5 Toxic Marriage Habits

5 Toxic Marriage Habits

After Joe and I got engaged we began reading books on marriage. We had a long engagement ahead of us and we wanted to be as prepared as possible for a life lived together for the glory of God. But a couple can be as prepared and well-matched as possible and still find themselves poisoning the very marriage they want to invest in. Over the years I have observed 5 toxic habits that poison marriages.

These toxins are common, easy to come by, and do more damage than many think.


I don’t really know why many of us nag. It never really works. It annoys the other person without bearing much fruit and causes frustration in the nagger. Yet we do it anyway.

Sometimes nagging can occur through sarcastic words (something I am guilty of). “Your dirty socks aren’t going to walk themselves to the hamper”, or “The lawn is looking good if you are going for the prairie look.”

The Bible has a hard word to say to naggers, especially women (maybe because we are more prone to nagging).

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
Proverbs 21:19

Wow, better to live in a desert? Better to be cut off from all human contact than to live with a nagger? Really? Why? Nagging is in opposition to encouragement. A nagging wife makes her husband’s life stressful and unpleasant and aren’t we called to do him good (Prov. 31). Aren’t we called to be a helper (Gen. 2:18)?  If I nag my husband he is much less likely to want to do what I am asking him to do. Nagging is deflating, frustrating, annoying, unkind, and wrong.


We all complain, from unpleasant weather to the fact that no one puts their dishes in the dishwasher,  we will never run out of things to complain about, but the problem is two fold.

First off, when we complain we are often telling God that we are dissatisfied with how he has ordained our day and our life. We are basically telling him that he is wrong and that we know better.

Secondly, a complaining spirit is the fruit of pride. We believe we deserve better. We think we are entitled to something more, and therefore speaking out against what we dislike feels justified.

Within marriage complaining often amounts to little more than the venting of our selfish and ungodly feelings. Too often have I complained in front of my husband without any thought as to what effect my words will have on him.  Complaining may let you blow off some steam, but it easily burns those around you.

Do everything without complaining and arguing
Phil. 2:14


Oh yes, I know this sin well. That desire to have things go my way tends to rear its ugly head much to often. But selfishness has no place within marriage.

Jesus must be our example here. He placed himself last. He gave himself up for others, he loved when it was inconvenient and he served when he was tired.

Selfishness comes from pride (as with most sins). When we are selfish we are thinking much too highly of ourselves and much too lowly of everyone else. Selfishness within marriage shows that we think we are much more important than our spouse, but isn’t this the opposite of what God calls us to do?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Phil 2:3-4

We must learn to use our talents, our gifts, our words and our interests for the good of others, particularly our spouse, and in this we will find joy and satisfaction.


We’ve all heard the saying that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. This is so true but do we know why anger is so dangerous?

How many times have we become angry with our husbands and in turn our husbands have responded sweetly and kindly? Probably not very often because anger provokes anger. Instead we need to pray for and practice self control. The ability to bite our tongue, to control our tone, and our volume.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-20

Anger within marriage is dangerous because usually when you are mad at someone you don’t want to spend a lot of time with them. Unresolved anger can lead to two people distancing themselves from each other, bitterness to take root and love to grow cold.

Keeping Score

Over time it is easy to start keeping score. It tallies up what you have done for him and what he has done (or not done) for you.The more we keep score the more chips we accumulate on our shoulders and that weight will cause resentment.

One of the main problems of keeping score is that it is a kind of unforgiveness and the poison of unforgiveness continually digs up the past, never letting bygones be bygones. Isn’t this the opposite of what Christ has done for us? He never throws past sins back in our faces. Our sins were put to rest at the cross and we are to extend such forgiveness to others. If left unchecked scorekeeping will bring about bitterness and misery.

Marriage is the union of two sinners who bring into the marriage quite a bit of toxins. It is easy to point the finger at the other person, but we need to spend more time weeding out our own toxic habits and the best way to to do this is to live at the foot of the cross.

In the light of Christ’s work on our behalf anger is calmed, complaining is turned to thankfulness and selfishness withers and dies. Is it easy? No way! But it is possible because we have the power of Christ.



Jen Thorn and her husband, Joe, live in IL with their 4 children. She loves studying theology, reading the Puritans, and has a passion for horchata and all things chocolate. Jen blogs at JenThorn.com as well as goodmorninggirls.org. Follow her on Twitter @jenlthorn and Facebook.



  • Felicia

    After a particularly rough day yesterday I needed this reminder to not let things like my complaining and selfish ways get in the way of my marriage. Talk about bruised toes, but it’s something I needed to read at this moment more than anything else.

    Thank you.

  • Amy

    this is not only true in marriage but some women are like this in all aspects of their lives. I know a few. this was a great read. I am sharing it in hopes God will change their lives.

  • Shannon Payne (@SimplySaidMom)

    Jen- thank you for sharing your words with us today! I’m sure each and every reader today can see themselves in one or more of these toxic habits. My prayer is that we seek resolution and repentance, holding firm to our commitment to both God and marriage.

  • Katherine

    Growing up I had witnessed my mother sacrifice so many things.. things she either needed or wanted. So when I got older I had this thought that I wasn’t going to be like that. If I wanted that dress or whatever I was going to get it. I turned into a shopaholic lol I became bitter towards my mom and felt entitled. I was being selfish. When I got married to my wonderful hubby it spilled over. Know I’ve never been in debt or had credit cards or anything but when he would go to work I would buy things. It became a strain on our relationship. I turned to God. As did my husband. We are still in our first year of marriage. Actually in a few weeks it will be our anniversary. Since learning to respect my man and even God I no longer feel the need to shop.. I still need to work on the worrying and complaining part of myself but I know I have room to grow in God’s love. Thank you for sharing this article it really hit home.

    • Jen Thorn

      Praise God for the work he is doing in your life and in the life of our husband and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. Marriage is hard work, but the more we work on it the more blessed we will be.

  • Linda

    Within my marriage…I nagged, and it got me nowhere. So I complained, and it got me nowhere. Then I got angry, and I figured if I’d nag more, my anger would go away. But all it did was make me complain more. Yes, I am divorced, and it has taken me many many years to clearly see and take responsibility for the role I played in the demise of my marriage. You see, for years I figured it was all my husband’s fault–that’s why I had to nag, complain, get angry. Then, God showed me my heart issues–my sin. I was a complainer. I’d find something negative in almost every circumstance. Just going to the grocery store would give me a host of things to complain about: people blocking the aisles, the cashier was too slow, the person who had 24 items in a 15-or-less lane–you get the picture. I began to see that throughout my marriage it was all about me, and when things didn’t go my way, I’d nag, complain, get angry, and blame my husband. All this did was drive him away, emotionally, and into the arms of another woman.

    Understand, my husband wasn’t perfect. He was emotionally and mentally abusive and living with him was difficult most of the time. So it was easy to blame him because he was so obviously flawed. But God showed me that my words and behavior did not reflect a Godly attitude. Not that the outcome would have been different–I think my husband at some point would have left me even if I did everything right–but I would not have the guilt and regrets and the knowledge that selfish, self-centered, self-focused way of dealing with things was to blame also.

  • Kat

    No matter how old I get, or how long I have been married, I find a few toxins I need to weed outta me, thanks for the reminder!

  • Maria

    I have been selfish an self center but I love my husband, unfortunately he has file for divorce after 15years of marriage, he is having an affair and his heart has become hard as a rock, his angry, selfish and it seems like his pride was magnify to the 1000 power. I have been praying for him to be humble to seek and love god more then anything else. Is very heart braking to go trough this . I love this post I will used it for me as a person thank you so much.

    • Wendy

      Praying for you, your husband, your marriage, and the woman involved in this affair. May God’s healing be on your heart, repentance by your husband, restoration for your marriage, and conviction from the other woman. And much forgiveness.

  • Megan

    This was extremely convicting today. Times when I’ve been selfish, angry, keeping score, and complaining this very week are flooding into my mind already. I need to go apologize to my man! I’m thankful the Lord has grace for ladies like me.

  • Carol

    While I agree with the words in this blog, I have to say that the finger is always pointed to the woman in the relationship and no indication that the man is the one that is behaving in the manners listed. So, I think that this needs to be rewritten with it reflecting that the male half of a relationship could be just as much at fault and truly be the problem. I know of such a relationship that I am watching now. The male complains constantly about work and brings it home and piles the accumulated anger onto the female partner. He is a very bright person but gathers chips or keeps score and piles it on when it suits him. And why is it that the female is considered a nagger.

    To add to the situation I perceive the male partner as very selfish with the above behaviors and it seems that he could be labeled a narcissist because he acts as if all revolves around him with no consideration for others including his employers.

    So, a blog addressing this would be supportive of those women who suffer this in marriages that can be very rough as a result of an abusive male!

    • Darlene Schacht

      Thanks Carol. Because we are a blog written by women with the execution of two posts/month we tailor our articles toward encouraging women in their walk. There are many great sites out there for men too.

      Let’s not forget the very important part that Jen stresses in the article, which is to take our example from Jesus. “Jesus must be our example here. He placed himself last. He gave himself up for others, he loved when it was inconvenient and he served when he was tired.”

    • Janet

      I agree with Carol. Always giving into my husband and pushing all my hopes, dreams and desires down to meet his needs almost destroyed me and my marriage. It gave my husband free reign to go off into selfishness and we now own six boats, a 4-wheeler, a vintage bronco, every gun, bow and accessory and two deer leases while the house is in sad need of repair and the kids have no college fund.
      I finally ended up in counseling and got my EdD and am slowly fixing my marriage by using my brain and speaking up for myself and my needs, too. I have learned that you should not surrender your health, dignity, responsibility, liberty, or rights, or your capacity for critical thinking, creativity and love. Do surrender those things that rob you of these. Give up everything that is not what is right , true and beautiful, but fiercely protect what is. God gave you each a brain and being married shouldn’t mean having to stop using yours.

    • Tammy Rose

      Carol, I think you’re so right! This makes it sound like men are sweet & innocent all the time & us women are always the problem, I find that a bit biased & wrong in a lot of situations. Men are often the one with anger issues, wandering eyes & commitment issues… Where is the information about that? A kind, sweet lady can get involved with a man & because of his faults & issues, possibly develop anger issues of her own. You become the people you surround yourself with. Ladies don’t let this make you feel like everything is your fault. We ALL need to be kind & respectful in our marriages, not just us women!

      • MJ's Husband's friend (jk)

        Carol, Janet and Tammy,

        You’re right, a lot of men are jerks! Maybe your husbands are, I don’t know them.

        But, nothing in the article says you are to subject yourselves to jerks. It talks about toxic habits in a marriage (that presumably you want to make better). We can control our own behavior. This article encourages you to change your behavior for the better. If you do, I’ll bet it will be noticed. Then you can talk about how your husband’s behavior is affecting you. And explain what you need to feel loved and appreciated.

        But, if you just start in with “you never do this and you never do that…” the wise ladies on this blog are pointing out that it likely won’t go well.

        If your husband isn’t worth changing your own behavior first (and there are plenty out there who aren’t) then LEAVE! And find someone who is worth it.

  • MJ

    This is very convicting for me today. I’m a huge nagger, I complain, I’m selfish, I feel entitled and it’s slowly wearing on my marriage. I have a good husband and I am scared I’m burning him out. I am going to ask God to forgive me and then ask my husband to do the same. I needed this . Thank you.

    • MJ's Husband (kidding)

      MJ… are you my wife using an alias? You are describing my marriage perfectly. I work hard. I help around the house. I do more with the kids than most fathers I know. I try to encourage folks and focus on the positive. My wife is wired differently. She comes home from work and complains about work. She looks around the house and complains about the house. Her first comments to the kids are criticisms about their homework not being done or watching TV (yet all 4 get mostly straight-A’s and are active in athletics). Let me be clear… I AM NOT PERFECT!!! It wouldn’t take you long to find 100 things to criticize about me. But that isn’t what I signed up form. We promised to look for the best in each other… not the worst. We promised to not hold grudges. We promised to be gracious. We promised not to “fix” each other. If this describes your marriage, then you probably are “burning him out”. My situation is sucking the life right out of me. It is hard to go to bed each night knowing that another day was wasted in complaints and criticisms. Coming home after a tiring day of work should be the “most” encouraging part of the day, not the least. Hoping she will see this at some point. Life is precious and short. Not a day should be wasted on the trivial.

      • MJ's Husband's friend (jk)

        MJ’s Husband,

        Try this.

        Pick a day when she least expects it. Have the kids out at friend’s or somewhere. Make sure the house is clean and have a romantic dinner waiting for her when she gets home. And just have a great night. Later, the next day perhaps, have a conversation about the things that are bothering her and after that talk about how her comments affect you and the family.

        Remember God reached out to us when we did not deserve it. And we must be the ones to reach out to our wives first. Let her know how much she means to you and then you can work on the other stuff.

        If you just complain about her complaining, you’re not going to get anywhere.

  • Sandy McLeod

    I don’t think “Women” should beat themselves up over something you have sterotyped. My two ex-husbands was the nagger…complainer…SELFISH TO 1000 Power….

    It’s not just a WOMAN!!!

    • Darlene Schacht

      This blog is written to encourage women, therefore most of the article we have are tailored toward women. But with that said, I think that Jen did a great job of including both men and women alike saying that these habits are toxic within a marriage.

      She gives an example of Jesus Christ who was a man himself saying, “Jesus must be our example here. He placed himself last. He gave himself up for others, he loved when it was inconvenient and he served when he was tired.”

    • Tammy Rose

      I agree with you! This is a 2 way street people! Respect has to be earned & kindness shown by MEN & women!

  • Elena

    I am so guilty of nagging and anger. I pray for change and try to change but not much has changed 🙁 God help me. Keep me in your prayers please.

  • Anonymous mom and wife

    This article makes me entirely sad for the human race. All of these feelings are natural, human feelings. It is okay to feel. It is okay to be angry.

    The most toxic thing you can do in a marriage is allow your frustration to bubble up and build resentment towards your spouse.

    You should avoid yelling or screaming, I agree with that. But, never allow yourself to be walked on. My husband is my partner, not my superior. We are both allowed to feel the way we feel, and communicate those feelings.

    So women, don’t shrink up into a corner if you don’t feel your husband is doing his fair share, but try to approach it in a non-accusatory way. And try not to be frustrated if he approaches you with something similar.

    • Jen Thorn

      I totally agree, we should not be walked on and we should approach our husbands, like you said, in a non-accusatory way, but it is easy to forget this. It is easy to forget to use self control in expressing our anger or frustration. Many blurt things out without thinking how it will affect the person we are talking to. I can’t change my husband, but I can work on myself.

      • Tammy Rose

        That’s a great way to look at it Jen! I am upset by the finger being pointed mainly at women because I saw this post in my news feed because a man posted it lol.

  • Gordy

    Thanks Jennifer for you incite it is good advise !!! I only wish my wife of 44 years would relies this points. I live in NY and have a home in Florida. My mom just turned 91 and I take care of her. My wife hates her and I don’t know why ? Men are the last to know LOL. Our plain was to spend winters in Florida and summers in NY. Well my mom has dementia and I have no brothers or sisters to help care for her. And her best friend and sister died 2 years ago she has no one. So My wife decides she will live in Florida and come home in the summer. I feel this is so self centered. I cant leave my mom alone and I cant go to Florida in the winter no one to take care of mom. Am I being a fool ? My wife wants me to put her in a home but she’s not that bad. I cant take her to Florida in the winter my wife doesn’t want her around what should I do ? I feel my marriage is a joke now. But I love my wife I wish she felt the same. So all I can do is pray to the Lord he opens her eyes. Sorry for venting just depressed.
    Thanks for listening.


    • Angela

      your wife should ask the question to herself; if she was to develop dementia herself, how would she want you to care for her? leave her in a nursing home and you move to NY half the year?
      move Mm to florida and have a skilled facility near your wife, she doesnt have to visit but then you can attend to both the important women in your life?

  • Heather

    Oh, hallelujah for Annoymous Mom and Wife! This article was completely generic. Thank goodness for an authentic response!

  • Debbie Jones

    Omgosh all five of these revolve around our marriage and we have been married for 25 going on 26 yrs have been together for going on 30! I vowed to god after being married 3 times before that im n this marriage for the long haul! And afterwards reading these ive got work to do with gods help to get me past this part of the marriage that could have very easily destroyed us if satan had his way but of course he doesnt so on that note im asking everyone to pray for me my husband and our family! Thank u god for ur supervision in ourmarriage and for ur presents inour lives. In jesus name amen!

  • Amy

    My husband is the nagger in my house. Lol. Why is the text of the Bible quotes in this article so easy to read and different than the regular text of the Bible? Was nagging a word back then?
    19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. (Proverbs 21:19)

  • Christy

    That’s all well and good, but sometimes this just doesn’t work and patience can only take you so far. Example: When we moved into our current home (and remodeled it), my husband wanted a gas fireplace. Fine by me. The house was constructed, and all he had to do was move the gas take into the position, hook up the line, and fill the tank with gas. FIVE YEARS LATER, he finally accomplished this but only because when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him all I wanted was the house to be finished. Now, he has a list of other things that need to be done, but at least he got this one thing done. Yes, I was very angry because I have to look at things every day that aren’t done and it frustrates me. Another example, we haven’t had handles on our kitchen cupboards since we moved in because we couldn’t find ones that we liked. Finally, last fall we did, and I ordered them. We also put sticky notes on the cupboards so we could remember which one got which kind of pull. Guess what? After six months they still aren’t on the cupboards, and I’m going to guess that if I don’t say anything (nag, which I usually don’t), the sticky notes are still going to be there THIS Christmas. Complaining doesn’t work either, so I don’t do that. But, all of this leads to anger because I don’t understand why a kitchen full of cupboards with sticky notes instead of pulls doesn’t bother him. Just one point of view.

  • Ann

    It is totally the opposite in my marriage. My husband constantly complains about everything. Ever thing you mentioned above for many years and it has taken a heavy toll on me, my health has gone down hill and I don’t know what to do about it. I have been praying for years and it’s only gotten worse.

  • Jo

    Great article. Just a comment, there are a few grammatical errors – the word “to” is used in a few instances in the first couple of paragraphs, I think the writer means “too”. It’s just a bit distracting.
    Kind regards

  • Ken Flanigan

    Jen thanks for posting this I am a husband of 12 years and sometimes my harsh word to my wife comes across with all 5 of these toxic topics in just one sentence. I believe most of the time my wife bad attitude habits come from me being harsh. It does take a effort from both and only through Christ we can gain this art. Sorry not sure if i am welcome to share my comments on the ladies blog but thought it might help. Ken

  • Carrie

    I just wrote down all of the Bible versus and resolved to keep them with me. I need these reminders. I’m quick tempered. I have a good loving husband.

  • Terry

    It’s funny how the article is about perception, and we see some of those quick to make excuses based on their perceptions. I honestly didn’t read the article as it being the woman’s fault. I read the article as how I could change these things in my life. Some can never turn that mirror on themselves. It may show weakness. Yet, they wonder and question why their nights are restless, and lives filled with worry. It’s not about pretending there is no bad in life. It’s about focusing on the good. Look into your own heart or prepare to be exactly where you are forever. If you are truly happy with that, I wouldn’t change a thing. As I young sailor, I scolded an older Petty Officer about how he talked about his wife. His response, “I’ve had 3 son. If she don’t like it I’ll find another one just like her.” I said, “Hmmm, maybe that’s your problem.” I’m not saying I’m always good at it, but I hope I am always able to look at myself and want to be a better man.

  • Bob

    Oh no, there’s a man in the room! Just joking ladies. When my wife and I got married in 1974 we made a pack with God that we would always work things out and divorce was never to be an option. We also decided to always treat each other as best friends, not just as husband and wife. We have been together now for almost 40 years of marriage, plus 4 years of high school, have four lovely daughters, three grand kids, and some of the best add on sons I could ever ask for, to say the least, we are well blessed. Anyway, my point is that the things pointed out here are always on going, weighing one’s self is a far greater thing than to weigh your best friend. Find fault with yourself and adjust yourself, the more you adjust the more likely your best friend will too. Do I fail to do this? You can bet on it, it’s so easy to place blame on the person(s) you love because deep down you feel safest with them. Don’t forget, best friends are the people you tell your thoughts to, you don’t have to raise your voice and you never find yourself competing with. So share with each other and always be best friends, and never let anyone in between you other than the Lord God. May he guide us and fill our marriage with his blessings always!

  • Anthony

    As a man I read this article and was convicted. This is not just for husbands and wives it is for every person called to follow Christ. We should always put other people above ourselves in all of our relationships. Thanks for the article. I needed this and qill share it with my children as well.

  • Elle

    I have been married 34 years. We have a good marriage now but went through some hard times, mostly because I was too self-sacrificing and too easily overruled. I’m not sure what you mean by “score keeping,” but we were very lopsided in the area of giving (not financially but otherwise). I tried to address this many times but my husband did not understand. Thanks be to God, I finally got through to him and he changed.

    I’ve seen many older women wind up with failed marriages because they were too giving and too easily overruled. Unfortunately, this can create a sort of monster of a husband who just wants things his way more an more. Either the wife winds up not being able to take it anymore and leaves, or the husband’s disrespect for his wife reaches the point that he finally dumps her.

    Just another perspective. I’ve seen this happen the other way, too, with the wife being inconsiderate of her too-giving husband and the marriage fails because of that. The same advice isn’t always right for everybody; it depends on what predispositions each person comes to a relationship with.

  • Holli

    I find it insulting that you put the wife as the nagger… in mine and im sure other marriages its the husband … you should have just used the word “spouse”

    • Oscar

      Holli, why do you think The Lord listed only wife in the verse “better to live in the dessert, than with a nagging wife? “

  • Victoria ' s Mom

    I read the article and thought “excellent post” ….then I started reading the comments and fell out of my chair! Wow!!!!! Within the first few sentences of these comments I saw, “it is OK to be angry”, “don’t get walked on”, and “he is the one who is morally bad”
    Ladies I’m here to tell you, some of you are in denial, trying to cast the blame on someone else! If your spouce is angry you should try and HELP, as if you are a good christian wife. This article merely pointed out proven habits we may have that can lead to divorce, more problems, etc. Casting the blame on someone is a worthless habit that just escalates problems. Anger is the exact opposite of love and it only takes half as much to kill it. After 40+ years working in the field of marriage councilors, I’ll just be blunt. This younger generation is all about me and was never taught what being a wife is about

    • Bob

      I agree with you on most of your comment, the part about “if your spouse is angry you should try and help” is a wonderful way to work things out, compared to becoming angry yourself and intensifying the problem. I must comment on on another part of your comment about anger being the exact opposite of love, I disagree and offer my disagreement as discussion, not to throw stones so to speak. I can and do love my wife with all my heart and will do anything for her at any time, I will give my life for her without ever thinking about it. I always love her, but I may not always like her. Anger in a marriage in general is due to frustration on the part of one allowing some act or non-act to build to a level of frustration that anger is the outcome. If your other half comes to you in anger that doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore. It means something in your relationship is causing upset and has past the point of need and has become necessity. As in pay attention, I’m done asking. If anger was the opposite of love, than why is the angry person still trying (through anger) to work things out?

  • liz

    Thank you for this article. I think it addresses issues that are destructive in marriage regardless of which spouse is the nagger or the complainer or the angry one.

    I used to be the woman who immediately jumped to the conclusion that this article is asking me to be a doormat. Yet where in this article does Jen advocate doormattery? This is about living according to God’s standards. Christ said the two greatestest commandments are to God first and foremost, and to love others as we love ourselves. In a word (er, two) … BE NICE!

    This article is written to women by a woman so of course it has that slant, but nowhere did I see it as a judgment on myself and how I’m the only one to blame in my marriage. It takes two to tango, and my husband and I could win some awards!!!

    But if you choose to look only at his faults and what HE should be doing then you might as well add the word “REPEAT” after point number 5. The last time I checked, I do not have the ability to change my husband. Believe me, I’ve tried. Sadly, the only person I can hope to change through my own actions is myself. But God’s word says that THROUGH MY ACTIONS (not words – actions) I can be an example and and influence to my husband. But even that isn’t my job or responsibility. My job is to do my part, and pray PLEASE GOD that He inspires my man to do the same.

  • Betty B

    When I was teenager my dad explained to me that the reason he didn’t load the dishwasher, and why my sister and I weren’t required to load the dishwasher, was because of my mom. He said that he stopped loading the dishwasher before we were born because my mom either nagged about how he did it, or she came behind him to “fix” it. Either way, he didn’t feel that she appreciated the hard work he had done for her.

    Now that I’m married, I try to remember that story. My first rule is to always appreciate what my husband has done for me. The other day he made the bed and put the throw pillows on in the oddest way, but I didn’t change it even thought it’s now how I would do it. Instead, I told him how much I enjoy a made bed and how much I appreciate that he spent the time to do that for me. (He works and goes to law school, the guy doesn’t have spare time to make the bed!). I know that he feels welcome to help me in any way he can because I appreciate his hard work. The only time I change anything is if it’s necessary. (We have a tiny kitchen, if he puts a dish in the wrong spot it’s a big deal!)

    My other rule is to always ask myself, “is there an important reason to ask him to do this differently?” if I’m about to complain about how he did something. For instance, I recently asked him to wait until over half a stick of butter has been used before adding a second one to our butter dish. The reason being our butter dish is impossible to keep clean if any more butter than that is out. And when I ask him, I explain concisely why I’m making the request. If I spend the time to consider why I’m saying this two things happen. First, it cuts out nagging. And two, he’s much more accepting of the request if he understands why I’m making the request (aren’t we all?). And that’s helped a lot because if I don’t have time to explain why, he accepts it’s important because I’ve shown I’m not nagging but instead have a reason.

  • Shari

    Hi Jen and everyone reading this.

    My soon-to-be-husband (109 days and counting!) and I had a disagreement this morning (as we have had several times and we are working on it BEFORE we get married). He found this mysterious link via a political email (which he reads daily), saw the title, decided to read it and then sent it to me. At first, I was rather offended thinking, “oh my gosh, now he thinks I’m a nagging, complaining, selfish, angry score keeper!!” Help me Lord!

    After calming down and really reading your article, Jen, I find it to be refreshingly brilliant and humbling!! How do we wives expect our men to want to Love, comfort and cherish us when we are acting angry, bitter and unapproachable??!!?? Your statement sums it up to perfection…”How many times have we become angry with our husbands and in turn our husbands have responded sweetly and kindly?” If we are hurt or feeling unappreciated or ignored, why would acting angrily and “keeping score” bring the response we are searching for which is to be Loved and to have our needs met with kindness and compassion ?? If anything, this type of behavior would make our husbands want to RETREAT, NOT rush to our side to comfort us and give us what we are looking for which, in all marriages and relationships, should be LOVE, LOVE and MORE LOVE!!!

    For that is really what we are all here for, to Love…
    1 Peter 3:8
    Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

    Thank you Jen…your column is like a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stale and stagnant world of blame and selfishness!

  • John C

    I would like to add a bit of wisdom I learned at a retreat last year or so. It has helped me. 35+ years of marriage and I think I was still keeping score on how many times I did not get enough affection from my spouse. Let’s call her Jane. In the retreat, they talked about how people put their own ideas on what God ought to do, and when, and how. The advice was, “Let God be God.” This was good, and it also applied to Jane. She is not naturally affectionate, and it was up to me to supply the deficit. I needed to double up so that there was enough. I finally (I hope) accept that Jane will be Jane, and will not suddenly change her personality or her habits. Let Jane be Jane. I will be the giving partner.

  • Cathy

    Dear Women…As the authors have said, this blog is written by women, for women, hence the references to women. But really, God is the one who said all this stuff! It’s right there in the Bible. You know, the guidebook for living that’s probably sitting on your coffee table. You may remember the book, Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars (or something like that..never actually read it ;). Well, God’s the one who wired us the way we are, therefore, He gave us some instructions on how to deal with ourselves. He’s the one referring women here, the authors are simply repeating it. Men are wired differently and they respond to how WE treat them. Like some of you women commented, you don’t have to become doormats (nowhere in this post or in the Bible does it say that you must be a doormat, by the way). Yes, use your brain! Use it to figure out how your husband receives messages and then send him the message the way he will hear it best. Use your brain to decipher how your husband responds the most willingly to your suggestions, and then make your suggestions that way! I have seen how my angry words have been interpreted by my husband, and how destructive the outcome is. No, men don’t have a free pass here to respond to us in like manner as we have treated them. There is instruction in the Bible for them too. There are other blogs geared toward men for that. If you think your hubby needs to hear it from someone else, look up those blogs written by men, for men, and refer them there. Or just ask them to look for the Info. Like @Victoria’sMom, I was convicted and encouraged by this post for me personally. I was also shocked to see so many women with their hackles up and so quick to blame someone else. It reminded me of the verse in the Bible that says, How can you remove a splinter from [another believer’s] eye when you have a beam in your own. Matthew 7:4 paraphrase and emphasis mine. It’s really a reprimand for those who quarrel with people for small faults, when they allow themselves more and bigger ones. It’s often that we can be in a sinful state and not be aware of it but be highly aware of another’s. Good rule: reform yourself first.

  • JD

    I can relate. We’re all guilty of it. I’m near divorce at this very moment because of everything above. Add in being mean, punching me in the face while driving our children to church at 50 MPH and infidelity and welcome to my world. What’s so trippy about this, and why I’m so discombobulated, is she doesn’t/can’t see what/when she’s acting this way so she can’t control it. All I do is pray over/for her. She’s so quick to point at me and say, look at what he’s doing to me. I’m just stare dumbfounded at these points.

    Someone made comments early about being overruled. Ladies it’s obvious to me now that there is no respect. I’ve spent far too long ( 7 years) trying to be this person she’s always nagging for and being fake to myself. That shipped sailed two weeks ago when I decided enough is enough. I demand respect and must be genuine. All I can think about now are the children.

    I’ll never deny I’ve been quite the jack-a** in our relationship, mainly just trying to defend myself. I’ll never deny I typically react vs respond. Yes, I’ve been broke and had a hard time providing before. Yes, I’ve yelled at the top of my lungs before. Yes, I’ve said mean things too. Yes, I’ve even been so fed up after her punching me the fifth (and final) time I’ve physically attacked her. Believe me I went to jail, 6 months counseling, therapy, etc… spent 7K and we’re back together.

    I’m typically the happy one, always looking for the positive, the bright side, the best way. She’s typically the unhappy one, always sighing and puffing, but I know somewhere in her heart she’s trying to do right. I just know it. She’s an angle to her friends and clients. But me and her first husband, not so much.

    ALL I ASK is for common courtesy, mutual respect and normal tone. Have problems? Just tell me what they are, I’m not a mind reader. I’ll never figure it out and you’ll only hurt yourself. Get emotional or hormonal, that’s okay too. Just don’t be insulting and mean and yell. Need space, say go away I need space. Need money, just ask and get it.

    Ladies, what am I doing wrong here? Am I asking for the wrong things? Should I just deal with it, give in like Jesus and be miserable my entire life? Should I just allow my kids to witness this? At this point I’d rather “try” to be friends, ensure the kids are happy and well cared for, and leave.

  • Gabriele Cothran

    Well,I know all these things are not good in a marriage. I would say just don’t get married. It is sad that we( women) have to do some nagging and complaining in order to get a little help from your Husband. Funny, how they (males) get out of there way to do things for a women when they are dating. then when you get married it is all out of the window. I am married and would never do it again. Men to me in general( at least 99.9% of them) are selfish, self centered.they want you to give up everything after marriage while they continue to do as always. They will open a door for any women to impress them but not anymore for their wife. It is sad, well, they are sad. I know the Lord did not create them that way, but they sure turned out that way. Sorry no points from me on all of that, males are very sorry, and please don’t tell me not all of them are. OK, you might be right, as i previously stated at least 99.9% of them are. If most women were not so co dependent they would agree with me. Most of us women go through pure hell to please a male person and all they want is more. Well i hope someone is blessed enough to find that 1% of real men that may be still left in this world.

  • Ann

    Some of the remarks here are basically saying if the husband is not respecting the wife it’s the woman’s fault. You can’t say what someone is going through if you are not in their shoes. I have been going through mental, spritual and some physical abuse for years, how is that my fault? I have to walk on egg shells around my husband because nothing I do or say is right in his eyes. I am not a nagging, mean, inconsiderate wife, I am very easy to get along with. My husband does things on purpose to cause me stress and I have become ill from it. Not saying I’m perfect, I get upset at the things he does to me for no reason and that’s where I am attacked spiritually because of that. Satan attacks me right through my husband. I have asked to go to Christian counseling but he won’t go. I’ve been praying for years so he would stop treating me like this, and I have basically fallen out of love because I can’t take it anymore but I have not left him yet, there is still a part of me that loves him but I know I can’t take this forever, it is shortening my life.

  • Mary Lombard

    Please die “nagging.” I have asked my husband in the morning “Can you please…” and he’ll barely acknowledge. If he still has not done as I requested by the end of the day, I’ll ask again and he’ll get angry at me, yelling I always want things done in my own time.. Surely asking once again 10 hours later does not constitute “nagging.”

  • Jennica

    I am divorced and I do know that a main reason for that divorce is because we (my ex and I included) both participated in an ungodly marriage. We had no idea that when you put God first in your marriage and you are both contiually striving to be more like Jesus, I mean marraige is not easy, but with the blessings of our Savior covering it every day it gives you someone to go to when you need support. Maybe in order to see your reflection of yourself and of your actions. When my husband and I are getting our support from Jesus, and not running to our friends to complain about one another, etc) we get the best advise ever! God created marriage and he knows how to keep a marriage alive and well! I am so blessed to now have such a man of God as my husband. He NEVER nags, ALWAYS helps and treats me how he would treat me if the Lord was standing right in front of us. I have learned how to treat my husband through many of these bible verses and my goal is to be more like Him everyday. This was a great article and I will share it with a few friends who are getting married soon! Thank you!

  • amanda

    I am so glad that i read this article today. If I had only thought about the consequences of my actions before I would still be happily joined with my husband. I was so selfish and nagging my goodness I could write a dummies guide to it. Ladies look at yourself in the mirror…and men if you are guilty too….what do you see??? Or better yet listen to your words…lift your husband up even if you are depressed, unsatasfied, or my goodness overwhelmed…or whatever your excuse may be. Love your husband…thank God for him daily and be so ever thankful that he is not perfect because neither are YOU!. I am currently seperated and God willing we can reconcile. But its a long hard road when you initially play the victim and cannot see where you are to blame. Be honest! Confess your sins to the Lord….and constantly pray and lift your situation and husband up! Let go and let God….Good luck and pray God surround yourself and yourself with an army of His angels!

  • Chris

    I’m a guy. I can’t always see clearly what I’m doing, –honestly, I don’t want to face some of my issues. I get mad at politics and want to fix Washington. That’s pretty unrealistic. I think this article is written for every God loving person and do not see it as exonerating anybody, male or female. It takes two in a relationship. And this article nails some problem areas. My wife is very close to perfect..in my opinion. She really is very sweet and I am truly blessed. That much is very clear to me.

  • Rosa E. Friedman

    Darlene, thank you for this post. My husband and I read it together and it ministered to us in reminding us of the toxins we are aware of but too often contaminate and intoxicate eachother with in spite of the knowledge of the sin. Too often we forget what Christ did for us and rather than taking these horrible habits to Jesus, we take them to one another and thereby minimize what Jesus already did and FINISHED on the cross. That leads me to the next issue. When we are saved we are no longer sinners. By thinking of ourselves as sinners, we minimize what Jesus did for us. I beleive this is a mentality that needs to be addressed and changed in our everyday teaching and preaching by pastors. Over and over the Apostle Paul writes to the churches (Romans 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Phil 1:1) and he addresses the brethren as saints. He doesn’t say, “I write to you sinners.” This is important to note because when the thoughts of sin begin in our marriages or in any relationship or situations, we need this remembrance to stay fresh; that we are priviledged to be called Saints and Friends of Jesus and because of his finished work on the cross we are wrong to let these sinful thoughts take over and need to make things right with Jesus and ask him to change us and help us to speak what is pure, kind, loving, and true that our words would edify those who hear. With sermons addressed to sinners and posts addressed to sinners when the audience will very likely be saints, how will the saints be encouraged? When “sinners” is used we often go to wrong thoughts about ourselves rather than thoughts of what Jesus did for us and knowing that in Christ we can do all things and that our thoughts, words, and actions must glorify him.

  • chris jackson

    when we complain or nag, doesn’t show how spiritually immature we are?

    Proverbs 1:26
    I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

    aren’t we all going through this when we mess up literally?

  • Linda

    I lived in a marriage where my husband and I simply were not suited to one another. I lived in misery for over 25 years. I am sorry to say, he was the baby of his family, so he tended to be self centered. I definitely had my faults too. My father died of cancer when I was 13, and I found that people would not pity me when I got angry and made them stop. I thought anger was my friend. You can begin to see the recipe for disaster. Add to that my poor husband’s hoarding tendencies, Lord, the list just gets deeper and denser! He cheated many times, but I did not know until the last one. He thought she was his new best friend. But she ended up not being the right one either.
    It has been eight years since it all happened. I have learned so much. It would have been easy to blame it all on him. He said himself it was mostly his fault. But instead, I took a long hard look at myself. I did not ever want to repeat the horrible pain I endured when he chose a new best friend ever again. I had to learn what I had done wrong too. It takes 2 people to make a wonderful marriage. But it takes 2 people to make a lousy one too.
    Anger is no one’s friend. It is simply a strong signal that something is very wrong. It usually covers over a deep hurt. We often get angry so we do not have to feel that pain. But no one hears us when we are screaming and yelling.
    Selfishness and anger are the two worst enemies of any relationship. Both partners must give to one another 100%, as much as there is, as often as possible for a relationship to work. They must communicate kindly and openly with the greatest respect. Both must accept one another just as they are. You can only control and change yourself. You are a foolish human being indeed if you think otherwise.
    I have a wonderful man in my life now. I exercise everything that I have learned as well as I possibly can. We are well suited. We have very similar values. We both give until there is nothing left, then the other comes and fills the empty one back up by pouring their own self out for the other. It is one selfless act of love for another. It is not easy to do. You must know one another’s hearts well. It takes a great deal of trust to give this way. It is not about things. It is about paying attention and truly serving one another from the heart.
    I don’t have all the answers. Our relationship is not perfect. But we love one another well. It takes one person to start the giving. You have a winner if the recipient gives right back with the same measure of carrying and love. The only problem I have is figuring out what sweet thing to do next! But that is a dilemma I will gladly deal with any day. Be wary if you do not see them wanting to return love the way that you give it. Be alert though. Their love language may be different, and that makes it hard. They may not understand what you are really doing, so they may not know what to do in return. My baby loves to serve others with acts of kindness and service. It is so easy to give to him. He likes to hear he is loved. But so much more he loves to be given to. Not gifts, but applying my talents and time. I am a gourmet Cajun cook. Guess what he receives! And of course, there is much more. And oh, the things he does for me!
    Selfishness has no place in a loving relationship. Which is strange because we all must receive everything we need for it to be successful. It is a paradox. In a great relationship between two mature and living adults, the more we give, the more we get.

    • Gloria

      Wow – thank you Linda. My heart felt good and I think it smiled when reading your comment. May God continue to bless your relationship and your life.

  • Sonja

    I would say not to beat yourself up. Jesus already died for our sins. Not just the past ones but the future ones too. He already knows we will mess up. I mess up constantly and need forgiveness and so does my husband. I read this post to be a reminder of living a more positive life. I just did a bible study where we talked about if you step on a rose it will smell like a rose and if you step on a skunk it will smell like a skunk. We should try to change our inner qualities to reflect a Christ-like attitude so when someone offends us we smell like the rose and not the skunk. But we also have to realize that we would have no need for Jesus if we were perfect and did not need reminders. These are great reminders. Simply treat others like you want to be treated rather than paying others back for their mistakes, whether it be your spouse or someone else. I am definitely striving towards having a better attitude in this world where there is so much encouragement to sin and be negative and I know I will keep messing up. But I am thankful to have the Holy Spirit working in my life and others to help with the reminders. Keep them coming! And also if you are in a situation where your spirit has been crushed, you are depressed or feel like you can’t control your feelings do not be afraid to seek out guidance and encouragement in someone you trust to help you regain your strength, especially if you are in an abusive situation.

  • sunshine

    Mine is just the opposite. My husband is the nagging, complaints and sometimes has anger issues. I try so hard to be a good wife but he’s pushing me away and I don’t know what to do. I love him so much but what am I to do?

  • Gloria

    Good morning Everyone,

    I have lots to learn about Jesus’ life and God’s word but I do know this scripture:
    Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it

    I think the article is for both men and women. For the women that took it the wrong way – please go back and reread it. For the men that took it the wrong way – you don’t get off that easily. 🙂
    I read it and recognized my faults. But I also see that I need for my boyfriend to read the article, too. No, I’m not married. But I’m trying to work on myself by learning God’s love and I have a loooooong way to go.

    As for the scripture – women if you think we are asked to do all of the sacrificing, IMAGINE a man trying to love us like Jesus loved the church! If we don’t know all that Jesus suffered loving sinners (including church folk), we do know some of His suffering and He STILL loved the church. Again, IMAGINE a man being given that rule by God and trying to live it out.

    Let’s try less defense and more God’s love. No one knows our every day headaches and heartaches and no one should judge us. But the help in the article will put us at peace every day if we try these things.

    God bless us all.

  • Nicole

    My husband died about a month ago, and I can’t take back the nagging, complaining or the keeping score. I wish I could go back and make his life more pleasant and live a life that showed him his value everyday. I can only pray now that he knows how much I loved him.

    • Darlene Schacht

      Nicole, I’m really sorry for your loss. I’ve come to realize that this is a common emotion for widows. Some have heavy guilt to deal with, as they process this emotion. A friend of mine lost her husband last year and immediate started thinking of everything she should have and could have done better. Thank you for reminding me to work on that now.

  • PMcP

    When are ladies going to give themselves their importance? Men are not superior and we don’t have to modify our entire lives to fit into their. Men nag, and complain, and keep scores, and get angry as much or more than women. Faith and love can only take you so far. There are 2 in a relationship, the duties to maintain it should be equally split.

  • John

    As a 55 year old man who has had a wonderful marriage and seen 2 kids get married and now possibly grand-kids doing so as well soon, I’ve come to some very clear observations about marriage and our place in it.
    1) Women have the sad tenancy to choose their mates based upon their feelings and ignore clear and obvious signs that the potential partner is selfish, narcissistic, a slob, and lazy. It is so very important to THINK and not let your feelings guide you into a disastrous marriage. Observe his behavior closely and be objective. Let God Spirit guide you into truth as well.
    2) The only way to find a mate is by letting God bring him/her to you. When God does it, it doesn’t mean it will be perfect – because we aren’t perfect – but it will give you a far FAR better chance of success! This means stop using dating sites, online dating, etc. God doesn’t need your help. He know you because he made you and he knows EXACTLY who you need and want! So incredible patience and faith is required here! You might not get married until you are 30. If that’s Gods timing then that;’s His timing. You should accept it and not rush anything out of fear or selfishness.
    3) God uses marriage to refine us and define – not for us to intentionally refine the other person. It is not your job to improve your spouse. God will do it through you if you let Him. And don’t forget that you need improving too!
    4) Two generations of men have been raised by single moms and therefore have no male role models. This means they are still essentially boys and will behave like boys. You women need to be aware of this and try to find a man…not a boy. Once again, God will bring that person to you when YOU are ready. And only HE knows when that is, not you.

    I can safely say these things because I started out in my marriage with a lot of rough edges. I almost lost my darling wife on our first day together after our honeymoon. I realized right then and there that I needed to CHOOSE to improve. God was telling me that my wife was they way He chose to soften my hard edges. I payed attention and worked hard at putting my wife’s needs first. My wife also had issues but by my patience and diligence she was improved too. God took two flawed people and fixed them up by bringing them together. The only way it could have worked, however, was because we wanted God’s best for us …and that was one another, so it was worth it.
    marriage is not for fun, or companionship or to have a provider or achieve status. It’s to improve YOU! That is what God uses marriage for in his Sons and Daughters.

  • Michelle

    Sometimes the nagging and frustration comes from not being heard or things are always one sided. Sometimes what the husband plans isn’t always the wisest choice and when it fails and he is frustrated and angry it causes others to be because I didn’t agree in the first place. Now I am the nagger because he never listens to me.

  • Tiffany

    Im not going to say these are wrong, because I completely agree. I will admit to every single one of these on some level. But in everything I’ve tried to read, especially Christian based articles, which I do enjoy, I never get my question answered that I’ve been searching for. I would say I like Christian based articles like this, because I would like to grow in my faith and I do not believe in calling it quits easily. However, my question is, how long do you stay with a spouse with an addiction? I know everything is in God’s time and all that I can ultimately only change myself, but how do I know when enough is enough? I have 2 kids, myself, and my faith to take care of. When does all that become more important than waiting for someone to change? I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I’m trying very hard not to shut down and harden my heart, but it’s becoming very hard to stay away from. I try to be understanding, but now I just feel like it’s enabling… not sure if anyone can help, but I’m so sick of fighting this battle alone. I just want to be completely happy again for myself and for my kids. Thanks..

    • Darlene Schacht

      Tiffany, I would encourage you to seek the advice of a counsellor who can sift through the important questions with you. There are so many variable like safety, boundaries, abuse, counselling, treatment, etc. that should be discussed with someone that can offer you solid faith-based advice.