Have you ever been to a store and saw a shirt that says “one size fits all” or “OS”? When I try these shirts on, they look OK…but they don’t look as good on me as a shirt that is actually my size, would! So what does this have to do with marriage? Well….I think the same logic applies to marriage advice too.
Let me clarify something first before I delve deeper into this post: I agree that there are some shared qualities or essentials (i.e. communication, unconditional love, respect, etc.) that good marriages seem to possess, however I don’t think generic advice (or rules) as in, do x, y, and z always works. After all, every couple and relationship is unique and has their own dynamic. So what works for one or many, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for all.
This realization is pretty easy to see and accept if the advice comes from a friend or family remember (what do they really know, right? or they are not an expert on the issue! ), but is much harder to accept if the advice comes from a professional (i.e. a psychologist, therapist, counsellor etc) who has published a book or has a popular marriage website. We want to believe that the advice must work, because a professional says so…plus, they have tons of case studies to prove it does!
Yet personal experience tells me this isn’t always the case. There are times when I have applied a certain suggestion from a book or website (either because so many couples swear it works for them, or it is guaranteed to make any relationship better, or because I know of people who have implemented it and are seeing results etc, etc), but I don’t quite get the same results… even in the long run. I’m starting to think that this is because my husband and I aren’t exactly like the couples described in the books or websites. Sure, we seem similar enough, but there are still differences…Of course, you never realize this until after a failed attempt that is often followed by the response… “Our relationship doesn’t come with an owner’s manual….”
It’s a tricky situation, particularly for someone like me who likes self-help / relationship / marriage books. But this is where tweaking things to fit your own relationship seems to be a great middle-ground solution! You apply the advice suggested, but you apply it in a way that works for your relationship. (And of course, only you and your spouse would know to do this really well, because only you two know what your relationship is really like). …It’s like ordering a wedding dress and assuming it will fit perfectly (maybe for some girls, but definitely not all)….OR ordering a wedding dress and altering it slightly so that it fits your body perfectly!
I picked option #2 in the wedding dress scenario, and I’m going to pick option #2 when it comes to my marriage as well. 🙂