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6 Marriage Mistakes Men Make

Despite your best intentions, these habits may undermine your relationship.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Men, we don’t mean to nag, but you may be making mistakes that risk ruining your marriage. In fact, if you are a typical man, you are likely making several and making them often.

Don’t believe us? Ask your partner. Now, before you get all defensive, this isn't about blame. These are sometimes subtle things that you might not even know you're doing. And changing these habits could make a big difference to your spouse, which can only be good for you.

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Furthermore, recognizing these mistakes and making efforts to correct them will not only help your marriage, it may also help your health as well as the health of your spouse.

Over time, negative feelings that aren't addressed can lead to physical and psychological problems, says psychologist Gloria Vanderhorst, PhD. "Stress develops in the relationship for each partner, though for different reasons," she says. "Typically, by the time a couple comes into treatment, this stress has triggered anxiety or depression in one or both of them."

Below are several common mistakes that men make, how you can recognize them, and -- most important -- what you can do to correct them.

1. Not showing empathy.

Psychologist Albert Maslow, PhD, says empathy -- the ability to recognize and share someone else’s feelings -- is the most important part of any relationship. And it’s something that, in general, women are better at than men. "Women want their feelings to be understood and validated," says Maslow, who has a private practice in Crozet, Va. "Men have to discover this."

Rather than simply listening, though, men tend to go into fix-it mode. That’s a mistake.

"If your wife tells you she feels ignored, for example, at that moment what she wants is for you to understand her feelings rather than talk about the facts," Maslow says.

2. Reckless spending.

Making big purchases such as buying a car without first consulting your wife is a huge no-no, Vanderhorst says. In fact, she ranks it second only to infidelity when it comes to marriage-busting mistakes. And, she says, "Men tend to do it a lot."

Why? Consciously or unconsciously, men frequently assign themselves the leadership role in the relationship. That, too, is a mistake, Vanderhorst says. A couple’s relationship involves shared leadership, she says.

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