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Is a Marriage Contract a Good Idea?

Jun.11, 2013  |  Articles

bride-and-groom-905150_1280 I was interviewed on Huffington Post Live yesterday as part of a panel discussion. We discussed the pros and cons of marriage contracts, also known as love contracts, pre-marriage pacts, and lifestyle clauses.  Marriage contracts, which are gaining popularity, can include agreements about anything.  Some examples of expectations that couples have included in marriage contracts are number of days per week they will have sex, how many minutes of quality time to share each week, household chores they will be responsible for, frequency of exercise, and even how much weight they can gain.

Some argue that an agreement with this degree of detail limits spontaneity in the marriage.  I disagree.  Planning and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, planning can enhance spontaneity and creativity.  For example, I recommend that couples schedule time for sex, and some worry that doing so will make it feel less organic and natural.  To their surprise, often what they find is that having it scheduled creates a sense of anticipation and excitement.  Couples might even send each other sexy texts earlier in the day, and consider ways to make it fun and creative.  As they mentally prepare for sex, their bodies are warming up as well.

Although couples may choose not to legally formalize a marriage contract, they should still co-create a written relationship statement before they commit to a lifelong relationship.  A written agreement is helpful for couples because it provides a clear and structured process for communicating their expectations for marriage. Creating a relationship statement involves four steps: 1) First, identify your own expectations for marriage, 2) Communicate your expectations to your partner and learn what your partner expects, 3) Co-create a written statement that includes both partner’s expectations, and 4) Once you’re married, check in with each other quarterly to see how it’s going, and always leave some room for flexibility and adjustments.

Many of the couples I work with are unhappy in their marriages because they didn’t communicate enough about their expectations before they got married.  Couples often tell me that it was fear of conflict and breaking up that deterred them from discussing expectations earlier in the relationship.  When you’re planning to spend the rest of your life together, it’s wise to know as much as you can about each other’s expectations before you make that commitment.

In other words:  Transparency.  Transparency.  Transparency.

Marriage is one of life’s most beautiful and challenging experiences, and honest, open communication is the key.

Check out the HuffPost interview: http://huff.lv/13Slgbf