A few weeks ago my newly engaged friend and her fiancee came over for dinner. While they were here they asked us for marriage advice.
I actually feel really weird giving people marriage advice. Like, my marriage is far from perfect, we haven’t been married that long (only 6 years), so where do I get off thinking I actually have something worth saying, and something worth listening to? But… when I think about it, I actually DO have something to say about marriage.
And its this: don’t pay attention to anyone else’s advice.
I feel like the advice that most people give is very reflective of their own experience, the lessons they’ve learned along the way. But the thing is every relationship is different because every person is different. We all enter relationships with our own set of ideals and baggage. We don’t all need to learn the same things. And some advice is just plain contradictory. For example, many people say to never go to bed angry with each other. But also: its okay to go to bed angry- that sometimes its better to let our rational mind get back in control before trying to talk about the situation, rather than lashing out in anger and hurting our partner.
That’s not to say don’t listen to advice coming from others, because often advice is offered with lots of wisdom. And that’s not to say that some advice isn’t prescriptive, because some things like focusing on the others’ needs first and learning proper communication strategies really should apply to all.
Just take other people’s advice with a grain of salt, understanding that it might not apply to your relationship the same way it applied to theirs.
However, I did offer my friend and her fiancee one other piece of advice. I told them that it was okay if marriage was hard. In fact, this was perfectly normal. Because in my experience, marriage is hard. And its taken me a long time to realize (I’m probably still not quite there) that this is okay. I don’t want them to worry for years that something is wrong with them just because their marriage is hard and seems to take more work than their friends’ marriages do. Like I did. Marriage is hard. This is normal. This is okay.
But then again, totally reflective of my own experience and might not be the soul-food they need like it was for me. What do I know?