Most people think that contracts are for businesses not love. For instance, a business might use a contract, to set out how an employer and employee interact. They are rarely seen as a tool that can enhance a romantic relationship.
But that old-fashioned view is now starting to change. It may surprise you to hear that relationship contracts are increasingly popular with modern, connected couples.
Table of Contents
- What is a Relationship Contract?
- Written and Unwritten Rules
- When Do You Need Relationship Contracts?
- The Importance of Communication
- The Benefits of Having a Relationship Contract
- How to Write a Relationship Contract
- Keep It Simple
- What is in A Relationship Contract?
- Sex and Intimacy
- Relationship Contract Examples
- Checking In
- Do I Need a Relationship Contract?
What is a relationship contract?
A relationship contract (sometimes called a love contract, or relationship agreement) is a written contract that a couple in an intimate relationship agrees on together.
The key thing here is that the contract is written. The fact is that in every relationship there are relationship contracts in place. They may not always be written down with a title saying “Love Contract” at the top, but that doesn’t mean they do not exist.
Let’s face it, there are rules in every relationship. Don’t forget birthdays. Remain faithful. Do not leave the toilet seat up.
If you forget, ignore, or willingly break those rules then there are consequences. Any guy who has been in a long-term relationship knows this already.
The problem is though that often the relationship rules are unclear, or each person has a different view of them. That is why sometimes people choose to write them down in a contract of love.
Written and unwritten rules
The American writer Mandy Len Catron once said of relational contracting, “Every relationship is contractual, we’re just making the terms more explicit.”
She was 100% right.
Let me give you an example. There could be an expectation in a personal relationship that a guy will listen to his girlfriend about work every night.
But because this is unwritten perhaps the guy doesn’t even realize is a rule? Maybe he only finds out if he yawns or checks his phone as she is telling him about an argument with her boss.
At that point, the woman withdraws or stops speaking. He can tell something is wrong but doesn’t quite know what. She doesn’t tell him that she is angry because he has broken a rule, but she shows through her actions that she isn’t happy.
This sort of passive-aggressive behavior is good for no one. The guy feels hurt and rejected. The girl feels ignored and unappreciated. And neither of them feels able to say why.
That sort of situation can create resentment. This in turn can create tensions in a relationship and lead to conflict, separation, or even divorce further down the line.
When do you need relationship contracts?
The simple answer is at any point in a long term relationship.
I am not thinking here of the type of ‘formal’ contracts which sometimes appear at certain points in a relationship. For instance, a marriage prenup, a marriage contract, estate planning, or preparing for cohabitation with a cohabitation agreement. The same goes for legal agreements to prevent harassment following a break-up.
These are all very formal arrangements, which have more in common with contract law than with relationship agreements or love contracts.
In these legal written contracts, clarity is essential. That is why most couples developing a relational contract for a prenuptial agreement or to address family law issues like child custody, would seek legal advice.
But what if this is not about legal contracts and more about how two people develop a shared vision? Well, that is where relationship contracts can be helpful.
The importance of communication
In my experience, more important than the words on the page is the process of writing those words. Creating a contract for lovers requires openness, honesty, and courage. To sit down, face-to-face with your soulmate, and express what matters most to you in a relationship is not an easy thing to do. Couples that are able to do this already have a level of connection and communication that others would envy.
It also requires a high level of self-confidence and self-esteem. You are saying, very clearly, “what you want matters to me, but what I want matters too.” Often people are more comfortable saying the first part than the second. But any contract which is focused on only meeting the needs of one party is destined to fail.
If you are struggling to connect with your partner to have the sort of honest conversation that is needed to create a loving contract then there are some really simple steps that I have put together to help guys like you reconnect with your soulmate. Check out my free training to learn more and start your journey towards a great marriage full of passion, joy, and mutual understanding.
The benefits of having a relationship contract
Even if it feels difficult, producing a relationship contract is something that all couples should consider doing.
Whether you are a married couple or an unmarried couple, sitting down with your spouse or lover and crafting a shared vision of what matters to you as individuals, and as a couple, can really strengthen your relationship.
The first main benefit is clarity. Have you ever angered or annoyed your partner and not been sure quite what you have done wrong? Well, a relationship contract can help to avoid that.
It is also a chance to set out what really matters to you. This has to be a joint document where both participants feel that they mutually own the set of rules you come up with. It should never be about one person in a relationship trying to impose their own individual rules on the other. That is why the first thing you need to work on is yourself. By changing the way that you think, and being clear that you are worthy of love, that can provide a great foundation to reconnect with your partner and produce a shared vision for your future together.
It would be easy to think that only people in bad relationships need a written agreement about behavior. But that misses the point. Producing a shared agreement that expresses clearly how you will live together as a couple is actually a sign of pretty great communication.
By taking the time to agree on the rules of a relationship, both parties know what is expected of them. Both know the rules that the other expects them to follow.
The main barrier to communication is couples not being able to be authentic and present. I see this time and again, particularly with guys. Men are sometimes raised to try and block out feelings, to put up barriers to show that they are ‘strong’. But true strength is when men can show up for their soulmates, and openly and honestly connect with them.
If you are producing a contract for lovers, then tapping into your natural masculine energy to help clearly state what matters to you within the relationship is absolutely key. If you want to learn how to harness your masculine power, then watch the free training on my site. It will help you become more present in your relationship in a way that will draw your soulmate back to you.
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Too many relationships are corroded by an unexpressed tension between what each person wants. A well-written relationship contract is a chance to make sure you are both on the same page, to line up what matters to you with what matters to your partner. At the end of the process, the contract forms a shared vision that simply says, “this is what matters to us”.
If one person wants to be with their lover 24/7 and the other wants to spend some time alone, then it is important that both are able to explain their needs and desires to the other.
A contract of love might not always be able to impose a ‘solution’, but the process of writing it can help identify what those issues and differences are and provides a framework to explore them.
Let’s not forget, a relationship should be fun. It is about two people connecting, and enjoying life together, experiencing the world side by side. Setting out rules and expectations is not the opposite of fun. It is a route to it. It is providing the structure within which you can live your life.
How to write a relationship contract
It is critical to create the right environment for this kind of discussion. There needs to be time, space, and no distractions (so turn that phone off). The whole point is to create a safe space, where there can be absolute honesty in the conversation.
This is not the time to leave things unsaid. The whole point is that you both need to be able to actively listen, without criticizing, to what your partner is saying. This is the only way to come up with a relationship contract that really works.
Contracts should also focus on what people do want, rather than what they don’t want. Whether writing or speaking, just try starting sentences with phrases such as “I really like…” or “I really want…” rather than “I don’t like it when…”
For example, it would be much better to say, “I want to spend Saturday nights with you” rather than “I don’t want you to go out with your friends on a Saturday night”. Keep the focus on positive statements. That always is a great starting point.
This might seem like a small shift of emphasis, but believe me, it makes all the difference.
Keep it simple
It is easy to overcomplicate things when it comes to relationship contracts. But the fact is, simple often works best.
The first thing your relationship contract should include is both of your names and a start and end date. This might sound overly formal. However, it is important that this feels like a real thing, a genuine commitment that you are making to one another, and to your shared relationship.
Start by listing the specific things that matter to you each as individuals. You can even do this separately before you sit down together. Write each one on a Post It note or a small piece of paper. Try to avoid the language of blame. This is not an opportunity to rake up old arguments or quarrels. Remember, this is about what you do want, not what you don’t want.
When each of you has your list, then it is time to share.
Take it in turns to share each individual desire. If your partner has a slip of paper that is the same or similar, then he or she can put it on top of yours. As you work through the list you will end up with one group which is areas of agreement. The other group will be issues that need further discussion with one another to find some common ground.
Remember, both of you should agree on everything within the contract. The final contract should not feel like two lists put together, but a single list that reflects you as a couple. If you identify an area of disagreement, then talk it out until you have resolved it.
What is in a relationship contract?
What goes into a relationship contract depends entirely on the couple. There is no standard boilerplate contract that you can find on the internet, print off, and sign. Well, there might be but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it. There are no shortcuts with this stuff. It is about two people facing one another, being honest, open, and showing their vulnerabilities and desires without fearing rejection.
As I have said, doing that is not always easy. I have worked with men from all over the world to help them learn to show up in a relationship and speak with honesty and authenticity. If this is something you know you could be better at doing, then check out the free training I have put together to help guys really be present for their soulmates. I know that lots of men, from all over the world, have found this has helped them in reconnecting with a partner who felt to be drifting away.
Sex and intimacy
One of the most difficult areas to set clear shared expectations for is sex and intimacy. This is because often people are not great when it comes to sharing openly and honestly about their sexual needs and desires, even with a romantic partner.
I know from the work I do with guys to help them find or grow great relationships, that tensions around sex and intimacy can damage relationships.
I’ll level with you, it is hard for a contract to ‘require’ sex. No one should have sex because it is a contractual duty. The desire should come from within, it should never feel like a chore or an obligation. You can learn more about how to use natural masculine and feminine energies to create desire in your partner on my site.
Yet, that does not mean that the contract should ignore sex as an issue, in fact, it absolutely should not. For example, you might want to make a commitment to creating the space and time for intimacy once a week. Or the contract could acknowledge that sex is an important part of the relationship and each of you will do what you can to grow together sexually as a couple.
By focusing on the values you have, and the importance of sex within the relationship, the contract can set a framework. Within that framework, both parties fully understand how intimacy lies at the heart of the relationship.
Relationship contract examples
Each contract should be as individual as the people in it. This means that the ideas should emerge from the intimate conversation that you have as soulmates and lovers.
But I do recognize that, for many people, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly where to start. Maybe you are one of them? If so, it can be helpful to get inspiration by considering what other people have included in their own relationship contracts.
Here is a list of some examples that I have seen in lover’s contracts written by clients:
- We agree to have a distraction-free date night once a week.
- We agree to always tell the truth to one another.
- We will always say “I love you” before leaving for work.
- We agree that it is important for each of us to maintain friendships outside of the relationship, and to see our friends once a week.
- We agree that when we are both at home, we will always eat together, with no TV, phones on tables, or other distractions.
- We will not share details about our intimate relationship with others.
- We accept that neither of us is perfect and that we will sometimes fail. When we do, we will own that failure and learn from it.
- When the other person fails, we will always seek to understand, to help them learn, and try to avoid blame.
- Each of us will invest in taking care of ourselves as individuals and encourage the other’s personal growth.
- We will create the time and space for intimacy at least once each week.
These are just ideas to give you some inspiration to help start your own conversation. You and your partner will know your own relationship better than anyone else. That is why is it important to focus on what truly matters to you both as a couple.
Once you have written the contract it is not something to file away and forget. It is a living breathing document, that you should never be afraid to revisit. In fact, it is worth building in regular check-in points and placing them in your diary.
It may be that in 3 months, or 6 months, if you sit down to have this conversation again, some of your needs will have changed. If so then the contract can change too.
Do I need a relationship contract?
The simple answer is yes. Everyone needs a relationship contract. The more complicated answer is not everyone needs a written one. As I said at the start, this is about couples having a clear structure to express their needs, fears, and desires. If you are one of the lucky couples who do this all of the time, then maybe there is no need to write it down. However, most couples do benefit from the way that the process of writing a contract for lovers provides a structure to have open, honest, and intimate conversations.
That can demand a level of honesty and connection that many people struggle to achieve. That is why I have put together resources to help men focus on their own growth. By doing that they are able to create a solid bond that leads to a great marriage full of joy and passion.
If you struggling with getting along and agreeing with your wife, and you really want to create solid bonds through establishing loving contracts in your relationship so you can have a great marriage full of passion, joy, and mutual understanding. Then watch my free training where I will go through the 5 crucial steps on how to get there.
What is a relationship contract?
A relationship contract is an agreement between two people about how they will behave in the relationship.
What goes into a relationship contract?
The contents depend on what matters to the couple. It could be about housework, sex, and intimacy, or how and when they will spend time together.
What is contractual relationship definition?
A contractual relationship is usually a legal bond between at least two people setting out a shared promise.
What should you include in your relationship contract?
Include things that matter to you. The important thing is that both parties are open, honest, and able to clearly express what they want and need from the relationship.
What are the boundaries and deal breakers?
Again, this varies according to the couple. Most couples would see an affair or a close workplace relationship as a dealbreaker. Others might see long-distance relationships as a dealbreaker.
What are relationship secret contracts?
Secret contracts are agreements we’ve made with our partners that we’ve never spoken out loud
What are the consequences for breaking your relationship contract rules?
That depends on which rule is broken. Not taking the trash out might result in an angry exchange of words. Infidelity might end up in the divorce courts.
Men's Relationship Coach
Steffo is the founder of The Tantric Man Experience, the #1 masculine mentorship program in the world. There he helps men in relationships reignite the passion to restore their marriages from the brink of divorce. And single men attract their dream women naturally with success. He's on a mission to guide men towards an intimate and meaningful relationship, and end the war with their sexuality, so they can finally become integrated men, fathers, brothers, husbands, and leaders in the world.
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