A book summary on 8 Rules of Love by Jay Shetty

Every relationship hits a point when it feels like you’re flatlining.

Let’s face it, couples, whether newlyweds or those who have been married for decades are finding it harder to spend quality time together.

Do you find yourself thinking:

  • I love you but life, work, kids keep getting in our way?
  • It feels like we’ve lost the flame?
  • Life is so serious these days, we’ve lost our ability to laugh and have fun?
  • It seems like we’re stuck in a rut?
  • I’m in a relationship but I still feel lonely?

Why do couples feel unfulfilled and stuck in resignation and routine? Because the stress and pressure of everyday obligations are powerful forces pulling them apart.

The evidence is clear, couples who play together stay together. Whether you’re married or in a romantic relationship, when you spend quality time together, engage in deep, meaningful conversation, and play together you gain creative and enriching ways to navigate the peaks and valleys that are common in most relationships.

Bottom line, if you want to keep your love alive you better set aside time for your loved one.

Why is this so important?

Our deepest human need is to be loved, accepted, and connected. Survey a crowded room and ask, “who wants to be lonely?” No one! Yet, studies indicate loneliness is an epidemic sweeping across this country. So naturally, we’re all in search of ways to avoid being lonely and to find and keep our love alive.

Think about it, with the national increase in loneliness and our ongoing desire to be in meaningful relationships, it should come as no surprise that Jay Shetty’s book, 8 Rules of Love, How to Find It, Keep It and Let It Go topped the New York Times bestseller list just a week after its publication in January of 2023.

Like millions of other monthly listeners, we have become fans of Shetty’s On Purpose podcast and his Monk-inspired insights on love and life.

So… what piqued our interest?

Well, for over 37 years we’ve been lifelong learners and partners in work, life, and play.

Three years ago, we started hosting adventure-packed couples retreats, initially for enlightened self-interest. We’ve always been in search of strategies and insights to grow and enrich our marriage. And it didn’t take long for us to realize that one of the best ways to avoid flatlining and navigate the valleys in marriage is to stretch and grow together. Hosting, leading, and guiding couples retreats offers a great way to stay intentional, to keep our love alive and share priceless lessons and adventures with others.

So when Shetty’s work hit the charts we dove in. Here is our summary of his 8 rules plus some lessons we’ve learned over 37 years in helping people engage in epic work and live epic lives.

As a caveat, seven of the 8 rules are intended to enrich your love, whether you’re just getting started or your decades in. But rule 7 is for those contemplating a breakup. And in full transparency, our work is not for couples who are broken, we work with couples who are good and want to get better.

Read on for our summary of 8 Rules of Love:

1. Spend time alone.

This rule may at first seem antithetical to growing your relationship but it makes sense. Give yourself some personal time for thinking, reflecting, and growing individually. When you are individually healthy, confident, and competent you will bring more into the relationship.

We like to say marriage is not about finding the “right person,” marriage is about “being the right person.” Alone time allows you to grow and develop yourself so you can contribute to growing the relationship.

2. Don’t ignore your Karma.

Shetty defines Karma as, how past events (good and bad) have the power to steer and influence your future. In our experience, we know that any wounds, pain, shame, suffering, or trauma you may have experienced earlier in life have added to the narrative you use to participate in life and relationships now. Those narratives can define you OR you can choose to do the work and use them to heal and refine you.

Self-awareness is the key. Be aware of your past. What are the gifts, gaps, and wounds that influence how you show up in a relationship today. You cannot assume your partner will naturally repeat the gifts and/or fill the gaps. They didn’t walk in your shoes growing up.

And, you cannot expect your partner to serve as your therapist to heal your wounds. Dealing with and healing past pain is the work you must do on your own and perhaps together with a trained professional.

3. Define what love means…

Love is more than a word. Shetty suggests that before you “think it, feel it, and say it,” you should be clear on what love really means to you.  And don’t be confused by the fairy tales. Love rarely happens at first sight. It isn’t about checking off a list of qualities nor is it just a feeling.

Shetty suggests there are four phases of love that do not have to play out sequentially:

  1. Attraction (attraction is not lust. Moving from lust to attraction indicates interest and intrigue, it’s a desire to connect through deep and meaningful conversations).
  2. Dreams (is a phase for sharing individual and collective dreams and creating rhythms and routines to grow and nurture the relationship together).
  3. Struggles and Growth (nurturing your desire and ability to work through challenges together. The ability to do so, builds more resilient love).
  4. Trust (trust cannot be summoned in a word or an action. Trust builds over time through consistent, small gestures of care, integrity and safety).

Over the years, we’ve discovered love is more than a feeling. Love is a choice! When love truly becomes a choice, a visceral commitment to being “all in,” love endures and evolves. Love cannot be forced or rushed. Early on in our relationship we engaged in the question game. We’d pose questions to each other on any topic. Then, we gave each other the freedom to pass, but neither of us ever did. The experience helped us learn about our respective pasts, presents, and future dreams. It was a great process for connection through meaningful conversation, sharing dreams, growing trust, and discussing struggles and personal growth goals. Shetty offers something very similar with the three-date rule. He suggests it as a great strategy for moving through the phases of love by intentionally talking through your pasts, presents and futures.

We are true believers in the power of words, so we never tossed the “love” word around nonchalantly.  Words can heal, affirm, empower and define you. Yet, words can also wound, harm, hurt, and confuse you. Don’t be caviler with love. We’re in complete agreement with Shetty. Get crystal clear on how YOU define and practice love.

Keep in mind, love has many languages and many contexts, share them regularly, openly and honestly together.

4. Your partner is your Guru.

“A guru offers guidance without judgment, wisdom without ego, love without expectation.” This quote from the book is a powerful way to summarize 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.”

In daily practice, it is about looking ahead together in the same direction. It is about seeing your partner on that journey as a kind and safe collaborator who serves as a reflection of who you are and who you can become. We like to say, healthy couples do NOT compete, criticize, control, or subordinate. They complement, strengthen, collaborate, and complete one another.

Have ongoing conversations on ways to complement (add to the gifts each of you bring), strengthen each other (always show up with unconditional positive regard for each other. Find ways to draw the best out of your partner), collaborate as often as possible and complete one another by leveraging your strengths to make your partner stronger.

Be Sherpa’s to each other. A sherpa has your blindside and is always there to help you achieve your climb. Whether a guru or a sherpa, the goal is to grow individually AND collectively and lock arms to become BETTER TOGETHER.

5. Purpose comes first.

Know your WHY (your cause, calling or mission in life). Shetty borrows from Hinduism and calls it dharma, the pursuit of your own purpose or spiritual calling. Once you know your calling be sure to live and love aligned with that purpose. Doing so grows your sense of significance and will increase your confidence and contribution to the partnership.

Love begins to flatline when partners are independent, co-dependent, or if one partner is dependent on the other. Love thrives when both partners are interdependent, when they both are pursing something significant and meaningful in their lives. Shetty suggests that in every relationship there are three relationships: First, your relationship with each other. Second, your relationship with your purpose or calling. And third, your partners relationship with their purpose.

When you both are in pursuit of something that feels noble, worthy and important it will fulfill you individually and enrich the contributions you bring to the relationship. However be warned, finding your purpose is not for the faint of heart. Dharma and purpose serve as a compass to guide your journey. And every journey consists of peaks and valleys. Pursuing your calling is not always easy but it is worth the work.

Shetty offers a series of suggestions, experiments, exercises and “try this” activities for discovering your purpose and supporting your partner in pursuit of theirs.

We all crave meaning and significance. When we have it we are more secure. More comfortable in our own skin. Grounded in security we have more to give our partner. Watching your partner do the same can be just as exciting and rewarding as your own growth. Couples who are all in on supporting each other’s purposes tend to have greater respect for each other and are more likely to bring their best selves to the relationship.

Find your bigger “Yes!”

6. Win or lose together.

Put two flawed human beings, with different gifts and gaps, different approaches to life, and different communication styles together under the same roof and what do you get? Conflict. Conflict is normal. Conflict is inevitable. Expect it. Shetty says that if you are in a relationship that is void of conflict it is unrealistic and it is likely you are living in avoidance. We like to say, “The goal is not to avoid conflict, the goal is to learn how to work through it… together.”

We agree with Shetty, “love to fight and fight to love.” When fighting is done well, it has the power and potential to draw people closer and build resilient relationships. Instead of engaging in conflict by comparing, complaining, and criticizing, replace those relationship killers with a commitment to connect and collaborate on finding agreeable resolutions. Seek redemption.

Our Chief Spiritual Officer, Dr. Ken Blue,  has guided us personally, professionally and spiritually for the last 30 years. Ken told us, “being right is highly overrated.” When you are in conflict ask yourself, “What really matters, being right or being understood?”

Is your goal to win, to be right, or is your goal to get it right together? It is far more healthy to work though conflict together by knowing you share a common end goal.

“Every time one of you loses, you both lose. Every time the problem loses, you both win.”

7. You don’t break in a breakup.

Shetty offers insights on how to avoid toxic breakups, when and how to break up, and how to remain healthy in the process.

He highlights signs of trouble and how to either elevate or separate–insights for knowing if you should stay together, work on issues, and find ways to grow, or if you should break up.

And, if break up is the best choice, Shetty offers some valuable and helpful strategies for working through your pain, having the courage to embrace the lessons learned and mining the gifts gained in the relationship.

In other words, do not allow the break up to define you, use the experience to refine, grow, and enrich you.

8. Love again and again.

The last rule is to love altruistically, selflessly, and nobly. Instead of expecting or keeping love, the 8th rule encourages you to become a gifted steward of love by expressing and extending love beyond your partner and family. Shetty offers numerous suggestions on how to spread and extend love. He highlights the value of practices like understanding, belief, acceptance, and appreciation. He suggests giving love through a conscious commitment to time and presence. We agree. The gift of PRESENCE is often neglected in relationships. He concludes with, You can seek love your whole life and never find it, or you can give love your whole life and experience joy.”

 Altruism and benevolence are about finding ways to pay love forward for the greater good without expectation. In our family, we believe there is a flame burning within each of us. It is the animation of the Trinity–the Father, Son and Spirit. While we’re here in this temporary place called home, our faith invites us to spread and share with others the self-giving, other-centered, unconditional love of the Trinity that is alive in us.

Shetty’s 8th rule is calling us to show up and do our part to spark the flame in others.

We’ve always told our children, “You don’t have to be the life of a party, but always find ways to bring light to the party.”

If your relationship is stalled, flatlining or headed in a downward direction you’re not alone.

Now is a perfect time to grab a copy or listen to the audio version read by Jay Shetty himself. Perhaps his rules, based upon the 4 Ashrams of Hindu life, will help you revitalize yourself and your relationship.

And if you’re really serious and want to spend some quality time together to redirect the trajectory of your relationship, we host a play-together, stay-together adventure couples experience. Our next Together As One couples retreat is August 10-14, 2023. 

We pave the way for deeply meaningful conversations, exciting outdoor adventures, enriching date nights, and community. All you need to do is show up and enjoy a weekend together in a romantic mountain getaway. Participants always tell us, “Sundance is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Come join us!