When I took my marriage vows before God, I meant every word. I plan to love, honor and respect my husband until death parts us. I know he meant those words, too. The vows we make before God and the people we love most serve as a spoken promise to each other. You can even call them rules, really. It’s like we are saying, “these are the rules we plan to play by so this thing can work.”

As the years have gone by, my husband and I have had many conversations about expectations, our family vision, raising our children, and even our personal dreams. We’ve become a bit flexible on rules that once mattered a lot, and life has thrown a few curve balls our way, forcing us to establish new rules we didn’t know we needed. We’ve managed pretty well, though—set on finding a way to be flexible and push through all the unexpected things life can throw our way.

But with our marriage vows, and all the discussions that followed them, there are still some unspoken rules we follow. These are the rules that are rooted in our personal values, and we have been able to follow them with ease. For us, they work. And, oddly enough, despite not needing to talk about this stuff, these rules are at the core of what makes our marriage work.

Here are 9 unspoken rules about marriage. I hope you are able to determine what your unspoken rules are and I hope they serve your marriage well.

1. Make time to unplug.

For many of us, technology is a critical part of our lives, and that’s fine until we begin to let it consume our lives. Even if you do work that requires you to remain connected, find a way to intentionally unplug so you can reconnect with your mate. It matters.

2. Don’t criticize your mate’s family or friends.

No good can come from saying negative things to your spouse about they people they love who were there before you came along. Chances are that he or she already sees the same issues you see anyway. Unless you are specifically asked for your opinions, keep the criticism to yourself.

3. Don’t keep bringing up old stuff.

If it’s in the past and you have already discussed it, just leave it in the past. Using old arguments or problems to make a point or make your spouse feel bad is not a healthy way to communicate.

4. Choose your battles carefully.

Not every battle is worth fighting. Learn to choose the ones that are and leave the other stuff alone.

5. Don’t fight dirty.

If you need to argue, please do so with respect. Bringing up painful situations, using harsh language, and just being mean don’t get you heard and it definitely doesn’t serve your marriage.

6. Don’t make empty threats.

If you have no intentions on getting a divorce, don’t say it. Using empty threats to get your point across just causes pain and it puts you in a position where your mate doesn’t take you seriously.

7. Keep the world out of your marriage.

There really is no need to go talk to everybody and their mother every time you have an argument with you mate. If you keep doing that, just remember that the world will always see your mate through the negative lens you’ve provided since they don’t get to experience all the good stuff you do.

8. Cherish your friendship.

Your friendship should be at the core of your union. If you begin to neglect it, your marriage will suffer.

9. Don’t make assumptions.

Communication is so important and assumptions are often completely wrong. Instead of guessing what’s on your spouse’s mind or what his intentions are, just ask.

So tell me, ladies… what are the unspoken rules that keep your marriage strong?