This old-school advice is b.s ... here's why:
We've all heard them ... over ... and over. Those so-called "pearls of wisdom" parents, well-meaning friends, and stacks of advice books drill into our heads about how to keep our relationships strong and happy.
Well, don't be so quick to believe that popular advice! A slew of studies now reveal that many old-school relationship "rules" just don't cut it nowadays. In fact, following some of that advice may even sabotage your relationship!
Yep, sometimes being bad is good (and needed). So, go ahead and be a renegade. Flaunt your rebellious side, break some rules, and ditch these six "couple commandments:"
1. Never go to bed angry
This is probably the oldest one in the book, dating all the way back to the Old Testament, which advises, "not letting the sun go down on your anger." But following this rule could mean a lot of late nights spent rehashing the same argument and getting nowhere. Plus, nothing escalates an argument more than sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion — which studies show not only turns your brain to mush but robs you of self-control and the ability to making smart judgments.
A better idea? Push the pause button on your disagreement, get some z's and agree to revisit the issue when you're both rested. The good news is, research reveals that your brain can actually solve problems for you while you sleep by enhancing your decision-making abilities. So, plan to wake up with a better understanding of your situation and a clearer picture of how to resolve it — plus, be in the mood (and better rested) for make-up sex!
2. Never sleep in separate beds
Speaking of shut-eye, while cuddling and spooning is nice, if you find yourself tossing and turning most nights due to your partner's annoying sleeping habits, this is bad for your health ... and your relationship. One British study found that couples suffer up to 50% more disturbances when sleeping next to someone than when sleeping alone. And poor sleep, researchers say, is now linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic accidents — and divorce!
This probably explains why a whopping 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep apart at night. (Yes, really.) Remember, there's no reason why you can't still enjoy morning and nighttime rituals that involve cuddling and getting busy while camping out in the guest room.
3. You must do everything together
Many couples believe that if their partner enjoys something, they should make an effort to get on board, too. Nice gesture, unless you end up gritting your teeth while participating in activities he likes but that seriously don't float your boat. In the long run, this can lead to unnecessary boredom, stress and conflict.
You definitely DO need to find and cultivate mutual interests to stay close and connected, but researchers at Columbia University found that couples who are constantly joined at the hip are actually less likely to have a long-lasting relationship than those who put some distance between them.
So, if he wants to go fishing or hit the links, and you'd rather see a chick flick or get a mani/pedi with your gal pals, do your own thing. Then plan to meet up for dinner to share details of your separate adventures.
4. Be 100% honest in your relationship
Whenever I ask couples whom I coach what qualities they value most in a partner, most will list "honesty" among those traits. I agree that you always want to share hopes and dreams, and I caution against fibbing about finances. But you don't need to share intimate details of past relationships.
That just conjures up comparisons and can breed feelings of jealousy, insecurity and inadequacy. Also, brutal honesty often does more damage than good. So, always consider your partner's feelings before blurting out something you (both) might later regret.
5. Avoid fighting at all costs
It's a no-brainer that if you fight constantly and never resolve basic issues, your relationship is probably in trouble. But, not fighting is even more dangerous, because it likely means that one or both of you has given up on the hope of saving your relationship and doesn't care enough to work through issues.
So, when something's bugging you, go ahead and duke it out (metaphorically, of course). According to one survey, 44 percent of couples claimed that squabbling once a week was the secret to a strong, happy union — so long as the bickering wasn't abusive. Arguing, they insisted, "helps keep the lines of communication open."
6. Your kids should always come first
When kids enter the picture, many moms and dads puts their relationships on the back burner in the name of being good parents. Big mistake. Research reveals that not only will your marriage suffer, but so will your offspring.
According to The Date Night Opportunity, a report released by the National Marriage Project, parents who gave up date nights and quality couple time to focus on their kids were twice as likely to report a decline in satisfaction in their marriages.
Adds Philip Cowan, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, "Our studies show that how a couple's relationship is going has an impact on how the kids are doing." In other words, when mom and dad are happy, their youngsters not only feel safe and secure, they also learn, first-hand, how a loving partnership should be.
So there you have it. Popular advice does not always make for good advice. So break some rules and watch your relationship satisfaction rise!
For more relationship tips, visit Todd's Experts page to order a copy of his bestselling book, Conversation is Sexy.