I’d never really though about having a contract for an intimate relationship until I read an article in the New York Times about it.
At first, it seemed crazy to “formalize” love.
But then I realized the author, Mandy Len Catron's, idea had merit. And, it reminded me that, in essence, my husband and I have this.
Well, not exactly.
We never created a written contract that we sign and annually review, like the one Mandy has. Instead, we have agreements or tenets that define our relationship.
Ours are simple:
1. Honor the God in Each Other
This means that we want the best for one another, that we truly see each other, and that we love one another from this higher space.
2. Share Everything
We talk about everything. And this commitment means that we are willing to have the hard conversations and be vulnerable with one another.
3. Don’t Go to Bed Angry
This is the most specific one. It's a reminder to share everything EVEN when talking about hurt feelings is the last thing I want to do.
4. Make Decisions Jointly
When it comes to big decisions, we do our best to consult one another. Having two heads on an issue provides more insight, clarity and thought. It is also a way to respect one another and value each other.
Mandy Len Catron and her partner, on the other hand, have a detailed contract outlining the various facets and complexities of co-habitation. Their contract is annual, up for renewal and revision every year.
And this was what I appreciated the most, its fluidity. Each partner has an opportunity to discuss their needs – be it emotional, physical or sexual. It allows them to talk about all the issues that couples frequently struggle with – money, sex, emotional vulnerability.
I’ve been with my husband for 13 years now and we know each other pretty well. But when I think about starting again, like if we had just decided to get together, I might have embraced the idea of a contract, an agreement that’s more detailed and explicit. It certainly makes sense.
If you feel like you want a contract or even a set of principles upon which to base your relationship, here are 4 ways to get started:
1. Have a Conversation
What’s important to you? What topics would you want to include? Where are each of you willing to compromise?
2. What Are Your Shared Values?
For my husband and me, it was about wanting the best for one another, wanting to support each other in being our highest selves. Everything fell into place after that.
How do you feel about intimacy? Children? Spirituality? Retirement? Politics?
3. Make A Budget
Money creates so much tension and animosity. Decide together what your goals are. What is joint? What is separate? Who pays for what?
4. State Your Needs
Be honest about what you really need from a partner. People aren’t mind readers. Tell your significant other what you need, what you want, and how to best take care of you.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in a relationship for a decade, these conversations are vital to keep those channels open and help you create a deeper, more intimate, loving and fulfilling relationship.
Let me know how it goes! What would you add to your contract? Jot down your ideas under the blog.