When someone is explaining a problem to you, the obvious response is to offer some advice on how to fix it. In the case of couples, the Wall Street Journal suggests you avoid giving that advice to your partner if you want to keep that relationship strong.
When you get to know someone really well, you also start to think you know what’s best for them. Subsequently, you start offering advice when your partner don’t really want it. According to the article, you have a few better options:
One way to give better advice is to first make sure your spouse actually wants your help. You can do this by asking — a novel idea! — “Would you like some ideas on that?”
Consider what Dr. Lawrence, of the University of Iowa, calls the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” In other words, stop and listen. Sometimes listening can be even more effective than giving advice… Or try telling them a story. “This might not be appropriate for you, but what I did when I had a similar problem was…”
It’s a simple set of rules, and if you stick to them you’ll find your communication channels are a bit more clear. Head over to The Wall Street Journal for a few more bits on both offering advice and asking (or not asking) for it.
The Perils of Giving Advice [The Wall Street Journal]