Rule Four :
The marriage comes first. All other people and events come after the marriage. Children, parents, work and play all benefit most by marital priority instead of marital sacrifice because the marriage is the central unit. The stronger that unit, the stronger the rest of the system. If it is true we reap with we sow, then marriages are in big trouble. If we put as little time into our work as we allow for our loving, we could end up unemployed. A test of more than 5,000 couples in my clinic showed that of available time left to a couple after work, sleep and other constants, less than one per cent of it was spent together.
"I Don't remember how it was before we had kids. They seem to be everything now''
Rule Five :
The kids do not come first! Kids are the best and the worst thing that happens to a marriage. Kid priority can overburden marri- age, resulting in doing for, ins- tead of with, children, applauding only them instead of each other. Until we learn that children are not special, but equal in impor- tance to all of us, we sacrifice our marriage. After all, wasn't one of your greatest wishes that your own parents would be happy? Think of giving that gift to your children.
"We just seem to be out of step. We can't get together on anything, especially our sex life.''
Rule Six :
Use the LOVE technique - listen, observe, verify, empathize. Practise on your spouse at least once a day. Send and receive messages with an emphasis on learning and listening, an emphasis on watching your partner while he or she talks. Employ the technique when important issues are being discussed, trying to get the feeling, not just the words of what your partner is saying.
"Happiness is when the last child leaves''
Rule Seven :
Better now than never. The super sex marriage is based more on doing than intending. We always seem to be waiting for the time when the ceiling is painted, the kids are well behaved and the account balances. That time will never come. I notice that my couples state this phenomenon in "threes,'' that is, we will make love when 1) the kids are asleep, 2) we are ready for bed, and 3) there is nothing left to do. Not likely! we do not have to live as though there is no tomorrow, but we had better love creatively as though there is only now.
"Just when I got established in my career, he decided to change his. Now he works longer hours, I work, and neither of us wants children. We just don't match up right.''
Rule Eight :
Except constant change. We assume that life's passages will be encountered by each of us at the same time. It just does not work that way. I tell my couples, "Never divorce someone you don't know.'' We must learn to remarry a different and changing person several times during marriage. We should use change to sculpt our existing marriage as an everchanging artwork. The solutions to marital problems are invariably found within each marriage. If I learnt anything from observing these couples and hundreds of others in my clinical experience, it is that marriage has been corrupted by the unquestioned acceptance of the "sexperts.''