We frequently take for granted that our relationships, including romantic, family, sibling, friendship and all others, operate through many spoken and unspoken relationship agreements.
When relationships break down, more often than not, a key relationship agreement (or rule) has been breached.
Can you think of some of the relationship agreements that are operating in any of your significant relationships?
Some common examples of agreements in romantic relationships are:
- Monogamy (although it’s the norm it doesn’t work for everyone to talk about it and don’t assume)
- How much time is spent together and apart (how much time with family, friends, sports, hobbies…)
- Amount of privacy allowed (e.g. do you share your password privacy for email, social media or smartphones)
- Daily telephone contact (how much is enough/too little)
When an unspoken ‘rule’ or agreement is broken this can be more difficult to handle because it’s never been discussed or even promised. One person in the relationship might have come to rely on something that the other person didn’t even consider was so important.
In order to work it out, consider that the other person usually has positive intent, or the desire to please you. Although it may seem intentional, the other person is usually unaware that the breach has hurt you.
So, speak up in a direct and friendly manner and be willing to verbalize the unspoken agreements operating within your relationship(s).
With cooperation, relationship agreements can easily be renegotiated and strengthened. In fact, in long-term committed relationships, in particular, consider setting time aside to renegotiate your relationship agreements every 6 months.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with relationship agreements!