What’s A Relationship Contract And Should You Do It?
In a world where we are called to combine two very conflicting things when it comes to our relationships, keeping the romance alive and dealing with very practical problems, we often feel trapped and confused. This is where the suggestion of a relationship contract comes with the promise of a real solution.
Is A Relationship Contract What Our Love Lives Were Missing?
The idea was put forward by Mandy Len Catron in a recent New York Times column called “Modern Love“. Len Catron says she and her partner have found a very effective way of addressing the most important aspects of their relationship: a relationship contract.
“Our contract addresses much of what must be negotiated in any relationship,” Len Catron wrote. She explained, “The latest version of ‘Mark and Mandy’s Relationship Contract,’ a four-page, single-spaced document that we sign and date, will last for exactly 12 months, after which we have the option to revise and renew it, as we’ve done twice before. The contract spells out everything from sex to chores to finances to our expectations for the future. And I love it.” Read on to find out if it’s what your relationship needs.
The Pros Of A Relationship Contract
The majority of the issues faced by couples, whether in long-term or short-term relationships, have to do with miscommunication and misunderstanding each other, even regarding very trivial issues.
In this sense, a relationship contract can be a real solution as it would clearly stipulate the right way to handle the most practical aspects of a relationship, like who is responsible for the washing up and when it is to be done.
It would definitely make the daily arguments over trivial issues less frequent by regulating the more unromantic, mundane sides of a couple’s life.
The Cons Of A Relationship Contract
However, even though a relationship contract may offer a solution to the more practical aspects of a relationship, it is doubtful whether it can efficiently help deal with the more subtle and personal sides of it.
For example, the idea that a couple will put on paper their sexual lives, in effect scheduling their more intimate moments, would seem a little too calculated and contrived. Some might go so far as to say it would take away from the magic and spontaneity of a couple’s life.
John Gottman, a psychology professor at the University of Washington and a seasoned marriage therapist, believes it could actually prove disastrous for a relationship.
“Based on the literature and research on relationships, the contracting idea is not a pathway to staying in love,” the expert told Business Insider. “Quite the contrary.”
Whether or not you believe in a relationship contract and how far you want to take it is ultimately up to you. What you need to remember is that it is better to make your own decisions than to slide into things, as we have previously said.
Len Catron herself concludes: “Writing a relationship contract may sound calculating or unromantic, but every relationship is contractual; we’re just making the terms more explicit. It reminds us that love isn’t something that happens to us — it’s something we’re making together.”