My mother always used to say this when I was a child, and for
some reason I assumed it meant that you shouldn’t go to bed angry
just in case one of you died in the night. Very over-dramatic of me
really, although I’ve known cases where it has happened. And
believe me, if your partner should ever leave this world abruptly
during the hours of darkness, the next few years of your life will be
hugely affected by the mood you went to bed in. Likewise, every
time you see them off at the door, it might be worth considering
how you’d feel if they never came back. Sorry, that’s very morbid. I
don’t mean you should fantasize miserably about it on a daily basis,
I just mean you should instinctively always part with them as if this
were the last time.
But this is also a much more mundane, everyday Rule, that doesn’t
require you to dwell blackly on such depressing things. Pretty
much all of us are either sulkers or exploders. So which are you?
And if you explode, do you get it all out of your system or do you
let it bubble away for hours or even days? We all have different
ways of dealing with irritation, frustration and anger, and the way
your partner copes with them will influence you too.
It’s not healthy to argue constantly in a relationship, but it isn’t nec-
essarily a bad thing to have the occasional row – within the
boundaries of grown-up behaviour. Rules Players never threaten or
become abusive, or fling out accusations just to hurt, or allow
themselves to come out with things they’ll regret later. But within
those limits, of course you’ll argue from time to time.
But this isn’t an argument with a colleague, or a sibling, or someone
at a call centre, or a motorist who’s just cut you up. This is an argu-
ment with the person you love most in all the world, so it’s a horrid
T H E R U L E S O F L O V E
Let not the sun go
down upon your wrath
thing to happen and you need to get it over with as quickly as pos-
sible. And the best way you can do that is to have an absolute Rule
that once it’s over, it’s over. Don’t go dredging it up again, or con-
tinue to sulk or bubble away.
You should be able to start each day afresh, and you can’t do that
unless you put your argument to bed along with yourselves. Of
course, big issues may need more discussion later, but that doesn’t
mean it has to be antagonistic, or that the bad feelings have to per-
sist along with the debate.
You need to be clear that you are not the kind of people who go
and sleep in the spare room (if you have one) because you’re sulk-
ing, or who grumpily turn your backs on each other in bed. That
sort of behaviour is for mediocre relationships, or worse. It’s not for
Rules relationships. The two of you are big enough to patch up any
differences at the end of each day, and to recognize that you love
each other too much to fall out over anything. And if your partner
hasn’t yet mastered the ability to swallow their pride and do it, then
it’s down to you. So how do you take that step and make sure that
things are resolved before bedtime? That’s easy. But you’ll need to
read the next Rule to find the answer.
R E L A T I O N S H I P R U L E S
I’M NOT SAYING YOU
SHOULD NEVER ROW