The Worst Marriage Advice I Ever Received

Have you ever heard the advice: Don't go to bed angry?  See how I turned the worst marriage advice I got into 5 useful communcation tools for working through arguments.

This last May, my husband and I celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary.  It is crazy to think of both how short a time that is and yet how long it seems and how much has happened during that time.  We both graduated with our undergrad degrees, bought our first home, had our first baby, graduate school for my husband, finishing our basement and having our second baby, plus family vacations, birthdays, holidays… I could go on forever!

As many women who are to be married, I had bridal showers thrown by family and friends.  (I had a total of three.)  And at each shower, all of the women gave their advice for how to have a happy marriage.  It was fun and enlightening to hear what each person had to say.  Some I agreed with and others I accepted with a smile on my face but quickly discarded.  My favorite wedding advice I ever heard was at one of my best friend’s bridal showers when her aunt or grandma (I can’t remember which) said, “If you’re gonna fight, fight naked!” HAHA!  I think there’s probably some truth to that. *wink*

But it was the advice that I heard from an older relative of mine that I thought was the worst.  When it came around to her, she said: “Never go to bed angry.  Whatever you’re fighting about should be resolved before you go to sleep.”  Now, let it be said that I love this relative dearly.  In addition, I also recognize that she came from a different time and what was “expected” of a wife or marriage relationship was different than today and maybe she was sharing what worked for her and her husband.
Now, I feel pretty confident in saying that many, if not most, of the married or soon-to-be married or even single women have heard this same advice spoken by a well-meaning friend or family member.

BUT…

I totally disagree!

Let me explain why:

First, I have to bring up the fact that my major in college was Marriage and Family Studies, which is basically a pre-marriage/family counseling major.  I had to take a million a ton of marriage classes.  I loved every single one of them.  But one of my favorites was a class called Forming Marital Relations and was taught by the dean of the school (Dean Busby, BYU) who specializes in, among other things, relationship conflict/conflict management in couples.

I specifically remember learning about this concept because it was different than anything I’d heard of or considered before.  We learned about different ways that couples fight (there are four) and that only one of the four is actually dysfunctional, although the other three are not created equally.  My professor taught that success in relationships isn’t determined by whether or not you fight, but rather HOW you fight.  That concept is one that I’ve carried with me and thought about since then.  (You can learn more HERE.)

Have you ever heard the advice: Don't go to bed angry?  See how I turned the worst marriage advice I got into 5 useful communcation tools for working through arguments.

I think there is a misconception that if you fight or disagree with your spouse, then you have problems.  (While this may be true in some cases, I would venture a guess that it’s not the majority.)  Fighting (or disagreeing) happens when you have two different people who have two different backgrounds and two different opinions on something and they disagree.  I’ve found that since having kids, parenting is one of those areas where my husband and I have disagreed.  He comes from a family where he is the youngest of six kids and was kind of given free reign growing up.  I am the oldest in my family and my parents were more strict with me.  You can see where just that fact alone causes a difference in approach or opinions.

Another area of conflict is money.  (What?  Fighting about money?  Never!)  My husband and I agree that we need to have a budget but his ideas are much stricter than mine.  He also values certain things more than I do, such as electronics.  I value certain things more than he does, such as craft supplies and clothes.  There have been times over the years where we have butted heads over these topics and we’ve had to work to resolve them together.  These are just two examples, but I could come up with dozens more.  And it’s not because my husband and I fight or disagree all the time, because we don’t!

So, what do you do when you and your spouse come up against a problem that needs solving or an issue that needs to be discussed?  How do you handle it?

Here are 5 suggestions for working through arguments (and going to bed angry is actually one of them!):

Set aside time to talk
Depending on the size of the issue, it might be a good idea to set aside some time to talk about it.  Wait until after the kids go to bed.  Hire a sitter to watch the kids while you go to dinner.  Take a walk around the park.  If it’s important enough to argue about, then it’s important enough to take the time to talk it over without feeling rushed.

Have you ever heard the advice: Don't go to bed angry?  See how I turned the worst marriage advice I got into 5 useful communcation tools for working through arguments.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood
If you’ve read Stephen R. Covey’s: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you’ve heard this before.  And even if you haven’t read the book, it’s a phrase that’s thrown around often when talking about communication.  Our knee jerk reaction when someone disagrees with us is to try to defend our stance.  We are so worried about proving our point, that we don’t even listen to the other person talk and sometimes we even talk over them before they’re done.  (I know I’m guilty of this one.)  The reason this one is so difficult is because we are viewing everything a person does through our own frame of reference, rather than thinking about it from their point of view.  When we make a conscious effort to really listen to what the other person is saying, and the other person does the same, it’s a lot easier to come up with common ground and an agreeable solution.

Don’t involve family members or friends
One of the first rules my husband and I established with each other when we started dating was that if we had a problem with the other person, we needed to discuss it with them.  Not family.  Not friends.  Not the random stranger in front of you in the line at the grocery store.  This is a lot harder for women than it is for men because when women talk, it’s about relationships.  When men talk, it’s about sports, politics, data, etc.  To be clear, I’m not referring to things like getting suggestions for potty training or tips for getting your kids out the door on time.  I’m talking specifically about issues that involve you and your spouse and possibly your kids (discipline, schools, extracurricular activities, etc).  When you start bringing other people into your relationship, you are creating even bigger problems than were there in the first place.

Sleep on it
It’s true!  The complete opposite advice that I received from my well-meaning relative is actually one that I personally give to couples getting married!  Here’s why: You are not going to be discussing things rationally or able to give your full attention to a subject if you are tired.  Tired = grumpy and emotional.  There have been many occasions when my husband and I have started talking about something, which lead to talking about something else that we didn’t even realize was an issue and the next thing we know, it’s midnight and we’re getting no where because we’re both tired and know that we’ll need to be getting up early.  So my advice is just sleep on it.  Wake up with a (hopefully) full night’s rest and a clear head and resume your discussion at another time when you can devote your attention and time to it.

Pick your battles
Let’s face it: The person you married is not going to agree with you on everything.  And (surprise!) you’re not going to agree with them.  If you fought or argued about everything you disagreed on, it’s totally possible that you would be constantly fighting.  So just let it go.  Pick your battles.  Ask yourself if you really need to open your mouth and say something.  Some days, I am looking for a fight so I’ll start getting nit-picky about the littlest things.  My husband usually can tell when I’ve had a rough day and will (wisely) remove himself and the kids from me for a while so I can have a little space.  And given this time, I will see the error of my ways and take a chill pill.  *wink*

I hope these suggestions gave you some tools to use in your relationships!

What was the worst wedding advice you got?  Share below!

39 thoughts on “The Worst Marriage Advice I Ever Received

  1. I completely agree about sleeping on it. Sometimes, you need time to rest and refresh before you address the issue. Setting aside time when you are both present and ready is so much better!

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  2. Yes! I agree! I also received that advice, but don't follow it. I think sleeping on it sometimes is the best solution. Everything seems better in the morning. Thanks for all your other tips too…great advice.

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  3. Yeah, sometimes it's good to cool down when you're angry. If you just keep trying to hash things out you don't have the chance to step back and gain some perspective. I usually go for a walk and feel a whole lot more relaxed.

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  4. I've definitely gotten this advice before and I totally agree with you that sometimes sleeping on it is the best way to deal with it. I'm so much more level headed in the morning after time has passed! It also feels like sometimes at night we argue in circles and a new day brings a new perspective.

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  5. I agree with you that it's totally ok to go to bed mad! In fact, I don't think issues should be discussed when people are emotional about it, so if that means you need to postpone the convo to the next day, then how else are you supposed to sleep? However, you seem to pair fighting and disagreeing as the same thing, and it's definitely not. There's no shame or harm in disagreeing. My husband and I can disagree about what we want for dinner! But fighting is another story. A fight is a disagreement that's taken to the next level. I can disagree with my husband without fighting, but I can't fight without a disagreement.

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  6. I think this particular bit of advice is given with the best intentions, but the problem is that if taken literally, then I think the best solutions might be missed due to a lack of perspective. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Aishwarya! 🙂

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  7. Thank you for pointing that out Paige. I definitely agree that fighting and disagreeing are NOT the same. I realize that what I've written could come across that they are the same and I'll be going back and clearing it up so that I'm clear that they are different. I can probably count the number of “fights” I've had with my husband on one hand, but the number of disagreements or differences of opinion are many.

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  8. This is so funny! I literally just wrote a guest post for a friend about the best and worst marriage advice I received and this is the worst one! Also, I HATED Dr. Busby's class, haha. One of my least favorite classes I took at BYU.

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  9. YES! I am a morning person…which also means that I'm NOT a night person. If we have an argument later in the day, it's usually because I'm an emotional mess and have hit my wall of exhaustion. The best thing for us to do is just go to bed. In the morning, when I wake up, I usually don't even remember why we were fighting. Haha!

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  10. I 100% agree when it comes to sleeping on it. I may or may not overreact at times (haha) and I can't tell you how many mornings I've woken up and wondered why I was so annoyed the night before. Everything is more clear the morning after!

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  11. Not only do I agree that sleeping on it is a good option…but it's also totally unrealistic to think that every fight you and your spouse will ever have can be solved before bedtime! Some problems are just too intricate. I loved this post, so very true. But the political science degree holding feminist in me was cringing when you said that women only talk about relationships and men talk about politics and everything else! lol 😉

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  12. So true Amanda! And to ease your political science degree holding feminist heart, please know that I don't think women only talk about relationships and men only talk about politics, etc. 😉

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I totally agree sleeping on it can make such a big difference! My hubby and I both get super cranky when we are tired and we never solve anything when we are in that state. It is interesting to see how marriage has changed with the generations!

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  14. You're welcome Sabrina! My husband and I are very much the same way. And I totally agree that marriage and the expectations that come with it are very different from what they were for our grandparents and even our parents.

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  15. I received the very same marriage advice from an elderly great-aunt. We actually tried it for a while, because hey, she's been married 60 years so it must work. But, in reality, that's not the best solution. Sometimes sleeping on it gives you a renewed perspective, or at least enough energy to come to a joint solution.

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  16. I received the advice from my grandma, bless her heart. Maybe it really did work for her and my grandpa, but he actually died when I was 2.5 years old so I don't remember how their relationship was. Getting some sleep, even if it's just a nap, makes a huge difference in gaining perspective.

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  17. I love hearing everyones perspective on marriage. It's all about what works for you though! I don't think there is one secret to success, but rather a general understanding that you love each other no matter what.

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  18. Very true Colette. If you're a night owl, then maybe it works to find a solution before you go to bed. I think it all comes down to a desire for success and trying to find what works best in your situation. 🙂

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  19. So interesting to hear your perspective on this saying! I've always been someone who has to process things, so this saying never fit my personality. I have to think through situations before I respond — and sometimes that can't be done by bedtime!

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