When we find out that someone’s marriage is on the rocks or ending, our first instinct is often to wonder whether one of them was cheating.
Infidelity is indeed a devastating betrayal. But, unfortunately, it’s far from the only betrayal that can do lasting damage to a marriage.
But when we engage in other betrayals, we tend to be less aware of what we’re doing and the impact it could have.
This list of five betrayals in marriage that aren’t infidelity was inspired by the work of marriage researcher John Gottman and by “Ten Commandments for Relationship Essentials” by Stan Tatkin.
1. Speaking Negatively About Your Spouse
Sometimes venting to your friends about your husband’s little quirks crosses the line from joking to betrayal. Consider these questions:
- How would your husband feel if he heard what you were saying? Would he laugh along or feel hurt?
- How would you feel if he were saying something similar about you to his friends?
Gossiping about your husband can also becomes a betrayal if you’re talking to others about issues in your marriage instead of working on them directly with him.
2. Ignoring Your Spouse’s Intimacy Needs
It’s not a betrayal to have a sex drive that’s out of sync with your partner’s. But it does become one if you don’t communicate about what’s going on with you or if you stop caring about his needs as well as your own.
Being sexually rebuffed without explanation can cut especially deep for your husband if he isn’t big on intimate conversation and mainly shares how he feels about you through the sexual connection.
3. Showing Disrespect
Your marriage doesn’t always have to be full of romance and passion. But it does consistently require the two of you to respect each other.
When respect breaks down, that sets the stage for deeper trouble in a relationship. The problem is that it’s easy to become so busy and stressed that we forget to treat our spouses with common courtesy.
It’s tempting to think “Well, that’s just how it is when life is so hectic.” But even little acts of disrespect can deeply damage a relationship over time.
4. Not Being Present Emotionally
This is another everyday betrayal that stems from busyness and stress. We all need to be seen, to be affirmed, to be valued — especially by our spouses. But sometimes we are so engrossed in all the other demands on our time (our phones, the kids and on and on) that we stop noticing each other.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you can claim even a few minutes a day to focus just on each other you can make your marriage stronger.
5. Failing to Share the Load
It takes work to maintain a marriage, a family, and a household. There’s no one right way to divide all these responsibilities. Different strategies work for different couples.
The important thing is that the way you are handling things feels equitable to you both. If one of you feels like you’re on your own (as women often do when it comes to emotional labor), resentment starts building.
Do any items on this list hit a little too close to home for you? You and your husband can find ways to strengthen your intimacy and teamwork using the concepts in my book Strong Women, Strong Love.