Rules for Marriage: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work


By the Authors of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Phenomenon The Rules™

"Help! Now that I've married my Mr. Right, how do I stay married?"

The Rules™ For Marriage

In 1995 Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider published their first book, The Rules. A manual of do's and ...

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By the Authors of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Phenomenon The Rules™

"Help! Now that I've married my Mr. Right, how do I stay married?"

The Rules™ For Marriage

In 1995 Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider published their first book, The Rules. A manual of do's and don'ts for single women seeking love and marriage, it started an international revolution in dating and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. Before long, women all over the world formed support groups to help them do The Rules and asked Ellen and Sherrie for more advice, inspiring the authors' second bestseller, The Rules II.

Now, in this new book, Ellen and Sherrie show you how to make that sometimes bumpy journey known as marriage as smooth as possible. They offer forty-two time-tested behaviors proven to keep couples together—and Mr. Right by your side forever!


  • Rule #4: Keep up your own interests (have a life!)
  • Rule #5: Lower your expectations in the first year
  • Rule #15: Say what you mean, but don't say it mean
  • Rule #19: Don't ask your single friends for marital advice
  • Rule #21: Don't force him to "talk"
  • Rule #31: Don't complain about the kids
  • Rule #35: Don't find fault with things you knew about when you married him
  • Rule #38: Don't go changin' or try too hard ...and if necessary
  • Rule #42: Divorce with dignity.

Also included are rules for sex and pregnancy, rules for second marriages, and more helpful hints and comments from happily married women and men. So if problems like these sound familiar—"I love him, but not his parents," "I like sex in the morning, he likes it at night," "When we were dating, we did interesting things; now that we're married, he just watches TV"—The Rules™ For Marriage can help. You'll find it realistic, pragmatic, and eye opening-the perfect sequel to the book that may have led you to Mr. Right in the first place, The Rules.

You did The Rules—and they worked!
You captured the heart of your Mr. Right and are, at the very least, engaged. Or you've been married for years—perhaps you and your partner got together without the help of those time-tested guidelines.

Now you're looking for ways to keep your relationship happy and healthy.

The Rules™ For Marriage is here! Because women like you want realistic solutions, authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider again come to the rescue with a set of rules. Some will sound familiar, others are completely new. But they all lead to the same wonderful future: the one where you and your husband stay together forever!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You’ve heard women whisper about The Rules. They work; they don’t work; they’re too gruesome to consider. But before you shun the movement that’s transformed millions of women, find out what The Rules really are. What attracts so many women to these laws? And how can the authors claim their rules work when one author’s marriage has faltered?

Despite all criticisms and crises, authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider maintain rock-solid confidence in their suggestions. “We didn’t make this up,” they explain, “in fact, we would love to give you different advice, but these ideas are based on human nature, and like it or not, they work.” Fein and Schneider are the strongest women around: They never fail to cut through the soft issues of self-worth while they offer us firm, no-nonsense advice about relationships.

In this book, Fein and Schneider bring their sharp-eyed advice to the complex, long-term negotiations of marriage. They maintain the keen tone of their previous books but apply it to newer, slightly mellower rules to love by. They explain: “The Rules for Marriage, while certainly not as strict as The Rules for dating, must be a way of life… like a lifelong maintenance plan.” To construct that plan, the authors nudge us away from too-stringent schedules and guide us, instead, toward long-running habits of respectful cohabitation. Fein and Schneider insist, for example, that married women maintain smart grooming, but they wave away extreme solutions like plastic surgery. Why waste the money? “Nips and tucks don’t make husbands happy or keep them around.” The authors’ advice is eminently practical, plunked down with a satisfying thud. “Give Him 15 Minutes Alone When He Comes Home,” they caution. “Don’t Try to Do It All.” “Divorce with Dignity.” Fein and Schneider’s ideas are supple -- but they’re also solid.

The Rules books appeal to us because they combine mildness with their authors’ strength -- and The Rules for Marriage provides a full measure of each. Though Fein and Schneider urge their married readers to be easy-going, they continue to insist that we maintain a core of independence: “You must …believe that you are a creature unlike any other,” they persist. “Stay centered, know that the daily discipline of exercise or prayer...will give you the strength to get through everything.” As every “Rules Girl” knows, Fein and Schneider give us the goods: a model for bending without breaking, and surviving crises with confidence intact. (Jesse Gale)

Library Journal
When it first came out, The Rules (1996) was attacked for being anti-feminist and even misogynistic. That didn't keep it from becoming a best seller and spawning The Rules II and other spin-offs. The Rules for Marriage follows suit. With advice that runs along the lines of "So what if your husband blasts rock music at 6 a.m.! He likes it! You need to adjust. Use the time you would normally spend sleeping to go to the gym instead!" and "Wear sexy clothes when you go out even if you would rather be comfortable! It matters more what he thinks!" the Rules Girls aren't going to win any awards for promoting equality between the sexes. Some of their advice, however, isn't so bad; for example, they do tell women not to depend on their husbands for all of their fun and emotional support. But of the 43 rules, at least two-thirds are a little on the Phyllis Schlafly side. As a bonus, the authors go beyond telling you how to be a Rules Girl in your marriage they offer rules for divorce and for second marriages. (What a plus!) Still, there's bound to be demand, although Fein's recent divorce may undermine the Rules Girls' credibility. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This Soundelux audiobook edition of Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider's The Rules For Marriage offers a series of reliable recommendations offering women practical guidelines and ideas for developing and maintaining an effective, satisfying, vibrant, and enduring marriage. This compendium of observation based "tips, tricks and techniques" will enable and empower women to keep up their interests as well rounded spouses; become able to accept that some things simply aren't their responsibility or concern; resist falling into the trap of comparing their spouse with other husbands; giving a spouse space to respond to the issues and demands that occur within (and without) the marriage; rules for fighting productively and non-destructively; and so much more. The Rules For Marriage is very highly recommended for newly wed wives and has a great deal to offer even experienced and "veteran" wives seeking to reinvigorate their marriages after many years (and even decades) of familiarity and marital routines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446610865
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Rule #1:

Relax During the
Engagement and Wedding

I deally, 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.

Copyright © 2001 by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider
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Table of Contents

Foreword: Why We Wrote The Rules for Marriage 1
Rule #1 Relax During the Engagement and Wedding 7
Rule #2 Continue to Be a Creature Unlike Any Other (a CUAO) 15
Rule #3 Keep Up Your Looks--But Don't Go Crazy 19
Rule #4 Keep Up Your Own Interests (Have a Life!) 23
Rule #5 Lower Your Expectations in the First Year 31
Rule #6 Be a Team 41
Rule #7 Give Him Fifteen Minutes Alone When He Comes Home 49
Rule #8 Be Supportive 51
Rule #9 Let Him Win 57
Rule #10 Accept that Some Things Are None of Your Business 63
Rule #11 Try Not to Call Him Too Much at Work 67
Rule #12 Rarely Return His Gifts 69
Rule #13 Don't Expect a Lot of Sympathy from Your Husband 73
Rule #14 Rules for Fighting 79
Rule #15 Say What You Mean, But Don't Say It Meanly 83
Rule #16 Don't Use the D (Divorce) Word 87
Rule #17 Don't Scream, Speak Softly 91
Rule #18 To Compare Is to Despair--Don't Compare Him with Other Husbands 97
Rule #19 Don't Ask Your Single Friends for Marital Advice 101
Rule #20 Have a Family Dinner at Least Once a Week 105
Rule #21 Don't Force Him to Talk 109
Rule #22 Don't Hang on His Every Word 113
Rule #23 Do Things You Don't Want to Do 119
Rule #24 He Can Say Anything About His Family but You Can't 125
Rule #25 Make Him Feel Like He's the Most Important Person in Your Life 131
Rule #26 Listen to His Advice and Try to Appreciate It 137
Rule #27 Don't Try to Do It All 141
Rule #28 Have a Date Night 151
Rule #29 Rules for Sex 155
Rule #30 Rules for Pregnancy 161
Rule #31 Don't Complain About the Kids 165
Rule #32 Keep It to Yourself 173
Rule #33 Don't Expect Applause for Doing Chores 175
Rule #34 Don't Nag 179
Rule #35 Don't Find Fault with Things You Knew About When You Married Him 185
Rule #36 It's Easier to Stay Married than Get Married 193
Rule #37 Go on the Boot Camp Nice Plan for a Week 197
Rule #38 Don't Go Changin' or Try Too Hard 203
Rule #39 Don't Think Marriage Counseling Is the Answer 207
Rule #40 Realize that Your Marriage Is Over if He Cheats Even Once 211
Rule #41 Divorce with Dignity 217
Rule #42 Date ASAP after Your Divorce 221
Rule #43 Rules for Second Marriages 227
Listen to What Men Say 233
More Rules from Happily Married Women 237
Final Thoughts from Our Rules Facilitator 245
Fifteen Extra Hints 249
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    be kind

    just because an alcoholic tells you not to drink, it doesn't mean that it's not good advice. give the poor lady (ellen fein that is) a chance, she's just doing her best. as we all know, since we bothered to read this book, marriage is hard. and divorce happens. you're not in her relationship, so you don't know what caused that divorce. it doesn't mean that she's not giving good advice, maybe she just couldn't follow it, or maybe her husband did something very wrong. either way, i think the book is worth reading, i've really enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2003

    'I'm Your Puppet'

    I recently picked up this book at the libary when looking for some insight into the woes of marriage. I thought maybe this book would be helpful and I might be able to find some solutions to my own marital problems. Unfortunately, in this book, all I found was advice on how to be everything MY HUSBAND wants me to be. Forget about myself and who I am. I just need to be what he wants me to be and do what he wants me to do and everything will be rosey. Well, thanks, but no thanks. I don't think compromising myself is the answer. I find it quite disturbing that the women who wrote this book are circulating such bad advice. What's worse is that there are probably women out there who are actually buying into this in desperation to find or keep a man. Thankfully, I'm not that desperate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    Horrible, was this written in the 60's or what?

    I thought this book was very old fashioned and approached marriage from a very different view. A view where the woman is not an equal part of the marriage. I felt that this book made the woman feel like she should do all the work and not the man.

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