For any relationship to work, rules must be established and followed. Creating — and sticking to — the right ones can help avoid miscommunication, encourage compromise, build trust, and maintain respect. They s can also help lighten things up, reduce stress, and generally make life easier. Every couple has a rule that’s made their marriage better, so to locate some trusted rules that truly work, we spoke to a dozen men about the ones that work best for them. These dictims aren’t draconian commands or orders, but rather collaborative agreements that do everything from strengthen connections to celebrate differences, all in the spirit of maintaining a healthy relationship. Here’s what they told us.

1. We Always Share Our Highs And Lows

“This practice began to ensure open communication between us, transcending beyond the typical How was your day? conversation. Each evening, we share the best part of our day and a challenge we faced. This has fostered a deeper understanding and empathy in our relationship. It allows us to celebrate each other’s successes and provide support during tougher times. The idea originated from my experience in fitness coaching, where reflecting on successes and setbacks is crucial for growth. Applying this to our marriage has brought us closer, as it ensures that no part of our individual experiences are left in the shadows. It’s a daily reminder that we’re a team, sharing life’s joys and hurdles.” — Oliver, early 30s, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2. We Talk In Funny Voices Whenever We Sense Conflict

“Our rule is simple. And it probably sounds silly and useless, but it works. Whenever we recognize a conflict coming, we talk in silly voices. It works because it introduces an element of playfulness and humor into a situation that may be escalating toward an argument. It serves as a kind of ‘pattern interrupt’, breaking the tension and reminding both of us not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s like throwing an unexpected curveball during a serious match — you can’t help but laugh! Obviously, this rule might not work when the situation is extremely serious or sensitive. If your partner is genuinely upset, using a funny voice could come off as dismissive or disrespectful of their feelings. But for us, it’s been a great way to keep our relationship healthy.” — Deon, 34, New York

3. We Never Go To Bed Angry

“The simple rule for our marriage comes from the Bible, which says, ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’ This essentially means do not go to sleep with anger. So we try to work out our issues before we go to sleep. We start to ask ourselves why are we so wrathful over this issue? We started following this rule when we realized we were waking up angry with each other sometimes. We didn’t think that was healthy. It has been successful because we treat it as a command from God so we are both determined to go to sleep without wrath so we stay awake, talk about it and apologize to each other. Having an outside factor like God to lean on is what makes this rule work so well for us because we feel as if we have a mediator outside of ourselves.” — Tim, 31, Tennessee

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“One simple rule that my wife and I share that has vastly improved our marriage is being committed to always having each other’s backs. This rule is not just about supporting each other in front of others, but also about being each other’s biggest advocate and cheerleader in all situations. One instance that comes to mind is when I was considering a risky business venture. While my wife had her reservations, she stood by me, providing the emotional support I needed to take the leap. The venture ended up being a success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without her backing me up. This rule makes our marriage better because it fosters a deep sense of trust and unity. We know that no matter what happens, we can rely on each other for support.” — Liam, 45, Florida

5. We Make Time For “Car Talk

“The rule my wife and I follow isn’t anything fancy or out of the box. But it has kept us going strong for close to 25 years now. That rule is, ‘Never miss Car Talk every Sunday’. Car Talk is a popular radio show where people call in with their vehicle problems, and the hosts provide solutions with a humorous twist. As a mechanic, cars are a huge part of my life, and sharing this passion with my partner doesn’t only keep us connected but also gives us a common language. This rule has been successful because it creates a quality time bubble that we always can count on. It gives us ample opportunities to communicate, discuss, laugh, and learn together, molding us into not just romantic partners but also best friends who know and understand each other deeply. “ – John, early 50s, Pennsylvania

6. We Ask How We Can Help.

“Our simple rule is to always ask, ‘What can I do for you today?’ It’s a small gesture, but it makes a huge difference. It’s not just about the actual help, which is great, but it’s also about showing that you’re there for your partner, ready to support them. This little question opens up a dialogue and keeps us tuned into each other’s needs. We stumbled upon this during a particularly hectic week when we were both swamped with work and home responsibilities. It was one of those ‘aha’ moments where we realized that we’re a team. Since then, it’s been our daily touchstone, and has done nothing but strengthen our partnership.” — Ibrahim, 45

7. We Act Unexpectedly

“It’s a rule rooted in spontaneity, but my wife and I live by a desire to do unexpected things at unexpected times for each other. For example, I once had flowers delivered at her office for no reason one morning. Later that day a second arrangement arrived, which was the most unexpected timing and had her coworkers buzzing. And when she got home she had matching flowers at the house as well. The gestures don’t have to be grand. It’s more a way to communicate that she is on my mind, and vice versa. In a relationship, it’s important to feel like you’re being thought of. That’s the idea behind this rule.” — David, 43, Oklahoma

8. We Allow Our Differences

“We’ve just celebrated 20 years of marriage. And we have two boys – one is 12, the other in his teens. One thing I think we have done well throughout our marriage is that we look for ways to complement each other’s strengths. For example, my wife is incredibly detail oriented, I tend to be a big picture thinker. During a recent big family vacation, she handled the day-to-day, like what we were going to do and see, while I handled the hotel reservations and transportation logistics. She is warm and can develop strong, lasting relationships, but has a hard time saying no. I’m better at doing that when necessary, so she trusts me in those situations. We don’t take our differences personally. We know we’re each great at giving support, and contributing to the big picture of raising our kids. So our rule is to allow our differences, and complement each other whenever we can.” — Jason, 50, Maryland

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“Sometimes it’s not about fast solutions, but making sure the other person feels heard and that their feelings matter. When one of us brings something up, the other really focuses on listening well and caring about how they feel without jumping straight to advising. This helps us grasp each other’s perspectives more. We know solutions help too, but listening comes first. By concentrating on attentive listening, issues tend to get solved more smoothly. It builds a supportive space, knowing our feelings and views are valued. Our rule of prioritizing understanding over quick fixes has taken work, but it has brought us closer together and paid off through our strength as a couple.” — Jack, 31, Texas

10. When Arguing, We Stay On Topic And Stay Mature

“When we have a disagreement or an argument, we always try to stay on topic and not resort to name calling and insults. Getting caught up with emotions is easy, but also dangerous when you’re having an argument with someone you care about. Someone you want to move past the argument together with. Letting things devolve into immaturity distracts from whatever the argument is about, and is damaging and hurtful. No one is perfect and everyone loses their cool sometimes, but keeping our arguments civil is always a priority for us.” — Kendall, 51, New York

11. We Never Argue Over Text

“Setting this rule earlier in our relationship would’ve saved us a ton of trouble. Within the past few years, we both realized what awful texters we are, especially when it comes to heavy stuff. Jokes and memes are okay, but both of us are pretty bad at communicating via text. So, we decided that we would use the 🛑 emoji when a text conversation started to either get heated, or confusing. Most of our arguments that stemmed from texts were simply because one of us misunderstood something. The 🛑 has sort of eliminated that issue. At first, it was definitely infuriating. But once we learned not to take it personally, and to interpret it as, ‘I love you, but I don’t know how to say what I need to say over text. Let’s talk later…’ it’s been a real game changer, for the better.” — Joel, 44, California

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“Whenever we run into a situation that turns into, ‘You pick. No, you pick. No, you pick!’ we flip a coin. Simple as that. We tried it once a long time ago, and it worked like a charm. We were genuinely about to argue over where we should go to dinner. Then my wife – probably out of anger or frustration – said, ‘Let’s just flip a coin.’ And that was that. Since then, we’ve used this rule to take away the pressure of decision making. Obviously, there are certain situations that can’t be solved by flipping a coin. But when it’s a case of indecisiveness, or a mild disagreement, we go straight to the coin. It helps us resolve the situation fairly and, more importantly, allows us to move on and get back to our lives.” — Adam, 39, Colorado