Some marriage “rules” have been repeated so frequently that they’re accepted as conventional wisdom. But do all of these general do’s and don’ts work for every couple, all the time? Hardly.

Here are a few marriage rules you should break.

1.  Be 100 percent yourself.  Yes, you want your spouse to accept you completely for who you are.  But, on those days when the “real” you feels grumpy, irritated, and out of sorts, try not to dump on your spouse.  It’s okay to tell them how you’re feeling, but having a hard day is no excuse for treating them unkindly or disrespectfully.

2.  Do everything together. Sure, couples need to have some mutual interests so that they can stay connected and close, but it’s really OK to enjoy separate activities and interests. If your husband is an outdoorsy hunter or fisherman, and you’d rather do a little window shopping and get a pedicure on Saturday, it’s fine. If your wife wants to enjoy a book club with her friends, and you want to go to the football game, that’s a good thing too.

3.  Don’t fight. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, but couples who never disagree aren’t being honest with each other. There are times when it’s necessary, and even beneficial, to get a tough issue out on the table with one another, no matter how hard it is. Always fight fair: stick to the topic and keep it clean—no personal jabs or hits below the belt that you may wish you could take back later. Avoid sarcasm, ridicule, and name calling; listen and avoid long tirades of venting.  Take a break if things escalate and use this Tried-and-True Technique for Marriage Communication.

4.  Once you have kids, they have to come first. Yes, your kids need your love and attention, but your relationship with your spouse is a top priority. So be sure to give your spouse your time, your attention, and your affection. And feel free to leave a pouty toddler with a babysitter every now and then to go listen—really listen—to your spouse. Those rowdy, peanut-butter-smelling little nuggets will thank you for it one day. Here’s How to Have the Marriage You’ve Always Dreamed of.


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