We look forward to seeing Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul on Wednesday, May 4, right outside our office in downtown Orlando. As fans of Breaking Bad, we reflect on how rifts in a marriage aren’t always huge, unsurmountable issues. No one person is perfect, and no one marriage is without its challenges. Most of us are not married to a high school chemistry teacher who transforms into a drug-dealing kingpin like the main character in the show. Still, we all have gone through difficult times in a relationship. We have had to find ways to navigate a spouse’s unproductive and unacceptable habits.

Obvious and Inconspicuously Destructive Habits

In over 25 years as a family law attorney, I have seen the destructive behaviors cited in divorce petitions as the leading cause of the dissolution of the marriage. Verbal and mental abuse along with infidelity are easy to identify. It is evident to the petitioner and close family and friends that it is impossible to continue a healthy partnership, and it is in the best interest of all parties involved, including dependents, to separate or file for divorce.

What about the negative habits that are harder to identify? These are often small, everyday habits that change our attitude toward our spouse and our marriage. Everyone has an annoying habit or two. There is a good chance that you and your spouse did something to annoy each other, even on your wedding night. It is human nature for some words or actions to offend another person, either on purpose or by accident. However, it is not a healthy habit if, instead of addressing the issue, your spouse withholds communicating with you that they’re upset and waits to bring it up later when the past offense is weaponized in an argument or punishment.  

Frequently critiquing your partner or having them critique you at every turn can tear down a relationship. These comments can make you feel unsupported, disliked, and even intimidated. It is important that if you feel as if the communication in your relationship has become hurtful and demoralizing, you have a direct conversation with your partner to understand what is at the root of the problem – it may have nothing to do with you, but without clarifying the real issue, this habit could create a downward spiral of mistrust and lack of confidence. 

The Consequences of Neglect

It can be easy to neglect and even avoid intimacy because both spouses are preoccupied with the day-to-day responsibilities of work and family. It’s good to have a habit of showing appreciation through acts of tenderness like holding hands or a good-night kiss that reconfirms the connection you share. These small acts add up and strengthen a relationship.

Resentment is a slow and silent killer of a marriage. Once it takes root, it can eat away at the love and togetherness that was a significant part of the early relationship. Conversely, neglectful habits have a way of building up over time and contribute to divorce through resentment.   

Divorce is usually not due to one specific event. It is the deterioration of the relationship over time caused by not being aware of how one’s actions can create problems in a marriage. Bad habits can destroy a marriage. I have seen these turn into irreconcilable differences and end in divorce. If you have tried all you can and your spouse is unwilling to make small changes to improve your marriage for the long term, make sure you seek professional guidance to ensure your divorce is amicable and equitable. Breaking bad habits can be hard but will ultimately lead to long-term happiness.

Rebecca L. Palmer, Esq. is a Family & Marital Law attorney practicing in Orlando, FL. She is the Managing Partner of the Rebecca L. Palmer Law Group, and she can be reached at rebecca@rlpvlawgroup.com