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on November 28, 2015
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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on July 9, 2015
Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up is not so much a typical self-help book as it is a set of helpful suggestions, for maintaining a healthy relationship or mending a broken one pieced together, by a seasoned expert in the fields of psychology and family relationships. Harriet Lerner doesn’t waste time with wordy prose, instead she effectively provides a list of 106 rules, divided into ten chapters, which suggest concrete examples of common issues and ways to alter perspectives and behaviors to improve relationships. Despite the sound information she gives, it is difficult as a reader to learn about all the possible missteps he or she is making without feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Still, if the reader wants to learn and change, Lerner imparts something to take away from each example.

Lerner’s rules are diverse, concrete and are sure to contain advice which applies to every reader looking to improve his or her relationship. The author gives the reader ideas about how to change his or her own behaviors in ways that will positively impact both partners. She gives specific examples of how to create a more loving and positive atmosphere by pointing out things many people do in relationships that cause tension and suggests alternatives, such as only criticizing once per day or telling your partner things you admire about him or her. She points out important aspects to maintaining successful relationships over time, which most people are not aware of, such as: marriage expert Goldman says a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions are necessary for a lasting marriage. The reader may feel like he or she is doing many things wrong, or that this might lead to a break up, but Lerner has suggestions for every situation.

The author gives advice for happy couples, those who don’t get along, or those on the verge of splitting up, which is a bit unsettling, but also means any reader can take ideas from a variety of examples and apply them for his or her own purposes. By showing couples at different stages,
Lerner, gives the reader a chance to reflect on his or her own relationship, roles within the relationship, and how it might change in the future. The reader wonders, for example, if he or she exhibits the problem behaviors that lead to divorce. In allowing the reader to consider different options, for failure and improvement, Lerner literally helps the reader make better choices for his or her relationship. Her rules support and empower decisions for the reader.

No one ever says marriage is easy. We know all relationships take work. Most partnerships don’t have a guidebook like this one, with straight-forward advice. If you’re ready, use it and welcome it. No matter what the circumstance of the reader, Marriage Rules is a start to making changes from within you’ll need to improve your life with another person.
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on January 17, 2012
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.

Not every rule or vignette moved me (for example, her story about communication about sex in Rule #55 seemed a bit too obvious), but the general message in that section "Forget About Normal Sex" is spot on and relieves pressure that can only make things worse in the bedroom. So overall, well recommended, especially if you're looking for a book to keep by your bedside and read a rule or two or few at a time -- and then share the book with your partner.

Other books on marriage to consider: Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition (helpful for looking at the deep underlying patterns that cause disfunction) and The Couple's Survival Workbook: What You Can Do To Reconnect With Your Partner and Make Your Marriage Work (especially helpful if you're really struggling).
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on November 17, 2016
I loved Harriet Lerner's "Dance of Anger" and the other dance books - all communication is a dance...change flows and evolves. So even though I don't really "do" marital therapy, I decided that I would read this book and it has been one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read! Very simple, easy to read, not a lot of psycho-babble...really breaks it down to what partners need to do to make their relationships work.
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on October 1, 2015
As usual Harriet is full of excellent insights & advise. As I was reading I was thinking "wow, no wonder my marriage has been a lonely frustrating disappointing experience! Relationships are hard especially if one partner is so closed off to discussion of any kind & particularly of emotional content that pretty much all thats left is work, weather & anecdotes.
Still, I found the content of Marriage Rules enlightening & regardless of the difficulty I can apply her advice to myself & be the better for it.
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on August 12, 2013
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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on March 2, 2018
I bought this book because I was looking for simple ideas to keep improving my marriage. I've been married for nearly 20 years and found so many ideas in this book I could put to good use. Lerner keeps her concepts simple and doesn't over-explain just to add pages which I feel many self-help authors do. She uses specific examples from her own marriage and the marriages of many of her patients which personalized it and made it easy to read. I'd recommend this book!
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on December 14, 2017
My fiance and I sought couples counseling to find some everyday ways to strength our relationship. Our counselor recommended this book. It is an easy read, especially if done in chunks. The best part is that it offers common sense "fixes" to a lot of problems. Focuses a lot on modifying your own actions, very helpful.
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on July 7, 2013
I felt like I was getting advice from my favorite therapist. I read this book in one day, and highlighted passages in almost every chapter. I am looking forward to reviewing this book and re-reading it as well. I also read quite a few passages aloud to my husband. Obviously this book resonated for me. I highly recommend it if you are looking for some practical and easy to understand relationship advice.
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on August 14, 2015
This is a fantastic book. It helps the reader see his or her own behaviour from a new perspective. Half the battle is recognizing the problem. Then, it gives practical and applicable replacement for old behavior. I love that it keeps it real and recognizes a more human relationship outside of textbook psychology. Great read for married couples, those considering it and anyone involved in any relationship whatsoever. In short, it is a good read for everyone.
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