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Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up Hardcover – January 5, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (January 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592406912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592406913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If you're asking the question, "But what do I DO?" this book is for you. Marriage Rules is wise, gripping, funny, sanity-saving and above all, useful. It's brimming with Lerner's warmth, sharp wit, remarkable clarity, and practical advice."
(Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. author of Driven to Distraction)

"This is the marriage book we've been waiting for! It's packed with clearheaded counsel and small, doable steps that can turn a relationship around. I saw myself on almost every page, which led to a lot of head- nodding, laughing . . . and wincing! It's one of those rare conversation- starting books that you dog-ear, highlight, and read aloud to your partner at night." -Brené Brown, author of the best-selling book, The Gifts of Imperfection

"This book is an astonishing blend of down-home wisdom and clinical experience. I can't think of a better comprehensive guide to making marriage work for today's couples. Read it for your own relationship and give it to every newlywed you know." -William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor at the University of Minnesota and author of Take Back Your Marriage
(William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor at the University of Minnesota and)

"Don't be fooled by this book's simplicity: Lerner, a distinguished psychologist, offers a real-life roadmap for a healthy relationship. She is an outstanding guide, accompanying us on the hard moments of the journey while escorting us firmly in the direction of love and joy and wisdom." -Pat Love, co-author of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It

"Open this book anywhere and you'll find a rule that will rescue you from the swamps and quicksands of marriage and couplehood.What a beautiful, smart, witty and eminently helpful book!"
(Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., author of After the Affair)

About the Author

Harriet Lerner, PH.D., is one of our nations most loved and respected relationship experts. A renowned scholar on the psychology of women and family relationships, she is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Dance of Anger, and other acclaimed books that together have sold over six million copies. A clinical psychologist in private practice, Lerner is a distinguished speaker, consultant and workshop leader. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, and NPR and she hosts the "Dance of Connection" blog on She is also, with her sister, an award- winning children's book writer. She and her husband live in Lawrence, Kansas and have two grown sons.

Following a unique format perfect for today's world, the renowned author of The Dance of Anger gives us just over 100 rules that cover all the hot spots in long-term relationships.

Marriage Rules offers new solutions to age-old problems ("He won't talk"/"She doesn't want sex") as well as modern ones (your partner's relationship to technology.) You'll also learn how to:

  • Calm things down and warm them up
  • Talk straight and fight fair
  • Listen well as a spiritual practice
  • Connect with a distant partner
  • Survive the unique challenges of children, stepchildren and difficult- laws
  • Follow a 12-step program to overcome defensiveness
  • Know how and when to draw the line
  • Take back your marriage when things fall apart

    Marriage Rules is a treasure chest of lively, practical advice to help you navigate your couple relationship with clarity, courage, and joyous conviction. If one person in a couple follows ten rules of his or her choice, it will generate a major, positive change. All that's required is a genuine wish for a better relationship and a willingness to practice.

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Customer Reviews

I found this book very insightful and a quick read with simple suggestions.
Laura Nelson
Obviously it would be great if both partners in a relationship read the book, but even if only one does it can help the relationship immensely.
Anthony Pantliano
I love that the book is firmly based in the best of research about successful relationships.
Carolyn Maurer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Bill Gallagher on January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The timing of the arrival of this book was somewhat uncanny, as it arrived the day after my wife and I had had our first fight in quite a long while (in the past, there have been rough spots). During that fight, uncharacteristically, my wife was really anger with me and lost her temper, screaming and yelling and cursing; that night, she even slept in another room. The next morning my instinct was (fitting of Ms. Lerner observation that we tend toward fight or flight) to be frosty, but I reminded myself that won't change a downward spiral effect; so I tried to be pleasant, but that probably just got me to neutral. Then, a few pages in to Marriage Rules, Lerner wrote (quoting a friend and colleague): "It's just when your partner is being the biggest jerk that you're called upon to be your best self." Now, my wife wasn't really being a jerk (I could understand why she was disappointed in me, even if she was over-reacting [from my vantage point]. But it helped me reset my emotional thermostat and got me excited about Ms. Lerner's new book.

The excitement wasn't because of any big breakthroughs, but because the book offers timeless reminders delivered in an engaging way and illustrated with good vignettes. For example, in Rule #43 in the "Fight Fair" section, she tells about a San Francisco-based couple that fought viciously over just about everything. They seemed to have no control over their attacks on each other -- until a distinguished British professor stayed as a house guest for months, sleeping in the bedroom right next to theirs. Over those months, they were courteous with each other and agreed it was among the best months of their marriage. The point: you have more control than you think.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By J. C Clark VINE VOICE on February 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been married for nearly 34 years. I want to be married at least another 34. I believe marriage is the second greatest gift God has given us, and I want to extract all the joy and beauty available from this special present. I treasure my marriage above all earthly possessions and relationships. I think I know a few things about how to make a marriage work. And yet, do my wife and I descend into stupid, completely preventable, fights? Sure do. Maybe this old dog can learn a few new tricks.

All the other positive reviews here do not require me to write at length. This book is worth reading. Studying. Sharing. There is much in here that it took my wife and me years to figure out; I wish I had read it (and implemented it) 33 years ago. But marriage is a path, not a destination, and the gentle yet consistent advice in here, with a few simple sample responses, is so effective and so adroit that it is hard to imagine anyone reading this who could not enhance his or her marriage. If you want your relationship to be one of the rocks upon which the rest of your life stands, read and savor the advice Dr. Lerner has to offer.

As she says, you don't need all 106 rules. But if you can learn one new thing that re-directs a destructive behavior or salves an exasperating wound, this would be time and money well spent.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dan on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My wife got this book and I picked it up, expecting to scan it briefly and then put it aside. Instead, I got hooked. The stories are easy to read, often witty as well as poignant, and not a word is wasted. Harriet Lerner doesn't give predictable "advice." Instead, she gets inside a couple's tired old patterns and comes up with something new to try--something simple, powerful, and often unexpected that may shift the "dance." Who knew that I would read--and even learn from--a self-help book? I'm here to say that I did and I'm proud!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alisa Bowman on June 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Harriet Lerner's writing voice is the most loving and comforting of any marriage author I've ever read. Whenever I read her books, I feel as if my adoring grandmother is holding my hand and setting me straight with the love and acceptance that only my grandmother could--until Lerner came along, of course. As a result, Lerner's books provide a sanctuary for the reader, which is quite important as far as marriage improvement goes. Many people pick up marriage books because we feel lost and alone and because we're in pain. The last thing we want when going through such painful emotions is a book that preaches at us, and Lerner's never do. They comfort and they teach. Marriage Rules is exactly as it sounds. It includes 106 simple rules organized within 10 topic areas. It's the kind of book one can read one rule at a time, and it's also the kind of book one can re-read over and over again, as needed. It's a wonderful resource for people on the brink of divorce as well as for reasonably happy couples who want to take things to the next level.

Because I write about relationships, I interview Lerner periodically for various magazine pieces and also for my own marriage site. As a result I can report that she's just as warm and real in person as she is throughout the pages of her books. Often when I interview experts, I gain great insights, but I don't necessarily connect with them on a deep level. Lerner is different. We quickly and easily became friends, and I believe that's how she is with pretty much anyone. She's real, approachable and knows her stuff.
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More About the Author

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nation's most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.