These Are The Things That Harm Marriages The Most

These Are The Things That Harm Marriages The Most Shutterstock

“Happily ever after” isn’t just a fairy tale ending, but it requires effort to maintain that happiness. Sometimes we unknowingly do things that slowly start to eat away at our marriages. If you want to avoid common relationship traps, keep your eyes peeled for these major red flags.

1. You stop actually talking to each other.

Grunts about dinner and yelling at the kids don’t count. Real conversations about your lives, feelings, dreams – those fade away, and suddenly, you’re like roommates, not partners, PsychCentral warns. When the deep connection is gone, it becomes easy to drift apart, even while physically still living under the same roof.

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2. Taking each other for granted is a slow killer.

Frustrated couple, headache and fight on sofa in divorce, disagreement or conflict in living room at home. Man and woman in toxic relationship, cheating affair or dispute on lounge couch at house

When appreciation dies, resentment grows. Never forget all the little (and big!) things your partner does and let them know you notice, often. Small gestures of gratitude keep the love alive, while complacency makes you each start to feel invisible.

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3. Letting yourself go, inside and out.


lazy man drinking on couch

Attraction matters. It isn’t just about looks, but neglecting your health, energy, or sense of style sends a message that you’ve stopped caring, both for yourself and your relationship. Putting effort into your appearance and well-being signals that you still see your partner as worth impressing.

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4. Nitpicking every little thing they do.

Witness the clash of perspectives as a boyfriend and girlfriend become entangled in a spirited dispute on the atmospheric nighttime streets

Constant criticism erodes the love faster than anything. If every tiny mistake they make sets you off, either your expectations are unrealistic, or the deeper issues between you need fixing. Focusing on every flaw breeds negativity, whereas accepting their imperfections (as they hopefully accept yours) is essential for lasting love.

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5. Refusing to apologize or admit when you’re wrong.

Stubbornness is poison in a marriage. Everyone messes up! A simple “I was out of line” goes a long way, while denying any fault breeds contempt over time. Being willing to own your mistakes builds trust, while refusing to ever do so makes your partner feel like their hurt is never valid.

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6. Thinking the grass is greener on the other side

Flirting with coworkers or comparing your spouse to other people disrespects them and makes you miserable. Focus on nurturing what you have instead of fantasizing about something you probably don’t really want. The comparison game is a trap, and social media makes it worse than ever – remember, everyone else is only showing you their highlight reel.

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7. Keeping score

“I did the dishes, YOU have to walk the dog!” Marriage isn’t a 50/50 split of chores. It’s both of you giving 100%, knowing sometimes one of you needs to give 120% while the other manages 80%. Focusing on a perfectly balanced division of labor misses the point – a successful marriage is about teamwork, not tallying up who did what.

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8. Withholding affection to punish them

Couple, relationship and marriage problems while traveling together and spending time at the beach. Upset, unhappy and angry man and woman ignoring each other after a fight, arguing or quarrel

Love and intimacy shouldn’t be bargaining chips. Using them as a weapon is incredibly damaging, and often the start of a long, painful decline. Physical affection is a crucial way couples bond, and using its absence as punishment erodes trust and breeds resentment.

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9. Putting everyone and everything above your partner

Your spouse is supposed to be your teammate, your ride-or-die. If they constantly feel like the last priority, they’ll start believing they actually are. Of course, your other relationships matter, but constantly putting your partner’s needs last sends the message that they’re not as important as everyone else in your life.

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10. Letting bitterness take root after a fight

Not truly forgiving them, even after the conflict is resolved, keeps the wound open. Resentment simmers under the surface, turning small disagreements into huge blowups. Being able to truly let go of hurt (after you’ve honestly discussed it) is crucial for a marriage to thrive. If every argument rehashes old pain, it creates a never-ending cycle of negativity.

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11. Never doing anything together as a couple

Kids, work, and hobbies all matter, of course, but so does carving out dedicated time for just the two of you. Date nights might seem cheesy, but they’re vital to keep that romantic spark alive. Shared experiences help remind you why you fell in love in the first place, and neglecting that one-on-one time can make you start to feel more like co-parents or business partners than romantic partners.

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12. Stonewalling when they try to share their feelings

Shutting down emotionally makes them feel invisible, Verywell Mind explains. Relationships thrive on connection, and if you consistently refuse to engage when they’re hurting, trust eventually crumbles. Giving them the cold shoulder sends the message that you don’t care about their emotional needs, making true intimacy impossible.

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13. Thinking marriage is supposed to be easy all the time.

It ain’t, y’all. Every couple goes through tough patches, and it’s how you weather those storms together that determines if you’ll last in the long run. Idealizing marriage as always being sunshine and rainbows sets you up for disappointment– it’s those hard times that reveal if your love is truly strong enough to endure.

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14. Name-calling or belittling during disagreements

If you find yourself saying things like, “You’re such an idiot,” or, “You’ll never amount to anything,” know that those insults cut deep and erode their sense of self-worth. It’s never okay to degrade your partner, even in anger. Hurtful words linger long after the argument ends, creating an atmosphere of disrespect rather than unconditional love.

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15. Threatening divorce during every argument

sad woman on edge of bed with boyfriend

Using it as a manipulative weapon, even if you don’t really mean it, makes them feel unsafe and unloved. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as those threats chip away at the security of your marriage. Threatening to walk away makes your partner less invested in working through problems, since they believe you might leave at any moment anyway.

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16. Losing respect for them as a person

Eye-rolling, contempt, and seeing them as the enemy rather than your other half… that’s the beginning of the end. If you can’t see their good qualities anymore, it’s time for some serious soul-searching (or couples therapy). Love can endure a lot, but without fundamental respect, there’s no real foundation left to build upon.

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Harper Stanley graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School in NYC in 2006 with a degree in Media Studies and Literature and Critical Analysis. After graduating, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic before moving to the UK to work for the London Review of Books.

When she's not waxing poetic about literature, she's writing articles about dating, relationships, and other women's lifestyle topics to help make their lives better. While shocking, she really has somehow managed to avoid joining any social media apps — a fact she's slightly smug about.