The One Thing That Destroys More Marriages Than Adultery, Money Troubles And Distance Combined

About one year ago a hilarious and adorable video surfaced online, about an older married couple trying to figure out something on the computer all the while, unknowingly their interaction was caught on the computer’s video camera.  It truly is a beautiful video and is both funny and touching all at the same time.  If you haven’t seen the video before I’ve included the link below so you can take a look at it.  What I found especially moving about the video was to see the tenderness with which they interacted with each other after all these years.  And while I think the video is adorable and entertaining, I also think it is massively instructive.

I’ve been married now for about 4 and half years, almost 5, and it is truly the most amazing experience any person can have.  And its so different from what I thought it would be when I was single.  But one thing that is interesting, is that around the bliss and the awesomeness is that you do begin to notice the pitfalls that can damage a marriage and a relationship if you are not careful.  And you have to be very intentional about avoiding those pitfalls that can cause problems.

And for me one thing that I am convinced destroys more marriages than anything else including adultery, money troubles, being distant in the relationship etc. is being a jerk to your spouse.  Yep, that’s the one silent killer than in my opinion damages more marriages than anything else you can think of.  And while it may seem laughable at first, when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.  The most obvious reason why being a jerk or “jerkiness” destroys marriages is because I think its a completely unexpected source of marital troubles.  I think there are 2 main reasons why jerkiness is such a deadly issue for marriages.

Because, one, as people we have a very low threshold for jerkiness in our lives.  No matter how saintly you think you are or you want to be, the human heart and mind is just wired in a way that makes us have a very low threshold for jerkiness.  And when we look around, this becomes painfully obvious.  I mean, think about it, every day people are quitting jobs and ending friendships because of jerkiness.  People will cut off family members and break off all contact because of jerkiness.  People will leave a well-paying job because there’s one person they can’t stand or because the boss is a jerk.  They will rather go through the stress of being low on cash and finding a new job than stay at a place with a jerk.  And yet for some reason we think that does not also apply to a marriage.  It does.  And I would argue even more so than other areas of our lives.

And because, two, common decency and mutual respect is the foundation of a relationship.  Like a house, if the foundation is compromised no matter what else you do to secure the house, it will not stand or survive.  In the same way, common decency and respect is the foundation of every relationship, and the moment that foundation is compromised or cracked, the entire house is (relationship) is in trouble.  That is why one bad incident with someone you have worked with for 2 years where they were an unjustified jerk toward you, will forever change the way you view that person from that point on, no matter how “nice” or polite they may be after that.  And the relationship will never be the same again.  Because the foundation was cracked and it altered the entire house.

And marriage is at greater risk of jerkiness than any other relationship.  Any relationship for the first few years the people in it are on their best behavior; they are considerate, they are sensitive to the feelings of the other person etc.  Until that unfamiliarity fades away and gives way to familiarity, and as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.  So for example, if you got a new roommate and you too shared a house, for the first year you’d both be very respectful of each other, but eventually that “respectfulness” will fade, and give way to a kind of state of being used to each other, and after a while that state of being used to each other will lead to familiarity, and familiarity is where the respectfulness and considerateness goes out the window.  You know your roommate hates a dirty kitchen and yet you now knowingly and deliberately leave your dirty dishes in the kitchen, knowing it will make them upset.  Familiarity is when you just don’t care about the feelings of the other person any more.  And that’s where the relationship begins to go south, and that familiarity will then lead to contempt i.e. hatred, intense dislike, irritation etc.

Every relationship goes through this cycle and marriage is no different.  Now the jerkiness will come in during the familiarity stage, and if a marriage is to last, both parties in the relationship must make a concerted effort to not be familiar and a jerk to the other person.  You have to keep your jerkiness in check, otherwise the relationship will not work.  You can’t treat them like trash and expect it to be okay. Because, every person has a what I call a jerkiness quota, where its like a tall clear glass full of water that’s your jerkiness quota, and each time the other person is a jerk a little water gets drawn out of the glass, until eventually the glass is empty.  So it is with our jerkiness quota, we can only take so much until we’ve had it and our glass is empty, and that’s a dangerous place to be in any relationship because once our glass hits empty we no longer care about the relationship.  We don’t care if it succeeds or fails, in fact we almost give up on the relationship entirely, thereby essentially dooming it to ruin.  And when that happens its almost impossible to repair.  Its reaching that breaking point that makes people, cut all ties with family members, and walk out of stable jobs.  Because our jerkiness quota ran out.

And in marriage, we must never ever let that jerkiness quota run out.  That glass must always remain full.  Now you can’t add water to the glass, all you can do is prevent any water from being drawn out of it.  So for a marriage to last, you must make every effort to never let your relationship have moments where water is extracted.  See because when our quota runs out, we walk out of the relationship.  Maybe not immediately but the seeds are being planted.  That’s why you must protect the and guard your jerkiness quota with everything in you, because quite literally, your marriage depends on it.

And this to me was the biggest lesson about the older couple on the computer.  When you watch their interaction, no matter how used to they are to each other, they still, after all these years, treated each other with a common decency and mutual respect as human beings.  And if you ask me, I think that’s a big reason why they’ve lasted.  Because their glasses are gloriously full.

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