In all facets of life, we have family members and friends eager to offer us unsolicited advice. At times this advice is based on substantial experience, trials and tribulations, and perhaps even credentialing. However, there are times when the advice is just darn bad.
What follows is a compilation of bad marriage advice that will more likely lead you to an era of hardship than relational bliss. While those who proctor this advice may have good intentions, we encourage you to steer clear of these whoppers. When in doubt about the trajectory of your marriage or issues within it, seek professional help.
Marriage is 50/50. No, it’s NOT!
Actually, marriage is rarely a 50/50 proposition.
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When partners confront health issues, employment issues, and child-related issues, one may be called to carry more weight than the other. There are times when “the tables” can dramatically change, thrusting the once struggling partner into the role of bread winner and caregiver. It can happen overnight.
The man should make the money, the women should run the house
While 50s television reruns still depict the “traditional family” with prescribed gender roles, the world has changed. In this era of the two-income household, there is no “prescribed role” for husband and wife. If you seek the 50s ideal in your marriage, you may be in for significant disappointment. Today, everyone has a role to play in raising children, securing income, and contending with household responsibilities. If you seek a stable, self-giving relationship with your significant other, be willing to live in the “grey zone.”
Love making solves all the problems. Really?
While we may enjoy intimacy in the aftermath of disagreements and impasses, “the sack” will not remove the problems in our marriages. Sexual intimacy is not a substitute for conversation, problem solving, and visioning. Intimacy may help us create a foundation for our dealing with the “tough stuff,” but it will not replace the hard work required in legitimately working through our problems.
Love conquers all things. Not always!
Love is essential for all healthy marriages. However, the type of love that’s effective in our marital relationships is a love built on mutuality. Love that is not reciprocal does not have the power to conquer any hardship in our marriages. One cannot “love” for the other person in the relationship. If your words and deeds of respect, care, and admiration are not reciprocated, then it will be hard to overcome disputes and diverging visions. The good news is this: we all have the tools to discern whether or not our love for another is reciprocated by their love for us.
You are two sparrows in a hurricane?
While this sort of advice makes for interesting country music, it is very inaccurate.
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We were made for community, meaning we were made to be in relationship with the world around us. An attitude that sees the world outside of the marriage as adversarial, is an attitude wrapped in co-dependency. Here’s the reality, friends. Some issues in life demand layers of support from friends, family members, counselors, and the like. We truly cannot take on the world alone.
Submit to your spouse for the good of the marriage?
Each one of us was wonderfully crafted with talents and breathtaking visions for what our futures could look like. Why would we ever willingly check our giftedness and individuality at the threshold of the marital home? No one should ever be required to “submit” to their partner out of some sort of belief that the marriage will be stronger for it. On the contrary, we should all see relationships that are full of admiration, encouragement and profound respect. Submission is all about consolidation of power. Submission is all about control. We all deserve more than this.
You must stay in the marriage no matter what. NO!
Unfortunately, well-meaning folks continue to perpetuate the myth that a marriage must be preserved at all costs. While the dissolution of a marriage may arrive with shame for the couple, there are times the marriage must end. A pattern of abuse, alcoholism, drug use, and the like will completely derail a marriage union and potential bring harm to the partner(s). If a spouse continues to bring malaise to a marriage and remains unwilling to do the “heavy lifting” of counseling, it is time to end the marriage to preserve the physical and mental wellness of the other.
Many folks are willing to offer a newly minted married couple advice on how to bring lasting respect and health to their marriage. As is the case with all forms of advice, marriage advice must be sifted to discern if it is relevant and healthy. When in doubt, go with your gut as you sift through advice. Will the advice bring the partners and the individual an elevated level of well-being, vision, and peace? If the answer is no, seek advice from another trusted source.