9 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

9 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage

Everybody wants to know the secrets to a happy marriage, but it can be just as important to know what leads to marital conflict. By understanding what you’re doing to mess things up and how your brain is involved, you’ll know how to turn things around to make marital magic.



By understanding what you’re doing to mess up your relationship—and how your brain is involved—you’ll know how to turn things around to make it magical again. Click To Tweet

Here are 9 ways spouses can sabotage their marriage—even if it’s not intentional.

1. Saying everything that pops into your head.

Anyone who is married knows that it’s best to keep some thoughts to yourself. Lower than normal activity in the brain’s frontal lobes—commonly seen in people with ADD or a history of head injury—makes you more likely to be impulsive and blurt out things that are hurtful to the one you love.

2. Not getting enough zzzz’s.

When you skimp on sleep or suffer from chronic insomnia, your brain can’t function optimally, and this can affect your mood, decision-making, and memory. If sleep issues contribute to being in a rotten mood, forgetting your anniversary, or deciding to go out drinking with friends instead of being with your spouse their birthday, it’s going to lead to big problems.

3. Holding on to past hurts.

When you can’t forgive or get beyond problems from the past, it can be a sign of an overactive anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG), an area that acts as the brain’s gear shifter. When your ACG works too hard, you tend to get stuck on old hurts or hold grudges. In addition, if you don’t take responsibility for your own role in the past problems and you blame your spouse for everything that went wrong, you’re headed for more trouble.

4. Not focusing on what you want.

What is your ultimate goal in your marriage? Is it to prove that you’re right all the time? Or is it to have the best relationship possible? If you don’t know what your overarching goal is, you won’t be able to focus on the behaviors that help you achieve it. And you’ll be more likely to do things that can sabotage it—rather than make it better.

5. Playing “let’s have a problem.”

Being conflict-driven and creating problems to add some “excitement” to your marriage isn’t helpful. People with ADD/ADHD have a tendency (even if it’s unconscious) to stir things up as a way to boost blood flow in the brain. There are better ways to increase brain activity.

6. Hanging with the wrong crowd.

If you surround yourself with people who constantly complain about what’s wrong with their marriage, guess what? You’ll probably start complaining too. When you focus on the negative, you train your brain to look for what’s wrong, rather than noticing what’s right. What might make this even worse is that a 2020 research study found that repetitive negative thinking may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease!

7. Having an extramarital affair…with your phone!

Staring at your phone so you can scroll through your social media feed while you’re having lunch with your spouse is a relationship killer. The inability to resist the lure of your phone—AKA “phubbing” (phone snubbing)—makes the other person feel ignored and not worthy of your attention. Is that what you really want? Plus, it can also be a sign that you’ve got attentional issues or even addiction problems. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that excessive use of social networking sites can lead to some of the same symptoms that are commonly seen with substance use addictions.

8. Being addicted to alcohol, drugs, or anything else.

If you’re drinking too much, doing drugs, or obsessed with pornography, your addiction is interfering with being present in your marriage. Unhealthy, out-of-control habits can damage brain function and lead to more bad decisions and destructive behaviors.

9. Ignoring mental health/brain health issues.

Mental health issues—such as depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, and PTSD—are really brain health issues. They are all rooted in brain function and when left undiagnosed, untreated, or improperly treated, they can destroy a marriage. For example, when you’re depressed, it’s difficult to think of anyone but yourself, and that can create a disconnect between the two of you. When a spouse doesn’t understand their partner has a brain health problem, bad behavior can be taken personally and make them feel like their partner doesn’t love them, is being mean on purpose, or is quite simply a jerk.

By becoming more aware of how your decisions and behavior are dismantling the health of your relationship, you can start making the positive changes necessary to rebuild the trust and love that brought the two of you together in the first place.

Find out more ways your brain can ruin your relationship and the simple strategies to reverse brain health issues and strengthen your marriage on the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast: 

 Marital conflict and relationship issues, anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, addictions, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Is there a clinic in NC , if so , where ?

    Comment by Stephanie — July 22, 2019 @ 6:12 AM

  2. I suffer from PTSD, and other mental issues. I take my medicine on a regular basis, I have a great support team. But I’m finding out that I’m experiencing major rage/ anger issues. What can I do for them??

    Comment by Shara — July 22, 2019 @ 7:09 AM

  3. While many of the points have merit , number 3 is too general and severely Flawed .
    Hurts can be remedied IF issues were acknowledged and some form of sincere apology made .
    However . . . People who are rude , abusive , lie or use others & just brush off the issues cause things to fester .
    Unless a person Acknowledges a bad behavior & indicates a willingness to Change ,
    They can Not be trusted going forward .
    If they Never sincerely acknowledge things ,
    it is Reasonable to be wary about them Repeating the same bad behaviors in the future .

    Comment by Mary — July 22, 2019 @ 10:09 AM

  4. So all these things can ruin a marriage,

    what happens if your husband is just an a******

    Comment by Joy — August 10, 2019 @ 8:13 AM

  5. And that is what I am in currently. My wife is totally narcissistic and will never be able to make a honest introspective look in the mirror.
    I agree that some people aren’t able to honestly apologize and change. They continue in the same behavior patterns for life never realizing the damage they are always repeating.
    Not able to forgive and communicate in a healthy relationship is not in the DNA of these personalities…..

    Comment by Kenneth — December 18, 2019 @ 2:01 PM

  6. Problem with wife's brother trying to dislodge our marriage.

    Comment by Jeff — December 26, 2022 @ 11:53 PM

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