When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad marriage advice that couples really shouldn't follow. Everyone's relationship is different, and sometimes longstanding advice can become outdated — or even work to create the opposite type of relationship you're striving for.
"There is no set of right marriage rules or wrong marriage rules for a relationship," relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, Founder of online relationship community, Relationup, tells Bustle. "There are no rules associated with the longevity, satisfaction or health of a relationship. What works well for one couple may not work well for another. There are only two things that matter when setting rules for your marriage: they need to work well for the two of you and they need to be flexible. Both of you need to be able to open up discussions about the marriage rules and renegotiate them at any time."
You may be used to reading advice in magazines, getting tips from your relatives, or hearing about what works from friends, but you don't necessarily have to abide by everything that comes your way. Here are seven common marriage rules grown-ass couples shouldn't follow, according to relationship therapists.
"Agree In Order To Keep The Peace"
Although there are some things you shouldn't waste your time arguing about, it's not healthy for couples to never fight. "The thinking behind this rule is that it is better for you to be agreeable than it is to take a stand and enter into conflict," says Milrad. "However, this philosophy leads to resentment and a feeling of powerlessness. Couples should not be scared of conflict. A healthy relationship has conflict and in an even healthier relationship, the couple can navigate through difficult conversations and decisions."
"Don't Keep Secrets"
Although you should never keep anything major from your partner, especially if it involves your relationship, this rule encourages couples to be overly enmeshed with one another, and not have independent lives. "It is considered a betrayal to want your own space, to have a part of your life that was just your own and more importantly, not tell your partner about it," says Milrad. "Separateness is seen as something scary and divisive. Couples have to come to recognize the importance of having an 'us' and a 'me.' They should support each other’s separateness and even believe that it makes the relationship more interesting and dynamic."
"The More Money You Make, The More You Can Have"
This is an old-fashioned rule we can throw out of the closet because it establishes an unhealthy power dynamic based solely on money — and that's all kinds of problematic. "This rule gives someone in the partnership more power because they bring in more income," says Milrad. "It creates a power differential, and the less powerful partner often feels marginalized, minimized, and resentful." Instead, make decisions as equal partners, independent of financial differences. "Partnering and collaboration has replaced power and domination," she says.
"Never Go To Bed Mad"
"Sometimes, one or both of you does go to bed mad and needs to," says Milrad. "Although this rule had good intentions, it dictates that people have to suck up their feelings and 'make nice' before they go to bed. Consequently, apologies are perfunctory and never leave anyone feeling better." People have different processes, and some people need time to process their feelings and cool down or reflect on their behavior. Conversations in heated moments only make matters worse.
"Don't Say Anything That Could Upset Your Partner"
You shouldn't avoid discussing something on your mind just because it might be an uncomfortable conversation. "This is a recipe for disaster," couples psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "If something is troubling you, it needs to be talked about, and I mean talked — not yelled or whined about." Find a good time when the two of you are alone, and say that you have something difficult you want to talk about. Tessina suggests using "I" to explain how you feel rather than using a more accusatory "you."
"Stick To Your Roles"
This one is all kinds of nope. "Don’t assume that marriage is a couple of roles and you have to stick to them," says Tessina. "If you want to be creative about who earns the money and who does the parenting or whether you even live together, do what works for both of you, and don’t worry about whether other people like it."
There is no one-size-fits-all for marriage, and you should feel free to break the rules as you see fit — as long as everyone is comfortable with it.