We all know we can turn to our family and friends for relationship advice, but sometimes it’s the words and stories of complete strangers on the internet that can be the most helpful and leave the biggest impact. Why? Because they don’t know us, and we don’t know them, it might be easier for all parties to speak from experience without feeling judged.
Reddit, in particular, is known for hosting several threads where people anonymously seek advice on successful marriages and relationships from strangers, resulting in hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments.
To save you time, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best bits of wisdom from multiple Reddit relationship advice threads.
1. On recognizing you have to change too:
“When [my mom] and my dad were on their second separation, she was out with her best friend and was venting about all the problems in the marriage and all the things she wanted him to change. Her friend asked her, ‘What are you willing to change about yourself?’ It made my mother think about how she negatively affected the marriage too and realize that if she wanted him to change things about himself, she needed to be willing to change things about herself and meet him halfway. They’ve been back together for over 25 years and have been going strong.” —KelleyK_CVT
2. On putting in effort:
“‘Can I show you this thing I made?’ ‘Want to walk the dog with me quickly?’ Just small stuff like that. I read somewhere that your willingness to do those things can determine a lot of your marriage. Sometimes I definitely don’t want to get off the couch and help my wife with something, but I know she really appreciates it when I do. It helps her feel loved and appreciated in ways that you just can’t when it’s only the big things. Big things build the structure, little things fill in the gaps.” —Metropolis9999
3. On making sure others get a balanced view of your relationship:
“When you argue in front of someone, make sure that you apologize in front of them too. It helps people see that your relationship is not only arguments. This is especially true if you have children, as they need to see peaceful conflict resolution, and not just the conflict.” —Ltrainicus
4. On finances:
“Talk about money. How you spend it, what you owe, what you’d like to do with it. Keep each other accountable.” —pope0476
5. On what really matters in identifying compatibility:
“It is far more important to have compatible goals than it is to have similar interests.” —mminnoww
6. On arguments:
“When arguing, it’s ‘us vs. the problem’ instead of ‘me vs. you.’ It’s not about who wins the argument, it’s about understating your partner, and their point of view.” —b0ltzmann138e-23
7. On showing love, even during tough times:
“Love is an action, not an emotion. There will be times when the warm fuzzies are ubiquitous, and times when they aren’t. Show love, demonstrate it, even when you don’t ‘feel’ it. Life with two humans is inherently complicated, and the feelings are going to eventually come back, if both parties keep working at it. Don’t throw away a good marriage because the feelings faded for a time.”
8. On keeping things fresh:
“My rule is to always treat the other as if they were single. It’s a loose definition, but it helps me keep a bit of that initial, dating drive and reminds me that she is her own person who could walk out that door any given day. It’s up to me to be to kind of person we both want to live with and grow with.” —Send_Poems
9. On understanding love comes in many forms:
“Learn your partner’s love language. Communicate yours. People tend to express love in the way they like to receive it. If you have a different form of expression than your spouse, it’s easy to completely overlook the many ways your partner is saying, ‘I love you,’ and be left feeling as though they are uncaring. For example, your love language may be acts of service—cooking a meal, fixing something around the house, laundering clothes, etc. You are a doer who does things to make your spouses life easier and more enjoyable. Your spouse, on the other hand may show love through gifts—buying roses, jewelry, Lexus trucks with red bows affixed to the front grill on Christmas.” —loveitorleafit
10. On feeling like you and your partner have to keep up with other couples:
“Never compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel… The truth is, we live in a world now, more than ever (because of how interconnected social media is to our lives) where we can scroll through our newsfeeds and Instagram wall and see how much fun and how exciting our other married friends’ lives are. But the truth is… it’s not the full story… You’re only seeing the good stuff. The fun stuff. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that’s the only ‘fun’ and excitement they have. Most likely, every couple you know is dealing with the same issues you’re dealing with in your marriage.” —weltonavesw
11. On being open:
“Resentment is the single thing that ruins a relationship. Do whatever it takes to avoid it. Honesty and communication are good tools to avoid it.” —Raintitan
12. On realizing you’re not always right—and that’s OK:
“Learn to swallow your pride. This means:
- saying you’re sorry.
- letting go of petty grudges.
- being able to compromise.
- admitting when you’re wrong.
- after a disagreement, approaching the other person calmly and exploring what issue you two had in an objective way.
- being able to communicate your own failures, insecurities or problems to the other person.
- recognizing when you’re taking something personally or lashing out for the wrong reasons.
- in the heat of an argument, being able to acknowledge good points your partner is making, thank them for communicating to you, and positively reinforce the things they’re doing that are de-escalating the situation.
“At the end of the day, completely honest, level-headed, calm communication mixed with a huge dose of humility is the #1 best way to make a relationship work.” —IAlbatross
13. On holding your partner in high regard, no matter what:
“Never let disrespect creep into your attitude toward your spouse, even when you are angry or in a disagreement. You can be pissed, but if you start to disrespect them, it’s like acid that will corrode the foundation of your relationship. The adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ should be your no. 1 enemy in a relationship. Contemptuous words can’t be unsaid or unheard.” —mark8992
14. On making up for the lack of fairness:
“The effort will never be equal, but it has to be equitable. If your S.O. does a hefty dose of something, try and pick up the slack elsewhere. At the very least, acknowledge what they’re doing and show appreciation.” —poscaps
15. On the value of dating traditions:
“Do pick a regular spot for dinner, breakfast, whatever and make it a ritual. That place becomes your personal Switzerland where even if you’ve both had a rough week the ritual of going there will break the ice. My wife and I have eaten at the same Mexican place just about every Friday for 15 years. We hardly ever took a kid with us. I’ve got a buddy, and he and his wife get up every Sunday and go to Waffle House at like 8 a.m. before the church crowd hits and they’ve done this for more than 25 years.” —PolybiusChampion
16. On the other side of marriage:
“Marriage isn’t only about love, it is also about mercy. Everyone only focuses on love and that’s great. But there’s going to be ups and downs in your relationship. It’s those moments when things are tough you have to have mercy for your spouse. And vice versa. From mercy stems compassion, forgiveness and patience. That is going to keep the marriage strong.” —beardlessclamlover
17. On the challenges ahead:
“It never stops being work. Those ‘inspiring’ couples you see who have been together forever and make the perfect team are still working hard every day, still drive each other crazy, still sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it. It’s making the decision again and again that all the bullshit is worth it.” —ArielLeslie
18. On giving your partner their space:
“Know that you cannot be everything to your spouse. Allow them ‘alone’ time where they can regroup or enjoy a hobby. When they greet you, they will be recharged and ready to enjoy time with you.” —MsLiz535
19. On being mad at each other:
“There is nothing wrong with going to bed angry. More often than not, sleeping on whatever you are fighting about allows for cooler heads in the morning to work it out. If you try to force resolution when you are both hot, it usually escalates into something much bigger.” —mk72206
20. On self-care:
“Yes, you are partners. Yes, you are a team. However, you are two parts of a whole and each part needs taking care of. Schedule time apart, schedule time together. You’re just as important a part of a relationship alone as you are as a partner.”