There’s a lot of bad advice out there. Sometimes it’s only bad because it’s too simplistic, like “Good communication is the most important for making love last”. Sure, good communication is important, but what exactly is “good” communication? And what about things like compatible personalities, sexual and/or romantic chemistry, and shared values?
I recently came across a piece of bad advice while reading an article about marriage. A therapist said they tell their engaged clients to ask their friends what they think of the person they are planning to marry and be sure to “listen to what they have to say”. Presumably, the therapist sees value in getting an outsider’s perspective of the person you’re about to swap bodily fluids with for the rest of your life.
What problem could I possibly have with that, right? Seems reasonable, doesn’t it?
No, no, no. For starters, you have to consider how old your friends are and how much life experience and dating experience they have. If your friends are much younger than you and inexperienced, do their opinions have as much weight?
Second, the therapist has forgotten that sometimes friends have underlying resentments or issues and aren’t exactly unbiased in their opinions. What if your bestie is actually jealous of you and your relationship? Should you listen to the opinions of someone who might not have your best interests at heart?
Third, your friends aren’t marrying your mate, you are. There might be things about your mate that they dislike but you find endearing or tolerable. Unless you’re in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship, their opinions shouldn’t matter.
Fourth, some people have a tendency to only talk about their mates with their friends after they’ve had a massive fight (if you do this I would suggest you’re not mature enough for marriage yet), therefore cementing a negative opinion in their friend’s minds of what could actually be a healthy relationship. It’s normal to fight sometimes, but if that’s all your friends hear about they might believe you two are wrong for each other. Of course, this all depends on context, but only the two people in the relationship actually have all the information in which to base all their decision-making.
Which leads me to the final reason it’s bad advice to suggest one go to their friends before deciding to marry someone: I believe it’s the therapist’s job to guide someone and equip them with all the tools necessary to *know how to make wise relationship decisions on their own*. Key aspects of maturity are knowing how to be emotionally intelligent, develop and use critical-thinking skills, knowing how to step outside of yourself to see things from another perspective, and knowing how to filter out all the noise (AKA everyone else’s opinions about your life).