1. Nagging, nagging, nagging.
“We know about the squeaky wheel, but complaining loud and long gets you only short-term gains and builds up discontent,” says Alex Harmiz. “This also hurts children. I had a friend who was so embarrassed by his mom’s constant nagging so he used to hang out at our house all the time. At first he said it was because he loved Chaldean food and wanted to learn more about our culture. Later, he confided in me he could not stand his mom’s nagging all the time.”
2. Blaming, criticizing, and name-calling.
These tactics belittle the person you promised to love, honor, and cherish; let you play angel to his or her devil; and don't address the responsibility you both share for your marital happiness.
Angie Allos shares that her college dorm-mate at Michigan State a few years back used to have a boyfriend that was always insulting and mean. “I tried to tell her that love is shown by actions and words. I really felt sorry and scared for her. They really had issues and those issues eventually broke apart their relationship.”
3. Bullying, rudeness, and selfishness.
These ugly power plays tell your partner that he or she doesn't count at all in your eyes.
Jimmy Kenaya can’t stand men or women who bully. He feels this is a sure way to end a marriage.
4. Peacekeeping and passive placating.
A "whatever you say, Dear" attitude may keep your home quieter but leaves you in the martyr's role. You'll end up angry, defensive, and a drudge.
Ibtisam Kashat says, “Love is built on respect and give and take. Good marriages are about working with one another and being honest and true, not only to your spouse, but also to yourself.”
5. Deploying logic all the time.
Life isn't the starship Enterprise; playing the dispassionate Mr. Spock not only cuts you off from your feelings but also subtly tells your spouse that his or her feelings don't count either.
Jena Jajani writes in her e-mail, “You have to be emotional at times. Sometimes it is good to be illogical, but emotional and romantic. Love is passionate.”
6. Throwing up distractions.
You're just having fun, right? Think again. Being hyperactive, fooling around all the time, and refusing to focus -- in conversation or in life -- often is an attempt to avoid intimacy or difficult issues, which can be horribly frustrating for your mate.
Bob Hindu writes, “I loved Chandler in the Friends sitcom. He reminded me of a friend I had in High School. He always cracked jokes. No one ever took him seriously. He seemed so lonely. I am glad things worked out for Chandler, but I don’t think they often do for class clowns.”
Stonewalling stops arguments and constructive discussions cold. Not much can happen when one spouse just won't talk about it.
Abby Kirma stopped being friends with her classmate because she felt she could not trust her. “I had a friend in High School who for some unknown reason changed. We were good friends in middle school, but around the tenth grade, she changed. She never answered question fully and made me feel like she was hiding something from me. She tried to change subjects when we talked and seemed distant.”
8. Making unilateral decisions about the big things.
Sometimes you have to pick the bathroom paint color on your own. But if you're making major decisions about your money, your time, your kids, and your family life, you're acting without accountability and cutting off the possibility of joint decision-making and deeper intimacy.
Danny Benheim writes in his e-mail, “I love how my mom and dad involve the entire family on big decisions. A friend of mine who played baseball with me on a travel team used to love hanging out with my dad and me. He used to tell us how upset he was with his step-dad because his step-dad would make all the decisions without asking for his input or his moms. He used to get so mad and say he wanted to be Chaldean, because my dad would call family meetings.”