Rules for Marriage

When all is going well, you don't need these rules. But for those times when there is some conflict, and a little guidance is needed, these rules may prove useful.

Rule #1

The goal of this marriage is to stay together, not just as a shadow of a marriage, but growing and learning and thriving together.

That's the first rule, it is the most important, and it is not negotiable.

Actually, that's the only rule, though there are a few corollaries, and an exception or two. Stay with me on this....


Everything else is negotiable, re-negotiable, and re-re-negotiable. If either of you think something is worth discussing, then it is.

Remember that often the center of a disagreement is the failure to follow Rule #1 or the appearance of failing to follow Rule #1. The actual topic of disagreement may be mostly irrelevant.

When there is disagreement, try to back up a step or two, to discover what is motivating your side of the argument. Perhaps by examining the motivations, rather than the conclusions, you can find a third alternative that works for both of you. If that doesn't work, step back another step or two; the closer you get to Rule #1, the more likely you are to find common ground.

Say things like "I'm not saying that you are wrong, but my hope is that if we do it this way then ..." or "I'm not saying that you are wrong, but my fear is that if we do it that way then ..."

In any properly made decision it is always the case that both of you have won. If it doesn't feel that way to one of you, try again.

It is inevitable that you will argue, but so long as at least one of you can keep focused on Rule #1 progress can be made.


Love is strong, but drug addiction can be stronger. If one or the other of you is addicted, you probably need professional help.

Love may be stronger than violence, but its action is more long term. If one or the other of you suffers permanent injury or death in the short term, love cannot overcome that. Professional help is appropriate. Separation and divorce may also be appropriate.

Copyright 2005, Lee Newberg. All rights reserved.