Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony: These are the “seven deadly sins” Christians have put forth historically. If people choose to engage in these acts, they will face dreadful consequences.

In marriage, there are also “deadly sins.” I call those deadly sins: abuse, addiction and adultery — or “The Three As.”

These deadly sins, if present in a marriage, are difficult to overcome. All attack the marriage’s foundation of trust, friendship and love. Although some marriages have just one deadly sin present, others might have two but really tough situations are when all three are present. The more deadly sins present, the more difficult it is to overcome.


Abuse can be mental, physical and/or emotional. Physical abuse is the most obvious. You know when you are being physically abused, and many times, so do your family members, friends and co-workers. If you are being physically abused in your relationship, put your safety first.

Abusers need help but someone with a controlling personality most likely will never seek it. This will not change and you do not need to be nor should you be the one to help them. They have to want help first.

Just as detrimental, but perhaps not as obvious are the wounds from mental, verbal and emotional abuse. These injuries may be more dangerous because they are not as conspicuous, and others may not see you need help.

Mental and emotional abuse can take many forms, from constant criticism all the way to outright name calling.


Deciding to leave your spouse who has an addiction can be downright heart-wrenching. It can seem cold or cruel to leave someone who clearly needs help. But an addict cannot be helped until he or she is ready to overcome their addiction.

We instinctively want to help the people whom we love and we want them to heal and get better. However, it is impossible to help an addict who does not think he or she has a problem. Thus, any form of assistance becomes enabling, which is one of the worst things you can do for an addict.

If your spouse is still being run by his or her disease and the effects are making your life miserable, make a change. Only you can know when it is time to leave your spouse, but consider the effect on your life, on your children’s lives and what your future will be if you don’t make any changes.

Assume that your addicted spouse will not change or will only get worse. Assuming that they might change and get better will not help you and is not realistic.


For most people, few things are more devastating in life than to learn you have a cheating spouse. In most divorces, infidelity is an often-cited reasons for the relationship’s demise.

Statistics show that 33 percent of men and 19 percent of women admitted to being unfaithful.

Also interesting is the frequency of how often people said they cheated. Seventeen percent of women responders who were sexually unfaithful and 23 percent of men said it happened only once; and 36 percent of women and 33 percent of men said it happened two to five times. That means more than 40 percent of unfaithful men and women admitted they were unfaithful regularly.

By the way, cheating is no longer limited to just physical sexual escapades. Emotional affairs can be just as detrimental to a marriage.

With the tidal wave of social media, this topic has roared into our lives and is here to stay. It is wise to beware of all forms of infidelity.

In a divorce, infidelity can mean absolute nothing or can mean everything. Many states have adopted the “no-fault” approach to divorce, meaning that infidelity is essentially irrelevant unless the cheating spouse has spent a lot of money on the other person, in which case the wronged spouse would be entitled to one-half of that amount. In states where grounds to divorce are still required, then infidelity might have a starring role.

The Bottom Line

Relationships are like live plants. To flourish, they need to be fed and nurtured.

Marriages also need nurturing and cultivation for it to grow and thrive. Sometimes, when it becomes a struggle and effort by nourishing it with date nights, attention to each other, attending marriage classes and counseling, it will perk up and bloom again.

Other times, it just cannot be revived no matter your efforts.

That’s when “conscious uncoupling,” might be appropriate.

Rebecca Zung, a family law attorney, is a founding partner of the Law Office of Zung Clough, PLLC in Naples. As a renowned divorce authority, she helps clients transform and rebuild their lives. Her book, “Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Freedom,” is available on amazon.com. Contact Zung at RebeccaZung.com or rzung@zungfamilylaw.com.

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