I'll never forget how excited everyone was for me when my husband Joe and I got engaged a year ago. Facebook friends, family, and complete strangers were overjoyed by our plan to marry and surrounded us with support. That came in the form of encouragement, well wishes, gifts—and from those who were married, little pearls of wisdom.
All of the advice we received was well-intentioned, and I have no doubt that it worked well in their marriage, but what I came to learn was that not all well-intentioned marriage advice is created equal.
Seven months into marriage, Joe and I have tested out a few of the tips that have been passed on to us and some of it turned out to be pretty unhelpful—even harmful—when put into practice. Engaged and newly married couples should trust in the good intentions of the adviser, but also take a critical eye to each piece of advice that is offered them before trying it out at home.
I asked women for some of the most unhelpful—or flat out bad—marriage advice they received and this is what they said.
Wait a few years before having children.
"I don't know if this is such terrible advice, but I did have some people tell me to wait a few years before having children," says Anne, married 13 years. We got pregnant right away, explains Anne. "But I don't regret having children so quickly at all." While Anne certainly acknowledges that having more than just nine months together as husband and wife has its benefits—and might be needed for some couples—she is so happy she didn't take this advice.
Don’t question her. Just do whatever she says!
Sophie explains that the worst piece of advice she and her now husband received before marriage was actually directed at her husband. "People (mostly older men) kept saying to him, "Don't question her; just do whatever she says!" Sophie recalls.
Sophie, now married four years, explains that what people were actually saying when they said this to them was, "You'll be happier if you keep the peace," but she thinks this wisdom is deeply flawed. "I think this attitude is really dangerous because it encourages men to sweep issues under the carpet, and it doesn't help me to become a better person if I'm never challenged. And then there's the fact that a woman knows when she's being placated, and it isn't the same as truly having your husband's agreement or validation."
"Luckily," Sophie explains, "my husband didn't take that advice. Being honest with each other and resolving issues as they come up is incredibly important to both of us. I think the purpose of marriage is to help each other to be your best self, not to placate each other and have an easy life."
Never go to bed angry.
"I don't know if the advice to 'never go to be angry' is the worst," Katie explains, " but it's certainly not realistic." Katie says that she needs time to process her feelings and forcing an argument so she and her husband can go to bed usually makes things worse. "We have much better 'arguments' that are less heated when we have had time to think about why we feel strongly about the issue."
Maria also says that following the "never go to bed angry" adage did more damage then help. "Early on we followed this advice, only to discover that the things that made us angry when our eyes are glazed over and red from exhaustion are laughable offenses in the morning," says Maria. "We've discovered that nighttime only dramatizes the situation. Daylight brings in a bit more sense."
It’s OK to look, but don’t touch.
"I kid you not, I got that advice from a few people (including family members), and while some of them were probably joking, I know that some were totally serious," says Krizia. While this advice is about being faithful to your spouse in a physical sense, it really misses an important element of fidelity. "We don't think it's good advice at all, because we don't want to open ourselves up to any possibility of being unfaithful to the one we vowed our life to. And looking (either mentally or literally) is like opening that door a tiny crack. Don't do it! Instead, I'd say, 'Protect your marriage not because it is fragile but because it is precious.'"
"I don't think this is bad advice per se, but every relationship is unique so some great ideas may not be best for an individual," explains Emma. "Pray together was great advice, but keeping up my own personal prayer has been a lot better for us than me worrying about when or how we pray together."
You should sleep with your prospective husband because that may be a deal breaker (if the sex isn’t good).
Suzanne said she heard this advice before she got married, and three years of marriage has shown her that it is flawed wisdom. "At the time I disagreed with the advice to have sex before the wedding night, but now looking back I realize just how flawed this advice is. Sex is something that gets better throughout your life with your partner, as you get to know one another and emotional intimacy grows. It would be a shame to push away Mr. Right just because your bedroom experience was not picture-perfect."
Photo Credit: Erynn Christine Photography