They Die Hard: How Your Old Habits Could Hurt Your Marriage

December 29, 2016  |  

Those who know me well know that I can get along with just about anybody and mix with almost any crowd — when I want to. They also know that at times I can be a loner, get annoyed easily and make smart a– remarks.

My husband knew this about me long before we got married, so there was no surprise there. Actually, his quick use of ironic word play often matches my sarcasm.

I never looked at it as an issue until we took a road trip a few days ago. A simple question while using the bathroom at a rest stop was received with a slight attitude and that good old sarcasm from my husband. His reaction bred a snappy and sarcastic response from me, which led to a period of what my husband calls “silent frustration.”

The tension ended when he said, “We have to stop responding to sarcasm with sarcasm.” Since sarcasm comes so easily to the both of us, I agreed, but inquired about a solution. It turns out that neither of us had one, but at least we knew the root of some of our minute arguments. What was once cute and comical about us was becoming a problem.

All too often, many people are set in their ways, including the less than pleasant habits. Instead of seeing the ways in which this behavior could be a hindrance, people want their spouse to just accept them for who they are, not expecting to compromise on some of their actions. But using the phrase, “This is who I am” will not help sustain a healthy marriage.

A study conducted by psychologist John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute and Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson found that certain behaviors in couples would increase their chances of divorce down the line.

After doing a study of 79 couples over a span of 14 years, the researchers described three types of behaviors as apocalyptic. They include contempt, which involves seeing your partner as beneath you, criticism, which is spinning something that your spouse did into a statement about his or her character, and defensiveness, which involves consistently playing the victim and Stonewalling by walking away from a heated debate and essential discussion.

In explaining these behaviors, Gottman told Business Insider that “Taking responsibility for your role in a tough situation can be uncomfortable, but it’s often what keeps a bad situation from escalating.”

I’m no expert, but I do know that selfishness and pride can definitely plague a marriage. One of the most pertinent things that I’ve learned while being married is that it’s not all about you. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and away from certain ways of doing things to make a marriage work.

I’ve had a single friend say that she was too selfish to get married right now, and while I commend her honesty, I’m not sure a person can become completely selfless in a marriage. But working on being less self-centered is one of the best ways to tackle your old habits and put your relationship first.

It’s easy to relinquish your rights to choosing the exact location of your next home or the type of family pet you want to get, but I believe that most people are afraid of losing themselves by altering their behavior or way of thinking when it comes to making bigger decisions.

Nonetheless, we all have our ways and we aren’t going to flip overnight. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Well, if that’s true, I hope it takes the same amount of time, or less, to reverse an old one.


Image via Shutterstock

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