting your "self" get lost in the marriage

    You probably know the type who have made this habit their destiny-- the minute their relationship got serious they severed all other friendships. Their hobbies and passions took a back seat to what the other person wanted to do. Personal dreams died because of the pursuit of a "dream life together."

    And while there is some need for two individuals coming together as one, it doesn't mean that you need to give up all of what makes you the unique individual you are for your marriage to succeed. Whether you're an extrovert, introvert, young or old, a go-getter, or a calm and quiet "old soul," you need to have a good sense of personal identity. If you don't, you will get lost in your marriage.

    You were created with a purpose and plan, with destiny-- and that didn't change the moment you said your vows. Continue to pursue those things that make you come alive, and the people who bring out the best in you. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 4. Prioritizing the kids over your spouse

    4. Prioritizing the kids over your spouse

    This habit forms naturally when you get lost in the parenting jungle for those first few years. Eventually, you resurface, moving from survival mode to a chauffeur, and then later you find yourself trying to invest as much as possible into them before they leave the house.

    Parenting is both a sprint and a marathon, and many marriages, unfortunately, don't make it.

    Finances shift once the baby comes home, which is normal, but at some point, kids need to see that "mommy" is daddy's priority and vice versa.

    Children want to know that their parent's marriage is secure; they want to observe the consistency and love between mom and dad, even if they act otherwise. They will take refuge in the stability of the marriage, and will have something to model their relationships after. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 5. Being a quitter

    5. Being a quitter

    Many people today are just wimps. They don't like to work hard, or even attempt something new for fear that they won't be good at it.

    Millenials especially have been dubbed the lazy and perfectionist-driven generation. Add that to the fact that most people have a phobia of commitment and it's a recipe for marital disaster.

    One of the first things couples need to learn how to do in marriage is to stay-- because it's always going to be easier to run.

    When the confrontation is painful, or the conversation gets vulnerable, or one person has done the unthinkable, it's easier to hang up the phone, walk out the door, or drive away. But it doesn't solve anything; it's just the easy way out.

    Marriage isn't for wimps; it's for individuals who are willing to do the hard things, who will choose to stay and fight for their spouse and a great marriage. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 6. Not protecting the Sabbath

    6. Not protecting the Sabbath

    Not working is not the same as purposefully observing a day of rest. Going to church for an hour on Sunday morning does not encompass what God had in mind when He instituted the Sabbath. Yes, it is a day for rest, but what does that mean? Burying oneself in the side-hustle for half the day, weekend chores that are a burden, exhausting social engagements that leave you feeling depleted? No way!

    A Sabbath is a day filled with restful activities and meaningful interaction with those we love.

    It is a day to be filled up, a day of connecting with God and those we love. It is a time set aside from work (note: that includes the side hustle). It is a day that used to mean a slower pace, but it has become harder.

    Being able to successfully disconnect from work, commitments, the requirements of others, and even (gulp) social media for a day, ensures that both spouses can pour into one another again. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 7. Sexual impurity

    7. Sexual impurity

    Pornography is the dirty word that we are so glad people are finally talking about in church circles-- as long as we aren't the one having to do the talking.

    Few couples can avoid these painful conversations, but thankfully there are so many who have found freedom on the other side of addiction.

    While addressing pornography, there must also be a discussion about fantasy, emotional affairs, those steamy romance novels, movies, and social media as well.

    While sexual impurity is the physical act of defiling the marriage bed, it is just as much about the defiling of hearts. Lust lies to people all of the time that unless a physical action occurs, there isn't a habit worth changing--but that isn't true. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 8. Not growing together

    8. Not growing together

    Perhaps what started as chemistry between two people who had a mutual passion for sports was enough to sustain the relationship for a few years. But a decade, and a few kids later, the physiques aren't what they used to be, and neither is the desire.

    Instead of holding on to memories from the past, couples who thrive will readjust and find new hobbies and interests to pursue together. You don't have to love all of the same things (you can have separate Netflix shows that you binge on, and friends that you enjoy separately).

    But maybe instead of running 10 miles Saturday morning as you did in your 20's, you take up a new sport together or exchange the regular "dinner and movie" date night for some class that piques both of your interest.

    Discover new passions together, travel, read, explore a new place-- whatever it is, grow in your love for it (and for each other) together. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 9. Holding back forgiveness and choosing not to trust

    9. Holding back forgiveness and choosing not to trust

    If you've been married for any length of time, then your spouse has probably hurt you at least once. Hopefully, not in the physical way, but chances are the emotional pain took longer to heal.

    They made one wrong decision, or maybe it was a series of choices, that left you wondering if you could ever trust them again.

    Instead of moving forward toward a place of offering forgiveness and trust-- even in the midst of hurt or betrayal-- you kept them at arm's length. Though they may have tried repeatedly, they've never been able to earn your trust. Your accusations bring shame and your reminders heap on the guilt--there may have been words offered as forgiveness, but your actions toward them tell a different story.

    Perhaps you are even justified because the wounds they inflicted were deep. But still, there can be forgiveness and mercy. After all, haven't we all inflicted pain towards another person at one time or another?

    Choosing to love your spouse means seeing them as God sees them, not where they are now, but where they can be with God at work in their lives. 

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash

  • 10. Thinking you can be successful without Jesus

    10. Thinking you can be successful without Jesus

    This is the number one habit that will drive your marriage toward the edge of disaster-- living as if you have it all together, that you're smart enough, or that you don't need Jesus.

    It's interesting that most Christians have concluded that "I can't do life without God," yet many have a hard time applying that same revelation to their marriage: they want to be their own Savior. When life gets messy, when storms come, they run to a book, conference, or person for advice. They live, day in and out, without acknowledging their need for God, and then crying out for His presence to be tangible in their home and marriage. 

    There is no one formula for a great marriage, but there are recipes for disaster. Letting these habits shape your destiny is dangerous.

    Instead of succumbing to marriages best depicted as "mediocre," let's be the couples who rise to the defense of strong, Christian marriages, who proclaim, "it is possible" and, "yes! We are thriving".

    Father, help us to diligently work on establishing good habits in our marriages, that the world would look at how we treat our spouses and see it as a reflection of how you love your people. Your plan is to join two individuals and for them not to be separated; may this be our goal also. We want to see the divorce rate in the church plummet as we seek to honor you in our marriages and love our spouses well. 

    Malinda Fuller and her husband Alex have served at several churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. and Canada for over a decade. Malinda wields truth and grace through the words on her blog and has also contributed content for Relevant, Thrive Moms and The Influence Network. Malinda and Alex currently reside in Southern California, where they are homeschooling their daughters, working in ministry and trying to not complain about the continuous sunshine.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash