When we go out into the world, we are governed by rules. One set for the road, another for the workplace, and most likely, a different set for each of the friends' homes you visit. Am I saying rules are a bad thing? Of course not. Without fair rules and laws, we would have complete anarchy, which is not a world Id want to be part of. However, it helps for us to know there are one or two areas where we get to decide what the rules will be. They are, quite simply, our homes and our lives. So, before you decide to marry and share your life with a partner, it makes sense for you to decide what rules will be the standard for your life and, eventually, your marriage.

At your future wedding, if you decide to marry, only you and your partner will exchange wedding vows and rings. Your parents, in-laws, other family members and friends will be present as spectators, not participants. Theoretically, this means that any rules they made for their own marriages are not necessarily going to be the same as yours. But you should give some thought to what your individual rules are before you meet a potential life partner, let alone get married. Otherwise, you may find the rules that applied to your parents and even your grandparents are more a part of your marriage than you would like. That being said, there's nothing wrong with asking parents, relatives and friends who are married for their thoughts and opinions. But keep one important thing in mind; you have a right to politely disagree. Nothing they say is written in stone.

What do you do if you aren't comfortable seeking the views of others? That's easy; you begin reading. Many books and articles have been written over the years on the topic of marriage alone. But the ironic thing is, that too many single people, women in particular, don't bother to read them. Regrettably, neither did I, and wish to this day that I had. It would have saved me from making the mistake of marrying and then divorcing the wrong person. Now is the time you need this information. By reading some of the books available on marriage now, before meeting the person you decide will be your life partner, you are in the driver's seat. You alone will make the rules for the marriage in your future. As long as you keep an open mind while reading, you can determine what applies to you and your life, and what doesn't. Take a trip to your local bookstore or library. Choose the books with titles that you find most helpful. Have a blank spiral notebook handy, and write down the things you strongly agree with. Reading all books with a bright-colored highlighting marker will help mark relevant points for you, providing they aren't the property of your local library. By the time you're done, you may have several pages of rules or guidelines that are most applicable to you.

A problem may arise when you tell others about what you have decided. You might hear phrases like, "You shouldn't feel that way!" or "You're selfish for wanting/not wanting....(whatever)." Or "how could you think that!" All of these will cause you to doubt your own instincts, if you let it happen. Fortunately, there's one sentence you can use for all the negative verbiage that family and friends may throw your way: "I respect your opinion; however, I disagree." That's all, nothing else is required. If they try to get you to change your mind, repeat this phrase as often as necessary: "My marriage, my rules." With luck, that should end the discussion the first time.

You won't have all the answers or information overnight, but it shouldnt be that easy or quick anyway. Your marriage is, after all, an important investment in your life. To many of us, it is the most important investment. You must allow yourself all the time as you need to decide what your rules will be. For some people, deciding on their own rules for marriage may take only a few days. For others, it may take a few weeks, or even months. The amount of time is irrelevant. As long as you maintain control over your own decisions, thats what really matters.