Marriage Guidelines

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 15, 2016

I have extensively written and spoken on the subject of marriage. See, for example, the book, Real Love in Marriage.

Sometimes, however, it can be helpful to keep a simple list of guidelines that can easily be referenced for the sake of remembering what matters most in a marriage. Following are a few examples. They are stated in the first person because when you read them, you’ll be remembering what YOUR choices are, since you can control only your choices not those of your partner.

No fear. I will not interact with you (my partner) in blind fear, because everything I do or say while afraid will be harmful. If I do become afraid—which is inevitable in mortal life—I will talk to you about my fear, and if you’re unable to hear my discussion, I will talk about my fear with a wise person until I’m able to interact with you without fear.

No anger. Nothing I say or do in anger will ever turn out well. Never. So I will never speak to you in anger. If I do become angry, I will do whatever it takes—meditate, pray, recite the Five Truths, step into the next room, talk to a wise person—to become free of anger and capable of speaking to you.

No confusion. I will not speak to you in a way that causes confusion. I will speak as clearly as possible, so you are not confused. And if I am confused in the least by what you say or do, I will not make assumptions that will just confuse me more. I will ask you what you mean, so we can have productive conversations and make wise decisions.

No past. When I over-react to anything you do in the present, it’s because I’m carrying around the wounds and pain of past injuries. I commit to letting go of the past, so these over-reactions don’t happen and poison our interactions in the present.

No conflict. If a conversation is not going well, I will say, “I really want to finish this conversation with you, but I need a few minutes. I will come and find you in XX minutes.” If you say something similar to me, I will immediately stop talking and allow you the time you ask for.

We will be partners. We will share in everything: information, money, decisions, everything. We will not act until we are united in our decision, and we’re both happy.

I will never leave you. I am committed to learn to love you. While I’m learning to do that, I will not make threats about leaving, which would make all communication and positive decisions impossible.

I will never put my pleasure before your pain or fear. If there is something I want to do, but it would frighten you or cause you pain—driving, purchases, sex, destinations, vacations—I will not insist on my choice or course of action.

I will not let anything get between us—not work, kids, money, relatives, being right, anything. If we ever have a disagreement about an issue, like those just named, we will discuss it until we are in complete agreement before doing anything. Nothing will take a priority higher than our partnership.

I will never frighten you purposely. If I learn that I am scaring you, I will stop until we can figure out a way forward without scaring you.

When you are in distress, I will relieve your pain if I can, even if I’m the one causing the distress.

You will be the first to hear about anything new, so that you don’t ever hear anything that affects you second—or third—hand from someone else.

Don't know where to start?

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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