Whether you’re single and mingling, a newly-wed, or reaching a big anniversary milestone, the barrage of relationship advice from everyone can be overwhelming. How do you know what advice to take and which advice to ignore? The truth is that even some of the most common relationship advice clichés may not actually be the best thing for you and your significant other.
To determine whether you should listen to relationship advice, first ask yourself questions:
Let’s take a look at a few bits of common relationship advice and determine whether or not you should listen up or not.
If you’re about to get married, there’s no doubt you’ve heard this one before. But what does this piece of advice really mean, and what are the values behind it? Does it imply that feeling anger is wrong and should be pushed down? Does it actually propose one should somehow feel differently, then fall asleep, conflict unsolved, only to be further avoided in the future?
That’s possible—but it’s also possible that this piece of advice is meant to convey that communicating your feelings is important, so you can get to the bottom of your conflict in a timely fashion. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it may be a good idea to take a break and collect your true feelings. Either way, this relationship cliché should be looked at from every angle. Just remember, when in conflict, always be honest and take personal responsibility. Your objective is to openly and fully communicate with your partner.
In most cases in our society, “little white lies” are small lies, generally meant to protect the other person from hurt feelings. In reality, the majority of these tiny fibs could have bigger consequences down the line. Ask yourself this: Will lying, even a little bit, help us nurture a high quality, robust, and open relationship? The answer is probably no, as deep and meaningful relationships must be built on trust and understanding. This doesn’t mean you have to be cruel and tell your wife she does look fat in that dress. Instead, grasp the meaning and importance in truth itself and how it can bring you and your significant other together through positive communication skills.
Single and constantly being set up by your friends and relatives? Then you’ve probably been told you should find a partner based on common interests. Wrong! This is terrible advice. While common interests do give you something to do and talk about, they’re really just mutual distractions from creating authentic, nourishing relationships and promoting meaningful growth as a couple. When the going gets tough or you begin to reach further milestones in your relationship, how will those common interests come into play to help you and your partner succeed as a couple? They won’t.
Any advice that keeps us from moving closer together with our partners, being honest with each other, and facing and working through conflict is bad advice. Everyone says that relationships are work, but that’s not advice—it’s an invitation to learn and grow…together. And what is the work to bring out the best in each other? It’s the ability to bring out our more authentic selves and better each other. Ask yourself this: What does my partner bring out in me? What qualities do I bring out in my partner? Do we help each other be our best selves? How?
Are we working together towards a higher sense of meaning? In the end, that should be the true focus. Any other advice should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user jillallyn.