Why I Don’t Believe in the Golden Rule

By: Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S


Photo courtesy of Andrew Malone, Creative Commons


“One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”
(Golden Rule)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like the intent behind the Golden Rule.  If you don’t want others to yell at you or hit you, don’t yell at them or hit them.  If you would like others to say “please” and “thank you”, say “please” and “thank you” to them.  And yes, you should teach your children the Golden Rule.  I believe, in general, the Golden Rule works and is a good rule to follow. However, the Golden Rule can also imply that you do not know the other person well enough to know what they would like.  The Golden Rule basically says be nice to other people, and the best way to do that is treat them the way you want to be treated.  Marriage is different.  You should know your spouse extremely well.  You should know what he/she likes and dislikes, and it is very likely that your spouse’s likes and dislikes are very different from your own.  So, I like to tell my clients to follow the Platinum Rule: “treat your spouse as you think they would like to be treated”. This means that if your spouse responds well to a hug as soon as they walk in the door, then give them a hug, even if you’re not a touchy person and you’d prefer something different than a hug.  Or let’s say you’re planning a date night for your wife, you probably shouldn’t plan to take her golfing on Saturday morning because that’s what you love.  Instead, it would be wise to plan something your spouse finds enjoyable.  What if you have some free time and want to do something nice for your husband? You don’t go out and buy him flowers or chocolate because that’s what you would want, you might wash his car for him or prepare his favorite meal, because you know him well enough to know that’s what he would want.  In marriage, it is important to go above and beyond the Golden Rule.  Take into consideration how your spouse thinks and operates differently than you and make an effort to treat your spouse the way he/she really wants to be treated.   © Compassion Counseling , 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Compassion Counseling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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