How to prevent rules from ruining your relationships – Part 1

Without rules, we’d perhaps live in a world that is filled with chaos. Rules are important. It is important to understand that my freedom ends where your nose begins. Since this isn’t very easily accepted, we have rules in place to help all of us co-exist in this world. However, there is some such thing as too many rules. There are caveats when we think of using rules in our homes and in relationships. Let’s explore what they are.

In relationships, rules shouldn’t be used to exercise power or authority over people. Rules can be used to create a common ground for understanding and to facilitate co-existence without causing mutual harm. Usually, rules are created with the same purpose in mind. But we don’t realize when we lose sight of the purpose and start pursuing them as if it is our dictatorial regime. Predominantly, this happens when the ego steps into the game. Then it becomes my rules versus you! Or, against you!

Often between a parent and a young child, or an adult and their parent, or a dominant spouse, rules leave little or no breathing space. Mind you, they are all with the right intentions. However, actions may be quite out of the line. It causes fear, feeling of rejection, helplessness, loss of freedom, and bitterness in the relationship, to name a few. 

Too many rules take away the freedom – and with that the will!

So, how would you ascertain whether your rules are enabling and empowering or disabling and stifling? Here’s a checklist to consider…

  1. What happens if the rules are broken? How badly you react shows how ineffective or distasteful the process is. 
  2. Instead of educating, if you are dictating, then the purpose is defeated. You will get compliance only so long as you are insisting. If you go out of the frame, the scene might look entirely different for the others in the game. 
  3. How do people perceive you with regard to your rules? Do they see you as someone who is understanding and upholding everyone’s respect and space or do they see you as a direct descendant of Hitler and find it difficult to deal with you?
  4. How much do you have to insist on compliance? Do they readily happen or do you literally have to remind them every single time?
  5. Are most of the conversations centered around rules being followed and not followed? (More instructions?) Or, do you tend to have congenial conversations? Dialogues where both parties exchange pleasant conversations about life above and beyond reminding each other of rules. 
  6. Most importantly, how do you feel? Do you feel like Hercules carrying the entire burden of the house? Or, are you relaxed and stress-free as you go about your day? 

Rules are necessary and important to bring order to the house. But they are not above individuals. Rules are for humans. Humans aren’t meant to be ruled. If you remember this much of a distinction before you insist on adherence, you’d do really well for yourself and others too. If rules are affecting an individual’s sense of existence and their sense of self is being threatened, or if their acceptance is based on whether they follow the rules or not, that definitely isn’t a great strategy. It is bad enough that we use fear in every other sphere of life. To live at our own homes too with the same sense of fear is a questionable choice. What do you think?

In Part-2 of this blog, we’ll explore more about how to have rules that are ecological and win-win. And how to overcome resistance and gain acceptance. So, stay tuned. 🙂 And thank you for stopping by!

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Narmada Rao
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6 Comments
  • gsriramamurty
    Posted at 02:06h, 23 August Reply

    Good article and interesting. God bless you.

  • shashigulati
    Posted at 02:49h, 23 August Reply

    This post has provoked me to rethink about my behaviour.Thankyou so much for sharing it.

  • arulbob
    Posted at 20:21h, 23 August Reply

    Awesome.. brilliant article.

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