Wedding season has arrived, which means everyone and their mother (literally) will be doling out advice to young newlyweds. Chances are you will be among the advisors or advisees. After years of covering love and sex for various publications, I feel compelled to save married people from those who are supposed to love them most. Well-meaning people provide tips that seriously could ruin you. Here’s the worst marriage advice given out time and time again:
- Never go to bed angry. In fact, you will often go to bed angry. Maybe you already have. But you are actually helping your relationship. Pressing pause on an argument and giving yourselves time to cool off and collect your thoughts is actually a good thing. Some people go for a walk and then can come back to the discussion. Others want a good night’s sleep. You might even need a few night’s sleep before revisiting the conversation. That’s okay, as long as you don’t make your love conditional on an outcome or treat each other badly. Cold shoulders are never the answer. You should still be kind and loving in the middle of disagreements, even when you’re taking a break.
- Keep dating each other. This one is confusing. On the surface, it seems like perfectly wonderful advice. Of course, you have to woo each other. Romance helps you maintain passion. Spending quality time together is a goal you should always have. But telling people they have to date implies they have to go out of their home and do something. You might be able to do this at first. But real life takes over. If you have kids, these date nights will likely become less frequent. That doesn’t mean you have to slip away from one another. You just have to get creative. There’s no shame in holding hands while picking up groceries or calling a night in (when you’re both in pajamas and pigging out on popcorn and pizza) a date. Take the pressure off yourselves and just make a commitment to staying connected.
- Don’t worry about sex so much or worry about it a lot. Lots of people are going to bring up sex. Some will say pay no attention to it, and others will tell you that the amount of sex you’re having and whether it’s vanilla or a more exotic flavor (whatever that means) is the barometer by which you should measure your entire relationship. Both sides are wrong. Of course, sex matters. It’s how you’re intimate with one another, and it keeps you from being mere roommates. Over time, however, things are going to get in the way of your sex life. You’ll both be stressed at times. You might have illnesses or injuries. If you have kids, they will be built in cockblockers for a while. Seriously. There will, of course, be ups and downs in your emotional states that will either have you rarin’ to go or not. No need to lose sleep over not “sleeping” together every now and then. Be prepared for ebbs and flows. But don’t stress out about it. The caveat is that you should be proactive if either or both of you is feeling dissatisfied, or there is a pattern of behavior that is lasting a long time. Asking for help when you need it is always good advice.
- Never complain. Ok, this isn’t all wrong. If you’re just going to be Pessimistic Polly, you will get on your spouse’s nerves and accomplish nothing. You’ll probably be a Gloomy Gus yourself. But you can’t just ignore stuff that is getting to you. You will build resentment, and it could affect your relationship, not to mention your health. Plus, if you never share what’s on your mind, you will never grow closer or find solutions to your problems. Choosing your battles will help you prioritize what to resolve first. You both have to be open and listen to each other’s gripes and concerns. Then, you have to tackle them together.