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Creating Personal Commandments


Personal commandments are rules that’s you’ve created for yourself. Those guidelines that you will follow in different areas of your life. We often create them for ourselves without even thinking about it. They are the lines we will not cross or the habits you’ve become accustomed to.

Today I challenge you to think about what your commands are and what new ones you may need to create. In blended families these personal rules are especially important because you may find yourself in emotionally charged situations. Past baggage or memories, coupled with new conflict can cause you to react based on anger, loneliness or fear. Without guiding principles, it is easy to get swept up in the heat of an argument or moment and then say or do things that you will later regret. Taking the time to identify your personal limits and boundaries when you are calm and collected will help you in future situations.

Marriage Commandments
Many times these can be seen as no-brainers but it’s still important to specifically name them. For example…
“I will never use the word divorce.”
“I will never put myself in a position with another person that would make my spouse uncomfortable.”
“I will not badmouth my spouse or participate in husband bashing.”

Whatever they may be, listing your personal rules helps to keep yourself accountable in times of stress. If you find yourself suddenly talking down about your husband to your friend, remembering your personal vows can steer you in the right direction. They also make it easier to see the areas you need to work on or apologize for. Learning to take accountability for your actions is necessary in your marriage and the first step is identifying your parameters.

Parent Commandments
These are not only important for you as the parent, but for your children and their development. Learning how to communicate with your kids or how to parent when you have shared custody is a difficult process. Your emotions may be raw, especially if you are newly divorced, and you may struggle with your own issues of guilt or abandonment. When identifying your parent commandments, really take the time to think through what type of parent you want to be. How do you want to relate to your kids? How do you want them to learn and develop? Whether you are the custodial parent, have your children one weekend a month or are a stepparent, you play a large role in their upbringing.

With divorce, there are some typical recommendations that are discussed but not always followed. These can include things like not putting your children in the middle, not badmouthing their other parent or keeping rules consistent between homes. I charge you with choosing your top items and holding yourself accountable. It may be one large rule that you follow and always hang on to, or it may be a series of rules you create.

These commandments may be things like…
“I will always support my child’s relationship with their other parent.”
“I will follow the visitation schedule and compromise when needed.”
“I will make visitation transitions as easy as possible.”
“I will not share conflicts or personal concerns with my child.”

Whatever your rules may be, do not lose sight of them. Own them. The reason you create them when you are calm and at a peaceful place is because you can trust your judgment to not be clouded by conflict or high emotions. These boundaries and lines will help your children and yourself through difficult situations.

Ex-spouse Commandments
These can be the most difficult to identify and really will fall in line with the boundaries you’ve already set. Remember that these are personal vows and not about the other person. Promising yourself that you will not lash out verbally in retaliation for a nasty phone call or issue is about who you want to be – not about what you think the other person deserves. These commandments may be more general such as “I will not respond to email/phone call/text while I am angry” or “I will not use harsh language in any communications”. The list does not need to be extensive, but it should cover your main points of concern or importance.

Naming and owning your personal commandments will help you in all areas of your remarriage, blended family and co-parenting situation. Keep them simple and concise, and lean on them to get you through times of conflict.

Creating Personal Commandments

Amy Bellows, PhD

Amy Bellows holds a PhD in Psychology and has had the opportunity to work in various settings including leading adolescent group therapy sessions, working with victims of sexual assault, helping woman inmates adjust to post-prison life, conducting parenting education classes and assisting with drug and alcohol dependency treatment plans. The unique challenges and opportunities that come along with being a part of a step-family is a special interest of hers. Amy is currently working in the corporate environment with a interest in group dynamics and change management. You can find her on her website, or on Twitter @AmyBellowsPhD.

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APA Reference
Bellows, A. (2015). Creating Personal Commandments. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Nov 2015
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