relationships

Should you have a marriage contract?

We all know that marriage requires some paper work to make it official. It’s like a business merger, a partnership, and we sign our names on the dotted line. And even though marriage comes with a set of rules, some the same across the board and some different depending on the couple, what about having it all in writing? It may sound crazy but should a marriage contract come along with your marriage license?

When we are hired to do a job, we already know what is expected of us. We know the hours required, we know what our position will be and what we are expected to do. If we have questions, there’s usually someone to turn to. We train and prepare for this job. Dedicated employees sometimes work over time or go the extra mile to do a great job. We are checked if we are not keeping up or if we are slacking. Yet when we enter a marriage by reciting our vows we often say unrealistic, idealistic and vague things to each other. “Till death do us part” or something along the lines of that. We say sweet nothings of promises we hope to keep, “I promise to love you, forever” or “I promise to respect you”. But what we fail to do is plan. There are no plans made for moments when compromise doesn’t work or when you’ve hit a rough patch.

Imagine there were a set of rules we abided by. Imagine there was a plan when you’ve exhausted every other option to save your marriage. For example, what if a contact insisted that counseling was required if a solution had not been found for a problem lasting more than a year? Or what if in your marriage contract you outlined your deal breakers like abuse or infidelity? Perhaps your contract could outline how to deal with intrusive in-laws or visitors. Often times we are so knee deep in love, we only plan for the happy moments. We have no idea how to handle conflict or how our partners handle it either for that matter. What if every 2-3 years you had to resign and renegotiate your marriage contact? This meeting would be a great way to discuss what was working and what wasn’t instead of waiting for things to explode.

It sounds ridiculous but perhaps in being more open about the things that could go wrong and making plans for these moments, we might discover the secret sauce to a healthy relationship. After years of marriage and when the honeymoon phase has faded, it becomes so easy to take our relationships for granted. We become so comfortable that we often stop putting in that “extra” work, time, or effort we once had. But having a contract could hold partners accountable.

It could outline date nights, how you two spend the holidays, how the chores or bills are divided, and what to do if things have gotten off track. Look at it more like a plan than a contract. What if you got to hash out everything before you spent thousands on your wedding? I think it’s super easy to think “Love conquers all”. And it sure feels that way when we’re young and in love. But checking in every few years, seriously checking in, and discussing what we require and what is required of us can make a huge difference. It’s a kind of maintenance we aren’t taught or we think of when we discuss marriage but it’s so necessary.

There are things we can never plan for, this is absolutely true. But one thing you can count on, is your marriage will not be perfect. There will be moments when talking might not work or the both of you cannot come to an agreement. And in a day and age where we sign contracts for our cellphones and cable, where life comes with a ton of fine print, how awesome would it be if we put that fine print out the table before we sign perhaps the biggest contract of our lives?

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