Discover the revolutionary practical science of marriage through the inspiring journey of Paul Friedman, a former successful San Diego divorce mediator. Explore articles and videos by Paul, available on YouTube, covering a wide range of topics to help individuals rediscover lost happiness in their failing marriages.
When I was a divorce mediator, I heard plenty of lousy professional marriage advice. My clients would share what their marriage counselors told them to do, but obviously that didn’t work. Those poor souls believed that they were in my office dividing up their assets and breaking up their families because it was their husband’s or wife’s fault. They thought they were guilty of not doing their part so…they gave up. They gave up on their spouse, sometimes themselves, but worst of all, they gave up on their marriage. And, before I started to dive deep into marriage, I agreed with them. How would any of us know that the “brain trust” for everything marriage simply did not know what they were talking about? I assure you the good people who become couple’s counselors and marriage “therapists” aren’t the problem. With respect toward all these are 10 of the stupidest, yet commonly used, marriage advice ever given.
#1: In a Calm Way Tell Him How That Makes You Feel
I think the funniest part of this is suggesting you be calm, while you blast him for being an inconsiderate nincompoop who must not love you or he would be very concerned about your feelings and change himself…right now. Trying this will only produce frustration. He cannot change even if he wanted to (and he does) and you are going to feel unheard and uncherished.
This marriage advice is stupid. Feeling that you openly “shared” only feeds your ego. In the meantime he probably has no idea why you felt the way you did. He will NOT get it. If he did, he never would have done or said what he did or said.
This advice sets you both up for failure, yet you were led to believe it will bring you closer to a better connection.
#2: Let Her Know Why She Misunderstood You, in a "Calm" Way
Then be prepared to sleep on the couch! Some “marriage experts,” especially the younger ones, think being calm somehow changes the underlying “you are too dumb to have understood me” message. I think this is like when people are trying to communicate in English to someone who doesn’t speak English, so they talk louder. What is the right way? Easy, take full responsibility, say you are sorry, for your not having communicated in an easy-to-understand way. Tell her she is beautiful (you better mean it!) and ask her opinion about something that interests her. This, BTW, is for both genders. Never belabor anything, ever, just let things go and focus on being lovingly connected.
#3: Take Turns Sharing What the Other Can Do to Improve Themselves
Does this sound like a good idea to you? One of my marriage counselors told all her clients to do this as “homework”. Guess where they all ended up. That’s right, in my office. Basically, if you remove the “bad logic” and “feels good” ideas that spurned this terrible idea you will see that what is going on here is a blame-fest. Is that what you did just before the moment of the proposal? Is that a warm-up before making love? If you complain to the marriage therapist, they will smugly tell you that you should use “I-statements.” Well, that leads us to the next stupidest marriage advice.
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#4: Use “I Statements" When You Communicate a Complaint
Okay, let’s try it…”I,” think whoever came up with that was a bozo who couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without tripping themselves.” Now, how does THAT make you feel?” Shakespeare used to say “A potato is still a potato by any other name.” Let’s not be stupid about this. Criticism is still a body punch to the one you swore to love and adore, no matter how you dress it up. And, of course, some ask “Well, Mr. Marriage Expert (that would be me 😊), then how do you let your husband or wife know how you feel about something that is bugging you? And that brings us to the next stupidest advice.
#5: It is Important to Share Your Complaints
Did you notice I didn’t even qualify this one with a mitigator, like “calmly,” or anything else? This reflects one of the most important things for you to know, and you already know, but strangely, we don’t apply the principle in the most important relationship we have. Let me put it this way. Do you complain to your boss? (Please, no wise-guy answers). No, we don’t want to upset them, put them off, or have them think we are complainers. In other words, we may think a complaint is “right,” but we know it’s not a good idea. It isn’t because we are afraid, it is because we maturely realize that complaining is never a good idea, it always backfires, even when a complaint is “legitimate” or “justified.” The same holds true in virtually every other venue in life. It never accomplishes anything positive. So why does anyone think it’s a good idea in marriage? Isn’t marriage the one venue in our lives where we want our partner to only feel our love? The answer is that complaining is never a good idea and is always a bad idea. In marriage, it lowers happiness to resentment and unhappiness.
#6: Ask Your Partner if They Love You and are Committed
I’m not talking about about a joking “do you love me now” when you give them a little gift of love. I am talking about asking them this if you are going through some turmoil and want to be assured that they are not leaving you. The answer is not going to be meaningful. If they are thinking of leaving, they may lie and if they are on the edge this kind of question may push them over it. If your marriage is not great, and I do mean great, then make it great.
#7: Tell Your Partner What You Expect
This is right up there among the stupidest things you could ever do. I have no idea why anyone would think for a moment that this advice will help a marriage or ANY partnership of any type. Marriage is all about love, and love is all about giving. If your spouse is not giving enough, chances are you are not giving enough. Learn to give your love without any expectations, at all!
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#8: You should Try Marriage Counseling for a Month or…
Traditional marriage counseling won’t move you toward marital happiness because it is about digging up the past and dwelling on the pain, not aiming for the bliss. At TMF we are training real marriage counselors ( if you have an interest in being a TMF marriage counselor click here) who will use our principles, methods, techniques, and processes that are presently found only in our books and courses. When someone tells you to try marriage counseling it is not their fault they don’t know that their actual success rate is terrible.
#9: Learn Love Languages
There are a lot of people who learn to speak and behave better in their marriages and that is only going to be like teaching a dog to not eat that chunk of beef until its owner gives the word. That isn’t what marriage is all about. Marriage is all about learning to love unconditionally, then the language you speak will be deep, from the heart, and real.
#10: Just Tell Her You Need More Sex
There are many, countless, misconceptions…. Let’s change this altogether Sex is probably the most misunderstood of all of mankind’s desires, and it is not your fault. But asking for sex is not going to get a good response. I have many YouTube videos on the subject so I suggest you to our YouTube channel and search using sex as the keyword.
I sometimes feel like the Galileo of marriage, and I am thankful that “they” will not burn me at the stake as a heretic. But I do know that eventually, the world will grow into acceptance of my discoveries because it is only a matter of time. Truth doesn’t hide. It is always there waiting for those in need to discover it. I just happened to be among the first. At The Marriage Foundation we use what we know to be true from experience, not theory. Marriage is not a mystery to us. If you need good marital advice we are here for you.