I’ve received a lot of relationship advice in my short lifetime, ranging from good to bad…to terrible, in some cases. Most of it, in my case, had to do with sex due to my purity culture upbringing. With so many different philosophies on love and sex, I didn’t really know who to believe or trust. I recognized that all of the advice I received was opinion (and we know those are a dime a dozen), there were pieces of advice that rang true over the course of time and stuck with me.
After a while, I noticed a pattern in the good advice I got: it all came from people who had failed in their own relationships. While it may seem that this is counterintuitive, it is actually quite logical. Relationships are made up of things you should and shouldn’t do, and who can identify those things better than someone who has had a failed relationship and reflected on why?
For example, I once was told by someone much older than me that the way I interacted with my fiancé (now husband) was very respectful and that they admired that. They attributed the downfall of their relationship, in part, to a lack of respect between them and their spouse. That conversation stuck with me and in watching other relationships fall apart, I’ve seen how that person was right and how important respect is.
In another instance, a blogging friend of mine gave me some advice from the perspective of being divorced for many years. She told me that in order to keep your relationship healthy, you should never stop communicating. If you are having a lot of silence when you are with your partner and there is an undertone of staleness in your interaction, you may be headed for trouble.
Why talk if your partner doesn’t care about what you say? If you feel that way, there is a problem and it needs to be addressed immediately. It’s not that you have to be prattling at each other all the time, but if you are scared to talk to each other then take it as a sign of an unhealthy relationship and work towards fixing it.
I’ve found that the advice of folks who have experienced relationship failures (or made it to the golden years and remained happy) is the best advice to take. Everyone has an opinion and solution to marital spats and issues, but not everyone is right. There is a knee-jerk reaction in the advice given to women, by other women, to every situation imaginable in marriage (I’m talking about non-abusive situations here).
The situations are as simple as this one:
Husband busy playing on the Xbox and not paying attention to you? Leave the jerk!
I’m usually the person who breaks into the conversation and bursts everyone’s bubble by asking, “Have you communicated your expectations of him and made your boundaries clear?” The cricket chirps are deafening.
It’s important to consider the source of the advice you receive and take it all with a grain of salt. Bad advice given from a place of fear and reaction has caused the downfall of countless marriages. I watched this type of knee-jerk advice destroy families and relationships. There have been at least a dozen women who have tried to impart this “advice” on me, without knowing anything about me or my relationship.
Take advice from people who actually know what they are talking about and want to see your relationship succeed. The people who know that, in life, there are no quick and easy solutions and that relationship take hard work. The ones who advocate for forgiveness rather than revenge, communication rather than the cold shoulder, and love as both a feeling and a choice made each day.