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

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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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 psychologytoday.com. 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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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: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was very helpful for me to see alot of areas that my husband and I need help in our marriage.. He DID NOT read the book, however when I really thought a rule was one that concerned us, I would read the the chapter to him and he WOULD listen and take it to heart as well... This book has helped me change some amazing areas in marriage that I didnt even realize we needed help in....
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Practical, constructive, loving and MATURE instruction on how to communicate with the person you love. How to express yourself clearly, how to clarify an issue, how to deal with a spouse who has his or her own communication issues, and what to say and what not to say in the heat of the moment -- and always keep the preservation of the relationship and everyone's dignity intact. A very wise and realistic approach -- I would recommend giving it to every bride (and groom) at a wedding shower. In fact, I think I'm going to start doing just that. I read it after being married for 30 years, and I cringe at the memories of my own immaturity, and feel lucky that my marriage has survived. Turn off the pop culture "advice" and listen to someone who can really tell you how to honor your relationship. If you truly want a strong, loving, respectful relationship, this is the book for you. If you want to get your partner to do it all your way, you're not going to get that from this book, but you need it too. A profound wake-up call.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When read daily to each other, this simple marriage rule book invites conversation and perspective shared together. We took turns each day reading one rule to the other. The flow of this books starts a 'troubled' couple off at the stage, when both are feeling unheard and unsure of where the relationship stands. Once you get past the rules about speaking to each other, the "right" way, you move into the next chapter of rules with the foundation necessary to make improvements in the way you communicate and relate to your partner. As we marched through the book, we already decided we would revisit chapters or rules to strengthen what we learned. So much of this is common sense, but something that also vanishes when emotions are hurt and high. It saved us, and got us back on track, back on the path which we somehow departed without recognizing it was happening to us. We found this book better than our marriage counseling sessions at times and even bragged to our therapist of things we had learned as we read the rules. Therapy can work slowly, but this book gives a simple rule per day that keeps the momentum going and preventing a couple from backing up in between sessions. Not complicated to read or understand, this book won't scare off either partner and even covers rules for those with children (or step-children) and a little family of origin in there. We would definitely buy another rule book by this author, if she made this a series. Thank you for formatting a self-help book in this manner for those of us weary of psychology books full of psych jargon and over-explanation!
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