5 Signs of a Bad Marriage

signs of a bad marriage

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the sidelines at my daughter’s lacrosse game when I witnessed one of the 5 signs of a bad marriage unfold before me. A mother sitting nearby was cheerfully watching the game too, when a man walked up behind her. Without turning around to look at him, she brusquely said, “You’re late. What’s your excuse this time?”

Ouch! After watching them over the next few minutes, I figured out that he was her husband. Of course, I have no idea what was going on in their marriage, and maybe the wife was just having a bad morning, but it reminded me that I should never talk to my husband that way in public (or in private, for that matter)!

If we do see one of the signs of a bad marriage in our own relationship, we can regroup and try to correct the problem before it becomes too destructive. Here are the 5 signs of a bad marriage.

1. You’re rude to each other.

No one can be polite 24/7; but, if rude is your default, there’s a problem. Rudeness is often a cover for resentment because of something your husband has or has not done. It’s a way to get in nonphysical digs at your husband. It also shows that you don’t find him worth the effort it takes to be courteous.

How to fix it:

First, ask yourself why you’re being rude to him. Is it a passive-aggressive way to get back at him? Is there a bigger issue you need to discuss? After you’ve considered those questions, talk to your husband and say something like this:

“Josh, I know we’re both nice people, but I admit I haven’t been acting that way toward you. I apologize for being rude and short with you. I’m going to do my best to treat you with kindness.” Then, even if he doesn’t offer to reciprocate, move forward with your resolution.

2. You disrespect each other in front of your children.

It’s one thing to be snippy and disrespectful when no one is around. In that case, you’re only hurting yourselves. But if you act that way in front of your children, you’re hurting them too.

How to fix it:

Children need to see their parents as a team – devoted to each other for the good of the family. {Tweet This} When you tear down your husband in front of your kids, you are damaging your children’s sense of security. You want them to see their dad as a great guy. If you treat him disrespectfully, they’ll have negative feelings toward him too. Or, they’ll feel sorry for him and take his side over yours. In other words, your actions will either alienate your children from their father or from you. Either way is not good. So starting today, treat your husband respectfully in front of your children. (He should compliment you in front of the kids as well.)

3. You assume the worst about each other.

This is called negative interpretation, or mind reading. For example, if your husband says, “Where’s the dry cleaning?” You hear, “Why didn’t you pick up the dry cleaning? You never get it when it’s your turn.” When you’re in the “assume the worst” mindset, you also focus on your husband’s mistakes. Not only does this foster negative feelings in you toward your husband, it makes him feel pretty worthless in your eyes too.

How to fix it:

The fix is actually simple – assume the best. Don’t read a negative message into what your husband says, how he acts, or what he chooses to do. If in doubt, ask him what he meant and give him a chance to make himself clear.

4. You don’t like spending time together.

When you have spare time—whether it’s a free half hour after the kids have gone to bed or a weekend night when the kids are staying with their grandparents—your husband is not your first choice to be your free time companion. And when you do spend time together, it turns tense.

How to fix it:

The only way you will grow closer to your husband is to spend time with him alone—that’s the first step. When you are together, make that time exempt from serious discussions or hot-button issues. Keep it light, keep it fun. Go in with a good attitude. Prepare yourself to have fun and be fun.

5. You argue instead of discuss.

If every discussion turns into a battle, you need to work on your communication skills with your husband. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s crucial. You both need to feel safe to bring up any topic. You need to be confident that while a discussion might get intense, it will not degenerate into yelling, name calling, or temper tantrums.

How to fix it:

The good news: You can learn to communicate better! Go to your husband and tell him that you want to be able to talk about things with him, but don’t point a finger at him. Then use these ideas to learn to discuss instead of argue.

Let’s Talk: What’s a sign of a good marriage?


  • principe

    unfortunately husband have been made the villains for the last 50 years , is not longer sufficient to bring home the bacon , (simply because she can go out and get her bacon) many wife do not take responsibility to respect their husband. the Family has become a myth, every one talk about it want the security of it but will not pay the price for it….pastors do not teach wife to be wifes at church but do teach man to be sacrificial. until a wife is told by a outside person or she notice her self & desire to make a change talking is a waste of time ………I am 58 years old lived in Italy,england & U S wifes all over the world cheat and do things that if they would do it with their husband home life would be much much better on many levels and divorce would not be a daily special…….we have no more real structure life has become about me at all level is not about making life good for others is only about ME ME !

  • Sasmooty

    I really get tired of reading these articles about respecting the husband and making him feel a certain way. A marriage works both ways meaning that the husband should respect his wife and not abuse her physically, mentally and verbally to lower her self esteem. Each paragraph is catered towards the husband as if the wife doesn’t matter. Ex: saying if the kids are at the grandparents then spending time with your husband should be first choice and why it couldn’t be the husband choose his wife as first choice then it goes to say a wife should try to communicate with her husband, how about a husband should communicate with his wife.
    Also, in one paragraph you have as an example for the wife to approach the husband and apologize and to admit she has been rude, well this may not be the case that she has been rude. Maybe the husband should approach his wife and apologize for the way that he has been acting. These articles always cater to the husband as if the wife doesn’t matter or don’t deserve to be treated with respect. When I act rude or bitter towards my husband it’s because of him disrespecting me repeatedly doing the same thing. My husband should apologize to me, not me apologize to him for disrespecting me. What about the husband making the wife happy for a change???

    • Tiffany

      I think they are written this way b/c more than likely, men aren’t reading these articles. If they do, it’s pretty easy to reverse the pronouns. Of course the man should do all of these things for their partners as well. Also, it’s the point that you are in charge of your own happiness. If your husband days something rude to you, tell him. Don’t use that as an opportunity to be bitter and passive aggressive. You are the only one who can control your reactions, so decide to react better. I wish you the best of luck!!

    • Jenni Marie

      It’s written that way because you’re on the “iMOM” website. Not iDAD. Geez…

  • MemyselfanI

    I got all five unfortunately. In counseling but we even argue there. I feel we’ve come to the end of this union

    • Lauren

      I am praying for you today. That God would heal your marriage.

    • Frederick Bailey

      My wife will not even go to counseling. She gets exposed there … darkness is afraid of the light. Sad. My marriage is a sham. With two little kids it is challenging to leave. I hold out hope, but wonder if I am just cheating myself of a better life. If it was not for my faith, I would have been gone long ago. I wonder if I just need more common sense mixed with my faith. Why should I put up with it all these years? But now, the kids, that makes it more complicated, an 8 and 3 year old. I worry about how a divorce would affect them.

      • SassyBomb

        Frederick – As a wife and mother of two myself – I sincerely feel for the situation you are in… I know all too well the agony, frustration, bewilderment, and desperation that comes from a marriage falling apart – despite how much you might not want it.

        One person simply can not be the glue that holds a marriage together no matter how hard one might work at it… When one of the two gives up and stops putting in what they are supposed to – its only a matter of time before that marriage will inevitably crumble…

        I’ve been there myself and wouldn’t wish that kind of sadness on my worst enemy.

        I sincerely hope that in the eight months that have gone by since you posted your comments here, that your situation has improved – or is at least on the up and up… It sounds like you are a very caring and loving Father – I wish there were more Dad’s like you in the world…

  • Frederick Bailey

    I think most of the time, women would be receptive to discussing these things. But, not my woman. Always, everyone else is the problem, NOT her. I wonder what my life would be like if i could just have a conversation with my wife. The grass is not always greener …. but I do know that many other husbands I know say that they get the “benefit of the doubt” from their wife. Mine is always assuming the worst, and accuses me for all kind of things I did not do. The day I met my wife was the worst day of my life.