7 Useless Pieces of Marriage Advice

Google "marriage advice" and you will get an absolute ton of hits. I think there comes a time in most marriages where you feel that things aren't going well and you need some fixes. But not all marriage "fixes" are created equal. Every marriage, as with every person on the planet, is different. There are no one-size-fix all solution to everything. That doesn't keep relationship writers from giving out these "solutions" though. Here's seven pieces of marriage advice we tend to hear over and over -- and why they're worthless.

1. Anything that tells you how to "affair proof" your marriage. Not possible. There is absolutely nothing you can do that guarantees a spouse won't cheat. You can cook him a five-course meal in your push-bra and then give him the best blowjob a man has had every single night and he could still cheat. There are a million reasons that people cheat, and believe it or not, a lot of them have ZERO to do with you. People in happy marriages cheat (Why do you think they try so hard to cover up the cheating? Because they want to remain married to you!). Cheating often has more to do with a person's own internal dynamic -- it might make him/her feel powerful, or they may get addicted to the adrenaline rush. It could be just as simple as wanting a new body! The point is, advice like how to "affair proof" your relationship just sets up unrealistic expectations and makes you feel responsible if the cad DOES cheat.

2. Never go to bed angry. This is one that has always baffled me. Seriously, if you get into an argument at 10 p.m., go to bed!! Don't stay up all night hashing it out. And don't sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened all in the name of going to bed. You know you're still pissed, and it's bound to come out later -- probably when your spouse has forgotten all about the argument and has no idea why you're mad! There's nothing wrong with sleeping on an argument. In the morning, you may even wonder why things got so heated and have a different viewpoint.

3. Have sex when your partner wants it. I think occasionally having sex when your partner is randy and you're not is okay if you are okay with it. But if you aren't, don't do it. If you find yourself hardly ever wanting sex with your partner, then deal with that issue, because there's something going on. But you shouldn't have sex just because someone else wants it -- unless you are fine with that. But if you're not -- maybe you don't want sex because you're angry with your spouse -- then don't.

4. Be willing to compromise. Compromise is a nice element to any relationship. Hey, we had Chinese last night, honey, can't we have pizza tonight? etc. But when it comes to compromising your values, don't do it. Additionally, if you find yourself always being the partner who compromises, then there's something off.

5. Get therapy. I joke that therapy is the death knell of any relationship. The truth is that usually by the time a couple enter therapy it is after huge amounts of resentment, anger and frustrations have built up on both sides. Therapy is often just a way to post-mortem the relationship. Granted, I'm not saying DON'T go to therapy if things are tough, just don't expect that it is definitely going to solve your problems. I wonder if it often doesn't just prolong a doomed relationship -- but at least this way you can say you tried everything.

6. Read marriage help books. Marriage books might give you some ideas of how to handle issues, however, it's dangerous to think that marital books are going to save your marriage, because everyone is different. One book might work great for one couple but not work at all for another. And some marital advice books are just downright quackery. If something strikes you as strange, don't do it just because it's in a book. You should read what marriage advice books used to tell women in the 1950s. (Example: If a man was beating you, it was your fault.) In 20 years, we very well might look at the books we have now in the same way.

7. Divorce is not an option. What a silly saying. Divorce should always be an option. Not your first option, but an option. Sometimes two people are just not working anymore and it's for the betterment of everyone involved, including the children, if the romantic aspect of the relationship is dissolved and the peaceful-and-mature-coparenting aspect built up. People who think divorce is never an option can unfortunately turn to even worse options -- like murder or suicide. Breaking up is hard to do but it can be the right thing to do sometimes too.

What are some pieces of marriage advice you've learned not to take?


Image via MRio/Flickr

love, marriage


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nonmember avatar Cynthia

Never go to bed angry is just a laugh! Seriously, what issue or problem doesn't look a lot easier to solve after a night's sleep? I think the best advice that is actually true is to keep others out of your marriage! Don't go getting family and friends involved in your marrital issues because they are between the 2 of you. Can you talk with friends to help 'hash things out' in your mind, sure, but don't get others running between the 2 of you!

B1Bomber B1Bomber

Not going to bed angry doesn't mean solve every argument before you sleep. It means don't go to bed angry - kiss, say I love you, and go to sleep together. Don't pout and sigh and call each other names and one of you go sleep on the couch. (Incidentally, you should never pout and call each other names, regardless of how close it is to bedtime.)

And literally the only way divorce will ever be an option in my marriage is if my husband sustains a TBI, completely changes who he is, and becomes abusive to our children.

nonmember avatar Laura

I think your tip of "Marriage Counseling is a waste of time" could not be more ignorant.

Counseling is a place to turn an unproductive fight into effective communication. No, it isn't a magical fix. But I know plenty of friends who finally used it to engage in a worthwhile discussion, and they credit it with saving their relationship!

Based on this article, I'm not surprised that counseling still has a stigma, and you should be ashamed by that ignorant thought...

TippyD TippyD

Never go to bed angry means, that while you might not agree on something or be fighting, you don't go to bed angry. You make sure your spouse knows you love them EVEN when you are fighting! There have been several times we have gone to bed fighting, but not angry. we both know that we love each other, and give each other kisses/hugs and say we will discuss this in the morning.  Counseling is a huge marriage saver if BOTH partners make a committment to work on the marriage. If one is not willing to then you are right, it is pointless. And this boils down to "divorce not being an option" that is not a free ticket to cheat over and over, be abusive, etc.. it means, if there is a mistake, and an affair happens, being willing to TRY to work it out, when you have several kids and the stress of it is getting to you, STAYING TOGETHER AND MAKING IT WORK.  :( As for "affair proofing" that only happens,again, if couples are willing to stay true to their vows. You take steps to make sure YOU don't cheat.  Dont ride in vehicles alone with the opposite sex, dont put your self in potentially comprimising siturations, etc. marriage is work, and very rewarding when both parties are willing to follow this "bad advice" as well as much more good advice on marriage and making it work:)

nonmember avatar Rach

Marriage counseling is something I recommend to everyone, even to people who think their marriage is perfect. My husband and I may not stay together, but we know how to talk to each other now and that will always matter.

Cel7777 Cel7777

"Don't ride in vehicles alone with the opposite sex"? Yep, cuz the last time my best guy friend gave me a lift to the store, I totally jumped his bones right there on the road. Or not.

nonmember avatar randi

Everyone told us "don't go to bed angry" and I think that's idiotic. Often times we wake up in the morning and can't even remember what we were fighting about. And that's with 26 years of marriage under my belt and still perfectly happy.

early... earlybird11

Agreed to a few things here but you are sorely mistaken. My husband has been doing therapy once a month for about 2 years. We find it helpful and haven't any issues but decided to do it after we talked about how great pretty marital counseling was. . also your " divorce is not an option" comment is way out of line. In my house it is not an option. There are a couple exceptions, any type of abuse .... But even cheating isn't a one way ticket out. Too many people abandon their marriages at the first sign of trouble. Its sad actually.

Rootbear Rootbear

Yeah, I'm also not one to jump on the divorce bandwagon. You get married for a reason. Hardly anyone in my family is divorced, so I guess we all have a pretty good track record. Nobody's perfect but you get married, for better or worse. Not to jump ship when things start to get rocky or you decide you think you can do better.

nonmember avatar Ashlee Stalling

These are great tips to get a giggle from. Old school fixes is what they are. There is better advice out there, we just have to want to look for it. I have been doing consistent reading on Mae Chinn Songer's blog at http://chinnsonger.com/mae-chinn-songer-blog/ and she really hits on the neuroscience behind what we do in relationships and marriage. It's an interesting concept, worth a look. This post was great, thanks for putting it out there!

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