Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Poll: What would be in your “relationship agreement”?

The New York Times published an article the other day about “relationship agreements,” a new trend among couples to stipulate in writing the compromises they’re asking of and willing to make for each other. The idea gained some attention recently on an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” when a commitment-phobic character presented such an agreement to his girlfriend. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly nailed down a relationship agreement with his then-girlfriend (now wife) several years ago in which he agreed to “one date night and 100 minutes together a week, not in his apartment or at the Facebook office.”

A relationship agreement is different from a prenup in that it’s generally not legally enforced and it doesn’t involve assets. It’s more like a “business plan” for the relationship, or a “wish list” for the couple. “It’s more about acknowledging the seriousness of the discussion,” said Cheryl Lynn Hepfer, a matrimonial lawyer in Bethesda, Md. “People’s memories fail. So they say, ‘Remember when this was so important to us that we signed, with witnesses?’ ”

After the jump, weigh in on what would be number one on your “relationship agreement” if you made one right now with your significant other (hypothetical or real one).

[polldaddy poll=”6266569″]

[via NYTimes]

64 comments… add one
  • avatar

    lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 3:21 pm

    This is pretty bizarre, to me at least. Curious to see what everyone else thinks.
    My thoughts are that these “must haves” should just be discussed or even assumed just as time goes on in a relationship. Making a formal document about dates, sex and time for yourself seems…I don’t even know. Just too much.

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    • avatar

      rachel May 31, 2012, 3:29 pm

      I’m with you. Like, yes, I want sex at least once a week (I hope quite a bit more than that). But I don’t think I would get to “relationship” stage with a guy if he didn’t seem to be on that wavelength.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 3:31 pm

        Exactly. One other thing is I’d be screwed with the whole he who cooks doesn’t have to do the dishes thing, so hopefully my SO stays in the dark about this whole agreement thing 🙂

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      • avatar

        rachel May 31, 2012, 4:23 pm

        Haha, yeah, my boyfriend is way more likely to cook AND do the dishes than me. oops 🙂

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 4:26 pm

        Ha, pretty sure I’d starve before I had to cook something. So hooray for the boyfriends keeping us alive, and our sinks clean.

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      • Brad

        Brad May 31, 2012, 10:03 pm

        This is grounds for revocation of your woman cards! But if you promise not to tattle on me for hating sports I’ll keep your secret. 😉

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      • avatar

        rachel May 31, 2012, 10:16 pm

        Haha, I could survive on my own, and I do cook maybe 25% of the time, but he’s better at it than me.

        And I’m the one in the house that couldn’t do without football, too. You and my boyfriend could probably have an awkward conversation where you both pretended to sound like you knew what you are talking about 🙂

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      • Brad

        Brad June 1, 2012, 10:06 am

        Yeah I’ve had that conversation before many times… I mostly don’t even bother to pretend to like sports anymore. All that leads to is me having to pretend to be interested in a conversation I find so boring I’d almost rather be at work…

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      • Budj

        Budj June 1, 2012, 10:10 am

        I really like watching football…but believe it a snoozefest to discuss in detail. Stats….don’t care…..hall of fame players? don’t care…unless they are from the Giants…haha. I find the random records/stats they throw out on the tv during the game fun to read, but immediately forget most of them.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 1, 2012, 10:09 am

        That’s ok. Guys think I’m really cool because I’m one of them. You know, drink beers, watch sports, like dick jokes…

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      • JK

        JK June 1, 2012, 10:12 am

        But do you dress prettily???

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 1, 2012, 10:28 am

        Oh yes. I do all of the above, in stilletos.

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 31, 2012, 10:46 pm

        We have a “whoever cooks does the dishes” rule, mostly because we have a dishwasher and clean during cook time/right after. It’s not even an actual rule, it’s just what we do.

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    • avatar

      PFG-SCR May 31, 2012, 9:55 pm

      I agree with you – relationships change over time, especially as couples enter different stages of their lives. You’d have to constantly be revising or adding addendums to the document.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson May 31, 2012, 3:32 pm

    I can’t imagine asking for two hours of alone time each weekend. I just take time for myself, I don’t schedule it. Do people really spend 48 hours straight together? I mean even if it’s just working out or running errands, I need space.

    Also a life with only 1 reality tv show a week is not worth living. Also only two sporting events a week would be awful too.

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    • avatar

      bethany May 31, 2012, 4:01 pm

      If I only had 2 hours alone each weekend, I would physically harm my husband, or run away.
      I love me time.

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    • Lili

      Lili May 31, 2012, 4:03 pm

      Totally Agree! I was like, woah will I need to ASK for alone time rather than just taking a long walk or zoning out at the gym when I want ‘me time?!’ Also, I find wandering the grocery store aisles fun. My ex was all lets grab our list items and go. After a while, I did all the grocery shopping in our relationship.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow May 31, 2012, 4:34 pm

        Interesting. When I think of “alone time” I don’t picture grocery shopping or going to the gym. Instead, I picture having the house (or part of the house) to myself with no one bothering me and nothing else to do, haha, so I can RELAX, read or watch TV or DW or whatever else.

        AND I also want to do shopping/gym/etc. alone at least some of the time.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 31, 2012, 4:03 pm

      Because my bf and I are long distance (oh and we are ending that in JULY! Officially!) we do spend 48 hrs together minus showers and bathroom breaks. We just don’t get on each others nerves too often…I dunno. It somehow works. But every couple is different in terms of space requirements.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson May 31, 2012, 4:09 pm

        Yeah you might find you need more alone time once you see each other all the time. I’m not sure if you’re living together when the long distance is over, but I noticed a big change when we went from dating to living together. I used to think I just wasn’t the type of person that needed alone time. I loved spending time with him. Lots and lots of time. I would wake up at his house, go to work, and then when we were both off of work we would hang out and spend the night again. But somehow even spending that much time together and living together was completely different. Especially if I’m stressed with work or other things I have to have a certain amount of alone-downtime.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary May 31, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Yeh I definitely expect it to change. We are not going to live together (my one traditional rule-no living together until married). I do think we will need alone time then as I am an introvert and draw my energy from being alone and quiet. But for now spending big chunks of time together works!

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      • avatar

        lemongrass May 31, 2012, 8:58 pm

        You might not though. My husband and I did a (short) long distance thing and used to spend the whole weekend together. I thought that once I moved in we would both need our space but 4 years later, we just love being in each other’s company. He’ll even turn the tv volume low if I want to read so that I don’t leave the room. My sister and her husband of 10 years are the same.

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    • avatar

      Joresana May 31, 2012, 4:06 pm

      My husband and I run a storage facility together and live on the property. I am with him all the freaking time. Sometimes, after the office closes, I just have to tell him to act like he doesn’t exist for a few hours, and I go in my bedroom and shut the door. Time to myself doesn’t exist right now, and I have always been one of those people who needs time to decompress alone. I cannot drive so when he goes out to visit his family or something, I am so excited to have a few minutes truly alone. I love him and all, but there’s such a thing as being together way too much. That’s one reason we are both looking for a new job- separately.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl May 31, 2012, 6:49 pm

      I think we’re in the minority but my fiance and I regularly spend 24, 48, 72 or more hours doing everything together. We both work from home so it is possible that we will spend days on end side by side. Actually this holiday weekend we were glued together from the time he got home on Friday (about 10pm) until he left for a meeting Tuesday (about 10am). He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We even shower together regularly.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 3:35 pm

    On second thought, maybe these types of agreements would result in way less fucked up relationships, so maybe they ARE a good idea. However, if there were no fucked up relationships, there would be no Dear Wendy, so maybe we should stop promoting this idea 🙂

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  • Budj

    Budj May 31, 2012, 3:37 pm

    My lists would look much different than this…I can see the idea behind it being good because it forces couples to discuss expectations, but I can still see people compromising in an early relationship more than they realize and having resentments come into play anyways.

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  • avatar

    GertietheDino May 31, 2012, 3:43 pm

    My SO and I are drawing one up, it stipulates we will always respect one another, how disagreements will be handled, etc…and what we will do if one or both of us acquires superpowers.

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    • Budj

      Budj May 31, 2012, 3:45 pm

      If you are including superpowers you should probably include an agreement for zombies…

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      • avatar

        GertietheDino May 31, 2012, 5:19 pm

        Zombie Apocalypse scenarios are discussed.

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      • theattack

        theattack May 31, 2012, 11:16 pm

        My fiance and I just finalized our zombie plans last night, and he bought some more ammo today in preparation.

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    • JK

      JK May 31, 2012, 4:45 pm

      But at what temperature does the thermostat have to be set? 🙂

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson May 31, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Although I have to say I really did like the dishes/cooking one. But I wouldn’t be willing to compromise on it. I love cooking, so I wouldn’t want to give that up. So my agreement would have to be he just always does the dishes, haha.

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  • avatar

    bethany May 31, 2012, 4:00 pm

    We have the cooking/dishes rule in our house… I like that a lot, and it was my husband’s idea!

    One thing that I would put in our “relationship agreement”, is that the TV is off until after dinner. I don’t know why, but it drives me NUTS when I come home from work and my husband is watching the news/sports. I realize that he just got home and needs to relax for a bit, but the TV being on makes me insane. Now that the weather’s nice, I walk in, say hi and then go sit on the deck and relax while he watches tv…

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson May 31, 2012, 4:05 pm

      I’m with you – TV on right when I get home makes me crazy too. I think it’s because it’s more stimulus that I don’t need after a long day. The deck idea is perfect – wine + peace and quiet is how I relax too.

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      • avatar

        bethany May 31, 2012, 4:07 pm

        You’re probably right… It drives me even more nuts, because most days he’s got little to do at work and is on the internet all day- what could possibly be on the news that he hasn’t already been reading about all freaking day?!?!

        oh, and deck + wine + cats on the deck with me is my favorite thing ever 🙂

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 31, 2012, 4:20 pm

        I am so with you two on this. The TV on -esp if it’s not being watched- drives me bonkers. My bf has ADD. He LOVES to have music blaring out of his Macbook, boxing in HD on the big screen, and his guitar and/or keyboard plugged in so he can record music. The craziest thing is he really is doing all three of those things at once! We live in a tiny Manhattan 1br, so if I’m reading on the couch and he starts doing all these things, I start to get really irritated. Our compromise is that only one of his multiple activities can be making noise. He usually puts headphones on (I bought him ridic expensive ones for this purpose) to tune one of the noises out for me because I am a bookworm and like my peace and quiet.

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      • Brad

        Brad May 31, 2012, 10:27 pm

        I cannot read if there’s any form of distractions around except maybe white noise (like the mindless roar of say a busy airport). I have a very hard time not focusing on other sounds like music, tv, or people talking. I remember when I was younger going to the library when I wanted to read and shutting myself away in my room wasn’t doing enough. Thank god Boss invented noise canceling headphones!

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 31, 2012, 10:49 pm

        Ugh. Mr. Temperance does NOT have ADHD/ADD, but he is in a band as a hobby. He consequently is ALWAYS playing some stupid song that I just HAVE to hear (what, you aren’t interested in old, shitty recordings from PBS of old Irish men singing Irish standards? I know that I’m not!) or playing an instrument and singing. It’s LOUD. I like peace and quiet. I like the TV on a low volume. I like music on a low volume, and then only songs that I like. He will listen to any shit just in case some song might be good on an otherwise terrible album.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster June 1, 2012, 12:25 pm

        I’m actually OK with a little bit of noise. I live in New York City, after all; blaring stereos, honking cars, firetrucks, etc. are all kinda white noise to me. I just can’t have twenty different noises in my immediate vicinity all at once when I’m reading or writing. When I was a kid I was much better at tuning the world out and getting lost in a book. I’m probably one of the few kids who had books yanked out of their hands (at the dinner table, family parties) because I spent so much time reading. My dad used to say I was going to fall into a pot hole with my nose in a book, and probably wouldn’t even notice I was in the sewer. I get kind of wistful thinking about it! I wish was still capable of focusing on something so intently these days. Dang internet with all it’s distractions!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 4:10 pm

        Mmmm, same here. The view of my porch from my favorite chair is my screensaver on my work computer and my cell phone. The kiddo didn’t appreciate that too much since its always been her until this month. :

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle May 31, 2012, 4:25 pm

      With all of you guys on the TV thing– my dad used to leave it on even when he was outside doing yardwork or something, & I’d used to come home running at the TV to hit the ‘off’ button.

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    • Brad

      Brad May 31, 2012, 10:23 pm

      haha I’m with your husband. Sitting on a porch/deck looking at the neighborhood/backyard sounds so ridiculously boring to me. I’d definitely rather watch TV.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina May 31, 2012, 4:03 pm

    My boyfriend and I don’t have anything written up, but I’m such a planner and when we first started dating, we both made a few agreements/compromises (like we have a scheduled phone date every night at roughly the same time haha, and various other quirky things). And I’m ‘required’ to give in to Skyping once a week-I don’t like it that much since I can’t multitask and I hate being holed up in my apartment for an hour or two. Though I think all LDRs should (and many do) have something similar. I do see the point in writing something up, but it is also weird at the same time. I’m not THAT much of a planner to have something set in stone. And if I could have my way, my boyfriend would hardly watch TV, but that won’t happen anytime soon.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo May 31, 2012, 4:03 pm

    So what happens if one party breaks one or more of the stipulations of the agreement? Are there provisions for how this will be handled, by means of relationship forfeits (oral sex, for example, or doing this week’s laundry, your choice), or “5 points from Gryffindor”? If you violate these stipulations regularly, the relationship will descend to bitterness and chaos and eventually end, but isn’t that how it works without the formal agreement? I’ve been married for 19 years, with my wife for 23, and this type of thing seems antithetical to the sense of humour and compromise necessary for two people with reasonable egos and self-respect to stay together for the long haul. I should mention that by now I am so far ahead on points, I can basically get away with anything…. Okay, not true, but I tell her this all the time and then she punches me in the shoulder…. My point is that if the agreement is not enforceable, it doesn’t amount to much more than “Play nice, children.” If you have to be all that serious with each other, hmmm…, I don’t know if yer gonna make it.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest May 31, 2012, 4:06 pm

      Love this.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary May 31, 2012, 4:05 pm

    I just don’t think writing something up is necessary. Relationships evolve and change over time as do wants and needs. If relationships were so easy to define on paper then we could all fill out online profiles and be matched with exactly the right person, but clearly that isn’t how it works. And lets not even get started on the fact that a ton of people don’t even know what they really want to begin with…

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  • avatar

    amy May 31, 2012, 4:13 pm

    Something tells me this will lead to more fights than anything.

    What are you going to do? Post it on the fridge? Lol.

    What happened to talking about problems? You will find more problems as you go. I guess you can just add appendixes and ammendments.

    My fiance’ would write “dont leave laundry in the dryer for days after you do it” lol. Instead, he told me it upset him and I made a conscious effort to not do that. Now that he’s in colorado, well… Let’s just say I pull my clothes out of the drier each morning to get dressed lol.

    But seriously, I don’t like this idea, relationships, wants, and needs evolve over time. No agreement will stop that.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh May 31, 2012, 4:20 pm

      i’m glad i’m not the only one who does this. it’s convenient too, because if they are a little wrinkly you just turn the dryer back on, haha.

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      • avatar

        bethany May 31, 2012, 4:26 pm

        I’m guilty, too!

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      • avatar

        rachel May 31, 2012, 4:42 pm

        I don’t mean to, but for some reason it seems like a lot of effort to put away my laundry in the evening if it was a load of shirts (underwear and stuff is easy since it doesn’t require folding or hanging. But yes, I’ll just turn the dryer back on for 10 minutes to fluff everything and get the wrinkles out!

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    • Brad

      Brad May 31, 2012, 10:32 pm

      Wow I thought this was a lazy guy/bachelor thing. Ha! makes me feel a little better. I just looked and I had some towels in mine 😛 opps. Forgot I did those on Sunday… 😀

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  • avatar

    Lindsay May 31, 2012, 4:26 pm

    I guess thi might work for some people, but I think if you need a written agreement in order to make sure you have enough sex or get time to yourself, then I think there are other problems that need to be dealt with. I think arranging who does certain chores when moving in together is reasonable, though.

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  • avatar

    ReadingIsFundamental May 31, 2012, 4:38 pm

    1. Say what you do. Do what you say.
    2. Listen at least as much as you talk.

    We never wrote it down but it’s worked for us for 20 years.

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    • avatar

      PFG-SCR May 31, 2012, 9:52 pm

      Sometimes the most simple is the most profound.

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Michelle.Lea May 31, 2012, 3:44 pm

    it was a bit of an odd listing…nothing that i would really want an ‘agreement’ on.. the closest was sex once a week, but even that can vary depending on the week!

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. May 31, 2012, 4:59 pm

    I know it’s important to discuss these things, but an actual written agreement? This makes relationships feel like business deals to me. No wonder people are complaining that romance is dead.

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  • avatar

    *HmC* May 31, 2012, 5:31 pm

    I wouldn’t mind a regularly scheduled date night. Schedules can get hectic in a LTR and taking time to still “date” can fall down the list of priorities (in favor of ALWAYS staying in, which is usually ok by me!). Once we’re out together, it’s great fun, but planning it takes extra time and effort I don’t have.

    Everything else though, like frequency of sex, chores, and generally how much time you spend together… for me I prefer for that stuff to be flexible depending on the needs of the people in the relationship, and they should also be fluid and adjust as needs adjust over time. I see my bf more often now than when we first started our relationship, and I think that’s a healthy and natural progression. Also, I think constantly having to renegotiate and reassess the terms of a dating relationship is a really important part of maintaining strong communication and therefore, a strong connection.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl May 31, 2012, 6:54 pm

    On my list is no tv in the bedroom. This is a seriously huge deal breaker for me and I laid it out on one of my first dates with my fiance. And as soon as we can afford a larger apartment no computer in the bedroom will go on that list.

    He would probably vote for sex at least twice a week being on our agreement.

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    • avatar

      Temperance May 31, 2012, 10:51 pm

      We have the opposite agreement! I have night terrors and need to be able to flick on the TV if I’m in a nightmare and seeing things so it can wake me out of it.

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  • avatar

    Samantha May 31, 2012, 6:14 pm

    When creating our informal cohab agreement, one of the things my sig. o. and I discussed was decorating. I’m incredibly tacky and love bold colors, especially pink, and don’t really care about matching. He’s got more normal taste, which is totally fine by me. I’m just not good at making that happen. So I agreed to let him decorate as long as I got to pick one or two pieces with color and maybe a little gaudiness so I’d still feel at home. It seems really arbitrary, but it made moving go more smoothly.

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  • avatar

    Anna May 31, 2012, 8:32 pm

    I would say date night at least once a week. When I was in a relationship, we struggled to find time to go on dates because we worked opposite shifts and both had mandatory overtime most of the time. My days off have been Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for awhile while his only day off was usually Sunday. But even if we have to go on a random daytime date like lunch or something, it’s important to me to spend time together outside of the house.

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  • avatar

    jubietta May 31, 2012, 8:53 pm

    After a series of difficult evenings with me feeling jealous about all the attention Mario and Luigi were getting, Mr. J and I had to make an agreement regarding video games. As we’re a one TV household (with 2 gaming consoles attached) the attention given to video games is a double-whammy for me: he’s ignoring me and I can’t just go watch TV to ignore him back. Our agreement was: if I’m home and awake he has to check with me before plugging in and zoning out. The agreement held well for a long time, and then the big MMO games started coming out. For some reason, that was enough for him to almost forget I existed…turned him into a frickin’ addict. There was crying and screaming and breaking of game discs (him breaking them, not me, I’d never do that, probably)…and eventually we came together and questioned whether or not the agreement was still a good idea or whether we needed to negotiate a new agreement. The new agreement looks much like the old one, and now that he doesn’t have MMO games our peaceful home is happy again. I worry that I stuck to my guns a little too hard because of the frustration, but he still plays about 15 hours a week and remembers to acknowledge that I exist if I walk into the room while he’s playing.

    I don’t think I’d ever want to be in the kind of relationship where I had to write that shit down, or have detailed punishments drafted in advance. Yikes. Corporations aren’t people and people aren’t corporations!

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    • avatar

      Temperance May 31, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Honestly, sticking to your guns in that scenario is HARD, especially with time-intensive games. You’re a much more reasonable person than I am – when Mr. Temperance was playing EverCrack, which I absolutely HATE, I would always snap at him for being rude and ignoring me. I stopped cleaning the house because I resented being a.) ignored and b.) him taking all the leisure time.

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  • avatar

    Temperance May 31, 2012, 10:45 pm

    I am so thankful that Mr. Temperance is a grown ass man who cleans up after himself and doesn’t like sports. We have had a few fights about chores, but they weren’t REALLY about chores (more like, if you want your asshole dad to visit, you clean up for him, because I don’t want him here).

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