28 Marriage Deal Breakers that Will Land You in Divorce Court

divorced couple

Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

Living and loving life with your spouse can be wonderful, but it can also be like having a mirror reflecting all of your ugliest moments. There's a certain degree of give and take required for marriage to last, and we each have our own individual level of tolerance.

For some, it doesn’t take much in the way of bad behavior to cut and run. For others, they routinely handle bad behavior with little apparent impact until it inevitably boils over. Either way, there is a point where bad behaviors become a marriage deal breaker. Here are 28 marriage deal breakers that could land you in divorce court. 

1. A Spouse Who Doesn't Have Your Back

Does your brother treat you like dirt in front of your husband and he says nothing? Does your mother criticize your husband and you allow it to continue? It’s always your job to have your spouse’s back.

2. A Spouse Who Doesn't Take Responsibility

Whether it’s a refusal to change a diaper, take the trash out, or say “I’m sorry” when one is clearly in the wrong, each spouse has to be able to take responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof). 

3. A Spouse Who Can't Be Vulnerable

As husband and wife, you should both feel safe enough to share deep thoughts and emotions with each other in order to truly have your needs met.

4. A Spouse Who Doesn't Make An Effort to Make You Feel Special

We all want to be cared for by the one we love. If your husband washes the dishes but doesn’t wipe down the countertop, thank him for washing the dishes. Don’t criticize because he didn’t wipe down the countertop. If your wife works a full-time job and still contributes to taking care of the home and kids, let her know her efforts are appreciated. At the end of the day, we all want to feel like we are seen, heard, and we matter.

5. A Spouse Whose Behavior Causes You Doubt

Does he say he’ll fix that leaking faucet but, three months later, it is still leaking? Does she say she’ll try harder to show an interest in sex but after time, she is still withholding? It’s the seemingly small behaviors that promote the growth of major mistrust in a marriage—don’t let the small things take root.

6. A Spouse Who Doesn't Account for Their Whereabouts

There is no need to check in every hour on the hour, but if you’re going to be two hours late getting home from work, let your spouse know. It is simply common courtesy to stay in communication and not cause one another unnecessary worry.

7. A Spouse Who Can't Hold a Job

If you live in a household that requires two incomes to thrive, like the majority of households these days, you and your partner both need to find a steady way to earn income. Do your part and contribute.

8. A Spouse Who Consistently Lies

You stopped off for a few beers with the guys on the way home from work, but you told her the boss asked you to work late. She went shopping and spent way too much money and hid her purchases in the trunk to keep you from knowing. Small lies eventually come out, and when a spouse deals with one lie after another, don’t be surprised when you find yourself married to someone who doubts everything you say.

9. A Spouse Who Takes the Other Side

In a partnership, it's important to make the other person feel like they are heard and their feelings matter. If they are upset over the actions of another person, it’s your spouse’s feelings you should be concerned about, and vice versa. Neither of you should ever feel ganged-up on.

10. A Spouse Who Keeps Breaking Promises 

If you promise your spouse something, keep your promise. It's that simple. Don't claim you never made one to get out of something, and don't put up with these kinds of excuses from your spouse either.

11. A Spouse Who Brings Outside Influences Into the Marriage

Keep outside influences where they belong–out of your marriage. It's a low blow to bring friends or family into the picture to show the other how wrong they are, so just don't do it.

12. A Spouse Who Disrespects Your Property

Just because one of your prized possessions is inconsequential to the other, doesn’t mean it should be treated that way. Always be respectful.

13. A Spouse Who Refuses to Socialize With the Other's Friends and Family

If friends and family hold a special place in one's life, the other person should at least make the occasional effort to connect with them on some level.

14. A Spouse Who is Jealous of Friends and Family

Jealousy over a partner's relationships or time spent with close loved ones is typically a sign of feeling threatened and insecure. It's important to know that it is considered unhealthy and abusive behavior to actively try to keep someone away from them. It would be wise to work through these issues with a therapist.

15. A Spouse Who Constantly Talks About Their Ex

If a spouse is still angry over an ex, they are not emotionally divorced from their ex. It shouldn't be anyone's job to play therapist or attempt to fix past relationship issues. Everyone deserves a spouse who is adult enough to let go of anger and focus on the relationship they are in now.

16. A Spouse Who Walks Away from Arguments

Problems don’t get solved if your spouse is unable to engage in conflict and work with you to find a solution. It’s a bad sign when one is unwilling to stand their ground and fight for the relationship. 

17. A Spouse Who Cheats

This needs little explanation, as it is one of the most common causes for a break-up. Unless you’ve agreed, together, to have an open marriage, cheating can definitely cause irreversible pain and damage the trust that is crucial to a strong relationship.

18. A Spouse Who Hits

The first time a hand is lifted to harm another should be the last time. No questions asked. If you are on the receiving end of physical harm, confide in someone you trust and seek whatever support you can to walk away from the marriage before it's too late.

19. The Spouse Who Screams, Yells, and Curses

Verbal abuse is as serious and destructive as physical abuse. Verbal abuse doesn’t leave physical bruises, but it does eventually break the other person and, ultimately, the marriage bond. It is always important to pay attention to how the other person makes you feel. If you're on the receiving end of this behavior, confide in someone you trust and seek help.

20. The Spouse Who Doesn't Respect Your Personal Boundaries

We all have personal boundaries and deserve to have those respected by a spouse. It can be a small thing, but never ignore the other's request.

21. A Spouse Who Doesn't Stay Out of the Other's Business

Privacy is an important need and boundary that should be mutually respected. As adults, we should all be able to fight our own battles and clean up our own messes. There is no need for the other to insert themselves into unnecessary drama that does not directly concern them.

22. A Spouse Who Forgets Birthdays, Anniversaries, or Special Holidays

Each partner should make the effort to show the other that special milestones are just that–special. Putting just a little thought into those dates can really go a long way.

23. A Spouse Who is Addicted to Drama

Some people live and die by how much drama is going on in their lives. If there isn’t any drama, they will manufacture it. Remember that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. Focusing on what's working instead of stirring the pot is the best bet for relationship longevity.

24. A Spouse Who Threatens Divorce Often

A spouse who constantly threatens divorce needs to bolster their conflict resolution skills. There is no place for threats, ultimatums, and intimidation tactics in a healthy marriage.

25. A Spouse Who Drinks Too Much

Alcoholism can definitely put a huge strain on a marriage. It is destructive behavior that requires outside counsel. If the alcoholic refuses to seek help, it may be time to reevaluate the marriage.

26. A Spouse with Low Sex Drive

It is common to experience dry spells when daily life gets demanding and exhausting, especially when children are in the mix. If sex dwindles to nearly nothing, it is the couple's responsibility to make an effort to spark that fire again. Never underestimate the basic intimate needs of your partner; everyone deserves to have a satisfying sex life.

27. A Spouse Who Has Poor Hygiene

A common mistake is "letting yourself go" after tying the knot. As hard as it is, try to resist the urge to live in sweatpants and stop bathing. Make the effort to go on regular date nights and occasionally dress up for your partner the way you did in the early days. It's essential for keeping the passion alive.

28. A Spouse Who Dismisses Your Thoughts and Desires

Marriage is a partnership; treat it as one. If your husband tells you, “No we can’t afford a new car,” take his concern over finances seriously. If your wife says, “I need you to chip in and help with the kids while I cook dinner,” just do it. Acknowledging your partner's feelings and desires is a basic form of respect.

Want a happy marriage? Knowing each other’s marriage deal breakers will help keep you from engaging in behaviors that could risk the health of your marriage and lead to divorce. 

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