Through the years as a marriage therapist, I have been asked a countless number of times:  “We were so wild about each other.  So much in love.  So passionate.  How could we have possibly grown this cold and distant from each other?” There are a variety of answers to the above question.  Below are the top ways people ruin their marriage, injure love, destroy trust and generally make their relationship a miserable experience:

  1. Making other things your top priority—work, computer, friends, TV, sports, children, etc.—rather that your intimate relationship.
  2. Lack of affection.  Hand holding, hugs, cuddling and physical tenderness is not only erotic and seductive, but it’s a glue that keeps the two of you feeling close, connected and bonded to each other.  Its absence usually means the two of you have grown far apart.
  3. Dishonesty.  It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t act trustworthy—who has  deceived, misled or betrayed you in the past—or who is secretive, hidden or withholding of feelings or important personal information.
  4. Stonewalling.  Rather than addressing what bothers you, you wall off and stay and walled off for awhile.
  5. Being defensive. Because it becomes increasingly difficult for your mate to say anything to you that you’d rather not hear, and over time, it shuts down communication, connection and closeness, because your partner becomes afraid of (or discouraged) from telling you what’s on his/her mind or how s/he truly feels.
  6. Being passive-aggressive.  Not directly stating how you feel, what you want or what you need, but rather punishing your partner in any number of ways if you don’t get what you want.
  7. Being overly critical or argumentative.  It makes you annoying and difficult to be around.
  8. Being resentful, angry or hostile too much of the time.  Then people will want to avoid you, or they’ll become afraid of you.  Either one will destroy intimacy and trust.
  9. Being self-absorbed or self-centered.  Looking out for you, not for the welfare, happiness or contentment of your partner—and certainly not being mindful of what’s in the best interest of your relationship.
  10. Not taking accountability for your behaviors—especially your difficult behaviors—or feeling so self-justified and self-righteous that you seldom think you owe an apology for your hurtful, insensitive or demeaning words or behaviors.
  11. Control/power struggles.  No one wants to be controlled or to feel powerless, and therefore shared power is the only way that really works.
  12. Being walled off.  Hard to reach.  Emotionally or physically distant, closed or withholding.
  13. Not communicating your needs, wants or desires clearly enough, or not treating those needs, as if they’re important.
  14. Seeking stimulation in all the wrong places, through alcohol, drugs, an affair, porn, sports, work or in any other way that ultimately separates or distances you and your intimate partner.
  15. Infidelity or betrayal.  This is the worst method ever for attempting to tell your intimate partner you’re unhappy, because once trust in ruptured, it is extremely difficult to recapture—and the price is very high.  You also, inadvertently, invite a revenge affair.
  16. Having low trust.  It’s very hard to be with someone who isn’t willing to offer you benefit of the doubt, or who sees your motives as suspect.
  17. Poor listening skills.  Most people talk too much about things that don’t, and listen with a genuine desire to understand way too little.
  18. Lack of sex.  Your partner is bound to feel resentful, angry, rejected and cheated.
  19. Not treating as important that which is important to your partner.