How to Give Your Spouse Advice Without Ruining Your Happy Marriage
Giving your spouse advice is just part of being married. It comes so naturally that you probably don’t notice that you are doing it.
However, if you want a happy marriage, constantly giving your spouse unsolicited advice may not be the best idea. Unsolicited advice lowers marital satisfaction for both the giver and receiver. This is according to several studies conducted by the University of Iowa and published in the Journal of Family Psychology” in 2009.
Your spouse probably doesn’t want your advice!
Just because your spouse chooses to discuss something with you, doesn’t mean they want your advice. In fact, they probably want you to:
- Listen without judgment
- Help them sort out their thoughts
- Show compassion
- Agree with them!
However, this doesn’t mean that you should never give your spouse advice. It just means that you have to do it tactfully.
How to give your spouse advice
When your spouse is distressed and needs someone to talk to, your primary duty is to listen. Giving your spouse an opportunity to get something off their chest is more important than any advice you could ever give them.
Asking questions not only helps you to understand the situation better but also helps your spouse to see things more clearly. It’s best to ask open-ended questions rather than yes-no questions.
You can do this through kind words, holding your spouse’s hand or a hug. For instance, you can say “that’s sounds frustrating.” Compassion helps your spouse to feel understood and less alienated.
Listen to your spouse’s ideas
Listen to your spouse’s ideas for potential solutions before offering your own. You can encourage your spouse to share possible solutions by asking questions such as “what do you think is the best way to handle this situation?” or “what solutions have you tried so far?” Refrain from criticizing their ideas.
Once you have gone through all of your spouse’s ideas, you can offer some suggestions of your own. However, keep the suggestions as hypothetical as possible. Instead of saying “you should . . .” say “I wonder if . . . would work.” Your spouse is more likely to try out your ideas if you don’t sound like you are telling them what to do.
Giving advice to a spouse is tricky because no one likes to be told what to do. The trick to doing it without causing marital problems or ruining a perfectly happy marriage is to listen, show compassion and then offer suggestions.