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

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

3.1 16
by Ellen Fein, Sherrie Schneider

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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


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!

Editorial Reviews

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.
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.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
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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Rules for Marriage: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's amazing to read such sharp criticisms from woman who have no interest in 'the Rules'. The books are constantly being reviewed by 'non-Rules' women. Funny thing is there was an article from 1954 - called 'The Good Wife' - [it recently surfaced on the net]. The men in our office were circulating it for fun - to get a few women spun up - I personally didn't have a problem with the Good Housekeeping article from the 50's nor do I have a problem with any of the Rules - the men exclaimed with laughter 'if women did half this stuff in the article - the divorce rate would drop significantly'. That's right. Lazy, selfish, feminist, women who hate the Rules are exactly the ones who don't do well in relationships with men - who diss on the Rules. I'm a Rules girl - soon to be a Rules wife. My man treats me like a queen due to my self containment - I have the Rules to thank for this - I also have a wonderful marriage, a happy husband, and a less stressful marriage - due to the fact I practice the common courtesies preached through out the Rules Books - Hey - the women who protested about the books - if your mate treated you the way the books ask you to treat him - wouldn't you be happier?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Rules' for dating and 'The Rules for Marriage' are on target. Both young and older women are failing to have healthy relationships with men because females today 'chase men' and make things 'too easy' for men. Women should learn from their own relationships with women, we 'lose respect' for a new female friend when she calls all the time and is 'clingy' so why should we be surprised when men react negatively when women do the same. Plus, the old saying: 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free' has gotten even worse. It's now, 'Why buy the cow when I can have a different cow every week (or night!) for free! Many women are frustrated in relationships because the man won't willingly propose marriage. If the couple finally does marry, its usually the woman who had to 'push for it.' If every single woman decided to keep herclothes on, then we would see men proposing right and left! I see young girls chasing boys, calling boys, etc. Since the boys don't have to make much effort, the boys don't value and treasure girls anymore. It is human nature to value what you have had to 'work for.' Most men do not have to 'work' at their relationships, since the women 'do it all.' Parents need to teach their girls some 'restraint' and parents need to teach their boys to 'respectfully pursue' women and to be a man worth honor and respect. These authors are right on! Some people mistakenly think that just because one of the authors, Ellen Fein, got a divorce that it means that the 'Rules' don't work. Au contraire! She admits that her marriage failed during the success of her book because she was not available to her husband during those years. Does that really surprise anyone. A person with 'back to back' best sellers is going to be away from home a lot -- with book tours, signings, guest appearances (for these exact reasons, Dr. Laura Schlessinger refused to travel to do these things when she wrote her books -- she only appeared 'by satellite' from her own home studio.). Women hate it when their husbands are gona a lot and men hate it even more when their wives are gone a lot! Most husbands are just not 'cut out' to handle all the 'home and kid' issues while their wives are gone. Ellen has said that the circumstances of her divorce has made her more committed to the rules because she saw that she did not handle her success in a way that her marriage was not destroyed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There should have been a happier ending for the authors than they have in real life with respect to their own marriage. Men with intelligent adorable and accomplished wives may find the book irritating. The book suggests that women should become invisible partners. I understand that lots of women overdo their liberation in our beloved USA because the court system favors them in the event of a divorce. The authors may therefore be trying to tell some women to let go of their sharp razor edge and irrascible behaviors. But to expect a woman to relinquish her sense of dignity will choke the life out of any healthy man. The book may end up making women feel more depressed and inferior than any male chauvinistic book ever written on marriage. In turn, most depressed down-trodden women in a free country like ours may abandon their marriage, once they realize that the marriage and its rules are responsible for their depression. The book may have a negative effect on marriages and on a woman's emotional well being if its rules are followed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is so offensive on so many levels. (Is it possible to give a book zero or less stars?) How could a book that advises a person (woman) to reduce herself to non-personhood status claim to 'help' with anything??? What's next from these authors? A cultural exposition on how racial tensions within society would be eliminated if the minorities just accepted their inferiority to whites?
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JewelPrincess More than 1 year ago
Loved the Rules and this Marriage Rules book as well!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At 35 after a series of unsuccessful relationships 5,5 and 1.5 yrs and still not married, someone handed me the Rules book. I found it so offensive that I launched it across the room. Months later during a cleaning spree (and still single) I pulled it out from behind the dresser where it had landed. I put down my duster and forced myself to read the whole book. Alas, I discovered the error of my ways. I'd been doing everything wrong! From that day forward I began applying the rules and have never stopped. With in 9 months I'd had 3 marriage proposals. One of which I accepted. (All were internet dates). I am now happily 4 years married to a wonderful man. Suspend your feminist sensibilites long enough to get the essence of the book. Apply the prinicples and find yourself a life partner. Namaste.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excuse me now, but one of the authors filed for divorce. On grounds of abandonment. Sounds familiar to many women and men. So, where is the validity of their advice? No, I didn't read all of the first rules book, but read the first half, skimmed the rest. Some of the stuff seemed common sense, some was questionable, some offensive, at least to me. I did the same with the Rules for marriage, my life circumstances having changed,and reached a similar conclusion. Then, as stated above, I read last year that one of the authors' marriage was on the rocks (Ellen Fein). A major credibility gap. Probably being at ease and honest with yourself, knowing what you can live with and finding a partner who is sane, kind, loving, and responsible are more important to successful intimacy than anything else. So good luck and happiness to all wanting a loving partnership, including the authors, who may want that as much as most of the rest of us..... I don't think that this series of books has the answers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She read it to rip it apart and actually started following 'The Rules for Marriage'. We both are happy again and wouldn't leave the marriage for anything. Who would have thought that women have so much control over if thier marriage succeeds or fails. This book helped my wife come back to middle, enjoying being an independent fulfilled woman without being a man hating feminist. It wasn't her fault however, she was raised not to be her mother, until 'The Rules for Marriage' showed her how wonderful her mother had it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The latest in the list of 'Rules' books, this is just as silly as the others. Unless you want to have a happy marriage by being a doormat, I suggest you not read this book. If you have serious issues, get counseling. If your marriage just seems like work, welcome to the real world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good recommendations and fun ideas. Nitty gritty truth included. Grin and bare it (or maybe bear it) but could make a huge differnece in relationships. Don't forget prayer in family life as a guiding strength to build lasting affects as well.