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:
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.