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Best Marriage Advice That Has Stood The Test Of Time

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” – Andre Maurois

There is no dearth of good marriage advice today, available in books, movies, Internet, and of course, your well meaning relatives! But often, the advice offered by every person is based on their own ‘unique lens of experience,’ as Stephen Covey would put it; it is usually the sum total of their individual life lessons, which may or may not apply to you. Yet, some of the best marriage advice tips are hard to argue with and apply to men and women across countries, races, and religions. Thousands of relationship websites and blogs have popped up in recent years, spewing words and words of advice which can get anyone confused! At such times, one needs some help to block out the noise and focus on the very basics – the best marriage advice that has stood the test of time. And we’re here to help with that!

first dance at wedding

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Why is everyone looking for marriage advice?

It isn’t surprising there is so much advice available out there; research proves that being married has several advantages, particularly when it comes to the difficult times, and let’s face it – life isn’t always easy! Married people are found to live longer and are generally healthier than those who haven’t tied the knot. Finances seem to be more stable as common resources are pooled together and children born out of marriage tend to have more stable and happier childhoods.

Suggested read: 8 stunning scientific ways  in which marriage correlates to happiness

The fact remains that most of us actually like being married; in spite of those days when we feel like dumping cold water on our spouses! According to a study by Pew Research Center, only 5% of Americans under age 30 don’t want to get married. Yet, the question of happiness in a marriage is still controversial – the divorce rate in America is nearly twice the number it was in 1960. And this is the case with fewer people tying the knot nowadays. The estimates go so far as to say that 40-50% of marriages today will end in separation or divorce.

broken marriage

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There are many reasons for why it appears like the institution of marriage is crumbling, but the main one seems to be that people are focusing more on the quality of a marriage than its longevity. Current trends also show that people are waiting till they’re older to marry, and want to get hitched when they’re more mature and sure of what they’re doing. Apparently people who marry at 23 rather than 18 see a 30% drop in divorce rates, according to this Pennsylvania study.

This goes on to show that no one is ready to settle for a mediocre relationship nowadays. Everyone wants to find fulfillment from the most intimate relationship in their lives and they’re willing to search for best marriage advice anywhere to find what’ll work for them!

Marriages – then and today

Marriages have come a long way, and the union a couple shares today is far removed from what constituted a marriage a century ago! Eli Finkel, a social psychology professor from Northwestern University, has written an article in The New York Times where he talks about the evolution of marriage in America.

Before 1850, when ensuring basic human needs like food, shelter, and clothing weren’t as simple as it is today, marriages focused on pooling resources to meet these needs. Compatibility and emotional bonding were very much in the sidelines as spouses concentrated on keeping the family afloat.

marriage proposal

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Post 1850 and the Industrial Revolution, there wasn’t as much a struggle for basic needs as earlier, and people didn’t have to work as hard. As a result, more time on their hands meant that they could focus on the quality of their relationships and this led to marriages seeking love and companionship.

But that didn’t last forever, and from the 1960s, people began to seek more self-fulfillment and personal growth from their families. Any relationship that didn’t provide these was considered a burden and this has resulted in the divorce rate that we see today. Most experts on human behavior agree that a certain ‘self-obsession’ has taken over the current generation, which doesn’t have a place in a relationship like marriage which thrives on teamwork and sacrifice.

While these phases were initially described specifically for America, it remains true for all nations, although each country will be at their own level depending upon their stage of development and industrialization. Add to this the influence of media. The world has never been as well connected as it is today and we are constantly bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ couples in books, movies, and magazines. Even our own friends set up standards for comparison in social media, all of which eventually results in a feeling of inadequacy in our own relationships. Impossible standards and perfection have become the core of marital expectations, and the very unattainability of these result in the dissatisfaction among us today. In such a scenario, good marriage advice becomes invaluable, and everyone is eager to hear it!

Suggested read: What are the secrets to a happy marriage?

Best marriage advice for men

Men, if you’re wondering why your wife is acting the way she is, remember what John Florio said, “A good husband makes a good wife”! Seriously speaking, women have a tendency to give and give into a relationship, while men remain blissfully unaware, without really meaning to. Women aren’t really as hard to understand as popular culture suggests, and a little effort on the part of men will go a long way in achieving marital harmony. While there are thousands of pieces of marriage advice for men out there, these three form the cream of the list.

1. Just listen to her

couple talking

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Wives’ most common complaints about their husbands revolve around them not listening. The first reason for this is usually a lack of time, so making time for your wife is your first priority. Your wife talks to you because she considers you her partner and is opening herself up to you. When you just hum and nod distractedly or worse, get up and leave, she thinks she isn’t a priority for you, and her feelings or troubles aren’t your concern.

According to psychologist John Gottman, one of the major reasons for couples landing in divorce is due to ‘stonewalling’ or ignoring/becoming silent. Due to the different ways men’s and women’s brains process information, a man tends to relay information in fewer words, so he might find a woman’s talk as incessant chatter. On the other hand, women are very intuitive and can easily make out when a man is paying attention and when he isn’t. Constant stonewalling in a relationship can take its toll with the wife feeling like her feelings don’t matter anymore, and the husband knowing that something is wrong although he can’t put his finger on it.

The first thing a man needs to realize is that when a woman is venting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s at fault or that it’s his responsibility to fix it right away. They also need to realize that women can get emotional at times, and they need to appreciate the difference without pinning the blame on her hormones or ‘that time of the month.’ Women put a lot of importance on just listening deeply and being there. Their aim isn’t to get quick fix solutions; they just want to be heard and made to feel that their happiness and feelings matter to you.

2. Continue to court her

couple drinking wine

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Everyone’s heard of the honeymoon phase in a marriage when the husband and wife are completely into each other and do everything they can to please each other. Soon, the novelty wears off and they fall into a rut. Men begin to take their wives for granted and all the romance and sparks die down as they settle into the monotony of daily life.

One reason for this is that many men think that now that ‘the cat is in the bag,’ they don’t need to make an effort anymore. For many others, the pressures of everyday life take up all their time and focus. Basically, courting your wife is considered a waste of time and an unnecessary expense, but nothing could be farther from the truth! Women need to be cherished, and while they don’t have to be placed on a pedestal all the time, both of you need to be reminded that you were lovers once upon a time and are each other’s number one priority.

It might appear difficult, but the truth is that the busier you are, the more important it is to have that romance in your life. There are many ways to court your wife – buy her something that she loves but hasn’t been able to get, or write her love letters or poems like you used to do earlier. One of the best ways is to schedule date night without the kids. Of course, talking about them while on a date will not help!

3. Take responsibility

man cooking

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‘Responsibility’ here refers to many things – responsibility for running the family satisfactorily, responsibility for hurting her feelings, and responsibility for forgiveness. Men have traditionally been considered to be responsible for providing for the family, while everything else is the woman’s job. This marked discrimination is detrimental to a successful long term relationship.

Whoever the breadwinner in the family may be, it goes without saying that both spouses need to do their share of household chores to keep the household running smoothly, especially if there are children. A study of 220 couples by the University of Illinois has found that when men and women divide household duties, they reported more marital satisfaction, and this includes childcare as well.

When it comes to feelings, men have grown up in a society that thinks it is macho to avoid feelings completely. If they’ve also grown in a culture that tends to blame women for everything, they repeat the same patterns in their marriage. Marriage only has space for two people; it doesn’t have room for ego. Men need to put aside their ego during a spat and accept responsibility when it is indeed their fault. Even when it isn’t, they need to find space in their hearts for forgiveness – something that is usually considered a woman’s ‘duty.’

Suggested read: Relationship advice from a father to his daughter

Best marriage advice for women

Women are known to be the ‘givers’ in a relationship, even though they feel they aren’t receiving anything. The downside to this is that these feelings breed resentment which explode and come bearing down on a poor unsuspecting man who suddenly wonders what he did wrong! A better understanding of their man’s love languages and some solid marriage advice for women like these tips will go a long way in improving communication between a woman and her husband.

1. Prioritize him

couple talking6

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Women are multi-taskers; there is no doubt about that. But focusing on too many things at once can take away from the quality of time spent with family members. Just like men, women have many roles, but women find themselves judged far more on all their roles. This makes a woman stress over becoming ‘superwoman’ which ends in a lot of things vying for her attention – work, home, children, husband, parents, in-laws, friends, community. In most cases, children and home precede the rest and the poor husband doesn’t get his share of attention.

Women need to make husbands a priority in their lives and give them some quality time every day and not just on date nights. It could be over a morning cuppa, or at the end of the day when the kids are in bed. Rather than being an event which she’ll consider if she has time left over, it needs to be prioritized in her day, and the rest should come later.

2. Don’t try to change him

woman shouting at man

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Albert Einstein said, “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change.” It’s true that women think of themselves as the family fixers, and the fixing extends to their mates too! Once the honeymoon phase is over, many annoying traits pop up, like wet towels on the bed, toothpaste tube squeezed the ‘wrong’ way, noisy chewing, etc., Women think that repeated nagging can change these characteristics, but they usually go the wrong way.

When nagged constantly, men feel devalued in front of their wives. And when men make genuine mistakes that concern the whole family, they have to deal with their own sense of failure along with the disappointment of their wives, who are the last people they want to let down. Besides trying to change their men all the time can prove counterproductive as men begin to shut out all the noise and resort to stonewalling.

3. Express yourself

couple spending time together

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Women’s intuitive nature helps them sense people’s moods right away. Nothing wrong with it of course, till they start expecting the same from their spouses! Men are notoriously bad at reading subtle signals, and they can’t help it; it’s the way their brains are wired.

From childhood, girls are conditioned to be controlled in their desires, to not speak unless spoken to, and not ask for anything. This global conditioning is reflected in the way adult women behave even in their intimate relationships. They often drop hints and clues rather than asking for something outright, which can end up frustrating their partners. As mentioned above, a series of seeming negligence from men can end up in an explosion over a trivial matter that leaves men wondering if such a tiny thing warranted such a fuss.

Suggested read: 15 things every couple should discuss before marriage

Best marriage advice books

There are probably a million marriage advice books out there, but we’ve scanned the list to bring the best of the best here.

Best Marriage Advice Books

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1. ‘Hold Me Tight’ by Dr Sue Johnson

This book focuses on EFT or Emotionally Focused Therapy, touted to be the most effective way of couple therapy. Despite the technical term, this book offers lots of practical advice, based on the experience of international expert Dr. Sue Johnson. EFT mainly involves identifying major points in a relationship and developing a safe emotional connection based on them.

2. ‘Getting the Love You Want’ by Harville Hendrix

This book, originally published in 1988, has been updated with latest research and released as a 20th Anniversary edition in 2008. The author, Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen L. Hunt have developed the Imago Relationship Therapy for couples and families. The book identifies the most common stress points in a marital relationship and offers guidelines to overcome these obstacles in a positive manner.

3. ‘It’s Not You, It’s the Dishes’ by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson

This book focuses on all the daily annoyances that creep into our lives and take a toll on our relationships. Since daily doses of negativity build up into a constant stage of conflict, the book tries to imbibe some fun into marriage. The central theme is to be economical in our time, energy, and resources, and hence pick our battles.

4. ‘His Needs, Her Needs’ by William F. Harley Jr.

This extremely popular book comes from William F. Harley Jr., who has also authored many other books on relationships. The book focuses on the basic needs of men and women, which as expected, are not the same. It also offers ways to ensure that both partners are able to fulfill each others’ needs and lead to a strong, stable relationship.

5. ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ by John Gottman

This book presents a completely scientific breakdown of reasons why some marriages work and some don’t. In his ‘love lab,’ the author has studied hundreds of couples and their dynamics and has been able to predict the success of their marriage correctly to a large extent. The book offers several tools to strengthen your marriage and overcome conflict.

As always, it is way easier to dispense advice than to actually follow it!! And this is probably truer when it comes to marriage! But as mentioned earlier, the source of your advice is crucial, especially since marriage is a very individual thing and just as no two people are alike, no two marriages are identical. That being said, however, there are many common problems men and women face in their marriages which can be overcome with the right tools. The best marriage advice we can give either sex is that marriage requires effort and nothing is going to magically happen unless you work for it!

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Article Name
Best Marriage Advice That Has Stood The Test of Time
The best marriage advice for men and women that is highly relevant for our times along with best marriage advice books.
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []