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Before you wed, everyone rushes in to tell you what to do (and what not to do!) to ensure a long, happy life together. But sometimes, the best examples come from observing couples that are together in a dance of dysfunction.
"A week before we married, my fiancé and I had a double date with a couple we'd recently met. She spent the whole evening making jokes at her boyfriend's expense, which it was clear he did not enjoy. When Sam and I got home, we agreed to always be supportive of one another out in company!" —Sara
"My parents were the anti-role models of married life. Their fights were always below the belt. A disagreement about whose turn it was to take out the trash would degenerate into things that had happened in 1999. When Tim and I 'fight' we stick to the topic." —Kim
"My cousin's husband constantly cranes his neck to ogle at pretty girls he sees walking by. This is in front of his wife. My fiancé and I have agreed we will never disrespect one another by fawning over other men and women in each other's presence." —Sheila
"My brother-in-law and his wife are the most physically distant couple I've ever seen. There is no touching EVER. My husband and I don't do PDA but we hold hands, hug, and even lightly kiss in public. Showing affection toward one another in public makes us want to go home and tear one another's clothes off in private." —Anne
"At a party recently, a woman I barely knew told me all these intimate secrets about her husband's fear that he was about to lose his job. I asked her, 'How would he feel if he knew you were telling a stranger all this personal information?' She laughed, 'Oh, he'd be humiliated.' In that moment he walked up to us, having clearly overheard her every word. I mumbled something, walked away, and vowed to keep my husband's confidences." —Tina
"My husband asked an old buddy (whom I'll call Jim) to go to a Knicks game together on what Jim said was his wedding anniversary. My husband said, 'Oh, well then you can't come with me.' The guy said, 'Nah it's okay. She'll find something else to do.' I thought this was despicable and wasn't surprised to hear a few months later that Jim's wife left him. If you can't make your partner the priority, what is the point in being married?" —Debi
"My girlfriend is ridiculously possessive of her husband. He has to check in every two hours so that she knows where he is at all times. The poor guy — who is not a cheater — has made it clear he feels like he's in jail. She just laughs off his feelings and keeps making her demands. She is an object lesson in how not to treat your husband!" —Ellen
"On one of our early dates, Ben — my now-fiancé — told me that his parents spent weeks not talking to one another and having him be their communicator like, "Your wife wants you to call the accountant.' Ben and I vowed we would never give each other the silent treatment!" —Meredith
Sherry Amatenstein is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.