The most popular BAD marriage advice

The most popular BAD marriage advice June 8, 2015


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” (which you can read by clicking here), 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.

For daily marriage-building tips and tools, a library of marriage ebooks and some stellar communication tools to help you and your spouse stay connected, download our new Marriage App on iTunes by clicking here. (A Facebook login is required to access the app).

marriage app

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! For more on this, you can read my post on 7 ways parents harm their children without even realizing it.

For more tools to build a rock-solid marriage, check out our new Marriage App for iPhones and iPads by clicking here and also download a FREE chapter from my new book “The 7 Laws of Love” by clicking here.

7 laws of love book quote marriage honest Dave Willis

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  • Joey Kirby

    I love how you put divorce off on all the women with children…. I guess men are completely innocent? In fact that was a very sexist comment.

  • Joey Kirby

    And #2 makes a lot more sense if you look at the big picture. For example, adultery makes some people happy. So instead of following that desire to please yourself with another person, even if your marriage is on the rocks, turn to God.

  • Joey Kirby

    Yes, I will respond. “the most common transgression I see amongst married peope is the wife’s preoccupation with children. She excludes her husband from her life, their sex life comes to a halt and the seeds of divorce starts. Since this seems to be innate in females, the only advice I have for men is to not have children”.

    This seems to be pointing at women and only women. So excuse me for pointing out that you seem to blame women for divorce. I don’t know why women who cheat get custody of their kids. But I do believe, however, that most women are closer with their children than men and that’s why they get custody. But I’ll give you an example of my situation so you may see why I see another side to this. I’ve been married and had a child and my husband cheated on me several times. And you might be thinking that it was because I ignored him sexually and in other ways, butt hat’s not the case. In fact, I was the one who was more sexual and gave affection, etc, but got turned down…a lot. In the end, he left me for another woman. While we lived in one state, he moved back to his home state and left me and our 3 year old behind. For several years after that I let him pay me what he could. And it was like 20 or 30 bucks every now and then. And just to cover child support real quick, because it’s misunderstood by so many, child support is just that; support. If the man and female were in the same home, they’d both be paying out equally the cost it takes to take care of a child. Sometimes the man is the bread maker while the woman takes care of the home and kids. But when there is an absent parent, the income needs to still be there to take care of that child. That includes paying bills, buying clothes, and groceries, etc. Now I finally got a divorce 2 years ago and my daughter is now 12. He has to pay me $350 a month to finally help me take care of a child he left behind. However, if I had decided to just leave him, it should be the same way. It’s no more money out of his pocket, because when he was with me, he was still having to pay out money to take care of her.

    So I’m sure you have your own experiences and your own story, but that’s mine and that’s how I see it. It seems like maybe you’re a “good dad” like your title says, and maybe you got a sour end of the deal. But everyone has their own experiences, but just blaming women is wrong. If a woman is having children just to later get child support, that’s not just wrong, it’s crazy. I would think that maybe the marriage is just falling apart, but I don’t know. I don’t know anyone like that.

  • Joey Kirby

    So you’re saying that everyone who doesn’t turn to God is happy? Misery and happiness rains on everyone. Meaning every kind of person no matter their beliefs or anything else. So if you’re happy, it’s not because you’re a non Christian. But the point I was trying to make is, people who just seek happiness, can turn to anything, even outside the marriage. Feelings are often temporary. And people who seek that kind of happiness often fail in their marriages too. Like you said, people get bored; men and women. So instead of staying true to their vows, they seek things that they think will make them happy. They give up on their marriage. Or, they cheat, start drinking, or whatever the case may be. I see a lot more people get divorced that are not Christians than who are, but if you’re happy, that’s wonderful… And besides, not everyone who claims Christianity is actually a Christian. I certainly was not when I was married.

  • Joey Kirby

    And also, I’m the one that ended up filing for divorce and paying for the lawyer and everything. Because he wouldn’t even though he was living with someone with 2 other children. So if statistics is what you’re going by when it comes to who files for divorce more, or you’re opinion on who’s wrong or who’s right, you might want to reconsider going by what’s on paper.

  • Joey Kirby

    Exactly what I said in the beginning. Everything you say is entirely against women. There’s no open-mindedness to the women’s perspective what-so-ever and you’ve completely ignored all of my facts. And I knew that’d you’d bring up how women spend their child support on clothes, etc, but when all of their money is going to bills, for example, the child support can be used for whatever she wants in replace of her own money. As far as not buying the child shoes? That’s just wrong. But I also know men who do the same thing. See what I’m saying? I know a lot of people too and they’re opposite of what you’re saying. But since you’re continuing to be sexist and the conversation seems to be one-sided by you, I’m going to call it a day. Have a great one.

  • Joey Kirby

    Well since yahoo notifies me of my messages and I haven’t turned them off I guess I’ll reply one more time. It’s typical to think that because I try to end a discussion that’s it’s because you’ve “won”.
    I am speaking from personal experience, not from anything I’ve read or what friends have told me, although a lot of people I know are in my shoes so to speak. I know for a fact my ex husband tells his friends and family the exact same things you’re telling me about your friends and their situations. He left, for no reason other than he needs that something “strange” all the time, even to this day, and as far as 50/50? Ha! After several years of never asking me for joint custody, when divorce time came up and I told him I was going for child support, then that’s when he said he wanted her part time. Because he didn’t want to pay, not because he wanted her! And he gets her every other weekend, but he’s allowed to get her during the week and doesn’t. I also tell him he can get her basically whenever he wants, especially during the summer. He chooses not to, and doesn’t even get her on all of his weekends. It’s really sad. But to other people, like SOME of his family and friends, it seems like I’m the one who’s being dirty here. And no, I don’t think that women should get custody solely because they’re female. I meant that most of the time the moms are closer to their children. A lot of dads won’t even change a diaper because that’s the mom’s “job”. I’ve known a lot of men that wouldn’t take responsibility for their kids, but when they’re old enough, they’ll take the kids out to do stuff and be known as father of the year. For example, though I was speaking of men and women who are together, while I try my best to take care of my daughter and teach her right from wrong, and make her study, etc, her daddy gets to come along and do all the fun stuff with her when he will, so she sees being with her dad as fun while mom is the bad guy because I make her do her homework and stuff. My daughter adores me, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it just feels that way. I really wish you and a lot of people with your mentality could get that through your heads. So many people think the way you do and it’s disturbing knowing what I’ve been through and a lot of other people have too.. I didn’t mean to insult you. It was more of an observation on how you view women and how I feel about that more than an attack.

  • Joey Kirby

    I’m sorry, not part time, but joint. Or full.

  • Joey Kirby

    And all of his family talks about what a good dad he is. Because I guess on the surface that’s how it seems. I’m sure he’s told them that I won’t let him have her more than that. I know him that well. Don’t ever judge something from the outside. There’s a lot more to it than what you’ve mentioned and they’re not facts at all. Well, I guess they are since it’s on paper, but just because women are filing doesn’t mean it’s the woman’s fault. I’m not saying that all women are innocent either, or that there aren’t good fathers out there. I’m just trying to get you to see a different side to it. I know women who’ve cheated and I’ve known good dads. But in my experience, and people I’ve known, a lot of women have been where I am. Oh and my ex husband’s fiance at the time of divorce was mad at me too because she didn’t think I should get child support. I guess he fed her some lies too. But, just like I knew would happen, he cheated on her too, left, and now she’s where I am. And yes, she gets child support for TWO kids. And that man that had to pay out 4 grand? It’s because he had that much money. The more money you make, the better off the child is too. If my ex made a lot more, my daughter would better be taken care of. I take care of her, but we live very poorly. Rich with lots of love though.