10 relationship rules for couples

Learn how to create healthy relationship rules for a lasting union

What makes a relationship truly extraordinary? Is it the way you communicate with your partner? Does setting relationship rules for couples help long term? And what weakens, or even destroys, a relationship?

It all comes down to a few relationship rules for couples. We all create rules – those things we believe have to happen in a relationship in order for us to be happy. However, when we have too many rules or our relationship rules are determined by what we can get out of the relationship rather than what we can give, a relationship can quickly become a nightmare. Many of us are skilled at setting effective boundaries in professional or platonic relationships, but we struggle with setting healthy boundaries in our romantic relationships. 

This is because, given the intimate nature of romance, the guidelines governing effective relationship rules for couples are a bit different than those for other types of relationships. How can couples learn to set healthy relationship rules to protect and nurture their partnership while staying connected to one another? It boils down to a few straightforward, powerful concepts.

How to set healthy relationship rules 

Have you been in failed relationships? Maybe your trust has been betrayed or you failed to keep the spark alive and the union fizzled. Most failed relationships are due to adopting the wrong relationship rules or not adhering to any boundaries or healthy relationship rules at all. The good news is, you can start over and create the healthy relationship you deserve. 

Define a healthy relationship 

Relationship rules are not things like, “My partner must say ‘I love you’ every day” or “My significant other must be home for dinner five nights a week.” Instead, they are based on broader concepts that help you be gentle with your partner, see the bigger picture and acknowledge the beauty of uncertainty in relationships. Healthy relationship rules don’t limit your partner or your union. Instead, they encourage growth and do away with dangerous expectations that can stifle you as a couple. 

Discover the Six Human Needs 

The only rules that support an extraordinary relationship are the rules of love. When you tap into the two final human needs growth and contribution – and apply these principles to your relationship, only then can you experience true love and bliss. These are the relationship rules for couples that remind us how to give more of ourselves and how to grow with our relationship. Relationship rules, to be successful and meaningful, must always be rooted in love. 

Create a safe space 

Love is one of the greatest human emotions we can experience. Unfortunately, if the right rules are not followed, it can also cause anxiety and depression and become an unhealthy power struggle. Love is never about selfishness or the need to be right – instead, it’s a safe harbor where you consistently strive to appreciate and understand your partner. In this space, you support each other when you’re stressed and celebrate when one or both of you succeeds. Remember: A relationship is not a place you go and get something, but a place you go to give.

10 relationship rules for couples

If you want a relationship that magnifies the human experience and allows you and your partner to feel an incredible amount of love, follow these 10 cardinal rules. The 10 cardinal relationship rules touch on everything from communication to connection and will help you appreciate your partner, banish blame and wake you up to the gift of life.

1. Never question the intent of your significant other or the nature of the relationship itself.

Just because you’ve experienced a problem today doesn’t mean the relationship itself is a problem. Always assume that the person with whom you’re in the relationship has good intentions, and remember that you are bound by a deep love for one another, no matter what.

2. Don’t correct your spouse.

This is one of the hardest relationship rules for those with a strong competitive nature. It doesn’t mean you allow your spouse to be wrong. It means that instead of arguing, you create a fun and effective pattern interrupt that you and your partner can use in order to change states easily.

3. Don’t get stuck in a repetitious pattern.

We all have patterns. They’re a way for our brains to save decision-making energy and can even be beneficial. Yet they also make it easy to get stuck in a rut. If things aren’t working, change your approach – your perception, actions, responsibility frame and more.

4. Never threaten the relationship.

While a little uncertainty makes a relationship exciting, “on again, off again” partnerships or those where one partner consistently threatens a breakup are never healthy. These behaviors create an imbalance of power – and healthy relationship rules are all about respect and equality.

5. Commit to CANI in your relationships.

Because growth is one of our most essential human needs, committing to CANI (constant and never-ending improvement) is the key to fulfillment not just in relationships, but in life. Develop a growth mindset and never accept a relationship that is anything less than extraordinary.

6. Appreciate and compliment the wonderful, fantastic and unique aspects of your partner.

To truly thrive, relationships require polarity, or different energies between partners. Masculine energies want to be appreciated. Feminine energies want to be understood. Making a point to compliment your partner every day fulfills both of those needs.  

7. Never compare your relationship to that of others.

Comparing your relationship to others is a sure formula for disaster – and it’s hard to prevent. Everyone puts their best face forward on social media, but remember that you aren’t seeing behind the scenes. As long as you are happy with your relationship rules, no one else matters.

8. Remember that all upsets with another person are rules upsets.

Just like our patterns, we all bring expectations to a relationship about the way the other person needs to act or the way the relationship must be. Understand that your partner has different rules than you, but that doesn’t make their feelings less valid. Decide to value your relationship over your expectations.

9. Reinforce your sense of connection through positive anchors.

Positive anchors such as family rituals or annual traditions fulfill two of our deepest human needs for certainty and connection. They’ll bring you closer together, give you something to look forward to and create stability in your relationship.

10. Decide that it’s more important to be in love than to be right.

The only person you can control is yourself. Embracing healthy relationship rules and learning how to resolve conflict ultimately comes down to your personal choices. Choosing your relationship over being right will always avoid an argument and lead to fulfillment.

Ready to unlock an extraordinary life by experiencing the type of love you’ve only dreamed of? As you and your partner learn to consistently practice the 10 cardinal relationship rules for couples, you will experience a transformation in your partnership. Instead of feeling unbalanced in your relationship, struggling to get your needs met and meet your partner’s needs, you’ll begin to notice that the relationship is meeting both of your needs, drawing you closer together into a rewarding partnership.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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