“The Rules for Marriage” by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (Grand Central, 2001)

Cult Fiction: Dime-Store Novels for the Thrifty Reader

Rules For Marriagestar

They began with The Rules, a book that soon jumped to the top of the Times’ bestseller lists, following up with: The Rules Dating Journal, The Rules Note Cards, and The Rules II.  Now, fresh from the press, the dynamic duo brings us The Rules for Marriage, as if Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider haven’t done enough already on how a couple should pursue their relationship – now they give us rules on how to stay together . . . or rather how the wife should submit to the husband to avoid divorce.

The book is best summed up with a complete list of the rules, which are as follows, along with some italicized and perhaps sarcastic commentary:

#1 Relax during the engagement and wedding.

#2 Continue to be a creature unlike any other (a CUAO).

#3 Keep up the good looks – but don’t go crazy.

#4 Keep up your own interests (Have a life!).

#5 Lower your expectations in the first year (I like this one!)

#6 Be a team.

#7 Give him fifteen minutes alone when he comes home.

#8 Be supportive.

#9 Let him win (another good one!).

#10 Accept that some things are none of you business.

#11 Try not to call him too much at work (for the overly-dependent types).

#12 Rarely return his gifts.

#13 Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from your husband (so true).

#14 Rules for fighting (something that has potential?).

#15 Say what you mean, but don’t say it meanly (men are very fragile).

#16 Don’t use the D (Divorce) word.

#17 Don’t scream, speak softly (yeah, you noisy women!).

#18 To compare is to despair – don’t compare him with other husbands.

#19 Don’t ask your single friends for marital advice (No, let the authors tell you).

#20 Have a family dinner at least once a week.

#21 Don’t force him to talk.

#22 Don’t hang on his every word.

#23 Do things you don’t want to do.

#24 He can say anything about his family but you can’t.

#25 Make him feel like he’s the most important person in your life (so true).

#26 Listen to his advice and try to appreciate it.

#27 Don’t try to do it all.

#28 Have a date night.

#29 Rules for sex (could be interesting?).

#30 Rules for pregnancy (alarm bells!).

#31 Don’t complain about the kids (no, that’s his job).

#32 Keep it to yourself (yes, expression is a bad thing).

#33 Don’t expect applause for doing chores (you’re a woman, apparently it’s your job).

#34 Don’t nag (because you’re so good at it).

#35 Don’t find fault with things you knew about when you married him.

#36 It’s easier to stay married than get married (what?!).

#37 Go on the Boot Camp Nice Plan for a week.

#38 Don’t go changin’ or try to hard.

#39 Don’t think marriage counseling is the answer (but it’s easier than reading this book).

#40 Realize that your marriage is over if he cheats even once (finally making some sense).

#41 Divorce with dignity (unlikely).

#42 Date ASAP after you divorce (O . . . kay).

#43 Rules for second marriages (oh hell no!).

And just in case that wasn’t enough for you newly-wed wives, there is also a list of further Rules, as well as Fifteen Extra Hints.  So, if after going through all of The Rules For Marriage, you are unable to keep you marriage together, I think it really is time to call it quits.

To purchase All the Rules and help support BookBanter, click here.

Originally published on October 22nd 2001.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.


12 thoughts on ““The Rules for Marriage” by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (Grand Central, 2001)

  1. I can’t say enough about how good the two Rules books are. I had lost the one on marraige…glad to have the 43 rules once again.

  2. According to me, this book is just too lopsided. I mean, really? A woman has no identity of her own? Is surrendering completely to a husband the real secret to a happy marriage? You kidding me? Not once has the author mentioned anything about the master key to a happy married life, which is the word “communication”. Oh, wait. She said keeps things to yourself! Be prepared to end up in a shrink’s office trying to get an appointment to vent things out and taking medication. That’s fair, right? So that’s it? A man spends his three-month pay to get the lady a ring and his job’s done! Woohoo! The rest of it is the woman’s responsibility. Gee, I wish I were a man here! And what universal rule says if a spouse cheats the marriage is over? There is no room for second chances and at least an appeal to listen to the reason why that happened? I disagree with a LOT of the stupid rules, and the details within the rules.

    • Looking back at what I wrote 6 years ago, I feel like the book isn’t entirely wrong. It really is up to a woman to make or break a marriage. Men are extremely low maintenance and more loyal to a woman than a woman is to a man.

  3. I’m not saying that cheating is good. I’m just saying that there are so many men and women out there who are cheating behind their spouses’ backs. If each of them start divorcing their spouse because of that very reason, there would hardly be any married couples left! Think about it. And who said a woman is the only one who has to make sacrifices? The author of the book says (can’t remember the exact words but something like this), “Whether you like it or not, a woman is the only person in a relationship who can make it work.” I don’t think so, Ms. Expert! And in any case, the authors of the “Rules” books aren’t qualified experts to make other women’s relationship work. Niether of them have a degree or experience in marital/relationship counseling. They were writing out of their personal experiences. Why did Ellen Fein file for a divorce right in the middle of publishing this book? The bottomline is that this book SUCKS!

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