There’s an endless amount of advice for couples heading down the aisle to help them find wedded bliss. However, sometimes it feels like we’ve heard it all before (“Make sure to communicate!” “Don’t nag!” “Keep the spark alive!"). With that in mind, we asked some wise relationship experts for their most unexpected marital wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:
“Practice saying difficult things in three sentences or less, making your point only once in a particular conversation. When we can’t get through to our partner, we automatically lengthen our argument and build our case. This won’t help -- and usually hurts. And we may not recognize that the sheer number of sentences may be the culprit.
"It can be incredibly difficult to say only, ‘Please remember not to put that knife in the dishwasher,’ or, ‘I feel uncomfortable about how much you drank at the party,’ and leave it at that. If you go on too long, you’ll actually protect your partner, who may shut down and vacate the emotional premises, rather than consider your legitimate criticism and good advice.”
Remember that you can always get divorced.
E. Jean Carroll, advice columnist for ELLE magazine.
"I always give one piece of advice to couples who are about to be married, another piece of advice to couples who are married, and a third piece of advice to couples who are breaking up. 1) To couples about to be married: 'Don't worry. You can always get divorced.' This seems to lift their spirits because it removes the pressure; 2) To couples who are married: 'Just do what works, and don't do what doesn't work.' It never fails to clear the fog; 3) To couples who are getting divorced: 'Next time remember: The only reason to get married is to have fun.' This gives them a happy goal!"
“I shock couples when I tell them it’s better to go to bed angry than force a make-up before bedtime. When tensions arise in a relationship, her hormones encourage her to talk more, but his hormones are designed for fight or flight -- not a good combination when both of them are already tired. It’s better to let things cool off and tell your partner you want to talk about it later, even if that means in the morning.”
Spend more time apart.
Iris Krasnow, author of "The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married."
“The best marriage advice I now give, after receiving this advice from dozens of wives who have been married for up to 70 years while researching my book, is this: The happiest marriages are made up of two people who are engaged in separate passions, separate pursuits and who are wholly engaged in something beyond their partnership. (They also extol the benefits of separate vacations, even separate summers!) In fact, the most content wives I interviewed don't spend that much time with their spouses. They know that happily-ever-after must spring from within, and that counting on someone else to make you happy is a ticket to divorce."
“Make an effort to do something small, on a regular basis, that you know your partner will appreciate. It's the little things that you and your partner do (or don't do) that will affect your relationship. Don't think in terms of all or nothing, or you're bound to end up with nothing. Even if you only have an hour for date night, it's better than avoiding a date altogether.”
Don’t divide chores and responsibilities equally.
Laurie Gerber, president of Handel Group Life Coaching.
“How chores and responsibilities are divided in a couple should not be based on equality, but rather on who cares more about the thing and who's better at it. This is why even though I wish my husband would dress my children in cute outfits and pigtails when he takes them somewhere, that’s actually my job.
"Couples often skip determining clearly who is responsible for what. Doing so however, provides two things: 1) You become more responsible for your areas, no playing victim if he doesn't naturally pitch in, and 2) You butt out where you are being controlling but not ultimately accountable. Most fights in marriages are based on disagreements of misunderstandings about who should be in charge of what. It's never too late to duke it out and write it down so everyone is clear. I call this ‘establishing bodegas,’ and I teach it to all of my clients who are fighting with their partners.”
Always be open to having sex.
Dr. Laura Berman, sexual health expert, best-selling author and host of “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman.”
“It often surprises people to hear this advice, because they think it's odd to have sex when you aren't in the mood. However, I don't mean that you should grit your teeth and have sex when you don't want to. No one should ever do that! People often have a regimented idea of when they want sex to happen, especially in a long-term relationship. They expect to have sex on date night, and not a Tuesday night, so they shoot the idea down before it can even get started. Women are especially guilty of this -- we don't want to have sex unless our legs are shaved or the chores are done or the kids are fast asleep. But a midweek quickie could be just what you need to stay connected with your partner and in tune with your sexuality (not to mention, it's just plain fun)."
HuffPost Weddings asked its Twitter followers for their unusual marriage advice -- click through the slideshow below to see readers' responses.
Diana Lee Miller