Susan’s Rules of Relationships – By Susan Leahy

Robert’s Rules of Order happens to be one of my passions. I am the co-creator of a site called and for the past 15 years I have been teaching boards all across the US and Canada how to use Robert’s Rules of Order to get work done. My clients are amazed at my ability to make this ordinarily boarding and complex material, simple and even fun.

What lights my fire about Robert’s Rules of Order is that I see it as a great communication tool. Successful interpersonal communication is the key to a happy, healthy life both personally and professionally. I have to say that my knowledge of how to use Robert’s Rules of Order formally has given my marriage a unique advantage. My husband and I have created our own Rules of Relationships that I would like to share with you. My husband and I have been married for 8 years (together for 11) and have 2 small children who have inspired us to get even more creative with how we communicate. So for the very first time I am introducing Susan’s Rules of Relationships. I hope these few rules will inspire you to have a stronger, happier relationship with those you share your life with.

Susan’s Rules of Relationship

Rule #1

Define your Relationship Mission

“We will be in a happy, healthy, loving and fun marriage.”

The above is our relationship mission statement. It is something that my husband and I made up together. It is simple and direct but holds great meaning for both Jared and me. This mission gives us something to direct our energy towards. It reminds us of how we want our marriage to feel and it gives us a way to communicate when we do experience difficulties. We also remind each other of our mission when we are arguing. This helps us to fight towards a common goal as opposed to fight with one another. It has been a huge gift to our relationship.

Rule #2

Own Your Impact

Intent ≠ Impact

This is such a great equation to keep in mind. Your intent does NOT equal your impact. Most people are well intended. But to really solve an issue it is essential that couples own the impact they are having. Just because you didn’t mean to cut your spouse off when they were talking doesn’t mean that you are off the hook. It is essential to own your impact. Most arguments happen because couples are busy defending their intent. Example. “Well, I didn’t mean to….” Or “That wasn’t my intention that…”

Rule #3

You both deserve to feel good

“You deserve to feel good and I deserve to feel good and this doesn’t feel good. What are we going to do so we can feel good?”

The above statement is what my husband and I say to each other whenever we are starting a difficult conversation (ok if we are fighting). This is a powerful tool to help you fight, fair. Reminding each other that feeling good is the priority and will get everyone focused on how to correct the situation with the goal of good in mind. It is important when you argue that you still continue to validate the importance of both yourself and your partner. Good is the baseline from where all other positive emotions come from.  From good you can get to great or excited or happy or ecstatic. But you can’t get to any of the good feelings if you both are standing at the starting line of good!!

Rule #4

Sex begets sex


Healthy couples have sex. But life, energy, children, deadlines, work and a whole lot of other reasons can get in the way of having sex on a regular basis. Jared and I have a little motto. “Sex begets sex.” When you have sex you are more likely to have sex but when you stop having sex you are more likely not to have sex. Many times the first time back after taking a bit of unintentional time off can be hard to initiate or the sex may not be as fulfilling as both partners want it to be creating even more distance. This little motto has become a great reminder that while this time might not be hitting it out of the park, there will be a next time so we don’t need to stress. We can just enjoy!  “Sex begets sex.”

So I am going to stop there because I think relationships don’t really need all that many rules to be successful. I hope that you have enjoyed Susan’s Rules for Relationships. It is my sincere belief that your primary relationship is such an important part of a rich experience. Relationships should feel good, they should challenge you and support you and they should be a place where both parties can play, win, lose, be and feel supported.  Your primary relationship is worth it! It is ever changing and never guaranteed. Have fun with it, be light about it and never take it for granted.