I know I can’t call myself a marriage expert. I’ve only been married 10 years. However, we are really happy and we’ve survived infertility a known major stressor on couples.
I won’t give marriage advice because everyone is so different. What works is different for everyone. There are two things ingrained in our ethos though that I think are just plain wrong. Here goes:
- “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
When Jennifer says it to Oliver in Love Story it makes a great plot point in the book (or movie). In real life? This is crap. Don’t believe it. I think Erich Segal probably meant that in love forgiveness is always ready to be given. But I really believe you have to ask for it and often. When in doubt apologize! lol. An honest apology is all about empathy. Sharing your emotions is the cornerstone of marriage, IMO and being able to (or at least keen to) understand the emotions of your mate is the basis of intimacy. So, I say use the words “I’m sorry” often and always with sincerity.
- Honesty is the best policy.
This is really a life skill and not just a marriage thing. It is a common refrain that “honesty is always the best policy.’ Pfft. That is just plain stupid. Lying is an important social skill and being a slave to honesty will make you a tool. There are different types of lies and knowing when to use one is a very important. Honesty, as a policy, shouldn’t trump other virtues like kindness and justice. Did you know that the Bible contains an acceptable lie? In Joshua, Rahab lies about harboring the Isrealite spies. This story kind of reminds me of the people who hid Anne Frank. There is clearly a greater good at stake. In marriage that greater good can be peace, the self-esteem of your mate, etc.
So what is a bad lie in a relationship? I think it goes back to trust. If you are telling a lie that would errode trust were it to come out – you are not building up your relationship.
What is a good lie? Obviously, the “no your butt doesn’t look big in that” is an important one for guys to know. I think there are others. I think it is important to support your partner in their dreams. As the person they share this intimate, empathetic relationship with, you have a particular role in either squashing or building up their dreams. So, when your husband says “I think I’m going to make a movie.” You think “oh for goodness sake, give me a break, what a waste of time.” But, you say “that’s would be great, honey!” This type of lie build up your spouse instead of tearing them down.
So, that’s my marriage observations. Lie and say you’re sorry.