5 Mindsets that Will Destroy Your Marriage

This article explores common negative mindsets that can harm your relationship and shows you how to address them effectively.

Every spring, I spend time getting our yard ready after the harshness of winter.

I cut it, water it, and fertilize it.

This year, I looked out into my beautiful yard and noticed something that made my heart sink...


Yes, my yard was starting to get invaded with dandelions and weeds. All my hard work was in jeopardy unless I got rid of these pesky weeds ASAP.

(Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic, but you might get where I'm going)

Just like my yard takes hard work and care to grow and become healthy, so does your marriage. And in the same way that weeds and come up and get in the way of what I've worked hard on, negative mindsets can creep into your marriage and destroy what you've worked hard on.

Let's dive into these mindsets and chat about how you can spot them, why they're so dangerous to your marriage, and how you can overcome them.

Mindset #1: “It's My Way or the Highway”

In any relationship, especially in marriage, compromise is not just a strategy; it’s a necessity. The mindset of "it's my way or the highway" can be particularly harmful because it shuts down dialogue, blocks empathy, and places your needs above the relationship itself.

Spotting this Mindset

Recognizing this mindset can be challenging, especially if it's become a habitual way of interacting (it also takes loads of self-awareness and humility).

Here are a few signs that "it's my way or the highway" might be influencing your relationship:

  • Reluctance to Compromise: Notice if you frequently insist on having the final say without considering your partner's viewpoint.
  • Dismissal of Opinions: Pay attention if ideas or suggestions from one partner are regularly dismissed or overridden without a genuine discussion.
  • Frustration during Disagreements: Watch for signs of frustration or anger when things don’t go one way. This often indicates a struggle with control rather than a mutual problem-solving approach.
  • Lack of Empathy: A persistent lack of empathy or understanding towards each other’s needs can also be a red flag.

Being aware of these signs can help you catch the mindset early and take steps to address it before it causes significant strain on your marriage.

Understanding the Issue

This mindset often emerges from a desire for control or a fear of vulnerability. It might feel safer in the moment to stick to your guns, but over time, this approach can isolate your partner, making them feel undervalued and unheard. Remember, marriage is about 'us' and not just 'me.'

Why It’s Damaging

Marriage is a partnership... you both deserve to feel respected and considered. When one person always dictates the terms, it stops being a mutual journey and starts feeling more like a solo mission. This can lead to resentment and a lack of emotional intimacy, which are often the root causes of deeper issues in marriages.

How to Address It

  1. Practice Active Listening: Make it a habit to truly listen to your partner's thoughts and feelings without planning your rebuttal. This can help you understand where they're coming from and why they feel a certain way. Read more about healthy communication here.
  2. Foster Empathy: Try to see situations from your partner’s perspective. This can help soften your approach and remind you that your partner’s needs and feelings are as valid as your own.
  3. Seek Common Ground: Instead of aiming for victory in disagreements, look for solutions that benefit both of you. This might mean compromising or coming up with a third option neither of you had considered.

By moving away from a "my way or the highway" approach and embracing a more inclusive attitude, you lay the groundwork for a more supportive, understanding, and resilient marriage.

Mindset #2: “I Need to Win This Conflict”

Conflicts are a natural part of any relationship, but how we handle them can make all the difference. Holding onto the mindset of "I need to win this conflict" can turn every disagreement into a battlefield where no one truly wins.

Spotting this Mindset

Identifying a win-at-all-costs attitude can be key to changing how conflicts are resolved in your marriage. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Escalation of Arguments: Conflicts that quickly escalate over minor issues often indicate a competitive mindset.
  • Focus on Winning: If discussions frequently turn into debates where the goal seems to be winning rather than understanding, it’s a sign this mindset is at play.
  • Resistance to Apologize: Difficulty in admitting faults or apologizing can also be a clue that winning is being prioritized over resolving. Learn about how to apologize here.

Being mindful of these behaviors can help you recognize when winning is getting in the way of connecting.

Understanding the Issue

This mindset typically stems from seeing your spouse as an opponent rather than a partner. While it’s natural to want to assert your point of view, focusing solely on winning can lead to a lack of genuine communication and understanding.

Why It’s Damaging

When the objective of conflicts becomes about winning, the relationship loses. This approach not only prevents resolution but can deepen wounds, leaving both partners feeling misunderstood and unvalued.

How to Address It

  1. Emphasize Understanding Over Winning: Shift your focus from winning the argument to understanding your partner’s perspective. This change in mindset can transform the nature of your interactions.
  2. Develop Healthy Conflict Resolution Skills: Learning techniques such as calm communication, taking timeouts, and expressing feelings without accusation can help manage conflicts more constructively.
  3. Remember "Same Team:" Remind yourselves that you're on the same team... it's you and your spouse vs the conflict instead of you vs your spouse.

Adopting these strategies can help you turn conflict into a tool for strengthening your marriage, rather than a battleground.

We also talk all about conflict and communication in our online premarital course.

Mindset #3: “I Don’t Need to Change My Actions”

The belief that "I don’t need to change my actions" can be a significant barrier in any marriage. This mindset fosters a static environment where growth is stifled, and issues are left unresolved.

Spotting this Mindset

Recognizing this mindset involves observing how both partners respond to feedback and challenges within the relationship. Here are some indicators:

  • Defensiveness: A quickness to defend actions without considering the other's feelings or perspectives can be a sign of this mindset.
  • Repeating Harmful Behaviors: Continuously engaging in behaviors that have been identified as hurtful or problematic indicates a resistance to change. Here are 7 red flags you shouldn't ignore.
  • Ignoring Feedback: Dismissing or ignoring feedback from your spouse, especially when it pertains to your actions or behavior, highlights a reluctance to adapt or grow.

Being aware of these behaviors can help you identify areas where change is needed but is being resisted.

Understanding the Issue

This mindset often comes from a place of comfort or fear—comfort in familiar patterns and fear of the unknown that change brings. However, in a marriage, both partners need to evolve together to address each other's needs and to strengthen their bond.

Why It’s Damaging

Refusing to change harmful or negative behaviors can create a cycle of resentment and frustration in a relationship. It not only hinders personal growth but also the growth of the relationship, potentially leading to feelings of stagnation and dissatisfaction.

How to Address It

  1. Embrace Feedback: View feedback from your partner as a gift meant to make you both better. It’s not about criticism; it’s about growing together.
  2. Commit to Personal Growth: Recognize that change is a part of life, and personal growth is essential for a healthy relationship. Set personal goals that align with improving your relationship.
  3. Seek Support if Needed: Sometimes, changing entrenched behaviors can be challenging. Don’t hesitate to seek support from counseling or workshops that can provide tools for better communication and behavior change.

By adopting a mindset open to change, you actively contribute to a more dynamic, healthy, and fulfilling relationship. This openness not only resolves ongoing issues but also enriches your journey together as a couple.

Mindset #4: “My Spouse is the Problem”

Blaming your spouse for all the relationship’s problems is not only unfair but also unproductive. This mindset shifts responsibility entirely away from oneself, obstructing personal accountability and mutual growth.

Spotting this Mindset

Identifying a blame-centric approach in your interactions can be crucial for shifting towards a more balanced perspective. Here are some signs that this mindset might be present:

  • Frequent Blaming: Regularly attributing problems solely to your partner’s actions or character.
  • Avoidance of Self-Reflection: Failing to consider how your own behavior might contribute to issues in the relationship.
  • Dismissal of Responsibility: Consistently dismissing or minimizing your role in conflicts or problems.

Awareness of these patterns is the first step in moving away from blame and towards a more collaborative approach.

Understanding the Issue

This mindset often stems from a reluctance to face one's own flaws or a desire to feel morally superior. It’s easier to point fingers than to look in the mirror. However, this prevents a deeper understanding of the relational dynamics and blocks effective problem-solving.

Why It’s Damaging

When one partner always blames the other, it creates an environment of defensiveness and mistrust. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and an increase in resentment, making it difficult to maintain a healthy, loving relationship.

How to Address It

  1. Practice Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on your own actions and how they might affect your partner. This involves honest self-assessment and willingness to acknowledge your shortcomings.
  2. Focus on Teamwork: Approach problems as a team. Instead of blaming, explore how both of you can contribute to solutions. This helps in fostering a spirit of partnership and shared responsibility.
  3. Communicate Constructively: When discussing issues, focus on the situation, not the person. Use "I" statements to express how you feel without making your partner feel attacked. This promotes a more empathetic and effective dialogue. (We talk about communication in our online premarital course)

By shifting from a blame-centric to a team-centric mindset, you can transform challenges into opportunities for strengthening your bond and deepening your mutual understanding.

Mindset #5: “Divorce is Always an Option”

Regularly seeing divorce as an easy out can undermine the commitment required to make a marriage work. Treating divorce as a readily available option can destabilize the security and trust that are foundational to a successful marriage.

Not to mention, divorce isn't a part of God's plan for marriage (Mark 10:9). So why would it be an option for yours? (Note: we believe abuse and abandonment are biblical grounds for divorce. That's not what we're discussing in this article... we're talking about casual mentions of divorce).

Spotting this Mindset

Being aware of how frequently divorce is considered or threatened during conflicts can be telling. Here are signs that this mindset might be affecting your relationship:

  • Casual Mentions of Divorce: Using divorce as a threat or a means to gain leverage in arguments. This might sound like, "Well I guess we should just get a divorce then."
  • Minimal Effort to Resolve Issues: Demonstrating a tendency to give up on conflicts quickly rather than working through them.
  • Being Raised in a Divorced Home or Around Lots of Divorced Couples: If divorce was common for you growing up, it may be something you feel is acceptable whether you realize it or not.

Recognizing these signs can help you understand the seriousness of this mindset and its potential impact on your marriage.

Understanding the Issue

We see this issue most commonly with couples who either 1) don't take marriage as seriously as they should, or 2) have been desensitized to divorce because they've been around it so often (see above).

Why It’s Damaging

When divorce is seen as an easy exit, it can create an atmosphere of insecurity and conditional commitment. This may discourage both of you from putting in the effort needed to overcome challenges and can erode the foundation of trust and mutual support in the marriage.

How to Address It

  1. Reaffirm Commitment: Regularly affirm your commitment to each other and the relationship. This can help build a secure environment where both partners feel valued and committed.
  2. Never Say the "D Word:" If divorce isn't an option, there's no need to even talk about it. We have a rule that the "d word" (divorce) never enters our home.
  3. Seek Professional Help: If the idea of divorce comes up frequently, it might be beneficial to consult with a marriage counselor. Professional guidance can provide the tools and perspective needed to tackle underlying issues and strengthen the relationship.

By consciously choosing to work on your marriage and reaffirming your commitment, you can shift away from viewing divorce as a default option and instead focus on building a resilient and loving partnership.

Marriage is not just about surviving together; it's about thriving together. It's about finding the "weeds in your lawn" and then getting rid of them as soon as you can. Embrace the challenges as opportunities to strengthen your bond, deepen your understanding, and reaffirm your commitment to each other.

Cheering you on!

Continue Reading

Search the site

Search for topics like sexual boundaries, budgeting, conflict, or anything else you're looking for.
The Newlywed Financial Guide is live now! Get it below.
Access Now