The Colgate Pump saved my marriage.

When we married and our tubes became one, our union was destined for disaster.

The problem? Toothpaste.

I squeezed the tube in the middle (or at the end or wherever I picked it up). He, on the other hand, preferred we squeezed the tube starting at the very end so we could neatly roll up the empty portion of the tube as we used it.  (Crazy, right?)

He wanted the newly established Qualls family toothpaste tube to be smoooooth and uniform until the toothpaste was gone.

The way I see it: Toothpaste comes out no matter where you squeeze the tube.

Thank God for the Colgate Pump. Just push the trigger on top. No squeezing involved. And, here we are, happily married and sharing the same tube of toothpaste almost 30 years later.

Toothpaste may seem like a minor issue. But minor issues can lead to major ones, and somehow half of marriages fold.

No one goes into marriage plotting ways to destroy it. But why are so many couples unhappy and why do so many marriages end in divorce?

Bad marriages aren’t intentional. They’re unintentional when people fail to intentionally focus on the kind of relationship they want.

After more than 30 years of marriage, I can’t tell you how to divorce proof your marriage. You can’t control someone else’s choices. But I can tell you what will drive him away fast.

Here are 9 sure-fire ways to guarantee your marriage will fail:

1. Don’t make room in your life for God.

The closer you are to God, the closer you’ll be to your husband. When you’re focused on pleasing God, it doesn’t matter what your husband does because your actions aren’t contingent upon his. You love and respect him because God tells you to do so, not because he deserves it. I’m naturally selfish. But when my eyes are focused upward, it’s easier to overlook things.

2. Maintain a 50/50 Relationship

Fifty/fifty sounds like a great model for a successful marriage. It sounds reasonable and fair: He does his half; I do mine. We meet somewhere in the middle and live happily ever after. In reality, someone always ends up feeling like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

While 50/50 sounds good, it never works. When we go into marriage with a 100/100 mindset, our focus shifts from receiving to giving. Showing your husband unconditional love is important to maintaining a healthy marriage.

3. Avoid Conflict

Conflict is uncomfortable. But it’s going to happen in a marriage. And when it does, you’ve got to deal with it to keep the marriage healthy. It’s easier to ignore the elephant in the room rather than face it head on.

God tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. He knows how He designed us. When we  harbor unresolved conflict, it festers and morphs into something nasty.  It doesn’t go away. It grows. Deal with it, no matter how uncomfortable. And learn to fight in a constructive way. If you have a hard time forgiving, get help.

4. Put Your Husband’s Needs Last

You married a grown man. He can take care of himself, right?

Well, he didn’t marry you so he could take care of himself. Part of the benefit of a marital relationship is mutually caring for one another.

When you continually put the needs of your kids, your family, your job, and your friends ahead of your husband’s, he’ll eventually get the message he’s unimportant to you. His behavior and attitude will reflect that.

Put your husband first.

It may be inconvenient at times, but your marriage will grow stronger when he knows you’re on his side and he comes first.

5. Be Reluctant to Forgive

Let the offenses pile up. If he hurts you, make him pay.

Un-forgiveness breeds bitterness. As the offenses pile up, marital intimacy breaks down. Work things out. Be quick to forgive. If you can’t, seek help.

6. Don’t Tell Your Husband You Appreciate Him

Your man needs to hear you say you appreciate him. No matter how confident he seems, he still needs to hear regularly you love him and you appreciate the effort he puts into taking care of you and your family. If you’re the breadwinner, tell him you appreciate the effort he puts into the home or your kids. Your love and appreciation will bear fruit in your marriage.

7. Disrespect Your Husband (especially in front of your kids or other people)

This is a great way to destroy your marriage. Consistently disrespect your husband and your chance of ending up in divorce court will increase exponentially. Respect is huge for men. Sadly, most of us women don’t understand this. We can disrespect our men in ways we don’t even realize are disrespectful.

Not because they’re overly sensitive but because our words go into their brains through their male filter. And that filter doesn’t work the same way a woman’s does.

That’s a fact.

Disrespect is a sure-fire way to drive him away and shut down the emotional intimacy in your marriage. And it can occur in a myriad of ways.

Beware: Respecting your husband is counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, and counter feminist in today’s society.

When you respect your husband, he’ll almost always respond in a loving way. Any man met with a constant barrage of insults will either emotionally shut down or seek respect elsewhere.

8. Use Sex as a Bargaining Tool

Make sure he knows he’s got to pay to play. This mindset is particularly detrimental to marriages because men need physical affection from us. Once again, God designed them that way. Using sex as a bargaining tool or a way to control him may encourage him to go someplace where he doesn’t have to work so hard to get his needs met.

9. Refuse to Let Him Treat You Like a Woman

Anything he can do, you can do, too. Historically women have been treated unfairly and relegated to second class citizen status, and the feminist movement was needed and probably long overdue. But somewhere between the bra burning women of the 60’s and the sexual revolution of the 70’s, the feminist movement took a wrong turn.

Women aren’t designed to be like men. Many hallmarks of the feminist movement are counter-intuitive to a healthy marriage. Don’t let your man be a man when it suits you.  Allow him to care for you and treat you like a woman as he is wired to do.

When we allow our selfish tendencies to take over, we put our marriages on a sure-fire path to destruction.

Toothpaste is a small thing. In fact, it was a minor thing. But toothpaste wasn’t the issue. The issue was mutually loving, appreciating and respecting each other.

When the minors become the majors, a silly thing like toothpaste can squeeze the life right out of your marriage.

About the Author: 

An award-winning civilian journalist and former editor for the U.S Army’s award-winning newspaper, The Cannoneer, Sheila Qualls is now stay-at-home mom, speaker, and writer. She shares her life through a window of humor and transparency, one awkward moment at a time. She writes from the experience of 30 years  of marriage, five kids, 10 corporate moves, home schooling, and 2 dogs and a ferret. (May they rest In peace.)  You can read more from Shelia at “Shelia Qualls: Where Real Life Meets Real Faith”

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