A bad marriage is like a bad dream. You dread a bad marriage while in it and sulk once it’s over, though not for long.
You may recover after sometime, and feel a bit relieved if the marriage really was so horrible, but generally bad marriages hurt, and often have the potential to break up a person.
Mostly all marriages begin with a love filled life – romantic days, passionate nights, promises of eternal companionship, and what not.
How could such beautiful starts have ugly ends, with problems that hardly solve, and relationship that never mends?
Where do the things go awry, which faults lead to such disasters, and what mistakes go unaccounted? Is it just a change of mind of a partner or unrealistic expectations that causes all the commotion?
Maintaining a marriage requires two-way processing and mutual co-operation of the spouses. Besides that, the partners should have many qualities to make sure survival and stability of their marriage.
In order to search the answers to our questions, we need to know and understand what an ideal or healthy marriage is, and what makes it bad.
“It had not occurred to me that marriage requires the same effort as a career. And unlike a career, marriage requires a joint effort.” ~ Jessica Savitch
What is a Marriage
In my own words, a marriage is an understanding between two people to live life together by remaining committed and faithful to each other, even if they are distanced by time and space.
It is a relationship that allows the partners to have personal intimacy in terms of sharing their body, mind and emotions, with each other’s permission.
It is an association to help and support each other to successfully run a family by taking up and fulfilling their responsibilities.
It is also a pledge to take care of and respect each other, and a permission to raise a family through social acceptance and legal authorization.
It is a union of two distinct personalities to learn from each other and to help each other grow as individuals, parents, and human beings.
What makes marriage different from a live-in relationship is that marriage is a contract or public declaration of commitment along with a social and legal safety net.
However, in spite of institutionalizing the marriage, there are fall offs and failures leading to bad marriage.
We are not talking about occasional bad times which happen even in healthy marriages, but about the marriages that mostly have bad times and rarely show healthy signs.
Understanding a healthy marriage would give a better idea about a bad marriage, and how to avoid it.
“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” ~ Martin Luther
What Makes a Healthy Marriage
Not all marriages are bad or unhealthy. Following are the other important constituents that keep the marriage healthy, and which are generally found lacking in bad marriages.
The most vital part of a healthy marriage is love. Love acts as a strong binding agent. It is a reason to be together for all seasons and a force that sheds all differences, and unites individuals to give a feeling of wholeness.
Love in a marriage drives passion and ignites romance, which are like the fuel and engine that power the marriage to its heights.
Friendship between the spouses also turns out to be a cornerstone of a healthy marriage. The perfect marriage partners are not just spouses but friendly spouses, who are there for each other through thick and thin.
They respect and accept each other for what and who they are, and like to spend more time with each other.
The other essential reason what makes a healthy marriage work is good communication between the partners. Communication helps solve problems easily and quickly, and doesn’t let misunderstanding set in.
Yes, misunderstandings can create a lot of ruckus in a marriage. They give rise to problems and create mountains out of moles. The reality also becomes distorted, when matters could be solved by clarifying issues.
Understanding the nature of the spouse, his or her ways, likes or dislikes helps in the smooth working of a marriage.
The partners who understand each other choose not to get agitated over trivial matters, or get perturbed about each other’s incidental outbursts. Instead, they try to get to the depth and seek out the reason for the spouse’s actions or behavior.
Trust is the other thread, apart from love, that ties the marriage partners in a relationship. The strong belief that the other person will never harm you nor cheat on you is very self-assuring, relieving, and comforting.
Once this thread is broken by acts including infidelity or adultery, the marriage starts dwindling and hangs in doubt and suspicion. These are the parasites that even eat up love, the only remaining thread to save you from a free fall.
“If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love.” ~ Michel de Montaigne
Why Marriages Turn Bad
The marriage will go bad if care is not taken to imbibe all the above mentioned factors that make a healthy marriage.
The most common cause of a failed marriage is often incompatibility. Though violence, abuse, aggressiveness, and constant fights are also the main reasons that make the marriage go sour.
But sometimes the reasons that make a bad marriage happen are not that clear or obvious.
The problems that concern a spouse about the other could range from the display of insensitivity, annoying habits, behavior of nagging, complaining, constantly blaming, using harsh tones, and arrogance.
The other put-off reasons include always being negative, unapologetic, excessively dominating, cold and unforgiving, hyperactive, being a perfectionist, uncaring and too selfish.
The relationship in a marriage takes a down turn when there is dullness in it, differences just about anything, perpetual disagreement, an intense dislike for the other, unfulfilled desires, ego clashes, and a failure of the spouse to change.
These issues hurt a partner and cast its shadow on the marriage and are potential signs to look for a marriage going bad.
I agree that people can make efforts to correct the above mentioned problems and that some of them could be irrational reasons, but that is how people are sometimes.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what makes a marriage go bad, and many more points can be included by all of you.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin
Here’s a video where relationship expert Sue Johnson identifies the warning signs in a marriage and what you can do to prevent issues from destroying your relationship.
Warning Signs in a Marriage ~ Sue Johnson ~ You Tube Video
“When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Why Do We Marry the Wrong Person
If you marry an incompatible person, the chances are that you’ll experience a bad marriage. Is it that because love is blind, people select wrong partners and that makes the marriage turn bad?
Some people get fascinated by the other person’s style that are either temporary or artificially put on. But after marriage they regret their decision when they no longer see those qualities in their partners.
Some people initially choose partners on the basis of physical characteristics, appearances, and sexual needs.
Unfortunately, they realize that they have misunderstood and misjudged each other’s personalities, and conclude that they are a complete mismatch and not fit to spend their lives together.
In some cases it’s the difference in sexual appetite or preferences that crop up later in marriage and that make even the most understanding marriages tumble-down.
When people concentrate only on the superficiality, and fail to look into the inner qualities of a person, they end up marrying the wrong person.
“In marriage do thou be wise: prefer the person before money, virtue before beauty, the mind before the body; then thou hast a wife, a friend, a companion, a second self.” ~ William Penn
How to Avoid a Bad Marriage
You do not plan a bad marriage, it just happens. It is a gradual and slow process.
Bad marriages usually start with small things and issues, which are either ignored or not given proper attention at the time of their origin.
Therefore, one should keep a look out on all the signs of marriage that deviate from normality, even the signs that you think are insignificant.
Don’t take your marriage for granted, it would not grow on its own – your marriage is like a garden plant; if you don’t take care, it will die its natural death.
A marriage requires constant and regular maintenance, service, and efforts to keep it in a good shape. This is quite similar to what you do for your car, failing which only you could be blamed for a breakdown on the highway.
Those who do not practice frequent analysis and assessment of their marriage often get a shock when issues grow monstrous and the marriage goes beyond repair.
Even a small hole in the hull can sink the most stable ship. The partners need to work as a team and carefully sail and steer their marriage-ship to avoid it from sinking.
You might think living together before getting marriage helps in better harmonization and understanding.
Some social reports opine that those who have a live-in relationship before marriage tend to have higher chance of having a bad marriage. But I’m sure you can cite many examples, including some of the celebrities, who defy such popular opinion.
“Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient.” ~ Voltaire
Why Bad Marriages are Common
One observation is that divorce has become very common today. Its numbers have steeply risen and its practice has mushroomed in all segments of society.
No doubt staying in a bad marriage can be harmful to health, and one of the ways to save oneself is separation or divorce. Here’s an interesting news report on how health and bad marriage are linked up.
Could it be that getting to know people, including celebrities, abandoning their marriage and going for a divorce, followed up by a quick remarriage, tempts others to follow the trend, despite having a repairable problem at hand?
Could this option keep playing in the subconscious mind? Because if mind knows there’s an option, it will try to use it.
Such a practice is slowly becoming a norm and accepted way in the present generation, and the increasing number of bad marriages and divorces are an area of concern.
Having an easy way out through the option of divorce discourages a person to sincerely work hard to change life, sort out issues, and save the marriage.
“We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations – we’re doing everything we can to keep our marriage together.” ~ Rodney Dangerfield
I feel the spouses in a relationship need to change themselves with time, and according to the needs of the relationship.
They need to make adjustments with each other, rather than trying to change one another. Marriage is after all a blend of love and adjustment. But people don’t want to waste time in making amends and choose the easier way of divorce.
The ego stands in the way of an eternal relationship as envisioned by lovers in romance prior to, or in the initial phases of marriage.
I also believe that lack of education and information about marriage might create a mirage, as people form a different picture and opinion of what a marriage should be like.
When discrepancy seeps in between their ideal version of marriage and the realistic marriage, they are heartbroken, disappointed, and understand that their marriage has gone bad.
Do you wish to test how strong your marriage is? Here’s a quiz, just for fun. And some more detailed information about why good marriages go bad.
Over to you –
Do you think there are failed or bad marriages because people have weak problem-solving skills, underdeveloped interpersonal skills, or highly developed egos?
Do you think bad marriages can be prevented? Do ideal or healthy marriages still exist? Why do you think the marriages go bad? Have you been married, if so, how is/was your experience? Share your views in the comments below.
Photo Credits: 123RF Stock Photos , kelsey_lovefusionphoto
Posted on: August 11th, 2012
Last Updated on: February 2nd, 2015