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These are the hardcore rules that I learned in my previous marriage...(the hard way)
These rules started as a lesson, which eventually turned into a blog....a blog that turned into a book...a book that turned into a radio show...a show that turned into a house hold discussion...
Here are the TOP TEN RULES TO MARRIAGE that I believe every single couple on the planet should live by.
Rule 1: Never say the “D” word.
One of the biggest mistakes that most couples make is they threaten to leave each other, each and every time a problem arises. “Let’s just get divorced” is said way too often in marriages. The issue is that each and every time you threaten to leave, you cheapen the union you have. Each time you threaten to kick someone out, or walk out the door yourself, you lessen the commitment you have made to your marriage.
The truth is that usually when people threaten divorce they don’t actually mean it. The translation of “let’s just get divorced” usually means “what we are dealing with is a serious issue to me, and I don’t feel like you’re doing what’s necessary to fix it and I’m so frustrated I don’t know what else to say”. “LETS JUST GET DIVORCED” is usually just a verbal warning of complete and total frustration.
The trick is to learn how to just say that you’re frustrated, because whether or not either of you ever leave, each time you threaten to leave, you’re leaving the marriage little by little.
Threatening to leave will cause the exact opposite reaction most couples are truly looking for. Let’s be honest, if the crime were truly egregious enough TO leave, you just WOULD leave. You wouldn’t threaten. So stop being so childish about your arguments.
Rule 2: Discuss and Respect Your “Deal Breakers”
Okay. The only way you can abide by rule #1 is by also adhering and understanding rule #2. Know, discuss and respect each other’s deal breakers.
A “deal breaker” isn’t just something random that pisses you off, or really upsets you. A “deal breaker” isn’t a curve ball. It’s the exact opposite actually. A “deal breaker” is a rule that you have put up on the table and said “IF THIS HAPPENS, it will change how I feel about you and this marriage” and “IF THIS HAPPENS, I’m out”.
For example: “If you ever decide you want to have a sex change and become a woman I am out of here. I may still love you, and we can maybe even continue to be friends, but I will not remain in this romantic relationship”. Or, another more relatable example would be “if you ever cheat on me and have sex with another person, I am out” (although very few couple actually divorce over sexual infidelity, FTW).
If you and your spouse KNOW and RESPECT each other’s “deal breakers” than you can also adhere to Rule #1. There will never be a reason to “threaten to leave” because, unless there’s a “deal breaker” that’s been broken, it’s all fixable.
Do you know your spouses deal breakers? Do they know yours? Spend some time and talk about these. Write them down. KNOW THEM before you go into a marriage and if you’re already in, it’s never too late to establish them now.
It’s like your marriage code of honor. There are no questions on how to handle things when “deal breakers” are set in place. Just follow the code. If it’s a deal breaker, leave, if not, work it out.
Rule 3: Eliminate the Urge to Merge
It sounds sweet at first…to want to do absolutely everything together. Wake up, have coffee, go work out, come home, make dinner, watch a little TV, go see the same friends, do the same thing, go to the same places…a life where you eventually just merge into the same person? Listen. It’s NOT sweet actually. It’s weird! It’s unhealthy, and it’s super annoying to everyone that knows you!
Not having autonomy in a relationship isn’t healthy. It’s okay to miss your spouse every now and then. If fact, it’s one of the things that will keep your marriage alive, and happy, and healthy. Eliminate the urge to merge into one human being. If you were supposed to be ONE person, you’d have been born as identical twins, not spouses.
PS. Most people that are joined at the hip have trust issues…so if you can’t seem to break off from this, you may want to figure out why!
Rule 4: Check Your Anger At The Door, It’s Not A Public Marriage
When I was a little girl my aunt and uncle decided to separate. During their “separation period” (and during an obvious moment of vulnerability) my aunt yelled out across the dinner table (during Thanksgiving dinner) “Ralph likes to wear my panties when we have sex, and I don’t like it”.
Um. What? WTF?
I was 10.
My mom and my grandma had a look of absolute shock, dismay and a little hint of disgust on their faces at this inappropriately timed confession. I didn’t understand why Uncle Ralph wanted to wear my Aunties panties during sex? And, oh yeah, by the way, “what’s sex exactly”?
Here’s what happened next. Apparently my aunt discovered that this is a fetish quite common among men, and doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than “he likes to wear her panties”. So they got back together and worked it out.
Unfortunately, we, as a family, didn’t “work it out” so well. And now all of the sudden my aunt had an army of people NOT supporting her marriage and NOT believing in her relationship and fighting against her, and them.
Listen people. There are always three sides to a story, every story. It’s not fair when you blurt out your side in your childish moments of selfish needs. If you’re going to talk to someone about your relationship, pick an unbiased, fair 3rd party. Never speak to someone that’s emotionally invested in you. You will never get a fair response and they will always retaliate, in their own ways. It’s just human nature.
Your marriage is NOT a public marriage. Keep the stuff that’s supposed to be private, private!
Rule 5: Couples that Play Together Stay Together
I know I said you shouldn’t do “everything” together…but for the love of God that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do “anything” together. I am always shocked at how few couples actually spend any time “playing” or “dating”.
One of the best ways to stay happily married is to never stop dating one another. It helps you remember why you got together in the first place, and it ensures that you not get stuck in the humdrum of daily life.
Remind yourself, as often as you can, why you fell in love to begin with… and date, play, have fun!
The trick to a happy marriage lies in 5 simple words…NEVER. STOP. DATING. EACH. OTHER.
Rule 6: Have Sex, Whether You Want To Or Not
Jesus Christ when I first posted this blog I got so much shit for saying this, as if I was condoning marital rape.
UM NO, I am not. Stop being so dramatic. What I am saying is that I think it is bullshit that you expect your spouse to be monogamous with you, yet you refuse to have sex. Where’s the fairness in that? They can’t have sex with you, and they can’t have sex with other people.
Listen, we get it. Life happens. Kids happen. Work, stress, family, bills, etc…all pull us away from the feeling (especially as woman) to want to have sex at any given moment. Unfortunately weeks of no sex can turn into months of no sex, which can often turn into years of no sex, and before you know it’s just really freaking awkward.
We get it. No one wants to have sex with someone that just disappointed the living shit out of him or her. But you have to work on it.
But sex is a natural human need. You cannot live in a marriage where there is no degree of sex. What do I mean by “degree of sex”? Sex doesn’t always have to be intercourse. It can be other intimate, affectionate acts towards one another. If you’re missing sex in your marriage you can start getting it back by just being more intimate and affectionate. Eventually it will lead you back to where you began!
Have sex, whether you want to or not, simply means remember to take the time to do whatever leads you into being intimate with one another. Even if you don’t always feel like, make the time and get into the mood however you need to and make it a priority.
Rule 7: The Bubble
In my previous marriage we started this thing we called “The Bubble” with our kids. The Bubble is a figurative “place” you can request to go into and say anything you want-free of consequence. It is a “consequence free zone” to say whatever you feel you need to say, or ask whatever you need to ask, without the fear of punishment for having done so”. The purpose is for them to realize that what they’re asking may be “sensitive” and not something you ask in the middle of the grocery store line. It’s also important that they feel safe to say whatever is needed to say. We wanted to teach them, by using The Bubble, that we truly were open parents, and we honestly wanted to have an open-free dialogue in our home. So even the “traditionally taboo” topics were free and welcome in our home.
The response from our blog was “as a parent, that’s a cool idea”. However, apparently, in a marriage most people said they didn’t want to know the truth, the Bubble Truth.
The idea of implementing this in your marriage is apparently a very controversial.
You basically have two choices. You can continue to placate one another, (and scream and yell fake orgasms) OR you can grow up, understand that even in the best of relationships we need to learn to communicate our needs and desires better, and BE HONEST WITH ONE ANOTHER!
Rule 8: Discuss Your Life Goals and Make Sure You’re In Alignment
Very few couples discuss their life goals with one another. When was the last time you turned to your spouse and said, “what do you want in life”? “Where do you want to be in ten years?” “Who do you want to be”?
It’s important that you discuss your life goals as often as you can and make sure that you’re always in alignment with one another.
Rule 9: Pick and Choose Your Battles
OMG there’s enough real shit to argue about in life. Let me tell you what happens when you argue over stupid shit in life. Eventually “real shit” happens and by this point you’re just tired of arguing, period.
My rule is “is this going to matter one year from now”? If not, let it go. If so, have at it! Life is too hard to battle over stupid, pointless things that will not matter years from now.
You know what I used to argue about constantly in my previous marriage? I used to incessantly argue over our son’s hair. We both disagreed on how it should look, and every single morning it was a battle in our home. And finally one day we both just looked at each other and said, “Why are we fighting about this? Do we really care, and is this really going to matter ten years from now”? Good question! And so we stopped, and never have since.
Rule 10: Never Take Your Spouse For Granted
You know there’s not a single divorced couple out there that looks back and says, “they were always grateful”…”they always said thank you”…”they always made me feel good”.
You know why? Because taking your spouse for granted is one of the things that usually causes most people to divorce! It is an egregious offense that happens every day, all day long, and over time it’s debilitating to you both.
And it’s usually the little things we always forget to say “thank you” for. It’s the things that your spouse does every day for you, and for your family, that you forget to say “hey I really appreciate that you do that”. BUT THOSE are the things that wear on us all. The cleaning, the picking up kids, the cooking, the working, the lawn, the organizing, the taking care of…these are the daily tasks that we always forget to say thank you for.
No divorced couple looks back and remembers feeling an abundance of gratitude. GRATITUDE is one of the biggest ways to keep your marriage alive and healthy. And the rule in life is that the more you say thank you, the more you will always have to say thank you for because life is an echo…and what we give, we get more of ultimately.
These are our Rules of Marriage. Want to add to them? We would love to hear your thoughts and your own rules that have helped keep your own marriage together, alive and happy!
The bottom line is that whenever you choose to marry someone hopefully that means that you take the bonds of matrimony seriously. It means you're ready for a full commitment to work through the hard times and stay strong during the bad times. But it also means that you're willing to "participate" in that marriage and whether you are gay or straight participation is mandatory!
Let's be honest, times are a changing'. Marriage isn't like it used to be where it was also a matter of survival. I didn't inherent my wife's farm and our kids don't plant and hunt to eat. We live in a digital world where the reality of life is that the grass always looks greener and more manicured but the reality is, like all marriages, the lawns that look the best are the ones that are tended to the most!