There's a fine line between solicited and unsolicited input from others when it comes to matters of the heart. On the one hand, a concerned friend or family member with the best of intentions is probably just looking out for you. On the other hand, being on the receiving end of unwelcome criticism can be downright awkward no matter who's doling it out. In fact, there are plenty of pieces of outdated marriage advice to ignore if you actually want a successful marriage. After all, you and your partner are the ones who have the final say on how you navigate the inner workings of your wedded union together.
For some reason, it seems to me like there's an invisible beacon attached to all married individuals that signals any and everyone to offer up the most random opinions on your life. Whether or not these people mean well, it can be distracting at best and disconcerting at worst to hear such antiquated advice. That's why being able to filter out what is or isn't legitimate relationship guidance can lift a huge weight of off your mind. So if you and your spouse are tired of dealing with unsound counsel, then check out why you can totally ignore these pieces of outdated marriage advice.
1. Forgive And Forget
You've probably heard the saying that you should forgive and forget, but this was highly emphasized in old-fashioned marital relations. Emma F. Angell Drake wrotein her 1902 book, What A Young Wife Ought To Know, "it is woman's nature to forgive," which put the burden of absolution on the woman. Aside from the outdated gender roles, why should you ignore the advice to let bygones be bygones in a marriage? In a study conducted by psychologist Dr. James K. McNulty that was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples who were more forgiving tended not to address the root of their problems. Consequently, overlooking the deeper issues for the sake of sweeping things under the rug resulted in negative long term effects on their marriage. So, you can still forgive your partner, but not without making sure things are truly resolved first.
2. You Should Have Sex Regularly
Some spouses may enjoy getting busy on a regular basis, but others might be just fine with being intimate at a different pace. In Homeward Bound: American Families In The Cold War Era, author Elaine Tyler May described how most couples of that period believed that frequent sex, "would safeguard marriage against unhealthy developments that would weaken the family from within." Should you be worried about the state of your marriage if you're not intimate as often as others might suggest you should be? The short answer is, no.
To explain the science behind it, relationship expert Robert Weiss told Psychology Today, that "human sexuality cuts a wide swath in terms of what people like to do, how often they like to do it, and who they like to do it with — if anyone at all." To sum it up, if you and your partner are content in the bedroom, then it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
3. Disregard Daily Disagreements
While still in the newlywed period, I remember confiding in a friend that I was nervous because people told me the first year of marriage is the hardest. Though I'm sure she meant well, my friend reassured me that every couple fights and to just let it roll off my back. Similarly, in "genito-urinary" Dr. William Josephus Robinson's 1922 book Married Life And Happiness, he wrote that, "couples who live in union quarrel and fight — fight even viciously — do not take it too tragically if a quarrel did take place."
Before you make the case that fighting is, indeed, normal, consider what one clinical psychologist had to say on the matter. As Dr. Susan Heitler told Psychology Today, having conflict in a marriage is normal, but fighting implies there is a fundamental lack of constructive communication taking place. So if you and your spouse are arguing over the same issue again and again, that shouldn't be chalked up to the notion that "all couples fight." Again, discussing the underlying cause of your conflict is a key step towards a healthy resolution.
4. Compromise More
Meeting in the middle is generally a fair way for two individuals to approach things. But what about when only one half of the duo is being told to do the compromising? Cited in a study by Alexa Klos that was published on the University of Wisconsin's official site, the April 1950 edition of Ladies' Home Journal advised wives to, "change around your schedule so that you will always be there when your husband needs you, accept his emotional distortion, and to build up his self-esteem." Even if you took away the gender aspect of this, this advice promotes an unhealthy and uneven balance of needs in a marriage. As University of California anthropology professors Dr. Ellinor Ochs and Dr. Tamar Kremer-Sadlik found in their collaborative study, Fast-Forward Families: Home, Work, and Relationships in Middle-class America, "couples that established a shared understanding of their respective responsibilities were less likely to critique each other; their daily lives seemed to flow more smoothly." So, if you feel that you are disproportionately carrying a burden in the relationship, ignore the out-dated concept that you should compromise your own happiness just to keep your spouse satisfied.
5. You Won't Be Happy Without Children
For whatever reason, there are people out there who think that parenthood should be the next logical step after marriage. In What A Young Wife Ought To Know, Emma Drake wrote that "the less children in the home, the less health and happiness" and that, "it is natural for women to bear children and unnatural to evade this function."
Besides the fact that some couples face issues of infertility, there are plenty of married folks who are happy with their choice to be childless. Sociology professor Dr. Jennifer Glass shared research findings with the Council on Contemporary Families that confirmed the recent notion that child-free couples tend to identify as happier than those with children. However, Glass noted an interesting distinction that, "countries with better family policy 'packages' had no happiness gap between parents and non-parents." In the end — kids or no kids — the only opinion about marriage and reproduction that matters is the one shared between you and your spouse. Let the haters hate.