Jul 142015 22 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?

22 Responses to 10 Misguided Pieces of Marriage Advice
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