My mother gave my husband, Charles, and me what she called a "silly" gift as part of her wedding present to us. It's a plaque we still have hanging on a kitchen wall after 30 years of marriage. "Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire." Every time I look at it I chuckle. It's a good "rule" to follow, though I don't always.
Other rules also make their way into our marriages, and they're not so good to follow—at least not without question. In fact, I believe some of them are worth "breaking"—maybe even abandoning. For example, can a marriage really be lived on a 50-50 basis? What about finances? When it comes to spending and saving, does the one who earns more have a bigger say in such matters? Is it important to have full agreement before making a decision? Living by rules can actually hurt a relationship if the couple does not take time to talk about their expectations and desires before they make a commitment.
For some couples there are no rules and never have been. My husband and I are among that group. Neither of us likes to be held captive to a certain way of relating. But we do want to follow Paul's admonition in Philippians 4:8: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." We don't do this perfectly. In fact, sometimes we follow it very imperfectly, but we keep going back to it.1