Making marriage work isn’t always an easy task, but the path to brokenness is clear. If you want to kill your relationship, there are some very predictable steps you can take.
1. Assume every conflict is an intentional act by your spouse designed to hurt you. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It was a calculated attempt to inflict the most harm possible.
2. As seasons change, don’t make a concerted effort to improve your marriage. Just assume everything will stay the same. Don’t recognize that love in your 50s might be different than love in your teens. Don’t grow. Don’t adapt. Just stay the same and your relationship will slowly die.
3. Allow the busyness of life to prevent you from spending quality time with each other. Put your marriage on the back burner. Continually run after more pressing issues. Who has time to talk to your spouse, you’ve got to help PTA. Who can afford a weekend getaway, you have your weekly golf match. You’ll have a ton of time when you are old, just ignore your spouse right now. (See: No Wonder You Don’t Love Each Other)
4. Only give your spouse whatever you have leftover at the end of the day. Make sure your kids, work, and friends get you at your best. Don’t let your spouse have you when you are awake, energized, or feeling alive. Base the majority of your interactions when you feel the worst.
5. Deny any personal responsibility for the state of your marriage. Assume that either this is just how marriage is or that all your problems are because of your spouse. Never consider how your choices and attitudes may be contributing to the problem. Feel helpless about the state of your marriage.
6. Begin to compare your spouse’s weaknesses to the strengths of other people. Contrast your spouse on her worst day when the kids have run her ragged, she doesn’t feel well, and she collapses on the couch next to you wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt to the woman you saw for just a few moments at the charity event who was wearing a beautiful dress, was attentive to your conversation, and paid you a kind compliment at the end of your three-minute conversation.
7. Daydream what life might be like with someone else. When you are stressed or bored, spend time fantasizing about a different life with a better spouse. (See: Steps to an Affair)
8. Ignore the facts that most marriages can be greatly improved and assume your situation is hopeless. If you think you can improve your marriage, you might do something about it. So don’t. Just assume you are stuck.
9. Assume you know exactly who your spouse is and what they believe. Because you know them so well, there is no need to ask their opinion, listen to their thoughts, or consider their feelings. Since you know them, you can ignore them.
10. Feel entitled to the acts of service your spouse does for you. No need to say “thank you” when they are doing something you deserve. No reason to recognize things they do on a daily basis. You deserve it so they better give it to you. (See: I Wouldn’t Sleep With You Either)
11. Never consider the well-being of your spouse’s heart. Focus on what it takes to make today happen. Don’t worry about the cumulative effect of living life. Every one else has a dead heart so why should you be concerned with whether or not your spouse is satisfied with life.
12. Always do what feels right in the moment. Allow your feelings to be the king of your decision-making process. Assume your feelings never lie, but expert advice rarely understands your situation.
13. Assume your spouse’s sexual desire is sinful and dirty. Never consider that his/her desire for sex is appropriate. Assume all differences are a sign where they are wrong and you are right.
14. Allow outsiders (in-laws, friends, etc) to have a major voice in your relationship. Who cares what your spouse says, do what your mother has told you to do. Quickly tell others about every fight, but never tell them if you make up. Make sure your family knows every fault of your spouse.
15. Live by horrible financial principles. Don’t save. Spend whatever you wish. Go into debt.
16. Ignore boundaries between you and others of the opposite sex. Complain about your spouse to them. Share intimate details of your life. Call and text at times in which everyone else is asleep.
17. Tell your spouse what they feel and refuse to accept if they claim differently. You know how they should feel so don’t believe them if they claim to be hurt by something if you were only joking. Don’t trust them if they say they want something when you know they don’t.
19. Become an addict. Submit yourself to your addiction at the expense of your spouse. Blame them for your poor choices.
20. Lie. Regularly tell your spouse what they want to hear rather than the truth.
I doubt you would ever intentionally try to kill your relationship, but how many of these actions do you see at play in your marriage? While it may not be your intention, if you are doing any of these things you are in fact attempting to kill your relationship. Stop. Find a better way, and your marriage can thrive.
If there is any major idea of American culture, it is that wealth, power, and fame will solve life’s problems. We might cognitively know that isn’t true, but we feel it is true and we live our lives as though it is reality.
If there is any major idea which Jesus dismisses, it’s that wealth, power, or fame can solve any problem.
In John 6, the gospel writer tells the story of a man with major physical problems. He is laying outside an entrance to the Temple living off the meager gifts which worshipers would give to him as they entered the Temple. (for more on the story, watch the following sermon)
He is laying next to what he believes are healing waters. Legend told that when the waters were stirred up, the first person in the waters could receive healing. But he was never first. His condition was serious enough that it slowed him to such a pace he could never be the first in the water. Yet the condition was light enough that others might look at him and think he could make it on his own. In his mind, he just needed some good friends or a good break and he would be liberated from his plight. If he could just dip his toe into the waters, he would be whole.
When Jesus sees the man, he asks him if he wants to be healed. It’s an obvious question, but Jesus didn’t ask it for obvious reasons. He knew the man was believing a lie. While his condition was real, what he thought was the solution was not. The man would forever be chasing a mirage for as long as he thought his life’s problems could be solved in healing waters. Only Jesus could make him whole.
Searching for Healing
What was true of that man’s outward condition is true of our inward condition. Our souls are sick. There is an inner disease which has stripped us of emotional and spiritual health. We can sense the symptoms–a longing for meaning, a desire for connection, a hope for purpose, a belief that there is more to this life.
To that condition, we are told about healing waters. If we can just get the circumstances right–a well-financed 401K or the right spouse or an influential job title or enough prestige–we can be cured. We think if we can dip our toe into the abundant life that all our ills will go away. But they don’t. They multiply, and that’s confusing. (See: Hate My Sin, Love Other Sinners)
What we think will heal us can actually make us more sick. It’s a classic addiction–we are seeking solace from the very thing causing us pain. This is the curse of the affluent life. For many, the only difference between affluence and poverty is that the impoverished may still have hope that something can heal them. They might still believe that money or influence can cure their condition. The affluent have lost hope.
The Hope of Disappointment
The emptiness of the affluent life brings great hope. It’s a gift that we don’t find deep meaning in riches or power. The longing for more can be the motivating factor to drive our search other places. If wealth and influence provided what we desired, we would have little reason to look for God. Yet because they leave us empty, we have the opportunity to consider that satisfaction might come from another source.
God’s love for us does not allow us to find lasting meaning and value in things other than Him. They might bring us a taste of what we are looking for, but they are certain to never fully satisfy.
The affluent life is meant to disappoint. It’s not a sign that we need more; it’s a sign that we need to stop seeking from other things that which can only be found in God. We are all looking for something to heal our inward need. God’s grace is the only outlet where true satisfaction can be found.