You’re committed to your wife. You know how to listen. You spend time with your kids and work hard for your family. Your household might not be a blissful image of domestic achievement, but it’s certainly getting there.
But you might be falling short in little ways you’re not aware. Marriage involves a deeper commitment than dating and, as a result, are a lot different.
If you’re still working from the same relationship playbook you ran pre-marriage, you might be making mistakes with communication, housekeeping, the way you use your time or more.
In an effort to keep you aware, here are 17 small, dumb things you could be doing that are inadvertently harming up your marriage. Individually, each of the mistakes listed below are easy to blow off. But little things become big when they go unchecked.
Making Too Many Suggestions
You’re all on the same team and working towards the same goals, so offering up advice seems not only harmless but helpful. But if you’re constantly telling somebody how to go about everyday stuff like folding laundry or cleaning the house, after a while all that help stops being helpful. In fact, it starts sounding a lot like someone subtly letting you know they think you’re an idiot, no matter how it was intended.
Being Too Comfortable With Clutter
When you have kids, the war on household mess basically becomes unwinnable. Toys, gear and clothes inevitably get everywhere—a certain level of chaos is unavoidable. Still, as a grown-up, you’re obligated to fight against that chaos, even when fighting seems futile. Otherwise the chaos wins and your wife thinks you’re deadweight.
Zinging Your Spouse Too Hard
Your wife’s funny and sarcastic. She appreciates a quality burn. Nonetheless, you need to remember you’re in a relationship, not a sitcom. No matter how often you appreciate a well crafted put-down, it can hurt when it’s directed at you. That’s especially true when the comment comes from your spouse does it.
Being Glued to Your Phone
Talking to someone while they’re scrolling through Instagram is one of modern life’s most infuriating moments. And the act, often known as phubbing, can seriously harm a relationship. Apps are meant to distract from boredom. Whether you mean it or not, having a smartphone up during a conversation sends a message: you’re boring and I need an escape.
Going Too Hard Into Hobbies
When you obsess over a model train set, you look like a ridiculous nerd — which is fine! People need passions and diversions. They’re essential to staying sane. But these hobbies have to come second to your relationship. When it doesn’t, you’re basically cheating on your wife and family while wearing an engineering hat in your basement.
Bringing Stress Home With You
You can’t let a bad day at work spill over into a bad night at home. You can be honest with your wife about problems on the job, especially if the problems are severe. After all, they deserve fair warning if you’re about to be fired. But make the most of your time at home and let keep the workplace misery in the office where it belongs.
Not Being Able to Shut up
Lulls in conversation make some people uncomfortable. Often, they respond to the discomfort by chattering away about nothing to fill the space. That becomes an issue when you live with someone who appreciates the occasional silence. If you find your spouse seems distant when you’re trying to spark a friendly chat, try being quiet for a minute and wait for them to talk.
When You Never Stop Performing
There’s a time and place to go big with your personality and charm, tell a million jokes and use every skill you’ve got to grab attention. That time is not the morning and the place isn’t your home. That stuff might have impressed your wife in the past but will surely exhaust her now. Dial it back and give your spouse space to breathe.
Working Late Too Often
You need to work to support your family. Everybody gets that. But if you regularly miss family dinners or, worse yet, family bedtimes, after a while it starts to feel like you’re working late to avoid them instead of supporting them. You don’t have to cut corners or blow off deadlines—just get your work/life balance in line with your priorities.
Keeping Secrets, Even When They’re Inconsequential
It’s s understandable you don’t want to tell your wife you got a parking ticket after you forgot to pay a meter. You’re afraid you’ll look stupid, especially if it’s not the first time you’ve gotten a ticket on that street. But if you hide it and she finds out, it becomes a red flag, fairly or not. After all, if you’re hiding something like this from her, what else are you hiding? Take the L. You’re better off being an idiot than a liar.
Too Much Alone Time With Your Parents
No matter how well your spouse gets along with your parents, leaving them alone together can be a bad idea. Remember how your mom and dad drove you nuts in high school? When they’re with your spouse and you’re not there to run interference, they’ll drive him or her nuts the same way, only faster and with more intensity.
Nonstop Political Soapboxing
Whether you think Donald Trump is a cheeto-headed, lying misogynist or that Nancy Pelosi is an unhinged San Francisco communist, one thing is certain: if you constantly huff and puff about it, your family is sick of hearing about it. We live in a polarized political climate and it’s important to share opinions.
Not Having Their Back as a Parent
Letting the kid stay up on Friday night to finish a Pixar movie after mom said no feels like a cool dad move but it’s not cool for your wife. When dad says the kid can stay up late after mom says it’s bedtime, the kid gets mixed messages and the dad undermines mom’s authority. You can disagree on tactics and approaches but don’t argue about them in front of the kids.
The human body is profoundly disgusting. When you consider things like toe fungus and snot, it’s kind of weird that we lust after each other. The tools we use to make them presentable often serve as reminders of our essential grossness. So put the cap back on the toothpaste, dog. And while you’re at it, trash the used flossers, hide the hemorrhoid cream, clean the hand towels, keep bars of soap free of hair and wipe down the sink after you shave.