9 Relationship Rules Happy Couples Break Regularly

Rules are meant to be broken, after all.

Last updated on Feb 04, 2024

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That age-old relationship advice passed down from generation to generation may not be as sound as you'd think.

Sometimes, it's actually breaking those so-called sacred decrees that enable couples to have a healthy relationship and keeps them happy for the long haul.

Here are 9 relationship rules the happiest couples break regularly.

1. Never go to bed angry

You've heard this one a million times, but "sometimes a good night's sleep will end the fight better than arguing until the wee hours," says Alex, of Tulsa, OK, who has been happily married for 16 years.




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Adds Marie, of Minneapolis, MN, who has been with her husband for more than a decade, "While this advice is great on the surface, the ability to calmly and rationally get an argument across diminishes the more tired you get. Sometimes it's best to just sleep on it and tackle the problem the next morning."


And Marie has a point. After all, you can't expect to get anywhere in an argument if one or both partners are still heated. As she says, "There's a good chance that whatever you were fighting about the night before won't seem as important. If it's still important, it's easier to treat each other with respect and not say something awful when you're rested."

That's a relationship rule couples will certainly have no problem breaking.

2. Don't keep secrets

Depending on the situation, being totally transparent might do more harm than good.

"There are some things that my husband doesn't need to know, and vice versa," says Kristin, of Winooski, VT, who has been married for 26 years. "Like when it comes to our daughters. Sometimes the girls confide in me because I'm their mom and they'd be embarrassed if my husband knew their 'secret.' I'd rather them share with me and get some guidance or understanding than not trust me. I don't think this hurts my husband at all, nor would he want me to break their trust."


Susan, of Brooklyn, NY, has been with her husband for 19 years, and adds, "The only secret I'll keep is how much I actually spent on some item like clothes for me or the kids, or some other expense that isn't essential. He knows at this point that I have my own math with this stuff, and it's somewhat of a joke."

relationship rules the happiest couples breakPhoto: Ba Tik / Pexels

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3. Talk it out

"I'm a proponent of the 'less is more' philosophy," says Kristin. "I think many couples talk things to death and revisit old hurts or betrayals, which is unfair."

Lauren, of Sharon, MA, who has been married for 15 years, echoes that sentiment, saying, "We both break this rule. If we talked everything through, there would be little time for much else. Sometimes I book vacations or date nights without asking, but we trust one another to make good and fair decisions."

While it's important to have open communication in any healthy relationship, when couples continue to rehash the same old problems, it can quickly spiral into an unhelpful conversation. Sometimes, it's best to rely on your partner, trusting that they have your relationship's best interests in mind.

4. Don't try to change your partner

If something's driving you nuts, it's better to try to find a solution than silently stewing about it. You can't expect your partner to read your mind.


"I try to break my husband's non-cleaning habits, and he has gotten remarkably better about it," says Lauren. "I think you can't break a person, but if you openly discuss your issues and work on them to become a better couple, that works."

Tori, of Los Angeles, CA, who has been with her husband for 4 years, suggests, "Instead of trying to change your partner, explain to him in a loving moment what your needs are. He will want to make you happy if he truly loves you!"



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5. Maintain your own interests

Some couples just prefer to be together as much as possible. And it works for them.

"We don't really do anything completely separately from each other," says Marie. "Though we do have separate interests, we tend to involve each other in them. For example, he doesn't like cooking, but I do, and I have him help me develop recipes and give input on meals."

While most couples find it essential to the health of their relationship to have separate interests, when those hobbies overlap, there's no harm in embracing it together!

6. Divide household duties equally

Imagine how it might feel if you didn't care that you were shouldering more than your fair share around the house. Liberating, right? For some couples, it's the key to happiness.


"I'm a stay-at-home mom," says Michelle, of Raleigh, NC, who has been with her husband for 17 years, "so I take on the majority of the household duties. I don't really believe in dividing them equally because, honestly, there is no such thing!"



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Adds Tori, "No one wants to live with a nag, and it doesn't feel good to ride someone for household chores, so just do it yourself or pay someone else to do it. Make your relationship happiness a priority, not taking out the garbage."


Splitting household chores is a point of contention in many relationships, but if one partner prefers to do chores and the other partner pitches in in different ways, as long as it's beneficial to the partnership, there's no harm done.

7. Have a regular date night

No energy to schedule a babysitter and make a dinner reservation? Then don't!

"We don't have much energy for date nights," says Lauren. "So, yes, this rule has been broken a lot. We know we will get back to it more after our kids are a bit more independent."

"We don't go on dates regularly because we enjoy spending time with our kids and family and friends, but we do make an effort to watch TV or a movie together at least one or two nights a week," adds Susan.


Every couple has a different idea of what romance looks like. While having a regular date night is often a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of life, and provides couples time to catch up, it's not for everyone. Staying home and spending time with one another is some couples' idea of romance.

relationship rules the happiest couples breakPhoto: SHVETS production / Pexels


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8. Make romance a priority

Candlelit dinners, love letters, nice lingerie... or not. With work and kids and bills and chores, romance in the traditional sense often gets forgotten — and that's totally fine.

"Romance is not a priority at all," says Susan. "As my husband says, 'It's last on our list.' But I think it's okay because we know we love each other and do little things daily like saying, 'I love you', and kissing morning and night."

Alexa, of Columbus, IN, has a similar outlook, adding, "This one is tough for us. We live and work together, and having a small business takes its toll on any relationship. But I think we remain happy because we really love one another."


9. Keep the kids out of your bed

While some experts warn against co-sleeping, for some couples, it works for them!

"We enjoy having our toddlers in our family bed until they are ready to move into a room together," says Marcus, of South Burlington, VT, who has been with his wife for 5 years. "This just means we have to get creative when it comes to sex. Who said you have to do it in your bed, anyway?"

Co-sleeping means couples won't be able to be intimate, but, then again, it's always fun to get creative, right?

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Elizabeth Jenkins is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle writer whose work has been featured in more than 30 online publications, including InStyle, Country Living, Prevention, Allure, Maxim, Real Simple, Health, Home Journal, and Mom.com, among many others.