When it comes to marriage advice, it seems everyone has an opinion. It doesn’t seem to matter how much people know about your relationship, how little they know about the circumstances surrounding the issue you are having with your partner, everyone you know – and even strangers who just happen overhear you discussing the problem – will tell you exactly what you should do. The problem is, they are issuing this marriage advice but only know half the story.
Within any marriage there is a history. It’s the history that develops over time when you live with someone. Perhaps your partner is saying that he doesn’t want to go to the dinner party your great aunt is holding – and your friends will tell you that they always thought he was unsociable, that he’s being unreasonable, that men just don’t get the family thing and so on. Don’t listen to marriage advice like this because the people giving it only know about this dinner party – they don’t know about the other events your family has had that he’s attended, they don’t know that he has a prior engagement for the same night that you agreed to weeks before, or that your great aunt refuses to talk to him on account of the fact she overheard him tell someone years ago that he thought she boiled her vegetables to extinction. These things are part of a marriage. But people who don’t live inside a married couple’s home don’t usually know these little gems of family history, and so the person giving the marriage advice is giving it without being in full possession of the facts.
Marriage advice is rarely given impartially. This means that there is always a bias towards one side. The woman’s friends and family will generally support her regardless if she’s right or wrong. The man’s friends and family will do the same. What’s worse is that rather than sticking to the situation currently being disputed by the couple, both sides will dig up all the other grievances against the other side that they can remember – so adding fuel to the fire. This is why many couples with more serious issues than a dinner party ends up going to a marriage guidance professional who is not only trained, but more importantly in the marriage advice field, is unknown to either side!
As sappy as it sounds, the best marriage advice that anyone can give you is to listen to your heart. The person you have the problem with is your life partner, not just someone who may be transient in your life. Is this really something worth upsetting the person you love about? Is it something that you can’t reach a compromise with? Isn’t it possible that you are being just a tiny bit unreasonable?
Which leads to the next best piece of marriage advice – and that is to look first to your own actions before you start assigning the role of the unreasonable party to your partner. It’s easy to take a partner’s opinion for granted. Of course he wants to go to great aunt’s dinner party (despite the fact she won’t speak to him) because he goes to all your family functions – of course he’ll cancel the other engagement he had. But think about it? In view of the fact that he usually goes, is it reasonable to demand he goes on this occasion? Or would a marriage advice expert tell you that in terms of equality within a marriage, sometimes you have to accept that your requests are unreasonable and you need to remember that marriage is an equal relationship where occasionally your partner is allowed to go and do his (or her) own thing if they choose.