Jul 142015 16 Responses

10 Misguided Pieces of Marriage Advice

As the reception is in full swing, the videographer makes her way to each table where every person looks into the camera, gives their best wishes and tells the couple the secret to a happy marriage. Aunt Susie is teary-eyed and can barely say “I love you.” Uncle Bob tries to be funny and fails miserably. Then, one by one, each person gives their marriage advice. And most of it is useless. (See: 15 Tips for a Better Marriage)

Many pieces of common wedding advice are wrong and some actually prevent a good marriage.

Here are 10 misguided pieces of marriage advice:

1. Happy Wife = Happy Life. While I want my wife to be happy, her happiness is ultimately out of my control. If her happiness is a prerequisite to my happiness, I’m allowing her to control me. She has to work on her own happiness as I have to work on mine. A healthy marriage may be one of the greatest predictors of a happy life. Make the marriage better and the happiness will likely take care of itself. (See: You Hurt My Feelings)

2. Don’t go to bed angry. It’s true that the Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger, but the point is to resolve anger quickly, not to literally resolve conflict before dusk. Sometimes sleep is the greatest tool toward conflict resolution. Do not allow anger to linger day after day, but sometimes going to sleep is more productive than fighting.

3. Never disagree in front of your kids. I agree we should never be disrespectful, rude, or mean in front of our kids. Of course, we should never be those things in private either. However, it is healthy to model positive disagreement in front of our kids. It shows them how to resolve conflict and reminds them that the presence of conflict doesn’t mean a relationship is bad. Stay cool, be calm, but do disagree in front of your kids. (See: The Number One Rule of Disagreement)

4. If he truly loves you, you shouldn’t have to tell him what you are thinking. Do you always know what you are thinking? Of course not. So what chance does he have? Love does not give us mind-reading abilities. We must communicate in order to understand one another. If he doesn’t know what you are thinking, that isn’t a sign his love is low. It’s a sign the two of you are not communicating properly. (See: It’s Not My Job to Read Your Mind)

5. Don’t have separate checking accounts. It might be ideal for a couple to only have one checking account, but it isn’t always practical. A couple should spend less than they make, save for retirement, and have a well-ordered financial house. How they do those things is not very important. If separate accounts empowers better decision-making, have separate accounts. The only caution–make sure both accounts are transparent and neither spouse is using their own account to hide expenses from their husband or wife.

6. Just follow your heart. Whatever you do, don’t blindly follow your heart. Few things are as easily deceived as our hearts. People who “just follow their hearts” end up in a lot of bad situations. We shouldn’t follow our hearts; we should lead them.

This article is an excerpt from my book Friends, Partners, and Lovers.

7. Do what makes you happy. What makes us happy in the short-term often makes us miserable in the long-term. Happiness should always be a byproduct and not our main pursuit. Do what is right and most of the time it will lead to happiness. Yet even when it doesn’t, you can have a deep sense of satisfaction that doing the right thing brings. (See: I Just Want to Be Happy)

8. Love is all you need. Tell that to the bank or your hungry child or your father-in-law. Love is vital, but you need more than just love in order to have a healthy marriage. Wisdom helps. Common sense comes in handy. Love is a good start, but learning the practical aspects of a healthy relationship are just as important.

9. The wife is always right. While women tend to be better at marriage than men, the idea that men should always agree with their wives is wrong. Part of this advice reveals a common misconception that a healthy marriage is defined by total agreement. It’s not. A healthy marriage has a good amount of disagreement.

10. Just stick it out for the kids. It sounds noble to stay in a bad marriage for the kids, but it is bad advice. Instead of staying in a bad marriage for the kids, work to make your marriage better for you and your spouse. Do it for yourself and one another. The kids will benefit as well. (See: Change Your Marriage Today)

What would you add as number 11?

16 Responses to 10 Misguided Pieces of Marriage Advice
  1. deelmo Reply

    You really do seem to have a negative attitude towards women. I’ve called you on this before about how you state more negatively regarding women.

    I count three out right negative statements against the wife, possible a forth. I see no negative statement aimed directly at the husband – as in “12 .Husbands – do not watch porn, it will destroy your marriage””13. Husbands, pay attention when your wife is speaking. She has important things to say”. “13. Husband, do not treat your wife like a servant. She works just as hard or harder than you do.” “14. Do not think that everything is logical or black and white. Follow your heart. God gave you emotions for a good reason. Trust your ‘gut instinct'”.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Deelmo, if other women agree that I have a negative attitude toward women, I will gladly look at my own heart and seek change. However, I find it hard to imagine if you read through my nearly 200 marriage posts that you would find it anti-woman. As a matter of fact, I said in this post that women are most often better at marriage than men. It’s important to note that 70% of my audience is female. The audience is primarily women so I write to women. It’s also important to note, my editor (my wife) would quickly rebuke me if anything I said was anti-woman.

  2. Susan Reply

    I know Kevin personally and would say he is anything but anti-woman. For a pastor raised in the south in a Southern Baptist Church–he’s quite progressive. ๐Ÿ™‚ No dig on the So Bap’s–but if I get asked if I, “work outside the home” one more time, I might implode.

  3. MelaJ Reply

    #1 is my all time favorite misguided piece of advice, everytime I hear it I cringe!

    The worst I received was a Dr. Phil quote “how easy are YOU to live with?” I was asked that during a rough patch involving an emotional affair… Not mine. Not that it was any of her business-She had been told our rough patch was about laundry and cleanliness. It’s funny now, but at the time I nearly flew off the handle.

  4. melissab Reply

    I never find your posts negative about women, either. Very helpful, good reminders. – melissa b.

  5. kay Reply

    Brilliant article. Feeling number 2, oftentimes sleep helps to calm down and review problems and disagreements in proper perspective. Also, I don’t always agree Kevin but I don’t think he’s anti-women if you’re looking at his blog as a whole, not even this single article, but I’m a man so may not see

  6. Aloise Reply

    Pastor Kevin, You really do have a heart for marriage and relationships. There is a lot of wisdom and balance in this article. Once again, Thank you. -Single woman

  7. hotholyhumorous Reply

    The “Just follow your heart” advice has driven me crazy through the years. I start to wonder if others have read Jeremiah 17:9. Like you, I believe we must train our hearts and constantly align them with the Word of God.

    My own addition to your list of bad advice would be “never share any negative about your spouse to someone else.” While I believe you should not speak disrespectfully about your spouse to a family member or friend, sometimes we need that outlet to discuss what’s going on and receive godly advice. Also, this bad advice plays right into the hands of abusive spouses who limit contact with the outside world and then thrive on what’s done in secret. This isn’t wise or biblical. When someone bad is really going on, even in the bonds of marriage, someone needs to speak up. We must be careful about who we speak to and how, but our marriage doesn’t need to live by the “it stays in Vegas” principle. My two cents.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s a great addition J. Thank you for your ministry and your support.

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  10. Marcia Reply

    I was told very recently by an older gentleman in my church that he had a word for me from God, “if you treat him like a king, he’ll treat you like a queen.” I’ve been thinking about this statement all week. What does that even mean? I’d love to hear your thought.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Well, I have a few thoughts. When someone says “I have a word for you from God,” my first thought would be “I’ll bet you don’t.” Then, when they tell you a cultural cliche rather than an actual verse from Scripture, I would say, “See, I told you so.” Ha. In an ideal world, both spouses would treat each other in a great way (i.e. king and queen). That is why this statement has become a cliche. The only problem, sometimes it isn’t true. On occasion one spouse can do their part and the other doesn’t. So, my thoughts–the guy probably means well but he’s wrong.

  11. Katy Reply

    Here’s one: “Shut your mouth and open your wallet.” Yeah, my dad told that one to my then fiance. I’m not sure if he was joking or not. He was laughing, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t joking either. Thing was–Mom couldn’t make a decision to buy anything!! Okay, she did spend money on her hobbies–but not much in the grand scheme of things. Me? I don’t make decisions much either, but when I do, they aren’t the greatest. We aren’t in debt by any means, but kind wish the husband said “No!” on a few purchases.

  12. Wannabe queen Reply

    I love this and agree with nearly all of these. In studying how to do my part in the marriage, I’ve come to realize that people typically put into their relationships/marriages what they need out of them. I find that to be completely true in my situation. I want to be treated like a queen, so I treat him like a king- partially because I feel like God leads me to treat him that way and partially in hopes that it may eventually rub off. While it has helped in the way he treats me, it’s not anywhere near how I dream of being treated and adored. But while I think about what I want/need, it leads me to what he wants/needs. Through the things he does for me, one can only deduce that he doesn’t need much out of the marriage and therefore doesn’t put much into it. (Only to add, that I have specifically asked him what he needs from our marriage, and his answer was solely “Companionship”.) All that to say, no ultimately he is not responsible for my happiness, but with very little effort on his part he sure could contribute to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. […] But there is other marriage advice which Jenny and I live by and never tell others. It works for us,... kevinathompson.com/stupid-marriage-advice-that-works-for-us

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