When a couple's marriage is on the rocks, they typically seek advice from friends, family and marriage counselors. After all, what better way to save a failing union than to call on the experts?
According to relationship expert Mort Fertel, that's precisely the wrong thing to do.
“Much of the advice people get about their marriage problems is wrong. It sounds good. It makes sense. The problem is, it usually doesn’t work,” Fertel said in an e-mail to Huffington Post Divorce. “Reconciling a broken marriage is tricky. The process is not intuitive. You really have to be careful that the advice you’re following has proved to achieve the outcome you’re looking for.”
Among the worst advice? Telling your husband or wife how you really feel.
"Sometimes expressing your feelings can be very hurtful to the other person," he says. "[People ask,] 'But shouldn’t I be honest about my feelings?' If honestly expressing your feelings is hurtful to the other person, it’s not honest; it’s stupid, it’s insensitive, and it’s damaging to the relationship."
What's more, Fertel says that traditional approaches to mending a broken marriage -- like marriage counseling -- are ineffective because of their emphasis on listening, rather than doing. He cites a couple that attended counseling sessions for weeks, and who came out of the experience with a better understanding of each spouse's point of view -- but no actionable steps to fix their marriage.
"Listening is an important skill, both for a counselor and a spouse. But a broken marriage needs leadership. After listening, someone has to have the courage and experience to say, “Ok, here’s what I want you to do,” Fertel says. "Marriages change not because of what people say or how well they listen; marriages change because of what people do."
What he suggests instead are six unconventional steps that run counter to traditional relationship advice. Check out his tips below, then let us know what you think of his advice in the comments!