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Our friends and family freely dish out marriage advice. And while the bulk of that advice is filled with good intentions, "there are no hard and fast rules in the game of love," Malibu-based certified marriage therapist Alisa Ruby Bash quickly reminds us, "and if marriage advice does not resonate, then it is bad advice for you."
Here, our experts say, are five pieces of marriage advice that shouldn't resonate — and that you definitely shouldn't heed.
1. Spend your money how you want.
When it comes to a girls' night out or a tech shopping spree, you may hear the advice that you only need to share what you spend with your spouse if you want to — and that the purchases you keep to yourself won't hurt him or her. But keeping your spending a secret could lead to financial fights and a partner who feels blindsided, warns Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "It undermines you working together as a couple, making joint financial decisions while leaving room for individual needs as well," she says.
2. Never go to bed angry.
We've all hear that it's never a good idea to go to bed angry with your spouse. But while this sounds great in theory, says Bash, "sometimes an argument or issue can not be resolved quickly." So rather than suppress genuine emotions, Bash recommends, "it can sometimes be better to get some shut-eye and readdress the problem with a fresh, clear perspective. Often, sleeping on the problem really helps you realize what is worth holding onto."
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3. Always listen to your mother-in-law.
This advice may com straight from the horse's — err, mother-in-law's — mouth. And while it's smart to be open and receptive to what your new family member has to say and how she feels, "don't always listen to her demands because you may start to feel resentful and controlled by her," warns Greer. Beyond that, don't bend to how she wants you to spend your time. "You may grow resentful about spending more time with that person's family than your own," she says. "You can also feel upset at not having enough alone time together with your partner."
4. Your kids should always come first.
Many new mothers feel guilt-tripped by family, friends, and even a society that says children should always come first, says Bash, "and that any parent that ever considers putting their marriage — or, heaven forbid, herself — first is a selfish narcissist." But the truth, she says, "is having a strong, happy marriage will always make a child feel safe and secure. Of course we need to think of our kids and their needs. But if the marriage is suffering because we pay all our attention to our kids at the expense of our spouse, then the whole family will suffer. We need to learn to have time for our spouse, our kids, and ourselves."
5. If you're that unhappy, leave your marriage.
When your marriage isn't as you envisioned it would be and you find your mind wandering toward the D word, your friends and family may give you a final push with the advice, "don't stay if you're unhappy." Greer says that the feeling of wanting to leave a marriage is natural, something almost all couples feel at one point or another and especially after a heated fight. "However," she says, "that doesn't mean your marital problems can't be solved. Encouraging someone to leave versus getting help is encouraging them to simply act on their anger."