Destructive behavior can doom a marriage. When one spouse starts exhibiting destructive behavior, the only answer is to correct it and make it right. Why do people become destructive? I believe there are four basic reasons:
1⃣ Ignorance. Hosea 4 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” I’ve seen this play out in my own marriage. Karen and I got married at 19 years old and neither of us had a clue. Schools teach math and science to students, but no one taught us how to succeed in relationships.
When you come from a broken home, you don’t see a successful marriage. All you see are failed or unhealthy relationships. How can you succeed without good examples? How can you succeed when you’re only drawing from ignorance?
That’s why having a teachable spirit is so essential to success. You have to be open to correction and willing to learn.
2⃣ Past hurts. I brought a lot of pain into our marriage. To me, it felt like a form of weakness. I didn’t want to reveal it to Karen. I was afraid my world would crumble if she knew about it. So I hid it behind an overbearing, macho front. My fear kept my hurt in the darkness, and that made my life distorted and dysfunctional.
Darkness is a breeding ground for the devil. He wants shame and fear to stay hidden, because healing arrives when we expose it to the light of God.
It wasn’t until I finally began to admit my hurts to Karen that our relationship improved. I started talking to her. She knew I was messed up, but she wanted to hear it from me. She wanted to see me deal with it rather than hide it. I also had to take responsibility for my actions that resulted from the pain.
3⃣ Bad friends and negative influences. “Do not be deceived,” the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33. “Evil company corrupts good habits.” In other words, if you spend time with friends who lie, cheat, or get divorced, you are much more likely to be a person who lies, cheats, and gets divorced.
If you want to know what you’re going to look like in a few years, take a look at your friends. Your friends predict your future.
When Karen and I got married, I didn’t like Christians. I had no interest in going to church. It made me self-conscious. I always felt like the least spiritual person in the building. But Karen kept pushing us to get involved, and that was an important step in our marriage improving.
Going to church is one of the best ways to avoid negative influences. People at church still have plenty of issues, but they are people who rely on Jesus. They will encourage you to do the right thing. If bad company corrupts, then good company supports good habits.
4⃣ Defensiveness. A person who is emotionally healthy can listen to anything, but those who take a defensive posture refuse to hear certain things. A defensive spouse will not allow the other spouse the right to complain. A defensive spouse does not validate the other spouse’s concerns.
This is why researchers identify defensiveness as a high predictor of divorce. The behavior of defensive people destroys intimacy and good will. It inhibits honesty. It locks problems into a relationship, because the problems and concerns just accumulate. They never go away.
Functional families talk, but dysfunctional families operate in silence, secrets, and defensiveness.
Are you a destructive husband or wife? Are past hurts, bad friends, or a defensive posture damaging your marriage? If so, take responsibility for this behavior and ask God to help you change—for the sake of your relationship.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today