100 Ways to Make Your Marriage Mediocre

This time last year, I wrote this post. I had no idea it would be so popular (pinned more than 180,000 times) or so controversial (comments, whoa). Bottom line: there are a lot of people who want to make their marriage rock. I started thinking about all the things we do (out of habit, ignorance or selfishness) that make our marriages mediocre. Sometimes we just need to see them in black and white.

  1. Stop pursuing each other
  2. Discourage your spouse’s dreams
  3. Don’t worry about romance
  4. Doubt your husband’s word
  5. Remind your wife of the past on a regular basis
  6. Fight unfair
  7. Don’t pray together
  8. Skip church
  9. Play the blame game
  10. Pout often
  11. Let a film of dust cover your Bible
  12. Don’t show affection in front of your kids
  13. Keep secrets
  14. Believe that your spouse would never be tempted to look at pornography
  15. Compare your husband to your friend’s perfect husband
  16. Have sex out of duty
  17. Stay up and watch TV while your wife goes to bed
  18. Never make time for a date night
  19. Overspend
  20. Use the silent treatment often
  21. Disrespect your husband
  22. Criticize your mate on a regular basis
  23. Flirt with old friends on Facebook
  24. Talk badly about your spouse behind their back
  25. Make a mess and never clean it up
  26. Focus only on your hobbies
  27. Be a name caller
  28. Complain about how often he wants to have sex
  29. Complain about how often she never wants to have it
  30. Fall out of love
  31. Don’t ever bring her flowers
  32. Never attend counseling
  33. Or read a marriage book
  34. Look at your smart phone while she is talking to you
  35. Only touch when absolutely necessary
  36. Pick him apart and make every little thing a big deal
  37. Hide your feelings
  38. And then resent your spouse for not knowing them
  39. Use sarcasm constantly
  40. Start an emotional affair
  41. Say “It’s not my fault” often
  42. Over commit your kids and fall into bed exhausted every night
  43. Take a long second (and third) look at your attractive co-worker
  44. Make your life all about you
  45. Nag
  46. Lie about how much you really spent on your shopping trip to the mall
  47. Hold onto unforgiveness
  48. Don’t apologize
  49. Try to change your mate, but never yourself
  50. Be defensive
  51. Make her feel like she’s not a good mother
  52. Withdraw
  53. Be immature
  54. Ignore what God is asking you to do
  55. Doubt your husband’s role as a father
  56. Yell
  57. Live with unrealistic expectations
  58. Get into debt
  59. Be a tease
  60. Don’t do what you say you will do
  61. Read 50 Shades of Gray
  62. Let your spouse carry most of the workload
  63. Use the words “always” and “never” when you’re disagreeing
  64. Don’t call when you’re going to be late
  65. Overreact
  66. Choose anger
  67. Don’t do fun things together
  68. Don’t give your spouse attention
  69. Put your kids before your marriage
  70. Give your children permission when your spouse doesn’t
  71. Resent her
  72. Ignore him
  73. Tell the inlaws all the details of your arguments
  74. Don’t communicate as lovers
  75. Fantasize about other people
  76. Put your job before your family
  77. Don’t work on your friendship with your spouse
  78. Act like you really don’t like your mate
  79. When he compliments you, don’t receive it
  80. Do what you’ve always done
  81. When your spouse asks you to help out or serve them, say no.
  82. Don’t try to make her happy
  83. Don’t try anything new together
  84. Undermine your spouse
  85. Try to fix all her problems
  86. Talk all the time and never let him say a word
  87. Make listening optional
  88. Don’t kiss
  89. Threaten divorce
  90. Collect unresolved issues
  91. Don’t make family dinners a priority
  92. Let the TV stay on constantly
  93. Keep God out of your day-to-day living
  94. Don’t be vulnerable
  95. Or share intimacy
  96. Forget why you fell in love
  97. Be ungrateful
  98. Stop loving and believing in yourself
  99. Believe that your marriage will never be better than it is right now
  100. Give up

What would you add in the comments?


  1. 1

    Sara K. says

    Hi Kristen. This is a very good list of what not to do. I should know. I am recently divorced and I can honestly say that either myself or my ex-husband (or both of us) are guilty of a large portion of the things on this list. I hope your other readers will take it seriously whether their marriage is solid or struggling. Your spouse should be number 2 in your life. Not your kids, your job, your sports team or your girlfriends. I can speak from experience that doing the things on this list will eventually strangle your marriage. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    • 1.1

      Amber K says

      Hi Sara…I’m so sorry…Wonder if there’s a chance you two could re-kindle things? Not too hard to pray about! :) Praying for you and with you.

  2. 3

    Danielle Koroschetz says

    Love this! I’m printing it as a reference. I am definitely guilty of some of these things and I want my marriage to ROCK!!

  3. 4


    Loved this. About to hit 12 years married (and 5 kids…so far!) and doing our best to NOT do these things :)
    What I’d like to see next: a post like this about mothering :)

    Oh, and by the way, the one about 50 Shades of Gray cracked me up! I told my husband, “it’s nothing but literary porn!”

  4. 6


    I think you’re right that it’s one thing to hear a list of things to do (e.g., be quick to apologize, do fun things together), but another thing to hear the negative counterparts. It gets you thinking in a different way.
    It seems to me that just about everything on the list requires one of just a few antidotes: commitment, sacrificial love, or hard work. While these aren’t easy, I continuously pray for strength to meet the challenge so I make sure my marriage “rocks.”

  5. 8

    Heather S. says

    You always offer words of wisdom, Kristen. Sometimes people have a hard time hearing wisdom because their hearts are not open to God or areas of their hearts are closed off. However, I greatly appreciate that you always share what you know is the TRUTH and not worry about who might be offending or disagree. So proud of you that you step out in faith and live your life intentionally. This is a great list – and that word – MEDIOCRE – isn’t it funny how people think, “hey, we’re average. It’s OK.” But once you say “mediocre,” suddenly it has a different feel. Love it – I never want to live mediocre life! I want the abundant life and to be a Rockin’ Wife!

  6. 9

    Bob Harner says

    101. Make everything in life into a competition with your spouse
    102. Post everything about your personal life on facebook
    103. Don’t consider your vows as sacred.

  7. 11

    a wife who has trod this road says

    I might add to point #14 if he confesses flip out, freak out and emotionally disown him.

    In reality the dude just confessed the worst social sin our of day because he loves you and needs help. Do not dare react in the flesh if you really love your man. Swallow your pride and realize how much strength it took him to come forward and reach out to you.
    If your guy got caught but seems honestly struggling be there in the same way as if he confessed first. This thing is so hard to beat on your own. It is on the same level as alcohol or drug addiction in the sheer mental and emotional strength required to even enter into the battle of beating it.
    Do not tell anyone except a trusted counsoler such as a pastor or other. Friends and relatives do not count no matter how close they are. They will not judge based on your love but on social norms which is to hate and treat your husband like a leper.
    For every selfish pig that is revelling in his secret hundereds more are trapped in bondage because of the extreme unChrist-like way we have of treating those reaching out for help which bar them from being able to say “I need help!”

    • 11.1

      Wife who's been there, too... says

      Could not agree more with how you put this!! Excellent.. EXCELLENT advice!! And what’s great is it CAN be overcome! With Christ, counseling, and choosing EVERY DAY to fill time with good choices/actions, my hubby has been ‘clean’ almost two whole years now. To God be the glory!! So thankful for his humble heart… For his choice to DO something about it!

  8. 13


    So…I just glanced back at last year’s post for a quick reminder of what to do (to go along with what not to do)—WOW! Some of those comments were…yeah. That said, I remember your post from last year and loved it when you wrote it. This year’s post is equally amazing. Thank you so much for being so willing and faithful to share with us, even after the crazy comments :0)

  9. 14


    I love this. I went to a FOREVER FOR REAL conference over the weekend and it encouraged me to be a better wife. I initially went for work,but got refreshed on things I ALREADY KNEW, but had forgotten to DO!! I just thought…..I am doing this for work….I should be doing this for my hubby and my daughter! He is my perfect 10!! I want to keep him happy!!!

  10. 15


    Good stuff. Really good stuff. Hard stuff. :)

    I am forwarding this list to my hubs and going to highlight those I am guilty of. Thanks for the heart check.

  11. 16


    Going through this list is a scary reminder of how easy it is to fall into habits that seem “harmless” but can totally sabotage a relationship. Seeing a number that myself and my husband are guilty of is a real wakeup call. It is easy in this instant gratification culture we live in to forget that real things require work. Thanks so much for this.

  12. 17


    Great post! My husband and I (senior pastors) are doing a series this month (Feb.) entitled “All You Need is Love” as in faith works by love, loving yourself in order to love others, etc. Would it be OK if I copied this list and gave it as a handout? Of course, I would credit it to you and share your site. Sunday we are talking about boundaries (in dating, marriage, children & in-laws). On the last Sunday of the month, the entire pastoral staff (youth, etc.) will be answering questions. We’ve had a box in the INFO center where people could write out any questions on relationships and drop it in the box anonymously.

  13. 19

    Amber K says

    HA HA! I would love to know who’d argue with this??? It’s pretty real to me! Good job, girlfriend! High-five! (Thanks for the reminder…Aaaaag)

  14. 20

    Carla says

    What a fantastic reminder to someone struggling to balance being a new mother with my marriage. Great points. (PS. #9 & 88 are the same! This could be on purpose….) :)

  15. 24

    Gena says

    Well said. I also like that guy Bob’ suggest ions of 101,2&3. This is so powerfully felt because you reversed the goody goody stuff we often hear for good marriages. Those things can roll off our backs like just another thing we should be doing but aren’t. But when you put it this way, it just is a zinger. Well done.

  16. 25

    Misti says

    I am a Christian and I am in graduate school to earn a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy so I can help the Body of Christ have more satisfying marriages and help them avoid divorce. I can tell you this list is amazingly accurate. Dr. John Gottman has done extensive research on couples and states the 4 things that predict a marriage ending are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. All these things are conveyed in your list. With your permission, I’d love to print this list, along with your web address as a resource for my clients.

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