How to Ruin Your Marriage in 10 Easy Steps

How to Ruin Your Marriage in Ten Easy Steps

            Did you think it would be difficult to tear asunder your life-long pledge of love and fidelity? What could possibly happen to ruin this perfect union of souls? I’m here to assure you that it’s much easier than you think. You can practically do it in your sleep. Follow this easy step-by-step plan and you’ll be planting your flag on the shore of Divorce Land before you can spell L-A-W-Y-E-R.

Step One: Consider your home an etiquette-free zone.

Why shouldn’t you be allowed to forgo common courtesy in your own home? Dispense with all that tedious ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ business. When you want something bark out a command, or better yet, just grunt to indicate you’d like someone to pass the butter. Feel free to interrupt conversation with cell phone calls whenever you’re not fond of the topic your spouse has brought up. This tactic is even more effective if you ignore the phone during your favorite television programs- especially if you’ve recorded them. That way, you can convey contempt at the same time you’re innocently watching TV. This kind of marital multi-tasking is sure to create the kind of atmosphere that will lead straight to divorce.

Step Two: Remain oblivious to household chores.

Why not view your spouse as a free housekeeper? Allowing them to clean up the kitchen, do the laundry, vacuum the floors, and scrub toilets will free up your time to pursue the hobbies and interests that you didn’t have time for when you had to cook and clean up dinner all by your lonesome self. If you are the sort of person who isn’t capable of ignoring mold in the sink and dust bunnies the size of armadillos then you should at least make some very bitter remarks about what a selfish slob your partner has turned out to be. If you want to ruin your marriage it’s important to seize this opportunity to be critical because, as we all know, messy people are deeply flawed and don’t know it.

Step Three: Let Yourself Go.

Love means never having to go to the gym again. The grueling workouts, and years without dessert are behind you now. Your beloved promised fidelity, right? You never have to worry again whether you can attract the opposite sex. You already did that, so mark it off your ‘to do’ list and move on. Even if they have the audacity to complain about that extra hundred pounds or so, you can accuse them being shallow and point out that they are supposed to love you for who you are on the inside.  While they’re at the gym cycling off their rage you can console yourself with some ice cream.

Step Four: Keep your money separate.

Keeping this mine and that yours will allow you both to imagine that you’re not in this thing together. This shared delusion will prevent a lot of unpleasant fights about major purchases, debt, retirement, student loans, savings, and any number of other things that might reveal you to each other in both practical and philosophical ways. Never mind that the government will not care one penny what your personal financial arrangement is when they garnish your wages to make good on your partner’s debts to the IRS.

If you happen to be in the pre-wedding stage of your marriage then for sure don’t ask for, or provide, full financial disclosure before the nuptials. This could lead to a very grown-up conversation about shared (or not so shared) dreams, values, and goals. If the bank and credit card balances suddenly make your darling ever so slightly less appealing then please don’t console yourself with fantasies about your money staying your money (unless you want to get on the fast track to ruining your marriage before it’s even begun.) As far as the government, creditors, and lawyers are concerned once you’re married your money is in one big pile.

Step Five: Use your partner as an emotional crutch.

If you have always found dealing with your parents to be emotionally crippling then this is your chance to get someone else to do it for you. Also, if you develop an aversion to going to the grocery store because something about reading The National Enquirer headlines causes you have panic attacks, you can just get your spouse to go for you. That will be much easier than going through the hassle of seeking treatment for your anxiety disorder. Therapists call this kind of marital arrangement ‘borrowed functioning’ and sympathetic type spouses will put up with quite a bit of it, but if you borrow the functioning without any intention of ever giving it back you’re heading for trouble.

Step Six: Pay no attention to your marriage.

Imagine you get your dream job and in the contract you sign when they hire you it says that there will be no formal or written performance evaluations and they cannot fire you. This is a big relief, right? You have total job security. Pretty soon you notice that you can come in late, pay no attention at staff meetings, read comic books at your desk, and turn in a half-hearted effort when somebody calls you on it. The only consequence seems to be that your co-workers act crabby sometimes and you just don’t feel the enthusiasm you used to feel for the job when you were just an intern there.

Now, imagine that marriage has written performance evaluations that you and your spouse must complete every year on your anniversary. Not only are these evaluations a part of your permanent record and could be used as evidence in a divorce proceeding, but these evaluations might also be passed on to your next fiancé if this marriage doesn’t work out. You are going to be scored on various marital duties such as, demonstrations of affection and gratitude, willingness to pitch in and help with household tasks, enthusiasm in bed, patience with in-laws, pets, and children, emotional availability, fair fighting skills, etc., etc. Yikes! You might offer to make pancakes on Sunday a bit more often if this were the case.

People seem to think that once the wedding is over they can finally begin to concentrate on other things, which would be handy if it were true. While your marriage might only occasionally need the kind of time and attention you gave it when you were dating, it will need some portion of your time and attention every week or so. Set up a date night, go on vacation alone together regularly, and keep up on what is happening in your partner’s life. Loving someone is not something you can do in your speck of spare time, or while you are doing something else. Loving someone requires your full attention now and then.

Step Seven: Make big decisions without consulting your spouse.

If you are thinking about quitting your brain softening job, trading in the wagon in for a sports car, tossing your birth control, buying a chain of drive-up liquor stores, or moving to Italy, then do not, under any circumstances bring this up at home. Your spouse will probably have an opinion about it and you might not like it. Why not just spring it on them and hope they enjoy surprises? Well, because that would be very disrespectful and unfair.

Step Eight: Refuse to have sex…often.

You have your reasons; you’re tired, you’re not in the mood, the children might hear, you don’t like the way your thighs look in moonlight, and it’s Wednesday. This is bound to make your spouse feel unloved, unattractive, unattached, and eventually resentful. I’m not saying you should lie there and take it- mercy-sex is anything but merciful, but if you want this to work out then you’re going to have to figure out when you would feel like having sex. ‘Not during this football season’ you say? Perhaps the real reason you don’t want to have sex is due to some lingering resentment toward your partner for not telling you he was going to buy a chain of drive-up liquor stores. Resentment will kill your sex as life as fast as you can say ‘limp libido’ five times. If you have resentments that you carry into bed then it’s time to call a therapist to help you unload them out in the driveway so you can sell them at your next garage sale with all the other stuff you don’t need.

Step Nine: Refuse to talk about it.

You know who you are. If you tell me ‘nothing’ one more time I will never ever ask what’s bothering you again. ‘We’ll just get into another fight,’ you say? Time to call the therapist. If you haven’t figured out how to have a fair fight by now then you need a professional referee to explain the rules. Not talking about it will eventually lead to not talking about much of anything. Pretty soon you’ll be sitting across from each other in a restaurant genuinely wondering what everyone else could possibly have to talk about for an hour and a half.

Step Ten: Scoff at your partner’s dreams.

Your wife wants to become a writer? Laugh heartily and ask her when she decided you should be a one-income household. Your husband wants to go to Africa? Sit down and calmly compose a list of flesh eating bacteria known to originate in Africa. These reactions are sure to elicit the kind of deflated resignation that will lapse into something more malignant with time. Your job as a spouse is to support your partner’s dreams. Marriage remains popular because it is the kind of sanctuary that allows people to dare to dream beyond ‘find the perfect man/woman and live happily ever after.’ Marriage is a personal growth incubator and spouses deserve the same kind of encouragement to grow that children do. What if they actually start arranging to fulfill their dreams? Smile, and cheer them on like your relationship depended on it. It does.

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