Sure Fire Ways To Ruin Your Marriage

Dr. Michael Rivest, Ph.D., D.S.T.

Michael Rivest

Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor


Sure fire ways to ruin your marriage including the “best friend lie”

by Dr. M. Rivest, Ph.D., D.S.T.

“I love you so much dear. You let me go to the bar with my friends and say nothing when I return at 2 AM. You hardly ask me to do anything around the house, including picking up after myself. You are the greatest.”

I hope that bit of monologue disturbs you as much as it does me. It illustrates four all too popular relationship busters, 1. dishonesty, 2.annoying habits, 3. independent behaviors, and 4.the lack of good conversation.

Dishonesty: Commission, omission, and “little while lies” can kill the greatest of relationships.  I once knew a gal who would destroy people with the bluntness and cruelty of her remarks. Then she would say,” Well I was honest!” We did not remain friends for long. Honesty is best served with thoughtful humility coated with mercy and kindness.

Commission is right- out lying. That can never be good. If I have to tell the truth then I am apt to be more thoughtful in my words or deeds. The pay-off is peace within myself and with others. I find that if I address an “issue” quickly and softly it gets resolved much more easily than if I wait.

Omission is perhaps the worst. I want to say something but don’t. I might be afraid of the immediate outcome. So I stuff it in, let it build and later disproportionally explode. Or I might say it through a “dry sense of humor” and do my “attack” dishonestly.

Or worse yet when I am asked a difficult question I only give part of the answer. I select the part that would be least offensive or create the least problems. Of course when it is asked again and again I then have to remember what I said previously because the smallest change in the story creates a world of hate and fifty more questions.

Little white lies are not really little. It is a double lie actually. I lie to myself and to another. Lies are lies and they all break the trust.

Annoying habits: The example in the introduction is not cleaning up after yourself. But it could be the toilet seat or tooth paste, making body noises, having strange odors about yourself, dressing sloppy in the house, uninvited sexual groping, talking while eating so everyone can see masticated food, chewing gum at anytime, or trying to have a conversation while the BIG game is on TV.

I once saw a newlywed taking his bride out to dinner.  He wore his hat through the entire meal. I wanted to slap them both silly. He for doing it and her for letting him.

I also don’t like watching people publically scratch, rearrange or whatever to their private parts.

Women should wear clothes that make them look good. Men should do the same.

Independent  behaviors: I see this all too often. Married people want to behave as though they are adolescent singles with the liberty to do whatever they wish. Sorry, you are married now and have the responsibilities and joys of that union.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not speaking about occasional responsible independent behaviors. I am not saying that a husband and wife have to be joined with shackles. But…in thriving marriages couples do spend about 80% of their waking non working time together.

And they do not hide out at work, being a workaholic to avoid their responsibilities to their mate and family. 

For example my wife and I require quiet alone time, exercise time, and some social time with our friends. We schedule these events so “me time” does not take away from “we time.”

Good Conversation: Every time I think of good conversation I think of T.S. Eliot. The question is what is good conversation? Certainly it is not texting each other several times a day, emailing, Twittering, Facebook, MySpace, cell phoning, our any of that “stuff.”

Often I speak with couples and they swear that they talk a lot. “Really,” I ask, “What do you talk about?” Inevitably the response is, “children, work, money, and friends, like that.” These are important enough topics but not really disclosive or intimate. As far as building their relationship this is trash talk. 

Good communication would be dialogue on self revelation, growth moments, and inspirations that happened throughout the day. Detailed expressions of affection, more than the quick, “I love you, baby.” Disclose who are you today, who you want to become in the future, and how you and your mate can do this together.

I have had several couples attribute the success of their marital counseling to the gentle face to face conversations they would have after dinner when the house was quiet.

And so…it seems that if we are honest, nice to be around, have team spirit, and speak transparently to our mate things might just work out fine.

“I want my mate to be my best friend”

A recent bachelorette on the TV program of the same name wanted her husband to be her “best friend.” It took her two seasons to finally find the husband /“best friend” she was looking for.

My wife and I watched the program. I often looked over at her and asked myself, “is my wife my best friend?” She often looked back and answered “heck no.”

We concluded that we are not best friends. We concluded that the best friend concept was some “romantic cultural tripe” and in fact we are husband and wife and that far transcends friendship.

I believe it is important to identify the “romantic cultural tripe” that comes our way because it is ruining many good relationships.

Let us begin with “There is only one person in the world for me, my soul mate.” “I will find that person magically, the stars will guide me.”

Well think about it. First you do not have the whole world to select from. By the time you divide the  people you actually know by 48%/52%; then rule out those who are not attractive to you physically, intellectually, or are the right age, have the right religion, race, beliefs (for you) you have dwindled down to about 8% which leaves only a handful of genuine possibilities.

So quite practically we end up picking one and making it work. Yes, making it work. Falling in love is another piece of tripe.

Falling in love has more to do with Elizabethan Romanticism (remember Romeo and Juliet) and brain chemicals going crazy more than anything else. So if we follow tripe reasoning we can conclude that I will recognize my life mate (the one whom I have to trust with everything), when I am at my intellectual worst.  The only thing we find in the stars is the stars.

Often in this altered state of reasoning we decide to marry potential. How often has the gal said, “He has a lot of potential?” What is really being said is…”he is a loser and I am too stupid to recognize it.” Never marry potential, rather marry someone who already has at least some success.

I do believe that God can influence and direct us but He is usually very practical and not very romantic. So are our real friends and grown up family members. Bring everyone, even a counselor, into the decision of mate selection far before the wedding.

Another piece of tripe is; “love should come easy, be easy, and not require any work. Love should be without problems.” My counseling room is full because of such tripe. There is Romeo and Juliet again. Remember, when things got tough for them they committed suicide. When things get tough for us we run away, get angry, sulk, divorce. So…we erroneously conclude that if I have to work at my marriage I must not be in love. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Forrest Gump said, “stupid is as stupid does.”

Here is a really big stupid. I am having problems with my marriage so I need time out to think things through. I am going to move out of the house, or out of the bed room, or something else equally stupid.

The fact is that when we are all stressed out we do not have the capacity to think things through by ourselves. We need others to help us. What happens mostly in this self indulgent act of revenge is an attempt to punish the other. While we are out of the house all we really manage to do is create a list of offenses and get ourselves into more trouble, like dating someone else while still married.

The best thing for people to do in conflict is to lock themselves in a closet without food, water, or a bathroom. They would figure things out really fast.  Beer is not necessary and could make you even stupider. 

So I look at my wife and am very glad that we are more than friends. We chose each other wisely. We were successful prior to marriage and have continued to grow through the years. Our conflicts are few and quickly resolved. We trust each other. There is no one I would rather be with. Actually, be it told, she gets more exciting every year. Thank you God for the keeper.


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