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Monday, December 09, 2013

creating a good marital foundation...

Marriage is one of the most rewarding relationships... but can also be the most challenging relationship on the planet. This paradox for many married relationships creates a confusing conflict which many don’t know how to deal with or work through.

I have found, not only in my own marriage, but also from the many marriages I have coached throughout the years that implementing some ground rules helps immensely. Couples that do not have ground rules posses a marriage set up to fail because the foundation is shaky and fragile.  

So, what are ground rules? Ground rules are healthy boundaries that help your marriage out of potential ruts. They are agreements that encourage truces and eliminate “free flowing” irresponsibility. From the onset, this sounds more like a negative thing than a positive one. However, implementing and integrating marital ground rules can be one of the healthiest things you will ever do for the sake of your marriage's success. 

Why are marital ground rules important? They bring healthy marital structure to the longevity of your marriage as well as prevent marital fights from growing and developing into bad habits. And when should marital ground rules be implemented into your marriage? How about TODAY!

Here are 5 marital ground rules that can reinforce your marriage today:

1)      Never go to bed angry. Sometimes, marital fights drag on into the next day; even into the next week. Obviously, unresolved fights are never a good thing and can slowly eat away at the foundation. Setting a ground rule like never go to be angry with each other is one of the best principles for your marriage longevity.

2)      Say “I’m sorry.” always! I’m sorry is one of the best conflict busters; two words that can quickly end the spark before it turns into a wild fire. Saying these words is an important marital ground rule that will maintain a healthy level of love and respect in your marriage--something every couple desires.   

3)      Go on a date at least twice a month. This is not just a cliché. Dating your spouse never ends! Marriages that have this marital rule (and stick to it!) are marriages that last because they are built upon solid rock. It is easy for life to get in the way of your marriage. Dating your spouse always breaks the monotony and mundane of life.

4)      Say “I love you” often! Words mean more than we realize. Unfortunately, over time it’s easy to take each other for granted. You can never go wrong telling you love each other on a regular basis. Saying these words on a regularly is an important marital ground rule to stick by.

5)      Hold hands in public. This may sound a little odd to be a marital ground rule but like # 3, it is so easy to take each other for granted. Not just holding hands but doing so in public tells you and others that your spouse is the most important person in your life.

These ground rules, in my opinion, are a few of the most important ones you can implement or reinforce if you are already doing some of them. You should add other rules that will work for your marriage too! Using ground rules in your marriage relationship is one of the most important things you can do in and for your marriage success!               

Rob Lane
Marriage Mechanic

Rob is proud that his wife Cara plays an instrumental part of what he does. They have a combined 20+ years helping individuals and couples with their relationships and marriages. Rob has a BA in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is an Online Psychology Professor for Grand Canyon University. Rob is also certified marriage counselors in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. He is a non-denominational ordained minister and officiates wedding ceremonies. Rob combines his experience and education along with his unique approach that is sincerely relational, empowering, hopeful, honest and compassionate. To learn more about Rob, The Marriage Lane and his approach read here.

*Lead photo created using the app A Beautiful Mess, available for sale here in the iTunes app store! Thanks ABM app for the creative tool!



  1. Love these 5 rules. Thank you!

  2. I find number 1 to be completely untrue. In fact, I advocate the opposite! Having hard conversations at the end of a long day can lead to things getting out of hand. Taking a break and sleeping on it can give you time to reflect and let emotions settle down. In the morning after you've hopefully had some rest you can then restart the conversation. I find that we are both more apologetic and agreeable in the morning.

  3. Rachel, thank you for your comments. I agree that sometimes "sleeping on it" may be a healthy practice and then talk through it the next day. My wife and I have had to "sleep on it" throughout the 18 1/2 years we have been married. The true challenge though is to in fact talk through it (goal: apology, forgiveness, growth) the next day. In my experience working with struggling marriages, they have grown accustomed to not dealing with their issues because that "next day" turns into the next week. If implementing a time out works for you, then keep doing it for sure. For some of you out there, be careful of the infamous resentment weed that slowly turns into bitterness, eventually into hate.

  4. I agree with Rachel. My husband and I will "put it on ice" till a pre determined time the next day. 80% of the time we apologize and move on. The other 20% we are able to calm work through it.


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