Jordan Peterson’s Marriage Advice: Maintain the Romance

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Beyond Order" by Jordan Peterson. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Does your marriage balance romance and routine well? How can you achieve that balance and keep it?

Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship. That’s Jordan Peterson’s marriage advice from his book Beyond Order. He provides some practical tips on how to keep your relationship strong through the years.

Read more to learn about Beyond Order Rule 10.

Maintain the Romance in Your Relationship

Some of Jordan Peterson’s marriage advice shows up in Beyond Order Rule 10: Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship. He contends that monogamous marriage is the best way to structure your adult social life. As of yet, human societies haven’t devised a better basic social unit than married pairs. With a spouse and family, you have a support system that will always be there for you in our often cold, harsh world.

(Shortform note: While Peterson makes a case for the positive aspects of marriage—emotional support, companionship, and shared responsibility—traditional monogamy may not be best for everyone. Alternative social structures and relationship models, such as non-monogamous relationships, cohabitation without marriage, and chosen families offer different ways of building meaningful, supportive relationships. With divorce rates in the US hovering between 40% and 50%, you might also want to consider the potential legal, financial, and emotional repercussions of a failed marriage.)

Peterson asserts that, once you’re married, you should work hard to make your marriage successful. To ensure you can do this, he recommends making two commitments:

  • Take divorce off the table. If you refuse to give up on the relationship, you’ll find the strength and desperation to make it work. 
  • Communicate openly and consistently. According to Peterson, honest communication is the key to a successful relationship. It can be very difficult, so you need to be willing to fight for and negotiate your wants and needs with your spouse. 

Once you’ve committed to making your marriage work, turn to the logistics of daily life. In conversation with your spouse, hash out all the details about how you’ll live your life together. Peterson says that, since traditional gender roles hold less sway than before, you’ll need to plan your and your spouse’s roles in detail. This involves how you’ll keep your house, run finances, whether to have children and how to raise them, your work and career choices, who washes the dishes, and so on. 

(Shortform note: In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman discusses steps to take both before and after marriage to ensure success. Chiefly, Gottman argues for developing a deep, genuine friendship with your spouse and maintaining that friendship into and throughout your marriage. To do this, Gottman recommends getting to know your partner in detail, giving and receiving affection, and responding to your partner’s overtures, or bids for connection. With such a connection built, it should be easier to follow Peterson’s principles about handling the mundane, practical aspects of life.)

Since what you do routinely constitutes most of your life, it’s important to get your routines right. Once you’ve sorted out the details, regularly check in with your spouse about how they’re doing and whether they need changes. Consistent communication ensures that you avoid tyrannizing each other. 

With your practical matters squared away, Peterson recommends that you plan your romantic life. While scheduling romance sounds unsexy, it ensures that your love life doesn’t fall by the wayside. Plan regular date nights, such as dinner at your favorite local restaurant or a walk in the park, and use these times to be fully present with your spouse. Making these efforts will help you remember why you first fell in love, and they’ll sustain your romance over time.

(Shortform note: With modern life as hectic and busy as it is, many people simply have no time for romance, even on a schedule. However, it’s possible to keep the romance alive in your relationship by building small habits that allow it to bloom when the time is right. These habits involve cultivating a romantic attitude, getting a sense of romantic timing, and communicating openly and sincerely with your partner. By doing so, you can practice romance with intention, as Peterson suggests, but without necessarily needing to do so on a rigid schedule. Rather, try to find a generally romantic attitude toward life, and let that spill over into everything you do.)

Jordan Peterson’s Marriage Advice: Maintain the Romance

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  • A no-nonsense guide to navigating the chaos of our difficult world
  • How and why you should listen to your conscience
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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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