Marriage Rules begins with wedding vows that I heard two young people say out loud to each other in front of their community of family and friends.

They said in turn:

"I promise to always treat you with kindness and respect.

I promise to be faithful, honest, and fair.

I promise to listen carefully to what you are saying.

I promise to apologize when I am wrong and to repair any harm I have done.

I promise to cook and clean for you.

I promise to be your partner and best friend in the best and worst of times.

I promise to bring my best self into our relationship.

I promise to live these promises as a daily practice."

How did this couple come up with their shared promises? Did they plow through blogs and self-help books? Did they study the latest research on marital success and failure. Of course not,

They needed only to consult their own hearts, their core values, life experience and the Golden Rule. If this couple lives their promises as a daily practice (even with a large margin of error) their marriage will do very well, indeed. Need the experts say more?

One of my favorite stores is about a farmer whose was invited by a neighbor to attend a meeting at the county seat.

“Why should I attend this meeting?” the farmer asked.

“It will help you to be a better farmer!” was the neighbor’s enthusiastic reply.

The farmer paused and then asked, “Why would I go to a meeting to learn how to be a better farmer when I’m not being as good a farmer as I already know how to be?”

Okay, it’s not that simple. Real life is messy and complicated. People don’t always follow their promises or their best thinking, just like people don’t eat healthfully even when they know what’s good for them.

Paradoxically, it’s in our most enduring and important relationships, be it with our partner, our mother, our sister or our child, that we’re least likely to be our most mature and thoughtful selves. Of course, we get stuck. That’s why I wrote Marriage Rules and other relationship books. I believe we’re here to help each other out. I’m not advocating any kind of do-it-yourself approach where relationships are concerned.

I’m just suggesting that you check in with your own wisdom before you pay your hard-earned money for expert advice. You may find that you already know what to do to have a good relationship or at least a better one. A good book, blog, or therapist can do wonders, but keep in mind that ultimately you are the best expert on your own self.

That’s this expert’s advice!

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