Recently, a couple living near me celebrated their seventy fifth wedding anniversary, and the local paper did a spread on them. The question the couple said they get asked the most often is, “What’s your secret?” How has this husband and wife defied the odds and remained married after all these years? Their advice for the most part was pretty simple: don’t go to bed angry with each other. The husband suggested that you should always talk through issues before going to bed and not to let anything fester for days. Sounds like sound advice. If you are married, you undoubtedly have received some marriage advice over the years. It is likely that some of the advice has come from qualified persons and some from people who should not be giving out advice at all. Here are five pieces of the worst marriage advice we have ever heard.
Things Will Be Better After the Wedding
When one person starts having doubts about upcoming nuptials, a common misconception often thrown around is that they have “pre-wedding jitters”. The stress of planning a wedding and all the things associated with it is undoubtedly stressful, but if you are having second thoughts about the wedding, it is unlikely that all of those doubts can be attributed to wedding jitters. I know of a bride that was having second thoughts, but was worried about all the money her parents had spent, and she convinced herself that the doubts she was having about her future spouse was caused from all the stress she was under. She was told that everything would be better after the wedding was all over. It wasn’t. So, if you have having concerns, it is okay to take a step back and take some time before walking down the aisle. The act of getting married does not solve any problems but usually makes the ones you have more complicated to solve.
If You Have Love, Then That’s Enough
Love is great, but it is rarely enough. Marriage is hard work, and it takes commitment from both people for it to be successful. Loving someone is a first step to happiness, but it is not enough to sustain a marriage that is having other issues. Many times, you could love another person, but being together might not be the best thing for either of you. Love can make you do stupid things, and getting married on the basis of love alone would be one of those things. People might also falsely believe if they love someone and show them love, that they can change a person, possibly helping them kick a bad habit. Love is powerful, but it is not a magic wand.
Life Will Get Easier After You’ve Been Married Awhile
Last time I checked, there was no stage of life that was considered easy. Yes, the better you get to know your spouse, the easier it might be to predict what they want for dinner or how they will react to things, but rarely does this comfort level make life easier. With each stage of marriage comes new challenges. A young marriage might have some bumps while each spouse adjusts to married life, but it’s also usually the time in the marriage when you have the most energy to put into it. In later years of marriage, you may be comfortable with your spouse, but the stress and demands of raising children becomes your focus. So maybe you think it will get easier after your kids have grown and moved out, but this stage of marriage if often plagued with the decline of each spouse’s parents or your own failing health. Bottom line, there is no easy stage of marriage. Make the best of the stage you are in now without worrying about or dreaming for the next one.
If You Want To Strengthen a Marriage, Have Kids
Too often, I have seen that adding kids into a marriage that is already in trouble is the proverbial nail in the marriage coffin. Having children is an enormous adjustment for even the strongest of marriages. If the couple is not ready for children, but think that that is what “normal married couples do,” this can also put too much strain on an otherwise healthy marriage. Yes, having children can be one of the most joyful, rewarding things you can experience, but having kids is not enough to fix a damaged marriage. And what is worse, if the marriage does fail, you now are no longer just damaging yourself, but now there are others to consider. Having children also ties you to that spouse forever even if you don’t want to be. If you entered into a marriage that was a mistake, it is much easier righting a wrong if children are not involved.
Sometimes You Just Need a Break
When couples are having a rough patch, sometimes it is suggested that they take a break from each other. That advice seems to be as good as recommending that if someone wants to get better at playing the piano, they should just ignore the instrument and not practice. Taking a break from someone is the first step in testing the waters to see if you can go it alone. Sometimes spouses might suggest this as reverse psychology, hoping that once the other person really sees how much you do for them, then they will come rushing back into your arms. This is more likely to backfire than to work. Sometimes collecting yourself and taking a step back if an argument gets heated is a good idea, but taking a time out on your marriage is a game you should not play.
There is no text book on how to have the perfect marriage. Each person, and each marriage, is unique unto itself, so what might work for one, might not be successful for another. However, the five pieces of advice mentioned here rarely work for anyone, so the next time you get a piece of marital advice, take it and smile but remember in the end, you have to do what is right for you and your spouse.