Your grandparents can be very right about some things, but that doesn’t mean they are right about everything! In this article, you’ll learn how to sort out the good advice from the bad.
Many people go to their grandparents for advice, and there’s a good reason for that. After all, with age people become wiser and wiser, and your older relatives only want what’s best for you.
However, not every piece of advice you get from them is golden. Sometimes their advice doesn’t keep up with times, while other times is simply bad advice. But how can you tell the difference? With the help of some experts, we can now discuss the most common grandparent-given advice about life, money, and relationships, and find out which tips we should follow and which we should ignore.
Advice to keep: Laugh…and then laugh some more
Laughter is the best medicine for stress and pain. Sometimes all you need is a burst of sincere laughter because it can quickly improve your mood, as well as increase intimacy, happiness, and understanding, helping you bond with others.
Professor Jeffrey Hall from the University of Kansas gives data-backed validity to something else that your grandparents probably mentioned: Couples who laugh together, stay together. “In my opinion, the purpose of life is having fun,” says Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach at EZ Dating Coach. “If you can find time to do that with your partner, you’re headed in the right direction.”
Laughter should be incorporated whenever it is possible in everyone’s life because it is important to see the humor even in difficult situations. It can make the difference between a good day and a bad day for you and for your loved ones.
Advice to keep: Don’t burn bridges
It’s always important to try to maintain a good relationship even with the people from your past. If a good relationship is not possible, try at least to maintain a civil one, whether you like them or not. You never know when you’ll meet them again, socially or professionally. Moreover, holding grudges is not in your advantage.
“In our hyper-connected world, our degree of separation has been reduced to about 1.5 degrees,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a clinical and consulting psychotherapist and the author of Fragile Power: Why Having Everything Is Never Enough. “Regardless of the degrees of separation, maintaining dignity in our relationships is important because it’s the right thing to do. In the long run, it just feels better. Cultivating compassion for and understanding other people, especially those we get cross with, makes for a happier and healthier life.”
Advice to keep: Don’t marry for money
Whether your grandparents had a happy marriage or not, they probably know more about love and money than you do. They’ve probably gone to different situations throughout their lives, and they’ve seen what can happen when financial situations change and when relationships get tense for any number of reasons.
Money doesn’t always last, and it certainly is enough for you in trying times. But if you truly love the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, you’ll be way happier and internally rich, which is the right kind of wealthy.
“We’ve been acculturated to believe that money buys happiness, but it doesn’t,” says Hokemeyer. “What it buys is obligations, duties, and heavy responsibilities. These are the opposite of what we need to be fulfilled and happy in our romantic relationships. In our love lives, we need to be free to be our authentic selves and vulnerable in our fundamental truths.”
Advice to keep: Save money for rainy days
All grandparents seem to preach this motto. Still, many Americans still do not listen to it and don’t prepare for a potential financial downturn. A study by Bankrate found that more than a quarter of consumers don’t have an emergency cash reserve. And while one in four does have some money set aside for difficult times, that money wouldn’t even cover three months of living expenses.
It may seem impossible to save some money, but you really do need to come up with a plan. After all, you never know when something bad will happen, your roof will leak, your car will break down, or your company will downsize.
“Though life is unpredictable, you can predict that there will be times that something unexpected will happen,” says Marni Amsellem, PhD, a licensed psychologist who practices in Connecticut and New York. “Having access to a safety net or a backup plan, or having a support network in place that can rise up should you need them, is some great advice. While we can certainly live in the moment, anticipating needs in some form will be time and energy well-spent.”
Advice to keep: Make sure your partner feels needed
“No one wants to feel disposable in your presence as if you’d be no better or worse off without them,” says Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orange. “We enjoy feeling necessary, useful, and needed. And that is rooted in basic human behavior. We want to feel significant and that we have a purpose beyond ourselves.”
One study even found that having a sense of purpose actually helped people live better and longer. “Giving your partner the opportunity to help you is healthy for them and it increases your bond,” Spencer explains. “Even if you don’t ‘need’ your partner’s help, you’d surely like it now and then.”
To do this, choose an area where you see that your partner feels trained or capable. For example, ask a strong person to help carry something heavy, or ask someone who is good with emotional insight on how to approach a problem with a friend. “Lean on them so they feel necessary in your presence,” Spencer says.
Advice to forget: The woman is always right
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to admit, “I was wrong.” But in a healthy relationship, it needs to be done from time to time. And even better advice would be: Instead of figuring out who is right and who is wrong, figure out how to make things work. “When fighting about small things with your significant other, try to let them go,” says Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. “Of course, the issues that mean the most and are important to you can be argued over, but in a mature way.”
“Candidates in a debate don’t raise their voices and spew out unrehearsed words,” says Winston. “The ones who are the most effective have a well-thought-out viewpoint.” Focus on what’s really causing the conflict, and don’t bring up other issues unrelated to your problem; otherwise, hurt and resentment can lead to a desire for separation.
Advice to forget: Don’t have screaming fights or you’ll end up divorced
“Volatiles” have been flagged by relationship experts and married couple John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute, as one of three types of “happy-stable” relationships. The average happy couple has at least a five-to-one positive-to-negative ratio during the conflict. It’s normal to fight from time to time. However, it’s more important to have five times more positive interactions than negative ones—which John Gottman has found to be the marker of a healthy relationship.
Additionally, happy volatile couples can still have intense fights, but they learn to balance arguments with kindness and understanding.
Advice to forget: Your partner isn’t a mind reader
Open communication is vital for every happy relationship and our grandparents are definitely right about that. Happy and successful couples tend to understand each other’s feelings and needs without having to be told all the time. One of John Gottman’s studies found a link between satisfying marriages and a husband’s ability to interpret his wife’s nonverbal cues.
“The best relationships are those that involve two emotionally present partners,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of 8 Tips to Understand the Opposite Sex. “When a partner is emotionally present, he’ll be able to sense nonverbal cues about the wants and needs of the person with whom he’s living. He’ll feel the emotional pulse of his partner and then ask how he can help, support, or offer advice.” Moral of the story: Pay close attention to your partner, because there are plenty of things that you should be picking up on.
Advice to forget: Opposites attract
The idea that one partner’s strengths compensate for the other’s weaknesses or vice versa sounds good at first, but it is definitely not true. “Two people with totally different interests and desires will find that opposites dis-tract,” says Carle. “When two people are at opposite ends of an issue, they may end up arguing to convince their partner to change to their side. This could have been avoided if they chose a partner who was more aligned with their own belief systems.”
Advice to forget: Talk things out until you agree with each other
We hate to break the news to you, but sometimes that’s just not going to happen. It’s natural to have disagreements every now and then. The good news is that this doesn’t mean your relationship is ruined. Sixty-nine percent of marriage problems are managed rather than solved, according to John Gottman’s research. The key is to avoid conflict, but you can still have different opinions.
“It would be nearly impossible to agree with your partner on every topic,” says Saladino. “The key is remaining respectful in your conversations and limiting resentment for things that aren’t discussed. Doing the hard work of finding a compromise on tough topics keeps you on the same page and your relationship healthy.”