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The Essential Rules of Love: A Practical Guide to Creating a Harmonious, Healthy, and Happy Relationship

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The Essential Rules of Love: A Practical Guide to Creating a Harmonious, Healthy, and Happy Relationship pulls together the wisdom and advice from relationship science, including leaders in psychology, biology, anthropology, sociology, neuroscience, chemistry, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and feminism—and blends them with experiences from marriages, including the author’s. Together, these blended sources constitute a unique practical template to forge a compassionate, fulfilling, and enduring relationship, which the author highlights with a sprinkling of popular culture, music, and poetry.

A carefully crafted primer, The Essential Rules of Love teaches how to have a loving, committed, and enduring relationship that not only includes romance, but provides deep underpinnings for strong lasting bonds of love and commitment. By mirroring who we are and how we approach our romantic partners, the book allows readers to consistently envision their relationships reflected in various ways throughout the content, no matter what their stage and condition, and no matter what their demographic. The depth and tone of its probing will jostle the conscience, incite introspection, encourage dialogue, and lead to enduring change.

Mr. Russotti was inspired to write The Essential Rules of Love following the death of his third wife Susan in April 2017. When they came together, she too had been married previously, and both were in their fifties with grown children. Like all of us, they carried their fair share of baggage but they also possessed a wealth of experience about what works and what doesn’t in a relationship.

The Essential Rules of Love culminates Mr. Russotti’s retrospective assessment of his marriage with Susan, a window into why it worked beautifully against the backdrop of professional thinking. Using science as a structure for building and sustaining meaningful long-term relationships. The book breaks down what Mr. Russotti and Susan did and what they didn’t do to create profound change in each of their lives and how they were transformed into a single unit. It is replete with takeaways and lessons that will benefit a wide berth of couples of all ages.

The book distills love and relationships into their component parts, both functionally and pragmatically. It begins with examination of what love really is, because without understanding what it is, we can’t know how to keep it. It explores the process of love, how it develops and unfolds, and how it can transform into a lifelong relationship. It scrutinizes the basic components of love, including the emotional, chemical, neuroscientific, and evolutionary factors that influence the development, creation, and maintenance of a strong, positive relationship. It explores the potential emotional and psychological benefits to having a loving partnership, which make all the work it takes worthwhile, and it drills down on the physical aspects of love and relationships, helping couples navigate the pitfalls surrounding sex. It also covers death and love, a topic not usually included in self-help books about relationships.

The pièce de resistance of the work is its list of Ten Don’ts and Dos, which capture the principles that provide readers easy access to essential reminders on a day-to-day basis.

Couples starting out will be able to use the book as a blueprint for preventing problems before they begin. Those who are experiencing difficulties in older relationships can use it to guide them away from negative, destructive behavior and toward more positive engagement with each other and their families.

Mr. Russotti’s story with Susan and the wisdom shared in The Essential Rules of Love will inspire anyone who wants to accomplish what they managed to do without resorting to game-playing, personality test-taking, or role-playing. While the book primarily focuses on romantic relationships, its teachings and advice applies to most any relationship.

It is, in the end, a book of hope that promises broad impact, the kind of work that can become a constant go-to for those in relationships at various stages.

From the Author:

The book’s premise is that an adult couple who is truly interested in fostering a mutually rewarding relationship can create their own pathway without resorting to complicated self-help books that require role-playing, test-taking and games. I’ve included the story of my courtship and marriage to my late wife, Susan, to provide concrete and realistic examples that can be followed by anyone who wishes to achieve a relationship like the one we had. Our story offers hope that real love can be found at any stage in life, which was the case for Susan and me.

I wrote this book to provide comprehensive yet concise advice on how to nurture a successful, loving relationship. It is based on scientific research from many disciplines, which I’ve summarized into 10 easily understood Do’s and Don’ts that couples can refer to when they experience negativity in their interactions and which can help immediately address the issue.

The book includes a tear sheet of these “Rules” that can be posted on a refrigerator or other area in the home to remind partners how they can continue living up to their part of the bargain. Reviewers found these guidelines extremely helpful.

Excerpts from The Essential Rules of Love: A Practical Guide to Creating a Harmonious, Healthy, and Happy Relationship


"We get education for our careers but we rarely ever get education for our relationships. Phil’s The Essential Rules of Love is a book that I WISH I had before I was married and divorced. The book is a practical guide to managing your relationships and interweaves the author's personal story of a successful relationship, laying out the framework to create a loving & lasting relationship in 10 simple dos and don'ts. Implementing these Rules results in a caring and loving relationship foundation."
- Theadora Vosse, Single or Divorced Relationship Community and Podcaster

"This is, as it must be, primarily a love story. One told with striking depth of feeling. As a world class litigator, Russotti is a world class story teller. But he has done more than just tell a story. He's used his skill at marshaling evidence to sift through the philosophical and scientific literature on love and made his story into a vehicle for interpreting those texts by telling us what worked for him (and what didn't) with wistfulness, humor and an abundance of human compassion. The insights he shares are easy to relate to and connect with. Although this is essentially a story of loss, it is also a message of hope. Where philosophy and science communicate the do's and don'ts as prescriptive admonitions, he passes them on as observations sharpened through the lens of his considerable experience. You feel his love for you as reader...and that is what ultimately validates his advice. I ran through it in a few hours and got a good return on my investment."
- Paul Debary

"Mr. Russotti examines love with empathy, courage, honesty, and humor. He deals with love and loss. We start with a definition of what it is and then discuss love and sex. The author suggests some rules to govern love, then shifts to cooking and savoring. Finally, Mr. Russotti deals with the death of a loved one. This book is both personal and scholarly. Mr. Russotti draws upon his remarkable love affair with his third wife and sources cited in over one hundred endnotes. A highly commendable work."
- James Hazen

"The book was purchased as a gift for Valentine's Day, but instead of giving it away, I gave it to myself. And what a great read! The insights are plentiful and the anecdotes on point. Love has to be worked on. Sparks don't keep a fire burning; tending to the fire does. Anyone interested in maintaining a great relationship based on love and respect should read this book!"
- Emily Campbell

"I’m deeply lucky to know Phil and have been mentored by him for the past ten years. Reading this beautiful book, his Taj Mahal to Susan, gives hope and advice to anyone looking for it. And we should all be looking for it."
- PD

"I expected the memoir and self-help aspects of The Essential Rules of Love, but I did not know it would be such an interesting and intelligent academic treatise. Russotti tackles the subject from every angle, and every reader I’m sure gains a deeper understanding of what an important asset love is. I particularly liked the emotion versus feeling arguments.This book is a valuable resource in itself."
- MG


The Relationship Podcast

The Miseducation of Masculinity

Dear Younger Me Podcast

Written Interviews

An Interview with Koehler Books (released on book launch day 2/14/2022)

Book Awards

New York Book Festival 2022 - Runner up in the How-to Category

San Francisco Book Festival Awards 2022 - Runner up in the How-to Category

“This is a book born of tears and laughter. There is certainly no shortage of authors who have tackled this subject but few have overturned as many rocks along the way and unearthed such a wealth of insights in the process. Those of us who have managed to spend time with Mr. Russotti will attest to his resolve.”
- William Parker, LCSW
“We get education for our careers but we rarely ever get education for our relationships. Phil’s The Essential Rules of Love is a book that I WISH I had before I was married and divorced.”
- Theadora Vosse, Single or Divorced Relationship Podcaster
“The book was purchased as a gift for Valentine's Day, but instead of giving it away, I gave it to myself.”
- Emily C.
“This is, as it must be, primarily a love story. One told with striking depth of feeling.”
- Paul D.