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Your relationship can survive its challenges, but only if you both are committed to its survival – and that starts by being honest and open about what you want. You’ve followed Steps 1 – 4 and are ready to start creating your relationship contract. But first, do your homework and write down your issues separately.
It can help to literally tell each other, “I commit to being honest and open with you in this conversation.” Are you afraid to discuss these issues with your partner? When you don’t have a list, one person tends to monopolize the conversation and so the contract only reflects one person’s wishes. Once you have your list of issues/wishes, go through each term one by one.
For example, the following is from an employment agreement dated January 2004 and refers, presumably, to the date the employee will actually start work: The term of this Agreement shall commence on the first day of the Company’s fiscal year commencing in the year 2004 (the “Effective Date”) and shall terminate on the last day of the Company’s fiscal year ending in the year 2007, subject to prior termination as set forth in Section 7 below (the “Term”).
But it’s misleading to tie effectiveness of the agreement to the date the employee starts work, as the agreement is effective once the parties have signed it.
This document helps define the parameters of your relationship.
Items that might go into the contract include how often you have sex or how and when you celebrate anniversaries. If your partner’s screen time is trouble, ask instead for, say, one night of tech-free couples time a week. That means no terms like “I’ll make dinner 4 times a week only if you make the bed every day.” As stated previously, a relationship contract is about communicating about major issues in your relationship. If someone does breach the contract, bring it up in a friendly and non-threatening way. You might also come across a fundamental issue you cannot resolve. Creating a relationship contract is a great first step, but it’s just that: a first step. A relationship contract puts those demands on paper, which has its benefits and drawbacks.
Do your best to compromise, but if you can’t, you may need to make a hard decision about whether or not you want to continue the relationship. Help yourselves decide instead of slide by adding an expiration date to your contract. It clarifies what the relationship means, and catalyzes a conversation about potential issues you might face or issues you would otherwise ignore.
For instance, the parties to a distribution agreement signed on March 31, 2007, might want sales from January 1, 2007, to be included for purposes of determining 2007 sales.
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Do your best to compromise, but if you can’t, you may need to make a hard decision about whether or not you want to continue the relationship. Help yourselves decide instead of slide by adding an expiration date to your contract.