12 Ways We Push Our Spouses Away and WW Link Up!

Very often we push our spouses away without even knowing we’re doing it on a conscious level. Sadly, I’m just as guilty of clinging to many of these “12 Ways” as you might be.

In fact, I’d be better off telling you which ones I don’t struggle with than to name the long list of those I do! Suffice it to say, they are all a temptation for me and, when I take a step back, I see the alienation they create in my marriage. Worse, I see the damage they do to my love for my husband.

1. Argue and compete with your spouse. Instead, link arms and tackle every issue as a team.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  —James 4:1-2

2. Make your kids (or job, etc.) the priority in your life. Instead, make God your priority and your spouse second only to the Lord.

You shall have no other gods before me.  —Exodus 20:3

3. Ruminate on your spouse’s weaknesses and sins. Instead, focus more on his/her positive characteristics.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  —Philippians 4:8

4. Criticize and tell your spouse how s/he should change instead of praying for him/her in these weaknesses, as well as praying for humble insight into yourself.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  —James 1:19-20

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. —James 5:16

5. Let your heart wander and fantasize about how much better it would be to be married to someone else instead of cultivating your love for your spouse and looking to God to fill any void.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.          —Matthew 5:27-29

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. —Heb. 13:4 

6. Don’t give your spouse your undivided attention and interest when we’re together, instead of engaging with our mates by actively listening and being present with them.

To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.  —Proverbs 18:13

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. —Romans 14:19

7. Allow your personal desires and comforts to trump your spouse’s needs/desires. Instead, die to your own desires by humbly and sacrificially giving to him/her like Christ gives to the church.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  —Phil. 3:7-8

8. Correct your spouse or make fun of him/her in front of others. Instead, build him/her up, affirming your mate in front of your friends and family.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  —Ephesians 4:29

9. Let “dating” like you did in the past with your mate fall away and be replaced with tasks and busyness. Instead, take the time to stoke the embers of romance, turning them into a full-blown blazing desire.

Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages.  Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love.  —Song of Solomon 7:11-12

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.  —Ephesians 5:28-29

10. Collect bitter ruminations, allowing this to darken and dampen your desire for your spouse sexually. Instead, regularly forgive and give yourself to your mate through sexual intimacy.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  —1 Corinthians 7:3-5

11. Indulge laziness and give yourself over to a sense of entitlement, feeling like divorce might be the perfect escape from hard work and your marriage woes. Instead, “shut the door” to this easy ideation, recommitting and persevering in your marriage by humbly accepting your spouse’s flaws and human frailties.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. —Romans 15:7

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God —Hebrews 12:1-3

12. Allow your church and pursuit of God to be replaced by a life crammed with activities and social commitments, instead of making God our priority and building our marriages on the bedrock of Christ.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  —Hebrews 10:24-25

Take a moment and evaluate how much you might be pushing your spouse away. Then begin to pull them close to you once again by doing the counter suggestions above! And a great place to start is with #12. Make God your priority and He will enable you to love your spouse with His perfect and magnetic love, drawing your spouse to you once again!


Which one from the list do you struggle with the most? 


Which one do you need to avoid or need to pursue in your life/marriage?


I want to make it clear that I realize sometimes divorce is unavoidable and/or thrust upon many. The suggestion on #11 is simply one way that divorce can be hedged off.

26 responses to “12 Ways We Push Our Spouses Away and WW Link Up!”

  1. Darn, I have to confess? Ok, for me it’s probably #6. I’m a multitasker, which means my attention is often split between my husband and whatever other task or person is vying for my focus. You’ve convicted me to give my hubby 100 percent!


    1. I’m here to say that #7 is my weakness. And I’m with you, Becky, this is something I’ve been convicted of and want to give 100% to my spouse from now on. I never post anything that isn’t something that I apply to myself. So here’s to joining arms and loving our mates the very best we can!


  2. #3 is an easy trap to fall into. Fortunately, I can usually recognize and correct it before it gets too far. Having previously experienced a truly abusive marriage makes it easier, I think, to realize when I’m just being whiny and need to remember to be thankful for the wonderful mate God has given me.


    1. Oh yes, that used to be my M.O. back when my marriage was getting messier by every ruminating moment. Then I realized how much of a negative impact it was making when I started to take captive those pesky thoughts. Suddenly my hubby wasn’t so bad after all. Funny how that works! God surely wants us to be grateful! Thanks for your authenticity, Joe. You admitted one that’s not very flattering, but so very common to us all.


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  4. For me, it’s 9 and 10.

    I lost the capacity to understand, on a personal level, both romance and sexual desire. The mechanism by which they were lost was the onset of PTSD.

    Before I was married, I didn’t have nearly as much trouble with combat trauma, because I kept one foot “in the boot”. I maintained an operational level of fitness, was always armed, and generally lived as if I could step back into a bad deployment – and love it.

    But that doesn’t work when you’re married, and when I became a husband I didn’t realize that I was throwing away the grounding that kept me sane, and made me the person my wife fell in love with.

    The flashbacks and nightmares began, and they changed me. The playfulness and humour that are the underpinnings of romance and sex vanished. Now, I rarely smile, and almost never laugh.

    Well, sometimes I laugh, but most people wouldn’t see the stuff as funny. You had to have been there, I guess.

    My wife doesn’t like it, but she’s learned to accept it. I’ve tried to find ways to ameliorate the situation, but nothing’s worked…and now I’m really not well enough to make it worthwhile.

    So I’d add a lucky #13…we push away our spouses when we don’t take the time to understand the way we cope with the issues in our life.


    1. Ah, yes, Andrew! That’s another great example. I think this one is more common than many of the rest of these because it’s so hidden from our view. Others may see it and may even have an idea of where it’s coming from, but very often we don’t see it until the damage to our marriage has been irreparably done. You’ve been through so much, my friend, that I think it’s a miracle that you are aware of it in your life. PTSD is such a huge barrier in life and marriage and something I’ve not addressed here at MM. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you guest post on that subject sometime. 🙂


      1. Beth, thank you! I’d love to guest-post on this. I’ll email you.

        Combat trauma is an obstacle, but it’s also part of what defines an individual, and therapy aimed at ameliorating and ‘taking away’ the symptoms can backfire by throttling one’s core identity.

        The thing is – the old ‘me’ is gone, and the only way forward into a healthy adaptation to civilian life requires the careful construction of what amounts to a new psyche…one that includes and honors the experiences of the past.


  5. When my marriage was falling apart I know that I handled it by withdrawing or even avoiding the messiness that was present. I immersed myself in the daily areas that I was successful with in order to feel like I had achieved something that day. There are many reasons why my marriage did not work out, but I know #2 was a big factor in the downfall of the marriage because God was not at the center of our marriage. Thank you for the chance to reflect on this as a means to understand the relationship better and to help me in the future. Happy Wednesday, my friend!


    1. Yep, number 2 is more common than many of the others because it’s done in the name of being a “good parent.” Yet we short-change our kids when we make them the center of our world, instead of turning to God foundationally, and making our spouses the priority. Our kids will be from secure and loving homes when we do that. I am guilty of this one as well, though, Mary. In fact, it’s becoming more clear to me as we took our youngest son to college last week. I realize how much I’ve made my son the priority and telling my hubby to stand in line! Thanks for your kindness to me, girlfriend!


  6. Fabulous list! I just pinned it onto my Marriage Board!

    I think #6 might be my greatest weakness. As a busy homeschooling mom of 10, blogger, and owner of two home businesses, I’m always . . . well, BUSY! Too Busy! I do find myself multi-tasking with my husband, and I know he has taken my phone away from me before when we were out to dinner and several of the older kids were texting me about this and that!!! 😦

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom here and for hosting the link up! I look forward to linking up my marriage post here each week! I really went out on a limb this week! 😉



    1. That’s great, Elizabeth! I’m honored to be “pinned.” 😉 Yes, number 6 seems to be one that many relate to and do. It really takes effort and intentionality to stop what we’re doing and focus in on our spouses when they are with us. But that small shift in our focus at those times can reap huge dividends in our marriages–modeling for our kids how to be an attentive spouse. So everyone wins when we do this! But I’m right there with you, Elizabeth. It’s easy to get in “the zone” and blow past my man! 😉


  7. Multi tasker and criticizer… working on these each day!


    1. So would that make you a “multi-tasking criticizer,” Stasia?! You can criticize more than one person or more than one topic at a time, right! ha! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist! Thanks for being willing to weigh in and join the conversation, my friend!


  8. What a great list!! I saved it, I will pin it to my marriage list, and I will refer to it because it is such a good reminder as I move on with my hubby. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been married, I need to keep being reminded of these things because slipping happens too quickly. I am working on #11 and NOT because we are anywhere near divorce but because I am always trying to work on building my marriage. We live in a society that makes preventive maintenance in marriage of utmost importance.


    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful, Judith. I thought about writing it from the positive end, but then I thought people might miss the way these attitudes and behaviors creep into our lives and inadvertently push our spouses away. That’s a great positive focus to strive for, Judith. We need to always be protecting the sacred covenant we’ve made with our mates. Thanks for encouraging me and have a great time with your family!


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  11. Hi Beth, Guilty as charged on a few of these. So glad we learn to recognize these behaviors as we grow in our faith and in God’s Word. Thank goodness for grace, mercy and forgiveness in our spouses and in our heavenly Father!


    1. That’s one of the best parts about being a believer, Kim. The Holy Spirit is always there guiding and convicting us. I just don’t ever want to grow cold and apathetic to God’s voice. Thankfully He doesn’t give up on me and continues to draw me toward Him, just like I need to draw my man toward me. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in, my friend. It’s always a pleasure to see your smiling face here in this place! 🙂


  12. I loved reading your list. It’s so “on” but the other reason is that I could trace the points and see how much God has helped me through the young years of our marriage. (I should have learned something in the 39 years!) 7 was probably the one I struggled with the most. God showed me it was a matter of selfishness. My husband has counseled through the years and believes most issues in marriage are a root cause of selfishness. I’m still learning. ~Pamela


    1. I’m with you on number 7, Pamela. It’s the hardest for me to rein in and keep under control. We really do learn so much about life and love throughout the many years of our marriages, if we keep our heart attuned to the Lord and His guidance. Thanks for stopping by and saying, “hi!” You’ve encouraged me. 🙂


  13. Hello Beth!!! Glad to see you back at MM and hope your summer sabbatical was just what you were hoping for. Or more! Great post and I love the list. And can relate to or have struggled with a number of the points listed. But #3 caught me — that critical internal voice. Not just towards hubby but me, too. And the key for me is choosing to say SHUT UP and focus on those excellent things about us both. I have just gotten back into the swing at Longings End myself after a crazy, wonderful, whirlwind summer with all the boys local and a houseful of visiting adult children all summer. LOVED IT! Michael says he’d do it over again in a heartbeat. Then we sold our home. And moved!!! { Wrote about it a bit in Monday’s post — http://longingsend.com/2014/08/25/when-life-wears-your-marriage-down-let-god-conduct-a-transformation/ } Downsizing from 4 bedrooms to one has been quite the experience. Then we both got socked with the flu. STILL coughing!! But both much better. Have missed interacting with you and all my online friends. In case you try to leave a comment at LE our site is having old-age issues. We are in process of updating our theme and design so you can stop by our FB page if you like. Anyway, sending you all the best with lots of love and hugs. 🙂


    1. I’ve missed our weekly connections, Sheila. I’ve thought of you often throughout the past few months and wondered how everything was going. Congrats on selling your house and taking the plunge to downsize! My hubby and I are right behind you and Michael on this one. We hope to have our house ready to be put on the market by early spring. With that said, I completely relate to the sickness and difficulty of blogging issues you’ve been having. I’m having computer shoulder/arm/wrist issues again. I guess I may have to go back to my PT, but that’s so time-consuming! Ugh! Anyway, with a lot on my plate and a hand that’s often in pain, I’ve not been as active around the blogosphere, but hope to improve on that. Hugs to you and say “hello” to Michael for us. 🙂


  14. Hi Beth – I thought I would respond to you over here, since I’m never sure if people see my responses to their comments. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you had a good sabbatical and feel refreshed, although I’m sorry to hear that you are having arm and shoulder pain. I hope you can get it resolved soon.

    This is a great list. Sadly, I can see pieces of myself in several of the items. I just learned a week or so ago that a Christian couple we have known for years, very strong and committed, has divorced. I could not have been more shocked – my mouth was literally hanging open when I heard the news. It really reminded me that we cannot take our marriages for granted. We simply must pray for them and work on the kinds of things you have listed here all the time. I am going to pin and share this post.


  15. Hard to narrow down to just one because I struggle with all of them. Most recently I’ve struggled with #3. I seem to want to look at who he is in a negative light(through my own eyes) rather than looking at him as Christ sees him. I need to frame this and put it up as a reminder in each room in my house.


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