Wifey Wednesday: Bad Marriage Advice

A collection of really bad marriage advice! You've probably heard these things--but don't do them!

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I write a post, and then invite you all to comment or link up your own marriage post in the linky below! And while I normally offer great advice for marriage, today I want to do the opposite. Make sure you’re not following any of this super bad marriage advice!

So I thought I’d share with you some pieces of “wisdom” we often hear that I don’t actually think are that wise at all.

Your Husband Should be Your Best Friend

Your husband should be your FRIEND, absolutely. You need to spend time together everyday just doing something, so you can talk.

But you know what, ladies?

Your husband is a GUY. And sometimes we women need things that he can’t give–conversation, someone to go shopping with, someone to sympathize with. That can’t always be him. And if you try to make it him, you may smother him.

A smothered husband is not a happy husband.

Get a female friend–and if you don’t have one, pray hard. We all need some girlfriends!

Don’t fight in front of the kids

Don’t yell in front of the kids. Absolutely. Don’t call each other names in front of the kids. You betcha. Don’t talk badly about your spouse to your kids. Uh huh.

But sometimes we’re going to be ticked in front of the kids. He comes home 25 minutes late without texting, and the food is on the table and getting cold. He walks in the door and you’re upset. Do you not say anything about it until the kids go to bed?

It doesn’t hurt kids to see you resolve conflict, as long as you handle it well. Modelling good conflict resolution is actually a gift to kids! Keith and I have fought a lot in front of the kids–though we don’t yell. But if we’re in the car, and I’m ticked, we do talk it out. The kids see us mad, and they see us talking it through, and then they see us resolving it and not holding it over each other’s heads. That’s a good thing!

Keeping anger inside so that you seethe all through dinner just makes everybody uncomfortable. Talking it through, as long as you can do it in a healthy way, is often better.

Don’t leave the house when you’re fighting

I’ve heard this one a lot–when you’re fighting, resolve it then and there. Don’t flee. Don’t run away. Don’t leave the house. Stay in the same room and talk it out!

That sounds like good advice, and this tends to be what my husband and I do. But I also think it depends a lot on your personality.

My husband and I are both extroverts, which means that both of us process our thoughts by talking out loud (contrary to popular belief it does not mean that you’re the life of the party). So when I’m upset, I have to talk about it. Now. No waiting. That’s how he feels, too, and that’s why it’s so hard on me if I get mad at 10:00 a.m. and he won’t be home until 6! I spend the whole day practising what I’m going to say.

However, introverts don’t work the same way. They process things by thinking about them first, and then, and only then, talking about them. If you force an introvert to talk before they’ve really had time to think about the issue, that introvert will be uncomfortable, and will often have a hard time finding resolution because they aren’t totally sure they’ve gotten to the root of the issue yet.

Sometimes taking a drive by yourself, as long as you both understand why the person is taking a drive, and you both understand that the person will return at a certain time, helps resolve conflict because the person gets a chance to process it. Or, if you don’t want to do something that drastic, sometimes just going into different rooms and working on your own things for a few hours helps. That’s super hard if you’re an extrovert–like me!–and you’re married to an introvert. You want to talk things out NOW, and he or she wants to wait. But give that introvert time, and in the end you’ll find that the conflict gets resolved more easily.

Don’t go to bed angry

Have you ever been lying in bed at 2:30 in the morning beside your hubby, seething about something he said, and trying to talk it through? He says something that makes you even more mad, but you don’t reply for about 30 seconds because you keep falling asleep for a few seconds at a time. And when you do reply it makes really no sense. You’ve been going around and around for three hours now, and you’re nowhere near a solution.

But there’s that verse in Scripture:

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26, ESV)

We’re not supposed to let the sun go down on our anger! Well, yes. But then there’s this:

Do Not Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger--doesn't mean what you think it means!

You don’t have to resolve every conflict before you sleep. Just know that you will resolve it later, and go to sleep now!

 Don’t speak badly about your spouse–ever

I 99% agree with this.

But there is that pesky 1%, and here’s the issue: sometimes you need to talk to someone else to get advice on how to handle a problem. Sometimes you really can’t do it alone. And if we believe that we can never say anything bad–ever, then we may think it’s wrong to ask someone for advice.

Notice I didn’t say that it’s okay to talk to your entire small group, or your whole women’s Bible study, or all of your relatives and friends. Nope. But 1 mentor, whom you trust and who can pray with you and give you guidance? Absolutely.

Just Duck! Pray and Let God Take Care of It

I see variations of this one everywhere, too. If you have a huge marriage problem that isn’t going away, don’t be your husband’s conscience. Speak your mind once, and then duck! Get out of the way and let God be the one to smack him!

Besides being a little passive aggressive and manipulative (I’m going to sit back and wait for you to do exactly what I want, and wait for God to do what I want, and I’m going to watch and see and not be happy until it happens), I don’t think it’s biblical.

I think this one really depends on what it is we’re talking about. Some things in marriage you absolutely have to let go. No question about it! But some things in marriage you CAN’T let go, and indeed, I think it’s even wrong to let them go. If your husband is going down a bad path–say with porn, or with refusing to work, or with refusing to work on major psychological issues–sitting back and doing nothing enables him to go further and further away from God’s plan for wholeness in his life.

Matthew 18 clearly says what we’re supposed to do when someone sins. We confront them, one on one. If that doesn’t work, we go get 2-3 other Christians and confront him together. We don’t blab to the whole church; but we do find someone we respect and who loves God to help us. That’s the biblical model. You’re to be a spouse, not an enabler. Now, I don’t think this applies to most marriage issues (like he’s not doing enough housework, or I don’t like the TV shows he watches). But there is a point where you do need to intervene, and doing nothing often enables sin.

God First, Husband Second, Kids Third, You Last

Here’s another one I 99% agree with–but it can get really warped.

I know a lovely woman who loves God. She serves in the church doing all kinds of things. She’s involved in city-wide missions. Her kids are in tons of activities, and they’re doing well. She always has a home cooked meal on the table. The laundry is done. Her husband has his shirts ironed. The house is clean.

There’s only one problem. I don’t think she’s had a night to herself in over five years, and I’m not exaggerating.

We can’t pour into our family’s lives if we have nothing left to pour. You need some time to yourself, everyday. Even just half an hour. Find a way to grab it. It’s not selfish, and in the end you’ll find that your family does better when you’re not burned out.

Your Kids Do Better if You’re Happy

If it’s not selfish to take half an hour to yourself, then isn’t this one true?

Well, not really. What kids really need is to know that they are loved, cherished, and safe in a stable home. Studies show that kids do best in a stable home, not necessarily a home where mom is blissful. Your happiness matters far less to your kids than the stability they have.

That’s not nice to hear, and we instinctively think, “but I’m a better mom if I’m happy!” To a certain extent, sure. But I’ve heard women justify a lot in terms of “my kids will be better if I’m happy”. We work 55 hour weeks because we need to be fulfilled, and what kind of mom will I be if I’m not fulfilled? I knew a mom who left her kids in camp for five weeks straight in the summer when they were under 10 because she needed to travel to be fulfilled–and her husband worked full time.

And then there was a dear friend who left her husband because of this. “The kids will be fine,” she said, “once they see that I’m happy.”

Nope. Absolutely not. Kids do better in a stable but low conflict marriage than they do with divorced parents. (we’re not talking about abuse here; just unhappiness). If you care about your kids’ happiness, then do what you can to make yourself happy in the marriage that you’re in, don’t dream of greener grass somewhere else.

Have Problems? Just Have Sex a Lot!

You would think that I’d agree with this–after all, I’m the Christian Sex Lady! But while I absolutely believe that sex should be frequent in marriage, I don’t think sex cures everything.

You see, the real issue is not the frequency of sex as much as it is the meaning of sex. If sex has become really pornographic in your marriage, and you’re basically using each other, not really making love, then sex can actually reinforce a really bad habit. Making love is not the same thing as having sex, and if both of you–or one of you–is having sex but fantasizing about porn or using porn at the same time, then having more sex is not going to cure that problem.

Similarly, you can’t cure a guy of porn use just by making love more frequently. He needs to first renounce the porn, and start reconditioning his brain to be aroused by real intimacy, not by images. If your marriage has been ravaged by porn, here’s 4 things you need to do now.

Really Bad Marriage Advice--Don't live by these rules!

What About GOOD Marriage Advice?

WifeyWednesday175Want some better marriage advice–stuff that actually works? Here are my 25 Marriage Tips (fun and short!), or the 50 Best Marriage Quotes from marriage bloggers.

Now it’s your turn! Want to share some good marriage advice with us? Or tell us what advice you particularly hate? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  1. I completely agree with the whole having a disagreement in front of the kids! As a former kindergarten teacher I know first hand what the kids see at home aids them in how they handle things in real life. If they only see parents who don’t deal with situations they too become very passive and begin to get walked all over. The opposite is true too, if they see parents who yell or hit when upset they begin to replicate that as well. As parents we must ourselves do what we want our children to do. We must model it. Great post today!
    Cassie recently posted…Having Grace Filled Marriage And GiveawayMy Profile

  2. ButterflyWings says:

    Love your articles, Sheila, but this is my favourite 😉

  3. Thanks for the “tips” Sheila :) Some of the advice is actually good advice (like you’ve pointed out)..but sometimes we stretch it and go out of balance.

    I’d probably title #1 – “your husband should be your girlfriend”! Mine makes for a bad girlfriend but he is my best friend! :)

    On modeling healthy conflict resolution in front of the kids – I never witnessed/heard conflict between my mum and dad growing up. And so when i saw them disagree for the first time (i was in high-school) I was upset and afraid cos I thought married people don’t argue or disagree! Love my parents for keeping the peace but also appreciate what you are saying.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…How to Let Someone Know You are MarriedMy Profile

    • I agree with you, Ngina on #1.

      For the last 30+ years Robert has been my best friend – but he’s not a “girlfriend” kinda friend. He’s always been my first go-to friend in everything. (The girl friends have filled in the extra spots where Robert, as a guy, won’t fit.)
      Lori Ferguson recently posted…Grabbing the MomentsMy Profile

  4. God First, Husband Second, Kids Third, You Last – I don’t think this is the way that God has intended for us to manage life at all. There doesn’t need to be a hierarchy of “time” in our lives – it is impossible to live this way. The image that I like best to describe this concept is a wagon wheel – God is the CENTER of all of our activities. Our husband, our children, our work lives, our social lives all REVOLVE around HIM. If all if revolving around God, then the priorities work themselves out on a daily basis.

  5. I love the one about resolving issues before the sunsets… I’ve always thought it was so silly because sometimes I just need to sleep so that the anger can go away and I can deal with the issues. Often times things that seemed major are no longer major after I sleep… and as a matter of fact we can wake up in the middle of the night and then talk about it, but we both need the rest so we can think clearly…
    long story short, everyone is different, every marriage is different, so do what works best for you… but as for me and my house…

    Thanks for sharing Sheila :-)
    Osayi recently posted…His purpose in life is not to amuse youMy Profile

    • You can go to sleep even though nothing has been resolved just as long as you let go of your anger and leave the problem with God and ask him to help you in the morning when the 2 of you are refreshed.

  6. We don’t share personal stuff with others. That’s one of our rules. I wouldn’t want him to do it and he definitely doesn’t want me to do it. I always remind myself of how hard it is for me to hear the negative stuff about someone else’s husband and let go of what I know after they’ve made up and moved on. I don’t want to ruin his reputation and so we’ve just agreed to not go to friends with our problems unless we were to seek counsel together. *It is a little annoying that some folks have linked up to posts having nothing to do with marriage.
    Melinda Todd recently posted…Forgiveness, When You Really Want to Flip Them The BirdMy Profile

    • Sometimes, though, if there´s a problem in the marriage or with him that is serious to you, you need a friend that can understand you. I have an awesome friend who is also married (and our husbands are best friends) and she knows my husband very well and she knows he is an upstanding, moral, hard-working, Christian man. She knows he is an amazing husband and treats me with all the respect in the world and she knows we love each other dearly and we have a very good marriage. She is my go-to person with personal problems because 1) when I have a problem I have to talk about it to process my feelings and 2) I know her opinion of my husband won´t change. Sometimes, I just have to talk things out (not to my husband, though, because he gets easily weary of something and it´s already fixed but I insist it´s not because I can´t let things go too easily, etc.) to feel better and come to terms with it. :)

  7. Kristina G. says:

    Back in Feb, 2013 My mom told me that I should just “suck it up and deal with it” after I found my husband looking at porn and not just any porn but ILLEGAL porn and he was pretending to be a female in order to obtain it, I told her that I wouldn’t do that since porn is wrong and I consider it cheating. I immediately confronted my husband and told him that I was heading to the courthouse to file for divorce, he didn’t want that to happen so he got help and was clean for 5 months until he stumbled again and looked at it again, even after I had put parental controls on both our phones and computers he had downloaded a separate browser onto his phone that didn’t block anything and that’s how he obtained it, I confronted him immediately and basically told him that we either get counseling or a divorce, we have been in counseling for two months now and he has been clean for 2 1/2 months now. We’ve been married 1 year and 4 months but together for 5 years. His addiction to porn and his addiction to dating sites/chat rooms (which he’s been clean of for 10 1/2 months so far) has been in our relationship since the beginning and it caused me to stop trusting him 4 years ago and to this day I still don’t trust him and if he stumbles again I will divorce him and he knows that.

  8. Talking about the “bad things” in a marriage with one trusted friend (same sex!) is a good thing.
    What has been even better for us recently was finding a couple about 10 years older than us, whom we could both trust. I trust both of them. My husband trusts both of them. And they face the same (or very similar) time pressures that we do, due to work expectations. But they are managing, and we were sinking. Being able to sit down all four of us and just chat about life has made a big difference for us in how we handle the stresses we are under.

    Having a couple you can both talk with openly is such a huge blessing. Pray that God will send you such people, and realize what a rare blessing it is when you find them.

  9. This is one of your best, Sheila! I am posting it everywhere!
    Christie Martin @ Garden of Holiness recently posted…Wifey Wednesday: Thank HimMy Profile

  10. Great stuff, I’m with you on these.

    As to anger, I would say one does not need to resolve something to end anger. We have, or at least we can develop, the ability to deal with our anger even if nothing get’s fixed. Left unchecked, anger hurts us and others, we need to learn to resolve it quickly.

  11. I agree that kids should see parents resolve conflict. My cousin stated to me that he thought his marriage was flawed because he and his spouse disagreed and his parents NEVER did. In my opinion, that is simply not realistic. I have been married 19 years and didn’t have the best role models so it has been a lot of work! But well worth it!

  12. There is so much awesomeness here, it’s hard to know what to comment on. Since I write about Christian sex as well, I guess I’ll choose that one and say that meaning is indeed the important factor. Lots of sex or “spicier” sex isn’t what advocates like me (and, it seems to me, you) suggest. Indeed, the marriage needs frequency, but that ain’t gonna cut it on its own. Some Christians seem to get stuck on the “have sex”/”let him have sex with you” mantra so much that we downplay that God designed sex to have a deeper purpose in marriage.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Playing Dress-Up in the Bedroom?My Profile

  13. Thank you for qualifying your “Your kids do better if your happy” statement by saying it didn’t apply to abusive situations. I’m currently in the process of divorcing my abusive husband, and he tries to use this on me all the time — that divorce will hurt the kids. Unfortunately, staying married was hurting them more. In the 5 months we’ve been separated, my kids have flourished, now that the constant tension, unpredictable explosions and continual fear in our home has ended. The short bursts of tension they have when exposed to their father are manageable. If children need stability to thrive, then mine will definitely do better if my stbx husband are divorced than if we were married. And I realize that is a sad statement on my marriage, but it’s true. I see the proof every day when my children can actually be children in their own home, and I look into their growing smiles and eyes finally beginning to trust again.

  14. I really appreciate this post! The worst advice I got came from a Christian counselor I went to most of last year because I was struggling personally with fear, codependency and unresolved trauma from my 1st marriage and also newly marriage issues. I’m married to a extroverted man of God who struggles with anger, insecurity and a bad temper. He is headstrong and likes things his way. In the last month it was revealed to me that he has some narcissist tendencies, so when things don’t go his way or I challenge his not so nice behaviors he blows up and yells and throws fits until I cave in. This is very disturbing for me and makes me sad for my children who hear him yell at me like I’m a nobody. Last year I wasn’t in a place to handle his blow ups due to fear .. So after months of going to counseling the counselor advised me to stick things out until school was out then take my children to my parents house and separate from my husband for the summer so that God can work on me and God deal with my husband without me in the way. I strongly considered following her advice as scary as it was but then God spoke to me to not leave my husband. A year later things have gotten a little better but not like I hoped for but I still know her advice wasn’t right for me since there was no physical abuse. God has now given me the tools to stand up for myself and set some boundaries and I believe that now that I have the tools to work with, things will work themselves out one way or another.

  15. I love this list! A mentor once told me: it’s OK to go to bed angry but always go to bed together (don’t kick anyone to the couch)! It symbolizes a commitment to work on things together even if someone is angry.

  16. Melissa Williams says:

    Can the same person be an introvert and extrovert ? My husband I believe is an introvert and i think im both, because I want to stand and try to work out the disagreement/fight , but if I would take a little time and think about it I would see its not as bad or se a way we can work it out !

  17. Elsie Bouwman says:

    This is my favorite article too. Thanks so much. I love it when my heart feels freedom because of the truth. The Bible says, “The knowledge of the truth shall set you free, and you shall be free indeed.” And that first photo of the husband and wife in bed with the funniest wildest hair set the tone from the very beginning; in readiness for delightful heart truth setting us free!!:))))

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