6 Trusted Relationship "Rules" You Should Completely Ignore

Why you need to stop listening to these old-school rules.

Last updated on May 15, 2024

Rules for relationships that you should ignore Africa images | Canva

We've all heard them ... over ... and over. Those so-called "pearls of wisdom" parents, well-meaning friends, and stacks of advice books drill into our heads about how to keep our relationships strong and happy. Well, don't be so quick to believe that popular advice! A slew of studies now reveal that many old-school relationship "rules" just don't cut it nowadays. Following some of that advice may even sabotage your relationship! Yep, sometimes being bad is good (and needed). So, go ahead and be a renegade. Flaunt your rebellious side, break some rules, and ditch these six "couple commandments:"


Here are 6 trusted relationships "rules" you should completely ignore:

1. Never go to bed angry

This is probably the oldest one in the book, dating back to the Old Testament, which advises, "not letting the sun go down on your anger." But following this rule could mean a lot of late nights spent rehashing the same argument and getting nowhere. Plus, nothing escalates an argument more than sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion — which studies show not only turns your brain to mush but robs you of self-control and the ability to make smart judgments.

A better idea? Push the pause button on your disagreement, get some z's, and agree to revisit the issue when you're both rested. The good news is, that research reveals that your brain can solve problems for you while you sleep by enhancing your decision-making abilities. So, plan to wake up with a better understanding of your situation and a clearer picture of how to resolve it — plus, be in the mood (and better rested) for make-up intimacy!


RELATED: 5 Hallmarks Of An Extremely Healthy Relationship

2. Never sleep in separate beds

Speaking of shut-eye, while cuddling and spooning is nice, if you find yourself tossing and turning most nights due to your partner's annoying sleeping habits, this is bad for your health ... and your relationship. One British study found that couples suffer up to 50% more disturbances when sleeping next to someone than when sleeping alone. And poor sleep, researchers say, is now linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic accidents — and divorce! This probably explains why a whopping 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep apart at night. (Yes, really.) Remember, there's no reason why you can't still enjoy morning and nighttime rituals that involve cuddling and getting busy while camping out in the guest room.

3. You must do everything together

Many couples believe that if their partner enjoys something, they should make an effort to get on board, too. Nice gesture, unless you end up gritting your teeth while participating in activities he likes but that seriously doesn't float your boat. In the long run, this can lead to unnecessary boredom, stress, and conflict. 

You do need to find and cultivate mutual interests to stay close and connected, but researchers at Columbia University found that couples who are constantly joined at the hip are less likely to have a long-lasting relationship than those who put some distance between them. So, if he wants to go fishing or hit the links, and you'd rather see a chick flick or get a mani/pedi with your gal pals, do your own thing. Then plan to meet up for dinner to share details of your separate adventures.


RELATED: Happy Couples In Healthy Relationships Have These 11 Things In Common

4. Be 100% honest in your relationship

Whenever I ask couples whom I coach what qualities they value most in a partner, most will list "honesty" among those traits. I agree that you always want to share hopes and dreams, and I caution against fibbing about finances. But you don't need to share intimate details of past relationships. That just conjures up comparisons and can breed feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and inadequacy. Also, brutal honesty often does more damage than good. So, always consider your partner's feelings before blurting out something you (both) might later regret.

5. Avoid fighting at all costs 

It's a no-brainer that if you fight constantly and never resolve basic issues, your relationship is probably in trouble. But, not fighting is even more dangerous, because it likely means that one or both of you have given up on the hope of saving your relationship and don't care enough to work through issues. So, when something's bugging you, go ahead and duke it out (metaphorically, of course). According to one survey, 44 percent of couples claimed that squabbling once a week was the secret to a strong, happy union — so long as the bickering wasn't abusive. Arguing, they insisted, "helps keep the lines of communication open."

@noelleagcaoili Replying to @oliveoilchange normalize healthy arguments🫶🏼🫶🏼 #fyp #couples #fighting #arguments #mytakeon #grwm ♬ original sound - Noelle<3

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6. Your kids should always come first

When kids enter the picture, many moms and dads put their relationships on the back burner in the name of being good parents. Big mistake. Research reveals that not only will your marriage suffer, but so will your offspring. According to The Date Night Opportunity, a report released by the National Marriage Project, parents who gave up date nights and quality couple time to focus on their kids were twice as likely to report a decline in satisfaction in their marriages.

Adds Philip Cowan, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, "Our studies show that how a couple's relationship is going has an impact on how the kids are doing." In other words, when mom and dad are happy, their youngsters not only feel safe and secure, but they also learn, first-hand, how a loving partnership should be. So there you have it. Popular advice does not always make for good advice. So break some rules and watch your relationship satisfaction rise! 


RELATED: If You Have These 9 Thoughts About Your Relationship, It’s A Healthy One

Coach Todd Reed, CPC, has expertise in communication and relationships. His book, Conversation is Sexy, offers tips, tools, and techniques for couples to discover the joys of being in love.