From selecting the perfect color for your dinner napkins to determining which venue to use, wedding advice often trickles—or pours—in from all directions. This is usually true for marriage advice, too.
Brides receive bite-size wisdom from family, friends, and even strangers—stories about what worked for them and what didn’t. Most marriage advice is well-intentioned, and some of it is very insightful. But what other couples believe or have experienced to be true isn’t necessarily right or applicable in every relationship.
Among the mountains of advice that brides receive, we wanted to know which pieces were unhelpful—or in some cases, damaging and disorienting—to set the record straight. We asked five recent brides about the worst marriage advice they received, and this is what they said.
01. When you find the love of your life, it will be easy.
“I think the most misleading piece of marriage advice that I frequently received was that it would be 'easy' once I found the love of my life,” shares Christina. “This made me feel as if I should be in a state of constant bliss with my partner—free of conflict and issues.”
But in her four years of marriage, Christina has found that, “Marriage can be very hard at times and this is okay and even normal.” She’s realized that many women and couples don’t often talk about the “ugly” side of marriage, leading to a false perception that married life is easy. Christina says this advice, “can unfortunately lead individuals to question their own marriage and second guess themselves when they may not necessarily need to.”
So, what has worked for Christina and her husband?
“For us, we have learned to accept that sometimes it will be difficult, and we may not like each other very much. We have an understanding that we’re both imperfect and make mistakes that can hurt one another from time to time. We try to acknowledge that stress and life can get the best of us. Knowing that it's normal to struggle at times and knowing that we are both in the struggle together has strengthened our bond and marriage.”
02. You and your spouse need to have common interests.
Always hearing that common interests are important for a successful marriage, Anna started to scrutinize her relationship. “My husband likes reading business books for pleasure, staying at home on the weekends, and saving money. I like going out with friends, being active, and spending money,” explains Anna. In nearly three years of marriage, the need for common interests hasn’t proved to be necessary. Anna states, “I think if I liked all of the things he liked, and he liked all of the things I did, life would get pretty boring.”
She shares that, “Instead of having all of the same interests, we get to teach each other about our favorite things. We also find new common interests together. We bond over new things that bring us together, like fixing up our home. We have our own interests that make us individuals, allowing us to enjoy things both apart and together.”
03. Happy wife, happy life.
“I would love to say marriage is as simple as that,” states Allison, now married almost four years. This advice is especially difficult on the woman, the one who supposedly needs to be the ‘happy wife.’ Allison shares that there have been times in her marriage, for example, where one spouse wasn’t happy in their career. She explains that when you’re not happy in your day-to-day life, it’s almost impossible to leave work at work, and be the ‘happy wife’ at home.
Allison explains that a better way to look at marriage is a partnership that depends on both people working together to find happiness and fulfillment. “A lot of people see marriage as this blissful happy time, when everything is perfect. There are definitely happy and wonderful times, but with that comes a lot of ups and downs. It’s how you and your partner handle the downs that truly define your relationship.”
04. You should have sex every day.
“I remember when I received the advice that a married couple should have sex every day. At first, I really thought this was something that was true and meant to make the relationship even stronger,” Katie recalls.
She shares that early on in her marriage, “This advice caused more anxiety because we weren’t having sex every day so it put stress on that part of our relationship—something we didn’t need and didn’t need help with.” In her three years of marriage, Katie has realized that every couple is different. In fact, studies have shown that lots of sex is not actually a good barometer of relationship satisfaction. What does matter? Your level of intimacy.
“Couples need to experiment and learn what works for each other and find that equal balance. You could have sex more one week and less another, and that can change from month to month too. And this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your relationship.”
05. Keep her happy by keeping your checkbook open.
On their wedding day, Amalie and her husband collected marriage advice from their wedding guests. They read the notes on their recent one year anniversary. “The worst piece of advice was some sort of antiquated, 'keep her happy by keeping your checkbook open' quip," she says.
"It was the worst because it’s the opposite of how both of us operate. In fact, if my husband tried to appease me by buying me off, I would react very negatively.” She admits that while they struggled initially with figuring out their finances, that with a few speed bumps, they found what works for them—where they both feel like contributing members of the relationship.
So just because you've received a lot of advice, don't feel the need to take it all. Remember that just because something worked for one couple, doesn't necessarily work for you.
Photo Credit: Vine and Light Photography