The two of you should do everything together; work out every disagreement (without actually fighting); spend every night in the same bed; and never, ever be bored. Say what?! These and other so-called “rules” for marriage need some serious debunking. And it’s not just because rules your mother may have passed on are outdated; some may be downright damaging. In fact, “breaking some marriage ‘rules’ may be the best thing you can do for your relationship,” says Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW, psychotherapist and author of Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Here are 10 rules you can break with confidence:
1. Never go to bed angry.
Where did this one come from? Turns out, it may go as far back as the Bible, which advises not letting the sun go down on your anger. But trying to work through a problem when you’re tired and stressed won’t get you anywhere, says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “Agree to disagree for now, and to revisit the issue when you’re rested.”
2. Always be 100% honest.
In marriage, no-holds-barred honesty is not always the best policy. For example, “you don’t need to share details of past relationships,” says Bartlein. “That invites comparisons, and when you compare, someone comes up short.” The bottom line: You need to be polite and caring when it comes to your partner’s feelings.
3. Never vacation without each other.
The received wisdom here is that if you have time off from your jobs and lives, you should naturally prefer to spend it together. One problem with this rule is that you and your spouse may not have the same definition of a great getaway (you like to ski, he’s a beach bum). The other danger, says Dr. Lombardo, is the belief “that you have to be each other’s everything, and that’s just not realistic.” Sometimes, you need a spa weekend, and he may want to go camping (or vice versa). Just be sure that you don’t always take off without each other.