Apr 032018 11 Responses

Stupid Marriage Advice that Works for Us

Most marriage advice is universal. When I wrote Friends, Partners & Lovers, I wanted to figure out the basic roles every spouse should play. The basic principles of the book transcend time and place. The roles are universal in every culture. The book describes what a spouse is supposed to do. My second book, Happily, answers a different question. It focuses on the question of how. How are we to accomplish marriage? The advice in this book also applies to everyone. The underlying spirit of how a couple accomplishes what they do is also universal. The advice applies to everyone.

Yet some marriage advice is cultural. I receive a good number of marriage questions via email. One of the first questions I ask a person is where they live. It’s easy for me in America to tell a couple to find a good marital counselor, but that isn’t an option for many people reading my articles. I approach the marriage relationship in a very egalitarian way, but that’s not the approach for some people asking questions. Culture matters in a marriage.

But there is other marriage advice which Jenny and I live by and never tell others. It works for us, but there is no reason to assume it would work for others. Here are five pieces of marriage advice we live by but don’t necessarily tell others to follow. (See: 10 Misguided Pieces of Marriage Advice)

Don’t Necessarily Try This at Your Home

Here are five things that work for us, but may not work for you.

1. Never Shop Together. It’s just doesn’t work for us. Others find great joy in shopping together, but Jenny and I just approach things differently. I get bored and she gets irritated. We figured this out very early on in marriage on a trip to Wal-Mart. Midway through the trip, I sang the line, “I’m in Wal-Mart hell/In more pain than I could tell/She’s telling me where to stand/I no longer feel like a man.” Except for the rare trip to buy me clothes (usually on vacation and only when we are in the right mindset), we shop separately and we both like it. (For more on the Wal-Mart trip, read THIS)

2. Say Yes as Much as Possible. Like any healthy couple, Jenny and I check with one another before committing to things. We aren’t mothering/fathering one another. We are showing common courtesy and trying to stay on the same page with our schedules. But one thing we try to do is to say “yes” as much as possible when one of us asks the other if we can do something. If she wants to play tennis or I want to play golf, we work hard to agree. This approach only works if you don’t take advantage of it and if both partners are carrying an equal load of work and home. Because we do, we can encourage one another to have fun, friends, and hobbies.

3. The Wife Always Grills. Question my manhood if you wish, but I don’t grill. One of Jenny’s favorite places is being outside cooking. If we lived in California, she would have an outdoor kitchen. While some of our roles follow the traditional gender roles, others don’t. When our kids were little, I took them to get shots. If a school official needs to talk to us, they are probably talking to me. But if we are grilling or one of us is changing the car battery that is Jenny.

4. Don’t Force Together Time. We value family time so we spend a good amount of time together. Because we spend ample time together, it empowers us to spend time apart. Jenny is adventurous. I’m not. So there are many things she wants to do, but I do not. So she does them. She takes the kids hiking or to the lake. Recently she wanted to take our son skiing, so she did. In most instances, she doesn’t even ask if I want to go. I know I’m invited, but I also know I’m not pressured to attend. If she needs me there, she asks me to go. Some couples can’t operate this way; we can, so we do.

5. Live Next Door to Your Mother-in-law (and vacation with family). My mom lives next door…and we love it. The arrangement works for us, but it may not work for you. Not only do we live close to family, we rarely take a vacation without family. While Jenny and I might travel alone, if the kids are with us so is either my mom or Jenny’s mom or both. Some people need a break from family; we do not. We get along well and it’s great fun to travel with those we love. But if this isn’t you, don’t worry about it. There is no right or wrong regarding who accompanies you on vacation.

All of these things work for us…so far. A time might come in which something changes, but to this point, these approaches to marriage have been successful. They may not work for others, but they work for us. Want some universal marriage principles? Read 15 Tips for a Better Marriage.

Question: What is one thing that works for your marriage which does not work for your friends?

11 Responses to Stupid Marriage Advice that Works for Us
  1. J. Parker Reply

    Love this! We don’t do home projects together. I still sometimes feel envious when others describe their bonding experience as they laid a tile floor or painted a room with their spouse. But then that envy dies when I remember that this rarely works for us.

    Our approaches are just too different. Instead, we each do those tasks we do better or want more than the other and hire out some projects too. Totally worth it for us to avoid the tension or conflict.

  2. Jo Reply

    Pranks, silliness, and humor work for us. My motto is, “I see no reason to act my age any more than I have to.” Then there’s puddle stomping and leaf-scuffing. My daughter picked up these habits as a child. The first prank she played on my husband was putting her realistic toy rubber gray mouse in his cereal box. He’s half asleep when he gets up, and I saw him jump in a most satisfying way. I was so pleased with my daughter.

  3. Tracy Reply

    What do u do if your wife doesn’t show any interest n u anymore?

  4. Raquel Reply

    My husband and I enjoy shopping together… specially shopping for clothes.
    We both like the outdoors and traveling together and camping out (I taught my husband how to fish). We also help each other do house projects. We thank God for putting us together!

  5. Dan Reply

    “If she needs me there, she asks me to go.” Say what? Don’t wait for her to NEED you there, take a bigger interest, and go without being asked. You seriously don’t like hiking or going to the lake? I’m sure your kids would love to have you there too. Because when they are grown up and gone, you’re gonna wish you went a little more often, even when you didn’t want to.

    Believe me, it isn’t forced time, it’s a precious gift, don’t waste it.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Dan, the key to that section is the first two lines. We spend ample time together. I didn’t say I never go hiking or to the lake.

  6. Raquel Reply

    Thank you,for sharing Dan,but reading your article again,there’s so much ???

  7. Jill Reply

    My favorite is “Your wife always grills.”

  8. Vincy Hannaman Reply

    We make sacrifices for each other. He goes shopping with me sometimes and sometimes I go with him. Neither of us especially like the others’shopping places but we’re together and that makes it o.k. we definitely have our own preferences of chores in the house and yard. We’re really happier doing the ones we like best and are better at. For example, I like to cook but Rod not only likes to cook but is much better than i am. After 54 years we just try to take care of each other and enjoy life together-that”s become easier with time.

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