“Don’t follow any advice, no matter how good, until you feel as deeply in your spirit as you think in your mind that the counsel is wise.”
I recently came across a blog written by a twice-divorced single father giving advice on lessons learned from his two failed marriages. In it, he brought up several examples of ways he “blew his marriage” and what he would have done differently if he had a do-over. It was a very heartwarming read, believe it or not. In his blog he acknowledges that he is in no position to give marriage advice, only “how not blow it” advice.
While he seems well aware of his strengths and weaknesses in the relationship department, many people I’ve encountered in my lifetime are not. People with the most jacked up love lives are often the first ones to tell you what you should do in your relationship. People who habitually find themselves in abusive, dishonest, or unsuccessful relationships still offer up their advice like it’s the key to your happiness. Are they delusional about their own situations or do they just want to pull you down with them?
In some cases, these friends may want you to be single with them. They miss the single, constantly together, party all night, bff they used to have and will therefore see any problem in your relationship as a potential opportunity to get their fun, single friend back. Because, as much as you would like to believe that your friendships don’t change when you find “that one”, they do and often times someone feels left behind. There are a lot of things my single friends do that I just don’t find fun now that I’m off the market. When I was single, my friends and I used to go clubbing every weekend. I loved the crowd, the music, dancing with guys, and partying until sunrise with my besties. Five years and one wedding later, I’ll politely pass on most club invitations in favor of a chill night at home with friends and cocktails.
However, not all relationship advice that friends give you is malicious. Sometimes they just don’t know any better. When I was single, I had a friend who would constantly give me bad advice. Every time my boyfriend and I had a disagreement, she would tell me what I should do, which usually consisted of childish game playing or stalker-like snooping (i.e. “Girl, you should key his car!” or “Just wait till he goes to sleep and go through his phone”, or even “Just show up to the party with another guy to get him jealous.”). I don’t believe she was intentionally trying to lead me astray, because she did things like this in her own (often disastrous) relationships. She was trying to help, but if I had listened to her, I might have ended up in her same situation.
As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I share much less of my relationship details with my friends and family. I keep my marriage on a need-to-know basis, and about 99% of the time, the only people who need to know are my husband and I. On the occasion I need advice from others, I’m careful to only solicit it from someone who’s in a happy relationship and has successfully made it through the issues we’re facing. My decisions to share the details of my relationship with another person are not taken lightly at all. They are deliberate and not with the intention of venting or trashing my spouse, but rather to get guidance from someone who seems wiser in that department.
Many times, women are too quick to vent about their spouse’s bad qualities and listen to the advice of their friends without considering the qualifications of the person giving this advice. I always say, before I take any advice from someone, I need to see their “relationship résumé“. If someone is unable to maintain a steady, reasonably drama-free relationship, why would I take their advice? After all, you wouldn’t take investment advice from a homeless person so why are you taking relationship advice from people who can’t get their own love life together? But people do it every day.
I’m sure you’ll remember a few years back, comedian Steve Harvey came out with the book, Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man giving advice to ladies about how to catch and keep a man. Despite being on his third marriage, having only been in his current marriage since 2007, and having no education or experience in relationship counseling, his books flew off the shelves and thousands of women were taking his advice as gospel without taking into account his qualifications to give said advice. (I must admit, I bought into the hype too). He appeared on numerous talkshows and even has a radio show in which he gives women relationship advice despite his questionable qualifications to do so. What we really need is a book written by an old married couple on how to maintain a long-term, healthy relationship, not a twice-divorced comedian.
I’m not trying to bash anybody. There’s nothing wrong with you if your relationship resume isn’t the best. It doesn’t make you a bad person. No one is perfect and there’s nothing wrong if you’re still trying to figure it out. My relationship resume isn’t perfect either, and sometimes I’m still trying to figure out this whole marriage thing. Someday I’ll get it, then I’ll be in the position to give advice. For now, the only advice I can give is to be careful who you seek advice from or their fate might become yours.
This is good advice for any aspect of life.
What was some of the best or worst relationship advice you received? Who do you go to for relationship advice? How much do you tell your friends and family about your relationship?