The “Rules” of the IM Relationship

"All functional relationships have rules."

Can you imagine engaging in a sporting activity, such as basketball, with each player and team participating in any way they choose?   I-M relationships are no exception; they also have rules.

Even though the participants in these relationships may be unaware that these rules exist, each has his/her own set of expectations of how the other person should behave in the relationship.

These sets of expectations are essentially rules, and if they are violated, problems are sure to follow.

The rules that follow were the ones I  found to be the most involved in the couples discord that I witnessed. They are:

  • politeness
  • joint participation
  • time apart
  • outside relationships
  • married time
  • accountability
  • unequal work­load
  • recognition
  • teasing

Let's take a very brief look at one of them.

The rule of accountability

This involves advising your partner, in advance, of what you're doing or about to do when not together.

This includes where one is, where one will be, with whom, and for how long. An example is a wife telling her husband, "I'll stop by the grocery store after work." A hus­band may say to his wife, "I have to drop off a letter at the Post office on my way home from work.'

Leaving a note on the refrigerator telling one's spouse of one's whereabouts is another expression of accountability. Accounting for one's actions should be done before the event occurs rather than after.

Accountability adds a sense of security to the relationship.

Of all the marriage rules, accountability meets the most resistance. The most common complaint about accountability 1 have heard is that one must ask his or her spouse's permission before engaging in any activity. While for the most part this complaint is understandable, asking permission of another before doing something is present in most relationships; it isn't just connect­ed to the I-M relationship. In the work relationship, for instance, we are fully expected to ask the boss's permission to go home early. 

If accountability, often including asking permission to do things, is ac­cepted in other relationships, why shouldn't it be in our most important relationship—namely, the intimate-marital relationship?

Read more in Chapter 14 of the book.

This is a really unique idea to help couples form a closer, more intimate bond. A must read for anyone in an IM relationship.
John Tuttle
Albany NY