This past weekend, I had the privilege of officiating the wedding of two friends from church. At their reception, they had a table where friends and relatives could write their "best marriage advice" and leave it for the newlyweds. I thought it was a great idea and I admired the young couple for tapping into the wisdom of their loved ones and applying it to their own relationship.
One of my most popular posts is all about "The Best Marriage Advice Ever", but for this post, I want to take a different approach. You'll find all kinds of marriage advice out there, and some of the most popular advice is actually very unhealthy and potentially destructive to a marriage. Below are some of the most common occurrences of bad marriage advice and how to avoid them in your marriage:
On the surface, all of these sound like good advice, but if you look deeper, you'll find some dangerous traps in each one.
In no particular order:
1. Follow your heart
You might be thinking, "How can this be bad advice?" Well, for starters, the Bible actually says this is bad advice..."The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The "heart" in this context doesn't refer to the part of your body that pumps blood, but the emotional and spiritual core of who you are. At our core, we wrestle with selfishness and pride and we can justify some terrible choices (including adultery) by "following our hearts."
Better advice would be to say, "Follow your heart only when your heart is following your faith, your principles and your commitments."
2. Do whatever makes you happy
This one is a natural progression from "following your heart." Our culture values the pursuit of happiness above nearly any other pursuit, but happiness is fickle and temporary when it isn't grounded in something deeper
Ironically, the people who make happiness their sole pursuit usually wind up as very unhappy people. Instead of pursuing happiness as the end-goal, pursue a life of purpose following God, serving others and growing daily in your love for your spouse and you're very likely to find happiness along the way.
3. Your kids should always come first
Again, this sounds like responsible, selfless wisdom, but it's actually dangerous advice. Obviously, we need to make sacrifices for our children, but I've seen too many couples put their marriage on hold while they're raising their kids only to wind up with an "empty nest" and an empty marriage at the same time.
Give your kids the gift of growing up in a home where their parents are in a thriving, healthy marriage. Have the kind of marriage that makes your kids actually want to get married someday!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.