You’ve gotten advice, some of it may have been very good. But now it’s time to debunk three common marriage myths.
When you got married, you probably had a lot of well-meaning marriage advice coming at you from all directions – from your great-aunt Mirel, your sheitel macher, the sweet Russian lady who hemmed your gown, and your old-and-experienced married friend (whose chasuna was a whole 7 months before yours).
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favor of getting relationship advice. In fact, I’m a big advocate of marriage education (after all, it’s your main “career” and you’ve never done it before – why wouldn’t you want the maximum training?)
But sometimes, advice that seems perfectly logical and sensible on the surface, can end up backfiring – especially when you are missing information about that other species (you know, the ones from Mars – otherwise known as… men)
So here are some of my favorite marriage myths – along with some counter-intuitive and surprisingly effective true tips.
Myth #1: Be helpful
Wait, no fair, this one HAS to be true, right? After all, isn’t chessed the main job description of the wife and mother?
Well, kind of. And no. At least not when it comes to your partner-in-crime – aka your husband.
You see, your husband is wired to be a Mashpia (we’ll loosely translate that here as a Provider). And his (very male) DNA is telling him that he is supposed to know the answers, to lead the way, to solve problems. (Did you ever wonder why they never want to ask for directions? Mystery solved).
So when your husband is trying to put together the bookshelf from Ikea, or is navigating the parking ticket payment website, or would really be healthier if he lost 10 pounds… What he really wants most from you is:
Not your advice. Not your help. Not your shortcuts, your previous experience, or your superior brain power.
He wants to figure it out. All. By. Himself.
Myth #2: Good communication is the key to a good relationship
Yeah, I know, you’ve heard it over and over. Along with its corollaries: “honesty is the best policy.” And “if you stuff your feelings, you’re going to explode.”
So you’ve probably heard, or thought of, or said, things like:
- “When you don’t fill up the gas tank, it makes me feel frustrated.”
- “Remember, the gas bill is due on Thursday and we really can’t afford another late fee.”
- “Thanks for doing the laundry, but next time please take it out right away so it doesn’t get wrinkled.”
And you probably said them calmly, and politely, and didn’t raise your voice or get angry or anything.
So what could possibly be wrong with that?
Well, let me ask you this: did you go on to have a delightful, fun evening after those exchanges? Or did they possibly lead to defensiveness, accusations, or subdued silence?
So, what ARE you supposed to say so that things get done and you DON’T explode?
Here’s some ideas for starters:
- Say what you want, not what you don’t want.
- Show that you trust him to keep up his responsibilities without your nagging or reminders.
- Focus on the good that he did, even if it’s not exactly the way YOU would have done it.
Why? First, it’s most likely to get you what you REALLY want the most: a loving, light, happy relationship.
And more importantly, your husband is more likely to fulfill his responsibilities – and help you out – when he senses your trust and appreciation (as opposed to your micro-managing and controlling).
So yes, you shouldn’t stuff your feelings – and you should express your own desires and emotions. But when you take out the hidden (or not-so-hidden) criticism, you’re a lot more likely to get to your goals (BOTH your immediate objective, and the long-term health of your relationship).
What could that look like? Maybe something like
- I would love it if you would fill up the gas tank.
- Thanks for taking care of all the finances – I know I can count on you.
- (the next time) Would you do the laundry for me and take it out right away so it doesn’t get wrinkled?
Myth #3: It takes 2 to tango
I often get asked why “shalom bayis” classes are most often geared towards women. Or why I only work with wives, and not couples.
And let’s face it – women are more relationship-oriented, and are more likely to be interested in marriage classes or coaching.
But still, it doesn’t seem fair that the burden most often falls on the wife. Why should she be the one to “work” on the marriage, if her husband is not on board? And why would it even help, if he’s not willing to learn and change?
Of course, I would love for all men AND women to get the guidance and training for building a deeply connected marriage built on mutual love and respect.
But what I’ve seen, over and over again, is that a woman really DOES have the power to transform the relationship, even without her husband’s conscious participation or even awareness – IF she understands the male/female dynamic, and the tools to tap into it.
So when a wife learns to receive what her husband has to offer, to appreciate him for what he is and does, and to show him trust and admiration – in the vast majority of cases, she can work wonders in transforming not only herself, but her marriage as well.
Updated: Note that sadly, we have been forced to make the decision to remove all comments, both positive and negative, from this post. We did not pick and choose. While we always encourage debate and love hearing your opinions, Between Carpools is not the place for bullying and slandering, and many were taking advantage of this forum to do just that. The advice shared on this post is widely accepted and has helped thousands of women, and is consistent with Torah values. If you don’t feel that it’s your style, or it is not relevant to you because you have a different type of relationship, then move on.