Be Easy to Live With

The Rules are about playing hard to get. Once you've got him, it's about being easy to be with.

Many things can go wrong in the first few months or year of marriage. You might have fights about where you'll live. There may be money problems or family problems. You thought you wouldn't have to work so hard, that you could work part-time and start planning for kids. He says he wants you to work full-time and have kids later. He thought you would make him home-cooked meals like his mother made his father and gets angry every time you open a can of tuna.

There may be more serious problems—for example loss of job or illness. What is The Rule now?

The Rtde is that as hard as you worked to play hard to get is how hard you must work to be easygoing! Be kind, considerate and patient; try to overlook his faults and build up his ego—tell him how good he looks, try to see things his way. Don't expect him to see things your way all the time.

It's natural to want to fly off the handle every time something goes wrong in the love kingdom—we all have fantasies of marital bliss. But you must try to be serene and unselfish, or you won't be a happy princess.

Let's say you've cooked him his favorite dinner, but he calls at the last minute to say he's working late and that you should eat without him. You're mad and want to scream into the phone "But I cooked a special meal just for you!" Instead, take a deep breath and say something sweet like 'You've really been working hard lately. I'm so proud of you." Promise him a back rub when he gets home. Then get busy—read a book or clean the house. Don't tell him how disappointed you are and turn into a nag. Remember, he's working long hours for the both of

Or let's say it's your birthday and you know he's getting you something special but you have this thing about getting a dozen roses. So, you're on edge all day and wondering if you should give him a hint. You're also mad that you even have to say something!

So what do you do? Tell a friend, buy yourself flowers, and forget about it. Practice being happy with what you get instead of expecting him to fulfill your every romantic fantasy. Also, give it time. The roses will come. Life is long.

In general, remember that he works hard all day— whether or not you think he does. Don't hit him with every crisis the minute he walks in the door. And remember, small acts of kindness make for a great marriage.

This isn't always easy. Sometimes you just don't feel like shaving your legs, cooking him a hot meal, or being so sweet; kind, and loving. Your PMS might be in high gear. How do you keep yourself going?

We think it helps to use any stress busters—yoga, meditation, aerobics, running, biking, tennis, a spa weekend, and so on—to reenergize your batteries. True it takes a lot more work to be a Rules wife than an ordinary one but it's so much more rewarding in the long run, don't you agree?

You might also try reading spiritual literature seeing a therapist, or joining a support group if things get too much for you or you find yourself constantly bickering with him about little things. But whatever path you choose remember to keep the focus on yourself. Don't go into therapy or exercise with the idea of changing your husband or prodding him to get healthy, too. Change yourself, and your reaction to what he is or isn't doing.

On any given day, try to remember that an attitude of gratitude can go a long way. On bad days, try to remember the reasons you married your husband. In the middle of a fight with your husband, stop and recall all those bad blind dates, the seemingly endless search for Mr. Right. That should help you not say anything too mean in the middle of a fight 1 ikze, "I wish I had never met you!" or "I should have married someone else." Don't dredge up the past or be mean-spirited and say things likze, "Remember the time you were late for my sister's wedding?" Tell yourself, "I found Mr. Right—how important is this?"

If you want a happy Rules marriage may we suggest a few more rules?

1. Don't go through his clothes, pockets, and drawers looking for anything—lipstick stains, women's phone number^ hotel receipts, and such. Remember, if you're in a Rules marriage he's not cheating on you. Then go about your business—read a book, exercise. Don't you have a letter to send or a drawer to clean out?

2. Don't open his mail unless it is specifically addressed to both of you. It is natural to think that what's his is yours, but that's not for you to decide. If he doesn't specifically show you something, or include you in certain things, it's none of your business. Besides, the less nosy you are, the more he will want to tell you— eventually.

3. Try not to raise your voice or scream too much. For some of us, who are more emotional than others, this is not always easy to do. For example when he watches the ballgame on TV all afternoon instead of helping you clean the house, don't zap the tube off in a moment of anger. Nicely tell him you need his help. If he still insists on watching the game, leave him alone. Tell yourself, "No big deal." This kind of thing is not that important. To lose your cool every time you don't get your way gets you nowhere.

4. Don't hold him back from doing something he really wants to do, such as a ski weekend with a bunch of friends. He should always feel free. He should not think of you as the kind of person who wouldn't want him to be happy because it means not being with you. If you feel you have to hold him back from anything, there's a problem in the relationship. Don't try to control him. Remember, we don't make things happen or stop them from happening! We're easy to be with, we go with the flow.

5. Always try to show utter contentment with him, yourself, the world. Be carefree. You'll get less wrinkles and backaches; you'll feel less stress. He'll want you more when you're the easygoing girl he dated—a creature unlike any other. Reread Rule #1.

6. If you're feeling weak about The Rules and start acting like your old pain-in-the-neck self—angry, needy, not so nice—reread The Rules from the beginning. It will inspire you to act like a creature unlike any other, and will remind you of the benefits of doing so. Namely, your husband will find you irresistible all over again!

7. Make time for a healthy lov^/sex life and spend quality time together. We know that after a hard day of work, food shopping, aerobics, and so on, that you may not want to have wild sex or go to the football game with him. When you were dating you did things because you wanted to please him so that he would propose. Now that you have him, you think you don't have to try that hard.

True you never have to do The Rules quite as hard as you did in the first three months of the relationship. But that doesn't mean you can be selfish or inconsiderate or lazy. Remember that if you want a good marriage The Rules never really end!

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