Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | November 13, 2009

Good Advice

I have been very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by people who are smarter than I. (Possibly including my wife, btw, although we both obviously made an error in choosing a spouse.) Over the years, I’ve received (and even given) some excellent advice.

It’s probably a universal truth that we all find it easier to diagnose (and prescribe for) our friends’ issues than it is to deal with our own. You can imagine, then, how pleasantly surprising it is when someone takes your advice, and how surprised *I* am when that happens… and the advice turns out to be correct.

For example, there was the time a female friend of mine was dating this fellow who seemed nice enough, but it turns out he was always getting on her about losing weight. She was in decent shape as it was, although she felt like she could afford to lose a few pounds. My advice to her? Do what she was planning to do to lose that weight she wanted to lose, and then dump her jerk of a boyfriend, anyway.

Years later, she reminded me of this incident and told me she had, indeed, worked out, lost that weight, then dumped his ass. She ended up finding someone much better for her, and they are now happily married. Yay, them!

There’ve been a couple other cases where I offered advice and, much to my surprise, it was followed… and the desired results ensued: happy marriages, successful businesses. The business advice became something of a career path for me. But dealing with relationships… well, again, it’s always easier to help someone else out with their situation than to address your own.

One friend of mine in particular was a font of brilliant, brilliant gems. Here was a woman who was much, much smarter than I’ve ever been. One time, she told me that there are five times a year that a man must buy flowers for his paramour.

“Five times a year?” I asked.

“Yes, five,” she said. “Birthday, Anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and two surprises.”

Good advice. Now, truth be told, I suspect she may have been telling me this (mayyyybe, possibly) because she wanted me to know how *she* liked to be treated. She once asked me (soon after we’d met) if I believed in love at first sight. I said I did not, and changed the subject, but it occurred to me later… why was she asking me *that*? Was she thinking…?

Nah. Couldn’t be that.

But there was one piece of advice that this friend of mine had offered that has since come back to haunt me. Well, two pieces, actually.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Penny and I had been long-distance dating and then had quite a break up after we’d finally settled in the same town. During our break-up, I was completely devastated. This friend of mine was a real trooper during that mess, and helped me to keep my sanity from completely derailing. Some other friends of hers, who were engaged at the time, were having issues, and started seeing a couples counselor.

“You know, if you need to start seeing a couples counselor before you even get married, your marriage is doomed. Don’t even bother.”

And yes, Penny and I ended up seeing a couples counselor briefly during this break-up period. My friend didn’t know that.

She also had this thought, offered during that break-up period: “If you’re having problems with your sex life, there are bigger problems in your relationship.”

So, when Penny and I got back together, but our sex life did not return, the alarm bells were ringing in my head. But I didn’t care. I wanted her back. And I got her back. Right? I mean, she even suggested we live together, and she moved in and all. I was just happy to have won her back. That was my focus.

My friend had given me good advice. But when your emotions overrule your brain, all the good advice in the world won’t save you.



  1. Last year, after I asked for a separation, A decided he was going to find us a counselor that could help me regain my trust of him. One of them said that although people COULD change, they rarely ever did. And that it took a LOT of hard work to make those changes. I took that to heart and it is one of the big reasons why I didn’t relent in my desire for a separation. The other counselor hit the nail on the head in other ways, stating, after 20 minutes, that A was a narcisist, compulsive liar and addict. Man did she nail him on the head.

  2. An ex-boyfriend once said to me, “in a relationship, sex and communication are the same thing: when one goes, so does the other”.

  3. You got back together, but your sex life didn’t improve? And you think that you got Penny back?

    The wise person hears the advice being offered by friends so as to evaluate it objectively. Your case demonstrates that emotions are not to be trusted, for they cause a person to lie to themselves when the facts don’t match the desire. Only an objective examination of the advice offered against the relationship being questioned can produce the truth – and it sometimes hurts.

  4. Just catching up on your blog now – your are an extremely articulate and introspective guy. My heart goes out to you.

    But on this post – I’m not sure I agree about the counselor. I know couples who see a counselor while they’re dating/engaged not because “things are derailing” so early, but because they are looking to be proactive in building the basis of their relationship early on.. getting the issues out of the way while they are budding and before they become deal-breakers (e.g. stay hidden under the surface for years and drive you apart). Clearly I am in this situation myself so pardon me if I sound defensive 😉 but I’ve found it to be completely invaluable. My boyfriend and I bicker sometimes like any other couple, but are working hard to dig up what is lurking beneath those arguments to nip it all in the bud before we even get around to making a commitment. I figure this way we’ll have the best armour possible going into a marriage, instead of just leaving it.

    Just my two cents!

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