Not all relationship advice is good. In fact, some of the most popular and pervasive relationship advice and/or marriage advice is MYTH this is actually toxic to healthy relationships.
I’m going to do something here that is different the the typical format of my blogs and articles. I’m going to list out the eight most common and destructive pieces of bad marriage advice and then show what the Bible has to say about the same advice from a healthy perspective. All the scriptures are going to come from the Book of Proverbs which is the Biblical manual for wisdom written by King Solomon around 3000 years ago.
This advice from Proverbs is ancient, but it’s NOT outdated! I think you’ll be amazed by how relevant these words are for our relationships today. If you’ll apply these Proverbs to your own marriage (and other relationships as well) I believe you’ll debunk the bad advice myths and also see some instant improvements in your relationships.
Here are 8 of the most common pieces of BAD relationship advice (MYTHS) plus the Bible’s TRUTH in these same areas (in no particular order)…
MYTH #1: Never apologize because admitting fault shows weakness.
TRUTH: “Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.” Proverbs 14:9
Someone once said, “Being in love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Whoever believes that is divorced! The truth is, when we’ve blown it, we need to own it. We need to take responsibility and humbly seek forgiveness. Swallow your pride. Pride destroys relationships. Humility heals relationships.
#2 might change the tone of your words....
MYTH #2: Whoever shouts loudest wins the argument.
TRUTH: “A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” Proverbs 12:16
TRUTH: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Proverbs 18:13
TRUTH: “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2
The tone of your words will shape the tone of your relationships. Don’t be a bully. Be a listener. Especially in marriage, remember than disagreements won’t have a “winner” and a “loser.” You’re on the same team so you’ll either win together or lose together. Work together with mutual respect and thoughtfulness to find a solution that works for you both.
#3 might really surprise you because it sounds like great advice (but it’s not)...
MYTH #3: If you love someone, you should always support their decisions.
TRUTH: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend who corrects out of love and concern,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful because they serve a hidden agenda.” Proverbs 27:6
A true friend will tell you a difficult truth. Someone who has an agenda will tell you what you want to hear. I’ll never forget the story of my Aunt Jan decided to leave her husband after a year of marriage. She showed up on her mom’s doorstep with her suitcase and told her mom she was getting a divorce because she had married the wrong person and didn’t want to be with him anymore. Her mom lovingly told her to go home to her husband and that she wasn’t welcome in her home until she went home and worked on her marriage. Aunt Jan was shocked, but it was the wakeup call she needed. She went home to my Uncle John and they remained married and in love for fifty years until his death a couple years ago. Sometimes, real love requires us to speak difficult truth instead of just supporting someone’s bad choices.
#4 reveals why “telling it like it is” isn’t always the best approach...
MYTH #4: Always be a “straight shooter” and tell it like it is.
TRUTH: “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
TRUTH: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1
You might be a “straight shooter” but that still means you’re SHOOTING somebody! Don’t injure people with your words. Speak the truth WITH LOVE as we’re reminded to do in the Bible. Let kindness and compassion set the tone of your words. Don’t use the truth (or your version of it) as a weapon to manipulate others. Be gentle and respectful in your tone. It will make a big difference in your relationships.
#5 might cause you to do some serious self-evaluation…
MYTH #5: Keep doing what you’ve always done, because that’s being true to who you are.
TRUTH: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11
I love the vivid description of this verse. There’s nothing more disgusting than watching a dog puke and then like up the vomit. This verse is saying we’re doing the same thing when we return to our old unhealthy ways of doing things. Just because you’ve always done things or said things a certain way that doesn’t mean it’s “who you are.” It might just be a habit you need to break. Have the courage to do some honest self-evaluation.
#6 reveals the truth about “little white lies.”
MYTH #6: Sometimes lying is necessary in a relationship.
TRUTH: “There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.” Proverbs 6:16-19
Did you catch that in the list of things God literally hates, He lists lying TWICE! There’s no place for dishonesty in any form in relationships. Especially in a marriage, there must be total and complete transparency. Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy. Lies destroy trust and trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. Unless you’re throwing a surprise birthday party, there is no place for secrets or lies in your relationship.
#7 shows one of the biggest relationship killers…
MYTH #7: My way is always the right way.
TRUTH: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” Proverbs 25:18
TRUTH: “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Proverbs 29:23
I once heard a preacher say that the Frank Sinatra song “I did it My Way” is probably the theme song in hell. It was a joke but there is some important truth to it. Pride is the believe that “my way is always the right way.” It closes us off to listening and it’s toxic to relationships. God’s way always works out better than “my way.”
#8 is the most important one of all.
MYTH #8: If my feelings change or things get hard, it means I must have married the wrong person and I should get a divorce to pursue my own happiness.
TRUTH: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Commit to following God’s plans instead of your own fickle feelings. If every couple quit when things got difficult or feelings changed, then 100% of couples would be divorced! The couples who make it aren’t the ones who never had a reason to give up. They’re the ones who decide that their commitment to each other is always going to be more important than their differences or flaws. Don’t give up on each other. A “perfect marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other! In the end, persevering through the difficult times creates more love, peace and happiness than quitting and searching for happiness with someone else.