New Rules for a Good Marriage

In her article:  Marriage Advice: New Rules for a Good Marriage in Good Housekeeping, Sara Mahoney discusses myths about marriage and new rules that better match the realities of long-term marriages.  We found that much of what she says matches our experience.  Read the full article for a more complete discussion of each myth and corresponding new rule.

Myth: Never go to bed angry. If you don’t hash through every conflict right away, it’ll lead to resentment and ultimately blowups.

Ideally, of course, we would all be able to truly forgive every slight and make up before bedtime. But guess what? No one is that perfect. And, in reality, most spouses don’t solve problems well when they’re mad.

New rule: Sleep on it. Conflicts are best dealt with when you have calmed down and are well rested.

Rather than stay up to debate the disagreement du jour, set aside a moment every night to focus on what’s good about their marriage. Then, “no matter what — if you’re angry, if he’s angry, or if you’re both exhausted — kiss good night for six seconds,”  That’s not to say that conflicts don’t have to be dealt with.

Myth: One day the two of you will just realize you’ve grown apart and fallen out of love.

The fable is that some couples just drift apart as their personalities change or their interests diverge.

New rule: A marriage doesn’t run on feelings — it thrives because both spouses work hard on it.

The truth is, we all change constantly, and that’s a blessing.  Make sure you and your husband are checking in regularly with each other. That way, you can grow together, rather than apart.

Myth: As you both get older, sex will simply stop mattering to you and your husband.

TV sitcoms notwithstanding, the idea that midlife couples settle into sexual hibernation just isn’t true. In fact, many report that intimacy improves as the years go by.

What makes intimacy more satisfying is the comfort married couples develop with talking about what doesn’t work for them and — perhaps more important — what does.

New rule: There’s no reason you won’t grow more sexually connected.

Since talking about sex is key to sexual satisfaction itself, make it a priority this weekend.

Myth: When the kids leave home, there will be nothing left to keep your marriage together.

Most parents have pangs of sadness when the kids are finally gone, moments when the house seems impossibly quiet.  And some couples really do struggle — but many renew their commitment to each other.

New rule: Your marriage can flourish in that new freedom.

When your kids move out, keep your life full and your relationship central. Compile lists of what you and your husband can do now that you couldn’t before.

Myth: Every guy has a midlife crisis — any day, your spouse will drive off in a new red sports car.

Drastic changes are fortunately far from commonplace outside the soaps, but psychologists say that most of us will go through a period of midlife reevaluation.

New rule: It’s not a crisis — and it’s not just for men.

Actually, this period of reexamination is a healthy part of development. As people move into their 40s, 50s, and beyond, their perspectives shift.

More and more the phrase “midlife crisis” is being swapped for “reinvention”; all across America, you can hear men and women talking about their second acts

Not only are these course corrections good for us as individuals, they also seem to invigorate our relationships.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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