One size couple advice fit’s very few
In a recent comment reply, I said, “I know what that line is for my marriage … but I also know our line is not one that would work or be healthy for every couple.”
One-size-fits-all marriage advice is one of my big pet peeves, and sadly, there is a lot of this kind of advice out there. Well-intentioned people share what worked for them, which is fine, but they say that what worked for them will work for anyone, and that is almost never the case. Given differences in personality, life experience, time married, past problems, current complications, and so on and so forth, how could any one approach ever be “THE ANSWER” for everyone? Often the folks who do this have been through some disaster, or been on the verge of divorce, but made it out alive, married, and in love due to whatever it is they are offering as the secret to a great marriage. They mean well, they really do.
Beyond the fact that these things won’t help some (or most) people, there is the even greater problem that these one-size-fits-all approach can make some marriages worse! If he is domineering, a “follow your man no matter what” approach is going to make the marriage worse. If she has no respect for him, for reasons not his doing, telling them he’s the problem and needs to be more gentle is going to make it worse. If she has been sexually abused, telling him he can fix his sex life by grabbing her and just going for it is about the same as advocating rape. If he is trying to recover from porn, telling her to be wild and kinky may lead him to relapse. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
By the way, even those with good training can fall into this trap. It’s human nature to assume we are the norm, our marriage is the norm, and what works for us will work for most. It’s also human nature to not want to think about things we can’t fix, and even professional counsellors can devolve blind spots due to problems and limitations in their own marriages.
Do I fall into this trap? I doubt I am as free of it as I would like to be, but I am aware of it and work hard to avoid it. Maybe it’s easier for me because I know my marriage is unusual in a number of ways – and if the marriage is unusual, than much of what works for us probably won’t work for most. If you see me doing this, or think you see it, please say something!
Bottom Line: If you find someone with a one-size-fits-all marriage fix, my suggestion is to run. Run fast, and run far. Because while they will probably help some, far more will not be helped, and some will be hurt.