In their book, Fighting for Your Marriage, Dr. Markman and Dr. Stanley identify what they call the 4 warning signs that reflect the deterioration of a relationship: escalation of negativity, invalidation, negative interpretation and avoidance and withdrawal. These are the first 4 deadly sins that will destroy your marriage.
When a conversation about doing the dishes ends with the topic of divorce, you experience escalation. Escalation will destroy your marriage; it creates an environment that feeds criticism and complaint. Escalation can happen quickly or over a period of time. If you find yourself entangled in rising tensions with your spouse, acknowledge that you need to put your conversation on pause and set up a time later in the day to discuss the issue. Repeat this process until you can have a conversation that you do not have to reschedule because of escalation.
When you never feel good enough, and your spouse does not seem to understand you, it may be because of invalidation. Invalidation manifests itself when you feel like you never get to explain yourself, when you are constantly cut off and when you feel like your opinion does not matter. This is a dangerous path because we all want to feel understood. If you constantly invalidate your spouse, he may be tempted to find someone who values and respects him, which in turn will lead to a host of other sins not discussed here.
3. Negative interpretation
You call your spouse at lunch and he doesn't answer, so you immediately begin to think that he is having lunch with another woman. A deployed soldier calls home and his wife doesn't answer the phone; he immediately thinks that she is cheating on him. When neutral or even positive things are said or done and a spouse quickly interprets the action as negative, a feeling of fear can permeate your home. Your spouse may be afraid to say or do anything kind or loving out of fear that the action will be taken as an act of war. A relationship where a spouse is guilty of negative interpretation will not last long. To overcome this, always assume that each word and action of your spouse has the best of intentions.
Traditionally, guys are most guilty of withdrawal. Avoiding your spouse or a certain conversation with your spouse can become a permanent problem. Your desire to withdraw and avoid your spouse may be because you are trying to avoid another one of the seven deadly sins that will destroy your marriage. Here are a few ways that will help you to steer clear of withdrawal.
The last three of the seven deadly sins that will destroy your marriage include saying "no" to your spouse, mind reading and emotional cheating. Each of these sins is as equally deadly as the first four and will have a destructive influence on your relationship.
5. Saying "no"
Humility, love and trust are needed to be brave enough to never say "no" to your spouse. Selfishness will always be revealed as the main reason a person says "no" to her partner. Develop the habit of saying "yes" to every request of your spouse to combat the deadly sin of saying "no." As you and your spouse mutually adopt this philosophy into your marriage, the love and excitement in your relationship will grow deeper and more meaningful.
6. Mind Reading
The opposite of communication is mind reading. Assuming what your spouse is thinking and feeling can have dangerous consequences for your marriage, especially if you combine this with negative interpretation. Mind reading happens when you incorrectly guess the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. A mind reader will believe his guess is correct and act on that belief without consulting his partner. To combat mind reading, talk with each other. If you have a question, ask. If you want your spouse to do something, ask. If you want your spouse to know something, tell him. Communication is the cure for a mind reader.
7. Emotional cheating
Dr. Gail Saltz shares seven red flags that suggest you have crossed the emotional affair line. If you find yourself sharing your hopes and dreams with someone other than your spouse you may be on the path of infidelity. Some of the other flags include, dressing up for that person, looking for opportunities to spend time together, saying or doing things that you would never say and do in front of your spouse, talking about the challenges in your marriage, wanting all your communication to be secret and you start feeling dependant on the time you get to spend with that person. The best way to avoid these types of affairs is to never be alone with a member of the opposite sex.
Each of the 7 deadly sins that will destroy your marriage continuously seek to infiltrate your relationship. Understanding what these sins are and making plans to combat them will save you the pain and sorrow that will come into your life with these sins. Do not allow escalation, invalidation, negative interpretation, withdrawal, saying "no", mind reading or emotional cheating to erode your marriage. Discuss each of these sins with your spouse and make a plan to eliminate any of them from your marriage.