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Updated 24 February 2014

10 things never to do to your spouse

Life can be difficult. Relationships can be difficult. And living with someone day in and day out can be quite hectic. Never do these 10 things to your spouse.

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Life can be difficult. Relationships can be difficult. And living with someone day in and day out can sometimes be quite a tribulation. Especially if they do any of the following things to you – or if you do it to them.

Surprise, surprise. There are nice surprises like an unexpected weekend away or a bunch of roses, but then there are also the nasty surprises. Such as not telling her that your mother's coming to stay for three weeks until she's arrived at the front door. Or that you've invited the boss for supper – with half an hour's warning.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for your spouse. If you're going to be late, phone. In this day and age with cellphones and public telephones on every corner, there is no excuse. If you say 7 p.m. and you arrive at 7.45 p.m. with no excuse, don't be surprised if you're met by a thin-lipped spouse. With our crime statistics what they are, he/she has probably spent 45 minutes imagining the worst. Being late also shows a lack of respect for the other person's time.

All by myself. Sometimes there are things you need to decide by yourself, but if you do not consult your spouse in major decisions that affect both of you, don't be surprised if you get banished to the spare room. Things like buying and selling of houses, letting other family members move in, hiring or firing domestic workers and choosing schools for your children.

Being abusive. This includes verbal, sexual and physical abuse. Being overly jealous and possessive is abusive behaviour, as is name-calling and assaulting someone. It is also abusive to cut down your spouse in front of others. If you are abusive to your spouse, it points to the fact that you have huge unresolved personality issues. Abuse is completely against the spirit of marriage and no one should endure being treated in this manner. It is also extremely bad for children to witness abuse of this kind.

The sounds of silence. If you are angry, sometimes it is a good idea not to say anything while your temper can still be measured on the Richter scale. But giving someone the silent treatment for days is passive aggression. By refusing to engage with someone you are blocking any possible solution you may arrive at together. Write a letter stating your grievances if you feel you are not being heard, but don't do the thin-lipped silent thing.

Undermining their authority. Obviously this depends on the situation. If your spouse is beating the children, you would be wrong not to intervene. But if your wife has said the kids cannot have cookies before supper and you go behind her back and give it to them, you are in the wrong. The two of you have to present a united front to the children, otherwise your lives will descend into a hell of daily testing of limits by your offspring.

Being rigid about chores. Everything in the house can be done by both of you. Your hands won't fall off if you do the dishes once in a while and there is nothing that stops your wife from helping you in the garden. But you can expect no help if you are not prepared to give it. If two people both work fulltime, domestic chores should be split fifty-fifty.

Getting involved with someone else. If your relationship with your spouse is a dead-end road, get divorced and carry on with your lives separately. But if things are coasting along and you get involved with a third person simply because you couldn't get it together to say no, you are in the wrong. While you still see a future together with your spouse, don't even think about whether the grass may be greener on the other side.

Refusing to go for help. If you are ill or depressed or have a problem with alcohol or drugs, don't refuse to go for help. By doing so, you are making your spouse's life hell, because he or she is the one who has to live with your mood swings or constant complaints about your health. Heavens, we no longer live in the fourteenth century. There is help available and making use of it is a sign of strength – refusing to make use of it is a sign of weakness.

Being a control freak. Marriage is a partnership, not a battle to the death for supremacy. If you use money or sex to manipulate or control your partner, you are in the wrong and probably need professional help to sort out your control issues. - (Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated November 2012)

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