Roles In Marriage & Relationships

What kind of contract do you have with your partner?

“We don’t have a contract,” you say.

Well, I have to disagree with that. All marriages and/or relationships have an unwritten, often unspoken contract that you mutually agree to on a certain level.

Don’t believe me?

Let me give you an example. In the book When Smart People Fail
by Carole Hyatt and Linda Gottlieb, the authors explore the “contracts” people make when they are in love.


According to them each contract has two components: economic and emotional.

This is their sample of a traditional contract:

Man:” I will earn a good living for us [economic contract] and be strong at all times for you [emotional contract].”

Woman: “I will not work outside the home [economic contract], and I will be the mother to your children and supportive of your needs [emotional contract].”

That one doesn’t work for you? How about this one?

Man: “I am an artist and cannot be looked to for money [economic contract]; I agree to be volatile and exciting [emotional contract].”

Woman: “I will earn the income in this family [economic contract], and I will be emotionally steady so that you can be volatile [emotional contract].”

There are as many types of relationship contracts as their are people, but some are based on an equal partnerships while others emphasis one partner as being dominant in either economic or emotional parts (or sometimes both).

However, this does not imply that both parties are necessarily happy with the arrangement. In fact, people often “agree” to situations that later feel quite unhappy for them.

According to the book, relationships can usually survive if one part of the contract is broken. However, if both parts are broken, then severe troubles usually erupt. In many cases this leads to divorce.

So let’s say that a couple has the traditional relationship contract. The man is the rock. He is the financial and emotional provider for his wife. Then suddenly he loses his job, and worse, can’t find a new one.

His wife will most likely support him and help him through this struggle. But let’s say the man goes a very long time without finding new employment and then his emotional state starts to crumble.

His wife is left looking at this shell of a man wondering, “Where is the rock I married? Where has my security gone?”

Once these feelings start to seep into a relationship, it can really undermine the way both people feel about their roles in the relationship.

His sense of failure in compounded when he feels like he is failing his wife and family. She, in turn, feels like lots of responsibilities are piling up on her that she didn’t sign up for.

The loss of a job is not the only thing that can send a relationship reeling. Anything stressful life event can bring on a situation that threatens your comfortable roles.

So it is important to sit down with your partner and discuss your implied contract BEFORE hardships come your way (and they ALWAYS come, sooner or later).

Dig deep and really be honest about what is going on between the two of you. There is no wrong kind of contract. Whatever you both agree to is perfectly fine. The point is to know what to expect from each other and to make sure that both individuals are happy with their role.

The more prepared you are, the better you can weather any storm.


On a Side Note…..

Did you know that two healthy individuals ALWAYS create a healthier relationship? One of the best things you can do for your marriage or relationship is to make yourself a better and happier person. It’s good for you and the one you love!


I Cheated On My Partner. Should I Tell Them?

That is a huge question and it doesn’t have a clear cut answer.

Lots of factors come into play when making this type of decision. Religion, morals, and views of family and friends are just a few.

What it all comes down to is this: It’s your opinion.

I am all about honesty. And I don’t believe you should keep information from your partner (or cheat on them for that matter).

However, I believe there’s a huge difference between telling the truth because it’s the right thing to do and telling the truth to make yourself feel better.

If you are clearing the air just to make yourself feel better, then you are trading your misery for theirs. Do you really want to do that to the one you love?

Also, there’s a difference between individuals who make a one time mistake and those who are serial cheaters.

If you made a one time mistake, especially if it was in the distance past (and your relationship is good now) it might be a selfish move on your part if you spill your secrets now. This is even more true if there are children involved.

For example, I know a couple who were married for many years when she confessed an affair with his brother early into their marriage.

I always wondered what her motives were at that point. It was so many years in the past and it affected the whole family.

I know some people will not agree with my perspective on this, and that’s okay.

The point I am getting at here is this: Always examine your motives and do what’s best for everyone involved.

And don’t forget the love angle. It’s all about the love.

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by Angela Christian Pope @