What is a Relationship Contract, and Should You Try It?

by Carter Toni

Navigating relationships can be difficult and emotionally exhausting at even the best of times. We don’t all have the necessary energy to chart a course through difficult times, and it can be easy to butt heads especially in a long-term relationship where little resentments have had a chance to build up unchecked.

For those seeking a little more clarity in their relationships, there is a form of structure that has seen growing interest in recent years: the relationship contract.

What is a Relationship Contract?

A relationship contract is exactly how it sounds. It is a contract, drawn up and ‘signed’ by both parties in a romantic relationship, that defines and outlines terms for both parties to adhere to during the relationship. Relationship contracts have been played for laughs in TV and film media, but for the right couples they can be an incredibly useful way to telegraph wants and needs in a relationship – and some success stories are well-documented. But how do they work, and what does a good relationship contract look like?

The Benefits of Introducing a Relationship Contract

Unambiguous Communication

A relationship contract can help you communicate your needs to one another in a direct and unambiguous way. You can use the contract to ensure you are both well-understood, and that no miscommunication can occur over hard-line issues – whatever they may be.

Managing Expectations

The contract can also serve as a useful way to mitigate the expectations you may have of one another. A lot can go unsaid in even the most loving of relationships, and relationship breakdown can often come from misunderstanding key aims and motivations. The contract allows you both to set out what you want from the relationship, and how you expect one another to be.

Bonding Experience

Lastly, the drawing-up of the contract itself can be a fun and rewarding experience. Sitting down together with a bottle of red, going over the ins and outs of your relationship together – and in so doing, planning big events for the future – can be a wonderful bonding experience.

What Should You Include?

Boundaries with Friends and Family

Your private time with friends and family might be of particular importance to you, so it could be useful to include a clause enshrining that time – ensuring you do not have to compromise completely on seeing people you love.

Romantic Expectations

It might seem a little formal to include romantic expectations in a contract. Not only can it help manage expectations, but it can also put you both on the same page, and give you both something to look forward to. You could include a clause requiring a gift in the form of a lingerie set each few months – guaranteeing new items for the bedroom wardrobe, and a regular ‘viewing session’ that could lead to more…

House Admin

Lastly, the contract can have practical utility for the division of labour. If you live together, you might feel that household admin is unfairly skewed. The contract can set this straight, and ensure the house remains clean and well looked-after.

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