Someone sent me a link to 10 Marriage Rules You Should Break. I’ve seen several of the ideas there floating around the Interweb for a few months. This article is based on a recent book by Barbara Bartlein, RN, MSW – maybe it’s the source, directly or indirectly, of the others I have see. I agree with some of what has been said, and disagree with some of it. The article calls these ten “rules you can break with confidence.” My main concern with this is that some of these rules are important for some couples, and not for others, so “break with confidence” seems too big a statement. I’ve not read any of Bartlein’s work, so it may be that she is more balanced in her approach than the article that is supposed to be based on her work
First, today, what I agree with.
If you fight, you’re headed for divorce.
This “rule” is not only wrong, it’s dead wrong. A lack of outward conflict means someone is bottling things up. Sooner or later that will do great harm to the marriage. According to John Gottman (author of Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage) even knock-down drag out fights don’t mean the end of a marriage; so long as both can deal with that, and they know how to get past it.
Once you have children, they come first.
This one is also very wrong, and ironically harmful to children. We have good data now on how deeply divorce hurts a couple’s children; how it hurts them emotionally, mentally, socially, and even physically. Beyond this, parents serve as the model for a child’s future relationships, including marriage. Failing to have a great marriage significantly increases the chances of your children having relationship problems, including but not limited to multiple partners before marriage, a poor marriage, and divorce.
Partners should sync up their hobbies.
I’m all for shared interests, and a couple certainly needs to find things they enjoy doing together. However, trying to “sync” everything is a sure way to bring on boredom and resentment. Most couples don’t have the time for his hobbies and her hobbies, so expecting them to do them together means one person will likely have to give up most of their hobbies. Additionally, trying to “enjoy” something in which you have no interest rarely works.
I do think an awareness of each others hobbies is important. Be interested, listen, have some awareness of what is involved.