“I do not like giving advice: it is incurring an unnecessary responsibility.” Benjamin Disraeli
People literally reach out to me from all over the world seeking advice on their struggling marriages. They find me through Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, YouTube, my web site, and through email asking if I can tell them what they should do. They’re in so much pain and they don’t feel like they have anywhere to turn to get answers.
Should she stay with their husband and continue to try, even though everything she’s tried already has not worked to create real change?
Should she leave the marriage? But if she does, how will she overcome all her fears that have kept her paralyzed for so long?
As much as it saddens me, I cannot give them the answer they’re seeking.
First and foremost, in my opinion, it would be completely irresponsible for me to do so. I don’t know them, I don’t know really where the struggle lies. I know a few sentences about their situation, and that’s never the full story. They’re asking a perfect stranger what or not to remain in their marriage, which tells you the depth of their struggle to get answers. These are deep and very personal questions that have broad-sweeping implications for their lives and the lives of those they love; a decisions like that needs to be given the focus it deserves.
Secondly, giving advice very simply does not work. Let’s say, I tell you: “You should stay in your marriage. It will be fine.” Do you think that’s helpful? Or alternatively, I tell you, “Absolutely, you should leave your marriage.” Is that going to give you what you need to be able to take those frightening next steps? The answer is no. When people are struggling with this decision, they’ve likely sought advice from family, friends, counselors, etc. and each of them probably had their very best advice for what to do and yet, this person is still stuck. That’s because having someone else tell us what to do, while possibly well-intentioned, does not help bring real clarity.
The answers people are seeking cannot be discovered through a few simple sentences in Facebook Messenger or through an email. They just can’t. It’s not that easy. If it could be solved in a few sentences, believe me, I would have that packaged up and you could download it from Amazon for $500 each. I would be a millionaire and everyone would have their answer for their struggling marriage.
And finally, the answer these people are truly seeking isn’t MY answer for THEIR lives. What they need is THEIR answer for their hearts, their marriages and their lives. That’s the only answer that will ever bring them the peace of mind needed to move through the steps to either re-connect in a meaningful way or lovingly release the relationship.
So, I don’t dole out advice like a relationship version of Dear Abby. Every situation is different and every person is unique. I consider the work I do to help guide people to that answer for themselves an absolute privilege. It’s deeply personal. It’s important. It’s sometimes difficult. When I get off my coaching calls, I always say “thank you” for the way I get to serve in this world. I’m so grateful. And therefore, I treat the work I do with the souls I serve with the respect and dignity it deserves.