My wife, Ashley, and I have devoted much of our adult lives to battling the epidemic of divorce and helping couples rediscover the timeless principles that lead to a strong and vibrant marriage. Along the way, we've noticed some patterns of behavior that usually lead to divorce. I'm convinced that if couples will stop doing these things, the quality of marriages will rise and the divorce rates will drastically drop.

In no particular order...

1. Speaking negatively to (or about) your spouse

When couples start nagging or insulting each other or complaining to their friends about their spouse, they've put themselves on the fast track to divorce. The tone of your words will set the tone of your marriage.

2. Taking on a Win/Lose mindset

Couples in trouble tend to see every disagreement with their spouse as a fight where there will be a "winner" and a "loser." Healthy marriages recognize that a husband and wife are united and will always share the same fate, so in every disagreement, they will either win together or lose together, so they work together to find a solution where they can both win.

3. Confiding in a "friend" of the opposite sex

Once you find yourself having a conversation or sending a text message that you hope your spouse doesn't find out about, you've stepped way out of bounds. Most affairs start as "friendships" that cross the line.

4. Surrounding yourself with negative voices

People who choose divorce usually have friends who celebrate the "pursuit of happiness" even at the expense of your marriage and family. Surround yourself with people who love you, love your spouse and love God and their influence and wisdom will lead you in a better direction.

5. Basing your choices on your feelings instead of your commitments

Our culture seems obsessed with Hollywood love stories and movies based on the feelings of love. This creates a huge problem, because our feelings are fickle (which is why most Hollywood marriages fail). A strong marriage is built on commitments, not feelings. If you make your choices based on commitments, your feelings usually have a way of catching up eventually.

6. Starting off the wrong way

So many marriage problems could have been prevented before the marriage even started. If you're reading this and you're not yet married, please commit to starting your marriage off the right way.

7. Giving up

The couples who make it aren't the ones who never had a reason to get divorced; they are simply the ones who decide that their commitment to each other is always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws.

This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

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