Jul 102014 0 Responses

Ignore Some of the Things I Say

My grandparents went to bed every night at the same time. Sometimes he was tired and she wasn’t. Sometimes she was tired and he wasn’t. Yet every night, whomever was most tired would wait until the other was ready. When they were both ready for bed, they would go.

I doubt my grandparents ever read a study about bedtimes and marital satisfaction. They probably just lucked into one of the greatest habits of a married couple. Going to bed at the same time is one of the best things a couple can do. It depends the bonds of partnership. It often provides opportunity for a couple to talk with another as they drift off to sleep. Sexual frequency increases when a couple goes to bed at the same time. And going to bed together makes it more likely the couple will get up around the same time which aligns the couple’s schedule making it less likely for the couple to live radically different schedules.

Every expert I know encourages couples to go to bed at the same time. (See: The Most Important Marriage Advice I Could Ever Give)

But Jenny and I don’t.

We do on occasion. We’ve tried to do so every night, but it doesn’t work. Eventually she kicks me out of bed.

As much as we would love to go to bed at the same time, we haven’t found a way to make it work for us. When we go to bed together, I fall asleep quickly and she tosses and turns. When she goes to bed before me, she goes to sleep with great ease. To go to bed together means less sleep for her so she goes to bed and I follow her about twenty minutes later.

It’s not ideal, but at this stage in our lives, it works for us.

So it is with most marital advice. It’s proverbial. It’s generally true for a vast majority of people, but it is not law. There are exceptions.

The difficulty is in determining what advice should we submit to (even though we don’t like it), and what advice we are free to ignore (acknowledging it just isn’t right for us).

Knowing the nature of humanity, we will be quick to ignore the advice we need the most. And we shouldn’t. Yet we can’t be deceived into thinking that following all the marital rules will guarantee a happy marriage. It won’t.

The challenge is for each couple to humbly discern what is the wisest course of action for them. What I advise for most people may not work for you. What others say is a good course of action may not work for me.

Sometimes we have to ignore what others say and do what works for us.

Do you not like what I’ve written about not having a television in the bedroom or never calling another woman beautiful or having sex within 24 hours of your spouse requesting it? Then ignore it. But be careful when you do so.

If you want to ignore sound marital advice, only do so if the following are true:

1. If you are of the same mind: If one spouse agrees with common marital advice and the other does not, then follow the advice. But, if you both agree a piece of advice is not right for you, then feel free to ignore the advice.

2. If you are cautious: When you willfully disregard what many experts say is good advice, do so with a great amount of skepticism. Watch for negative consequences. Observe what takes place. Be quick to change your direction if things do not go as you hope. Test your way. Try it. But do so knowing things might go wrong and if they do go wrong, be quick to admit you were wrong.

3. If you have the approval of someone you respect: I’ve written a few hundred posts about marriage. There are many posts which are negotiable, but there are many that are not. If a couple wanted to ignore some of my advice, I would likely understand their point and be able to advise the best ways to do the opposite of what I have said. But with some principles there is no way I could ever advise someone to ignore what I have written. If you want to ignore common marital advice, find someone you deeply respect and get their opinion. If they agree the issue is negotiable, then negotiate what is best for you. If they believe you are trying to justify a poor decision, then humble yourself and follow the common advice. (See: Love Your Friends, Don’t Listen to Them)

Some truth is universally true. No matter your marriage, it applies to you. Other ideas are proverbial truths which work in most relationships but there are some exceptions. Discern the difference, because you should ignore some of the things I say.

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