The NY Times has an interesting Modern Love column running now. It’s titled; To Stay in Love, Sign on the Dotted Line. It was written by Mandy of Mark and Mandy—the couple who 2.5 years ago spent their first date trying a psychological experiment that used 36 questions to help them fall in love. The idea being that falling in love is more about knowing someone than well, butterflies. It’s about finding love through a thinking, conscious process. I like it…
In her new column Mandy talks about their “relationship contract,” which they have used for 2 years now. The idea came when Mandy read something about short-term marriage contracts and they decided to try adapting it to be a non-married relationship contract instead. Mandy was eager to do this as her previous relationship had little “room for me in it,” and she didn’t want to lose herself yet again, as she checked all the relationship boxes that lead to commitment and more.
Mark and Mandy renew their contract once a year, and they can adjust, delete, and add things according to how the past year has worked out for them. Interestingly Mandy has found it a great way to actually talk about things they might have assumed, ignored, or just never gotten to. We all know what can happen when issues go unaddressed like this.
Mandy and Mark both like knowing how the other is really feeling, any issues they may have, and what is working for them or needs some work. For them this doesn’t feel unromantic, it helps them feel closer.
Their contract is 4 pages and single spaced—and covers “just about everything,” from the dog, to chores, to how money is handled, to how space and boundaries are dealt with, and even their sexual relationship. They even have a kind of mission statement that details what they want their relationship to be and what it will do for them as individuals and as a couple.
They acknowledge it isn’t a perfect answer to everything, but this way, both have an active role in making their relationship what they want it to be.
I like the idea so much, I am considering having the couples I work with create their own contracts—which will give them specific issues to discuss and help them give voice to their feelings, needs, and even fears. Thanks Mandy!