Why “Marry A Man Who Loves You More” Is Terrible Advice

Many young women have been told to “marry a man who loves you more than you love him.” But is this actually good advice?

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

Any young woman who’s currently dating (or ever dated) can attest to the fact that people tend to want to give your their “sage” dating advice. Maybe you’ve been told “You’ll find someone when you least expect it,” or you’ve heard “You’re being too picky,” way too many times. Or perhaps you’ve run into the “You have to do something to keep him interested!" (*wink wink*) comment one too many times.

In reality, much of what we hear as young women when it comes to romance is terrible advice, leading us to either waste our time with a guy who suffers from Peter Pan syndrome, or move way faster than we’re comfortable with in order to keep his attention.

Another piece of advice that can easily lead women to become dissatisfied, unhappy, and empty? “Marry a man who loves you more than you love him.” This particular piece of advice is perfectly explained (and refuted, but we’ll get to that later) by relationship expert Taylor Burrowes, Ph.D.

So, according to this advice, we’re supposed to marry a man who’s happier to be with us than we are with him? Where did this advice even come from?

Why People Give This Advice

Why would people advise young women to marry someone they aren’t as in love with? Well, according to Dr. Burrowes, it’s a suggestion that stems out of fear: “A lot of times, it comes from mothers or older women who are trying to help … young women steer clear of unhealthy men.”

Maybe these older women had unhappy marriages, or maybe they spent decades getting mistreated by the men they chose. Either way, this kind of advice is clearly a self-protective measure. When we haven’t had a healthy, life-giving relationship with a man (whether a significant other, a friend, or our father), we can easily feel constantly taken advantage of, neglected, or controlled by men. And this advice was women’s way of attempting to gain the upper hand where they can. in this case, their marriage. 

This advice was women’s way of attempting to gain the upper hand in marriage.

The thought process: If he loves you more, he’ll work himself to the bone in order to give you whatever you want and need. If you love him less, you’ll save yourself from the possibility of heartache and abandonment. You’ll be taken care of, have a man who’s faithful, and have less to worry about.

Why It’s Bad Advice

It’s understandable to want to protect ourselves from the devastation of being cheated on by someone we loved with our whole heart, or from being disappointed by a man we expected much more from. But here’s why, even with the risks it’s supposed to help women avoid, this is still bad advice.

“If a woman doesn’t really, genuinely love and desire her husband, if he clearly loves her more, then the woman is very likely going to be dissatisfied in the marriage or the relationship, and she’s going to end up cutting ties and leaving him for someone that she desires more,” Dr. Burrowes explains.

She attributes this to women’s natural inclination to be affectionate, passionate, and enthusiastic in their relationship. Women who steer clear from investing in a marriage with a man they love just as much are denying themselves one of their deepest natural desires: an emotional, physical, and mental connection with a man who’s committed to them for life.

“No one should be loving anyone more than the other person. There should be a nice give and take and reciprocity of love between the two of you,” Dr. Burrowes says.

What Do We Do With Our Fears?

We’ve established that seeking a spouse who loves us more will eventually (or quickly) lead to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and unmet needs, but what should women do with their fear of abandonment? How should we proceed with our anxieties (which don’t simply disappear) about being cheated on or unmatched in our own investment in the marriage?

Settling for less only delays the discontent and creates an atmosphere of resentment and avoidance.

Dr. Burrowes shared her professional opinion with Evie: “These women who are afraid of men cheating on them or leaving them high and dry have unresolved trauma [either] from previous relationships or childhood. They need to confront and sort through that first.”

What would this trauma/traumatic experience look like? Her example: “A father who was selfish and neglectful and left when she was a child, or a significant boyfriend who broke her heart and left her insecure or paranoid. Those experiences need to be processed and ‘healed’ before seeking to find a healthy, secure attachment with a man she’s compatible with.”

Our desire for a healthy relationship, even if we’ve never experienced one ourselves, is one that we can’t extinguish or stamp out. And convincing ourselves to want less than that won’t work in the long run. “Settling for less is not a healthy way to ensure your health and happiness in a marriage. It only delays the discontent and creates an atmosphere of resentment and avoidance,” Dr. Burrowes tells Evie.

Closing Thoughts

We were created with a need for deep connection, a kind of intimacy that opens us up to heartbreak, anxiety, and disappointment. This is where the advice to “marry a man who loves you more” comes in. But this advice fails to take into account the long-term unhappiness we will experience by following it. We should love our husband wholly, completely, and deeply, and we should try to find a man who will return that same kind of love.

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