By Hal Boyd

  1. Day time friends and night time lovers. It’s more than a song, it’s a good life style choice — stay friends with your spouse during the day and be lovers at night.
  2. If you want to make love to your wife at night, start in the morning.
  3. Things change — respect each other and be willing to change. Remain flexible and open to compromise.
  4. Stay true — cheating never works — the poison on your soul lasts forever. Never surrender your integrity.
  5. Listen more than you talk. Think more than you say.
  6. Don’t keep score. You don’t win at marriage. Strive to stay even.
  7. Intimacy and affection are not always sexual. A promise is as good as the act.
  8. Women crave sex for intimacy and acceptance — Men crave sex for validation. If either isn’t getting what they need, they will seek it elsewhere.
  9. Sometimes she just wants to be held. If she doesn’t she’ll let you know.
  10. Let him know you are interested. Don’t think he should see you are interested and act accordingly. If you want it ask. If you can’t muster the courage to ask, buy and wear an “I want sex outfit.”
  11. Pick up after yourself. Flip the laundry. Do the dishes. Cook a meal or two or three etc and change a diaper. Neither took a vow to be the maid — if you did — the 1800’s called and want their vow back.
  12. Don’t pick a fight. Stop. Wait. Think. Then say what you mean and mean what you say after you stop being angry.
  13. Don’t go in thinking he or she will change or you will change them. Change grows organically from within.
  14. Prepare for the day — that day — when you have to leave. Have money saved, a few changes of clothes and a place to go. Even the best relationships need a 72 hour cooling period.
  15. Child Support sucks, but it’s better than the alternative — Jail. Visitation is in no way tied to the child support obligation — you owe whether you see them or not.
  16. “A divorce is like finding a woman you dislike and buying her a house.” If that joke isn’t funny — don’t buy a house.
  17. Maintain your financial independence — you’ll need it eventually. Death is still the number one cause of divorce. Everyone who was ever married either died or were divorced — you’ll need your financial independence.
  18. Sometimes she cries for no reason — sometimes he broods over non-sense. This too shall pass.
  19. He or she might be your one, but eventually they will be the half or the quarter — strive to keep growing back together.
  20. Watch her family and see how her father treats her mother — that’s her expectation. Watch his family — that’s his expectation. If you can’t imagine living in such an environment — you won’t — don’t hesitate to reset your expectations.
  21. Roughly a third of people will suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime. Better than even chance one of you will become ill. Acceptance — Treatment, early and often.
  22. Children change everything. She will unapologetically love her children more than she loves you. If you can’t handle that, wrap it in latex.
  23. Most fights start over money and end in the bedroom — good or bad.
  24. A three-some is never a good idea. It’s a desperate decision — a cancer with no cure. If you have an open relationship, good for you, but follow your rules. Mileage varies.
  25. Go to Taco Tuesdays and leave all your baggage at the restaurant. If he or she is at Taco Tuesday they are talking about you — and that’s okay.
  26. Space is more than what’s 20 miles straight up, or the inches between your ears. Maintain your space and allow him or her their’s.
  27. Don’t threaten divorce — you either are or you aren’t. Threats breed fear — fear leads to distrust — It’s nearly impossible to earn someone’s trust, again.
  28. If you are on the couch and she is doing chores you are in the wrong place. Do things together.
  29. If one of you is using drugs/alcohol and the other isn’t — there’s a problem. There is help available — use it.
  30. Always plan for a divorce — you’ll eventually be right. See 17 above.
  31. You are married to the person they are, but you’ll be in love with the person they were — reconcile those statements.
  32. Once it’s over, it’s over. Move on quickly and quietly.
  33. Protective Orders are never good — but sometimes necessary.
  34. We can’t do anything about the ex parked outside your house — nor can we stop her from sleeping with a new man. Grow up — he or she married you — neither took a vow of celibacy. The contrary is true.
  35. Don’t drunk text, call, write, or skype — Don’t drunk anything except sleep.
  36. If you can’t control your emotions — leave — take a walk — pray. But whatever you do, don’t hit, slap, grab, pull, push, hug, knock, slam, choke, pinch, pin, head lock, arm bar, round kick, front kick or beat each other in anyway shape, form or fashion. If you must fight, use your words and remember anger equals ten feet. Never pick up a weapon in anger.
  37. Domestic Assault is no joke. It’s 48 hours in jail, a $250.00 fine, court costs, anger management classes, alcohol and drug testing and evaluation, prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm (ever again), an automatic no contact order and a lifetime of regret — for the first offense.
  38. The spouse never “has it coming.” If you disagree refer to 37 above.
  39. Spousal rape is real. No still means No — even if there’s a ring, a vow and several days/weeks/months/years of unrealized expectations.
  40. May the Lord grant you the courage to change the things you must, the grace to accept the things you can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Update: I’m blown away by the popularity of this post and the nice comments. I’m glad this answer seems to be resonating with so many people.

A couple of people asked about pre-nuptial agreements. Unless there is a very significant disparity between the wealth of the individuals considering marriage, I find that pre-nuptial agreements are unnecessary. Since these agreements are not very common and largely unnecessary I left it off the list. If someone believes a pre-nuptial agreement might be necessary then I suggest you and your spouse/future spouse make an appointment and get proper legal advice.

Hal Boyd has been an attorney since 1997.

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Originally published on Quora.