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Out Of All Marriage Rules This Just Has To Be Number One

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Out Of All Marriage Rules This Just Has To Be Number One

Marriage Rules: How to apply the number one rule.

Have you ever gone home at the end of a difficult day and taken it out on your partner? Of course, you have.  It’s perfectly normal to take in whatever stresses life brings, and then to take them out on your partner.

After all, what’s a partner for? He or she is right there on the scene and the one with whom you are least likely to “watch yourself.”  And of course, your mate will inevitably do something to provoke you, even if it’s how he holds his spoon or how she flosses her teeth.

Marriage is the lightning rod that absorbs anxiety and stress from all other sources, past and present.  When marriage has a firm foundation of solid friendship and mutual respect, it can tolerate a fair amount of raw emotion. A good fight can clear the air, and it’s nice to know we can survive conflict and even learn from it.

Many couples, however  get trapped in endless rounds of fighting and blaming that they don’t know how to get out of. When fights go unchecked and unrepaired, they can eventually erode love and respect, which are the bedrock of any successful relationship.

The first rule of all marriage rules is to make rules for how you as a couple will treat each other. Make rules that you are responsible for following even in the heat of the moment. We often act as if the intensity of our anger gives us license to say or do anything, because, after all, we’re way to furious to be able to stop what’s coming out of our mouth!

Of course we can stop ourselves and behave better-that is if we have a genuine intention to have a better marriage. If you or your partner can’t keep your anger from getting out of control, it’s important to get professional help.

There’s no shortage of advice from experts about how to fight fair in marriage. I suggest you begin by sitting down with your partner and coming up with a few rules of your own.   These might be, for example, “No yelling or name calling,“ “No bringing up past grievances during a fight” and “No bringing up problems at bedtime.” Many couples find it helpful to keep a written copy of the rules in a place where both will see it daily.

Happy couples are not couples that don’t fight. Rather they’re couples that fight fair, and take responsibility for their own words and actions, no matter how furious they may feel inside.

For more practical help to stop the fighting and blaming, take a look at The Dance of Anger(link is external), Marriage Rules,(link is external) or We Love Each Other, But…(link is external)” 

Your relationship thanks you in advance.

[Harriet Lerner]

Dr. Lerner is one of the world’s most respected voices in the psychology of women and family relationships. She is the author of 11 books published in 35 languages. These include The Dance of Intimacy, Marriage Rules, and The Dance of Anger, a New York Times bestseller that has helped rescue men and women from the swamps and quicksands of difficult relationships. Dr. Lerner hosts a blog for Psychology Today.

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