The Rules(TM) for Marriage

Time-tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work


By Ellen Fein

By Sherrie Schneider

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ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $7.99 $9.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 1, 2007. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

You did the Rules-And They Worked! You captured the heart of your Mr. Right and are, at the very least, engaged. Maybe you’re married … or perhaps you and your partner got together without the help of The Rules. Now You’re Looking for Ways to Keep Your Relationship Happy and Healthy. The Rules For Marriage is Here! In this book, the authors of The Rules offer forty-two time-tested tips for keeping your marriage healthy and happy. Some will sound familiar, others are completely new. But they all lead to the same wonderful future-the one in which you and your husband stay together forever! Discover:

Rule #4: Keep up your own interests (have a life!)
Rule #15: Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean
Rule #21: Don’t force him to “talk”
Rule #35: Don’t find fault with things you knew about when you married him

Whatever your marital problems, The Rules for Marriage can help.


Copyright © 2001 by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

All rights reserved.

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Warner Books, Inc.

Hachette Book Group

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New York, NY 10017

A Time Warner Company

First eBook Edition: November 2007

The Warner Books name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-446-53591-5

Book design by Giorgetta Bell McRee

Also by the Authors





Rule #1:

Relax During the
Engagement and Wedding

Ideally, The Rules for Marriage begin before your wedding day. We believe once you get engaged, a wedding date should be set—no endless engagements. When a man proposes, it should be with a ring and a wedding date within one year, not longer, unless you are young (under twenty-five years old), in which case a two-year engagement is fine. If your fiancé is stalling on a wedding date, you may have to give him back the ring and move on.

Assuming you have a ring and a reasonable wedding date, what are the rules for the engagement period and wedding?

Every month we receive calls, letters, and e-mail saying, "Thanks. I'm so happy!" But we also get letters like this one: "Now that I'm engaged, we're fighting all the time. I feel him pulling back. I'm acting needy. What should I do?" Or like this one: "How often should I see him now that I'm engaged? Do I stick to the three-day-a-week rule and ten-minute phone calls?"

These concerns are fairly common. The dynamics of a relationship can change dramatically when you go from dating to being engaged and planning the wedding. It is tempting to change your behavior—to call him all the time, to lose interest in yourself, your work, your friends, and just about everything else—because, after all, you are practically married. All of a sudden, you think The Rules are over. This is a mistake. A man may get overwhelmed if he suddenly sees and/or hears from you morning, noon, and night. It's not like he's going to break the engagement, but he starts to miss his freedom and wants space (going out with the guys, working late) and then you get hurt.

If you continue to do The Rules, this will not happen. We don't recommend living together, as we said in The Rules, but if you are and you are planning the wedding, continue to be "a creature unlike any other" (confident, easygoing), remain focused on making your life full and meaningful, and try not to nag him about the wedding plans or anything else.

However, the initial rigid rules of catching a husband no longer apply now. He already pursued you, told you he loves you, and wants to marry you. You're a couple now, so you can relax in the knowledge that you don't need to stick to the original "don't see him more than three times a week or talk for more than ten minutes on the phone" rules. You will be seeing him more often since you are planning the wedding and your future or even living together. Obviously, you will need to call him to discuss things. The key here is how you conduct yourself—you're calm, fun, pleasant, you still have your own life, you're not suddenly demanding or clingy—that will make all the difference between a happy engagement and a stressful one. You don't have to be a constant challenge. He enjoys just being with you. Also, you can call him at work more often than when you were dating. Just try to make sure the calls are quick and to the point, not an excuse to speak to him or to have marathon discussions. A sample conversation about the wedding: "Hi hon, the flowers are in, my fitting is Tuesday, talk to you later, love you. . . . "

Now, about the wedding planning: Most women can get pretty hysterical while planning their wedding— there are so many details to worry about, so many pressures for it to go smoothly, so many opinions from family, friends, and relatives. Try to keep your sanity. If you act like a diva or a perfectionist, you will make everyone around you crazy, including your fiancé. Relax! This is a good time to go inward, to not let Hollywood images of a perfect wedding distract you from the meaning of it all. You will soon be marrying the man of your dreams. Try to remember that the wedding is just one day of your life, not a motion-picture production. So what if the flowers are more lilac than pink? So what if the photographer you really wanted is booked and you have to go with your second choice? Are you going to let all this ruin your big day? This is a good time to take up yoga or meditation so you keep your priorities straight.

We all know women who made themselves nervous wrecks over their wedding plans and hardly even enjoyed their big day. Of course, they all regretted it. Don't let this happen to you. Don't let family and friends make you crazy about the seating arrangements. Don't lose sleep worrying if the buffet is big enough, if guests are going to starve or complain about the food. Nobody's ever starved at a wedding and what people think of the buffet is not that important. There will always be critics who think that there could have been more hot dishes or that the band was too loud. Do the best you can. You can't please everyone. This is a valuable lesson to learn as you plan the wedding, and it will come in handy when you are married, too. Do your best and then let it go! Make yourself happy and others will follow your lead.

How involved your fiancé is in the wedding plans is also not something you can or should try to control. Some men refuse to be left out of anything. This type will not be satisfied with interviewing one or two caterers or bands or photographers, he will want to see the half dozen who are the cream of the crop. He will agonize over picking the perfect wedding song and even take an interest in the floral arrangements. He wants it to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience because he doesn't plan to get married again. He will be the same about the honeymoon, calling the best hotels for the honeymoon suites (which could probably accommodate a party of six) on a high floor with elegant views of the city. He will make dinner reservations for the most intimate corner tables at the finest restaurants. Money will be no object, even if he doesn't have much. Be thrilled if your fiancé shows this much interest. Go along with his enthusiasm even if you're not as into it as he is. Some brides are not as fortunate.

Your fiancé may show little or no interest in wedding plans; he thinks it's a woman's thing and would go along with "whatever"—he'd be just as happy to exchange vows with both your immediate families, a few close friends, and a vase of flowers in his one-bedroom apartment. Do not force him to get involved. Don't analyze his indifference or nag him to take a more active role, just accept that some men are simply not interested in the intricacies of a wedding, even their own. They will show up at the altar, but that's about it. If this is the case, plan the wedding with your bridesmaids, family, and friends, and be glad that he has confidence in your planning abilities.

As for disagreements, try to take them in stride. Suppose you and your fiancé have different ideas about the size of the wedding. You want a big affair, he wants a small one. You want a band, he wants a D.J. You want to hire a professional photographer, he wants to ask his friend Joe to take snapshots—you get the idea! Don't throw tantrums, act like a diva, or insist on having your way. Maybe a small wedding isn't such a bad idea, especially if he's trying to save money to buy a house and start a family. Whatever his reasons, we think it's important to listen and consider his point of view. Don't impose your fairy-tale images of a lavish Cinderella wedding on him. Cut him some slack—he pursued you, proposed, bought you a ring, and has made a commitment to spend the rest of his life with you. If you demand a big, expensive wedding and he's not into it, neither of you will be happy. Besides, bickering a lot before the wedding is not a fun way to walk down the aisle!

The most enjoyable weddings are the ones where the bride and groom are happy and in love, so if you have that going for you, your wedding will be all you want it to be.

Rule #2:

Continue to Be a Creature
Unlike Any Other (a CUAO)

When you were single, being a "creature unlike any other" was all about attitude—having the self-confidence to weather a bad date and holding on to the conviction that you would one day find the right man, the man who would love you for the unique person you are. We asked you to pump yourself up before dates, and believe in yourself.

When you're married, you must continue to believe that you are a creature unlike any other, but now it means having confidence that your husband loves and appreciates you, and that you can have a successful and fulfilling marriage. In other words, apply the self-confidence you had while dating to being a happily married woman. Exactly what do we mean? Here are some examples:

Maintain a positive attitude. It helps to be optimistic, not cynical—and to look at the glass as half full. You still believe in love and marriage, even if some of your friends are divorced or this is your second marriage. You smile a lot. You're easy to be with. You're not a grievance collector. You don't hold grudges because you know that grudges hurt you more than the other person and add wrinkles and years to your life, so you don't tolerate them for more than five minutes. You believe that good things happen to good people most of the time, so you try to be good. You don't care if people think you are naive or a Pollyanna. It makes you happy to think this way, and that's what counts.

If you work, you do your work and go home. You don't make work your whole life. You are balanced. You believe in family first, business second. Your priorities are straight, and you're not jealous of what other people have or do.

Don't make mountains out of molehills. For example, if you trust your husband and he talks to an attractive woman at a party, you don't spend the entire car ride home grilling him about her. "So did you think she was pretty? If you were single, would you have asked her out?" Leave him alone. Your husband is allowed to talk to another woman or find her attractive. It just means he's a man and has eyes. Sometimes a married woman will call us to complain that her husband's ex-girlfriend calls once a year just to say hello. She wants to know how she should handle this. We tell her to do nothing. As long as her husband is not the one calling the ex, there's no problem.

You're in control, and you make an effort to be calm. Whether you practice yoga or meditation, the 12 Steps, light candles, read the Bible, or go to temple on Saturday or church on Sunday, try to figure out some way to rise above the daily craziness of life, the trivialities, and the petty annoyances that can bog down a marriage. Stay centered, know that the daily discipline of exercise or prayer or whatever it is you do will give you the strength to get through everything so you set aside the time to take care of yourself in this way. Hence, you don't live from crisis to crisis. Your life is not a soap opera. You don't let people or events ruin your serenity. You know that happiness comes from within.

But you're not an evangelist. If you are into some self-improvement program, are anti-fur, a vegetarian, an exsmoker, or "born again," you are not trying to convert everyone you come into contact with. (Nobody likes a zealot. They're boring.) You know that you just have to live your life and not try to change anyone. You believe in live and let live—beginning with your husband and your children—and you are serene.

In the rest of this book, you will find more than forty ways to help you continue to be a "creature unlike any other" throughout your marriage.

Rule #3:

Keep Up Your Looks—
But Don't Go Crazy

Let's be realistic, a good marriage is based on a lot more than looks. Your husband obviously found you attractive or he wouldn't have married you in the first place, so don't think you have to look like a movie star every day or save money for plastic surgery to keep him. Nips and tucks don't make husbands happy or keep them around. And truth be told, a lot of men find those long nail extensions scary and useless—they wonder how you could possibly change a diaper or type on the computer without breaking them.

On the other hand, just because you are married does not mean that you should let yourself go. Strive for something in between glam and drab, like well-groomed and pretty. Remember how we told you to wear short skirts and get weekly manicures when you were dating? Well, now that you're married, you can relax a little! Your husband is not looking for a perfectly coiffed salon advertisement, but a warm, loving partner. So don't think you have to pore over the latest fashion magazines to be absolutely current and in style. It's perfectly okay to hang out in a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals with your hair in a ponytail— everyone we know does!

Now that you're married, it's more important that you maintain composure and are organized about your home, your life, your kids, your work. A spritz of perfume before he comes home goes a long way toward maintaining your sex appeal, and shows him you still care, without going overboard.

You're neat, clean, responsible, loving, and nice— that's sexy. You're not trying to compete with his twenty-five-year-old secretary. You don't have to wear fake eyelashes or live in a beauty salon. Two coats of mascara and short, clean nails are fine. No need to look into lipo-suction or breast implants. Maybe you have five or ten pounds to lose? That's okay too. Your husband is not looking for a mannequin. He would rather you be nice than a supermodel.

However, don't pack on thirty pounds after the wedding or make it a habit to walk around the house in oversize pajamas and dirty hair. Take care of yourself. Try to exercise two to three times a week, to maintain your equilibrium, shape, and energy level, and try to wear clothes that flatter your figure.

Wear your hair long even though it's easier to wear it short and most of your married friends have cut their hair to the middle of their neck. Long hair reminds you that you're a woman, and your husband probably likes it long and you want to please him. Don't walk around with dark roots; touch up any gray in your hair. You believe in helping Mother Nature. Brush your hair and put on a dab of makeup before leaving the house even to go to the supermarket. Remember, if you feel good about your appearance, you will look good, so you are doing this for yourself!

Rule #4:

Keep Up Your Own Interests
(Have a Life!)

Some women make their husbands their whole life when they get married and drop many of the things that made them interesting in the first place. Some lose interest in their careers or stop working altogether. Some see less of their family and friends, and others cut back on interests and activities, including exercise. This is a mistake that we would like to help you avoid. We have encountered many women who became half a person in their marriage and came to regret it later.

Right after Amy married Phil, she quit her job as a real-estate agent to concentrate on getting pregnant, learning how to cook, and decorating their house. She also dropped some of her single friends. For years, she had met five girlfriends every Wednesday night for dinner and a movie ("girls night out") but decided to skip it so she could eat dinner and watch TV with her husband. Phil didn't discourage it. In fact, he seemed flattered that she preferred his company and was happy when Amy told him she couldn't relate to her single friends anymore. But after a few months, Phil started to tire of so much togetherness. When he came home he wanted to read a book (alone) instead of watch TV with Amy. He started making plans with the guys once a week to shoot hoops or go out for drinks.

Amy was hurt and angry. She had dropped her friends to spend every evening with Phil and now he was bored with her. Realizing the mistake she made, she went back to girls night out and took a part-time job. Amy learned a painful but important lesson.

Many men will be flattered or even encourage their wives to drop friends or activities for them, only to lose interest in them when they do. Despite what they say, men like women the most when they're busy. They love coming home to women who lead exciting lives, who are busy exercising or writing a novel on their computer, who will tell them an interesting story about some friends or a coworker, or who have to dash because they don't want to miss their yoga class. They like it when you've got other things going on besides them and have to fight a little for your attention.

Have you ever noticed that your husband wants to talk to you the most when you're on the phone or in the middle of something, as opposed to when you're eager to talk or just sitting around doing nothing or waiting for him to come home? If you listen to what a man thinks he wants and make him your whole life, he will get bored and pull back and you will feel hurt and regret it.

"Husbands get bored when women only concentrate on them," says Nancy, who made that very mistake in her first year of marriage. She got busy in the second year by getting a job and taking ballet twice a week. "The more stuff I do, the more interested he is in me. I feel better about myself and my personality is more interesting, so he's more attracted to me and now when we're together he really appreciates me," she said. "You need to have a life apart from your husband."

Andrea, a former book editor and now a stay-at-home mom who has been happily married for five years, concurs. "I have activities and friends apart from my husband. I have been on a tennis team for four years and we practice and play twice a week all year round. I also belong to a monthly book club. I have taken classes at a local college and I have participated in different church functions. I think married women must have outlets away from their home or else there's too much strain on the husband-wife relationship. And I must say it is nice to see how much my husband misses me when I spend a Sunday afternoon playing tennis. Sometimes he even comes to watch me play without my asking him to. He says he doesn't want to be away from me too long."

Of course, another reason to have a life when you are married is that you will be less likely to break Rules


On Sale
Nov 1, 2007
Page Count
208 pages

Ellen Fein

About the Author

Ellein Fein and Sherrie Schneider are the authors of The Rules, The Rules II, The Rules for Marriage, and The Rules for Online Dating. They run a dating and relationship consultation service as well.

Learn more about this author