July 1

The Marriage Agreement

marriage2The marriage agreement–the most important piece of paper in your marriage.  It’s more important than the license for your nuptials.  It’s more important than the vows that you wrote and then later spoke.   Ideally it should come first, but it’s never too late to write one, and for some it could be the thing that turns a not-so-wonderful marriage into a life-long bond between soulmates.  If you find yourself in a conflicted marriage, you jus
t need to agree that you want to work on it and begin by laying this new framework.

 

It is a well-known fact that a good marriage can be the single most fulfilling factor in a person’s life.  It is also well known that a miserable marriage can be the highest source of stress.   The purpose of a written marriage agreement is to work out many of the sources of potential conflict long before they can ever occur.  The idea is to put the two of you on the same page, to build a blueprint for your marriage that you can both agree on and put your heart and soul into.   When you both know exactly what to expect and learn that you can rely on the other to follow through with your plan, your bond will grow and strengthen.   There will be nothing (and no one) that can come between you.

When Mr. C and I first wrote our first marriage agreement many years ago, it was a short, 2-page list of nothing more than rules for living.  We agreed to who was going to do what within the walls of our home, who was going to handle the finances, and a few other key points.  The entire agreement took less than a half hour to write.   It later evolved to something much more, but it often took an incident of conflict of some sort (and there were many!) to cause us to go back and add a new clause to our agreement.

Our goal with this blog post is to help you work through a fairly comprehensive agreement that will address most of the major life issues that a marriage could encounter.   We say most as it is impossible to predict everything that could happen within a marriage and a life along the way.  Because this is a blog and not a book, we will give general overviews and then in future posts we will break down individual clauses more completely.  You’ll have plenty to get a working agreement completed now, however.

Page_1Also, the agreement you write will be thorough and well thought out, but it will not be permanent.  Life happens.  Things change, and for that reason, your agreement will continue to morph and grow within your relationship.   It is a good idea to come back here every year or two, on your anniversary perhaps, and review, add, subtract, or rewrite any clause of your agreement that has evolved and requires tweaking.   You should also make any necessary changes each time there is a major life event such as residence change, major career change, birth of a child, sickness, injury, or even the taking in of an aging parent.  In other words, any time there is a change in your lives that affects or could have an effect on your relationship, you should review and adjust where needed.

Included within this blog is a copy of sample marital agreement sections.   Each section covers a different topic including:  Religion, Head of Household, Residence, Household Responsibilities, Employment, Finances, Children, Pets, Health & Fitness, Sex, In-laws, Friendships, Maintaining your Marriage, Disagreements, Hobbies, and Hopes & Dreams.  We’ll be breaking down each section for you and pointing out some obvious and some not-so-obvious things to think about and discuss.

As you move along through the series, you’ll note that every topic has been laid out for you with questions, discussion points and guideposts for how to work out a plan of action that suits your relationship.   Take your time with each one.   There should be no rush when working out your plan for living.   The time you take now will save you heartache, time, and expense later.  Plan to give each section the time it deserves and resist the urge to rush your partner or be rushed by your partner to complete any segment.   Complete each section then write the corresponding segment of your marital agreement.

Also, take note of which segments strike a nerve for either of you.   You may expose something now that is a major issue that you hadn’t know existed.  Better to deal with things like that in advance. Take extra time with those and be absolutely certain that you’ve worked out all of the potential issues.

Some of you reading this are not yet married.  Others are newlyweds and still others have been married for many years.  Likewise, while the majority of those reading here are in a traditional relationship, others may be in a progressive partnership, or something different. This agreement is for everyone.

marriage1How your agreement will unfold depends largely on where you are within your relationship.   You may feel that some segments may not apply to you.   I suggest that you still at least skim each segment, just in case.  Each has been assembled by seeking the advice of many different couples who have been together for 25, 50 or even 60 years or more. Some of the advice contained within these pages is priceless and good to have, even if you are beyond the point of needing it for your personal use.  It might be good to have to pass on to your own children.   You may pick up a tidbit or two.  (We did.)  Certainly, if you get to the end of a segment and you still believe it does not apply, then feel free to leave that segment out of your marriage agreement.  Everything is negotiable, and the content of your agreement is private between the two of you, so make it entirely your own.

When in doubt about a particular topic, however, don’t leave it out.  It is better to discuss something that may come up, and have a plan in place for how to handle it in the future than to leave it out and open up a possibility for confusion and conflict if it should occur.

It is our hope that for the vast majority of couples reading this, you will finish your agreement with a sense of clarity and vision unlike you’ve experienced before.  You will have a true life plan for moving forward with your soulmate.  There will be no doubts.   You will be on the same page, with shared hopes, goals, and visions.

For a small number of others the process of writing this agreement may expose major conflicts that can not be resolved alone.  You may need to seek outside assistance to work through those issues.  We believe, that while that is a sad truth, it is better for all to know these things now rather than at a later date when it might be too late.  Take what you have learned, seek the help you need, and then build from there.  Your marriage will be all the better for it, and when you have worked out the kinks, you will be like steel that has been forged under intense heat–unbreakable.

As always, if you need further clarification or support, you can always contact us right here in the comments or on our Facebook Page or by email at the50shousewife@gmail.com

If you are ready to begin, I suggest grabbing a notebook because you will be writing  down lots of notes, questions, and discussion points to review with your spouse.

Let’s begin with a question.  If you could envision your marriage as absolutely perfect, what would that look like to you? (Your spouse should be thinking about the same thing.)  When I ask young women who are about to be married this question I am often met with blank stares.   What I’ve learned from many young girls growing up in this era is that they do not put a lot of thought into being a wife. They put a great deal of time, effort, energy, money and thought into the idea of being a BRIDE, but very little into what it will mean to be a wife after the wedding.  But once that glorious fairy tail wedding day is over, real life begins.   (Incidentally, if you are not yet married, this project you are embarking on could be the most important thing you ever do.   Do not wait until you have given your vows.  Do it now!)

So what would a perfect marriage look like to you?   Write it down.

Can you have that marriage you envisioned?  Probably not.  And it’s important to first realize that your expectations of your spouse might be unrealistic.  No person out there is able to fulfill 100% of our needs, but we believe that with proper care and attention you can have something very close to your ideal.  But you can’t have it if you don’t know what it is or if you are afraid to verbalize to your spouse what it is.   You have to do this first.  And you have to share your ideas, without fear of criticism.

To be sure that these fantasy marriages are discussed without argument, first agree that they are “ultimate fantasies” and nothing more.   Agree that you each may have very different ideas of what is a perfect marriage, and that it’s important to know how far apart you are so that you can plan the best compromises.   Agree that you can laugh together about your differences.   This plan alone will set the tone to one of fun and adventure rather than dread at starting an argument.

Once you’ve had this discussion you may have learned some surprising things about your spouse.  For me, that’s when I learned that in my heart I didn’t want to be a hugely successful career woman.  I wanted more than anything to be a wife and a mom.  I wanted to stay home and cook and clean and take care of my family.  I also learned that my husband wanted and craved being the ultimate leader of our home.  For us, we figured out that we had wasted years of our lives together living in a manner that neither of us wanted.  Thanks to that discussion we were able to fix that.

You could also find out that you have even greater differences than you thought.   Does that mean you are doomed?  Absolutely not.  It just means that this agreement is even more critical to achieving deep satisfaction for each of you.

After you’ve had the discussion about your perfect marriage, you will take what you know and begin writing your agreement.  Don’t worry.  You do not need to know details yet.  Each section will be written after discussion, so just start right in.  The first sections are very basic, just like any contract.  Here’s a sample of an opening paragraph section:

          ********SAMPLE of a SIMPLE*******

            GENERAL MARRIAGE AGREEMENT

 

This agreement (“Agreement”) establishes the guidelines and parameters to be adhered to for the marriage  (“Marriage”) between the following parties (“Married Parties”):

 

Spouse 1:  (Insert Name) Spouse 2:  (Insert Name)

 

and is undersigned and set forth this {date} of {month}, {year}, and shall be updated annually upon the anniversary date of the marriage or at each time that a life milestone (such as a new job, illness, injury, birth of a child, or caring for an aging parent) occurs for either of the Married Parties.

The undersigned parties hereby agree to the following provisions as conditions of the Marriage:

 

See? That wasn’t so hard, now was it.   But now we get into the nitty gritty.   When deciding what should be the first Paragraphs of our agreement, Mr. C and I had to ask ourselves what is the most important things to lay the foundation.    For many who live under the guidance of a certain religious affiliation, your religious choices literally govern your life, so that’s where we began.

Now before any person can establish the basic rules of living their own life, they must first look at their core belief system.   Here are some questions to answer:  What do you believe to be true?   Do you believe in a greater power?  Do you belong to a spirit or church community, and if so, what doctrine does it follow?  What spiritual practices need to be followed?  What life events are required? Or forbidden?  All of these things form the basis of how we look at life and establish rules for living.  Do your beliefs match your spouse’s?

When you combine two living beings with each their own core belief systems, things can get a little tricky.  Especially if those belief systems are vastly different.  So naturally this is the most logical place to begin any agreement for your marriage, because if you can not agree on this major issue, then all of the little things are pointless.  There will always be conflict.  You can agree to have separate religious practices. That’s fine, but you have to agree on some of the finer points on how those practices will enter your married and family life.

It is a simple matter if both parties to the agreement share the same religious choices.  If you are both Catholic, for example, then Paragraph 1 of your agreement is already half written.  But you aren’t finished there.    You must also agree on the details of your spiritual practice.     When will you worship?  Will you strictly follow church doctrine?   Will you consult with the Priest for marriage counseling prior to marriage? During your marriage?  Or never?  Or will you loosely follow the Church, perhaps only attending on major holidays?  How much will you donate weekly?  Or will you not?

How are you going to establish the foundation of your life together?    Will you raise your children under that religion?  Will they attend religious schools?  Are there certain things that one or both of you need to do to get “right” with your religious affiliation before you can move forward?

And what if you don’t agree?   How do you agree to handle that?   Which religious holidays will you acknowledge and celebrate?  How much of a spiritual flare will you life and home include?  What is tolerable to each?   And what will you teach your children?

This is the absolute foundation of your marriage.  Work it out.  Completely.  Then, write it down.  Here’s that sample including Section One.

           ********SAMPLE of a SIMPLE*******

           GENERAL MARRIAGE AGREEMENT

 

This agreement (“Agreement”) establishes the guidelines and parameters to be adhered to for the marriage  (“Marriage”) between the following parties (“Married Parties”):

Spouse 1:  (Insert Name)Spouse 2:  (Insert Name)
and is undersigned and set forth this {date} of {month}, {year}, and shall be updated annually upon the anniversary date of the marriage or at each time that a life milestone (such as a new job, illness, injury, birth of a child, or caring for an aging parent) occurs for either of the Married Parties.

The undersigned parties hereby agree to the following provisions as conditions of the Marriage:

SECTION 1–Religion (if applicable)

1.1 The Married parties shall live under the doctrine of the __(Christian?)___________ Religion and shall follow the guidelines for marriage outlined in the  ______(bible?)_____________.
1.2  It is further agreed that any children born to the Married Parties shall be raised under the customs and doctrines of the ________________ Religion.
1.3  The following religious holidays shall be celebrated in the home:_____________ __________ ____________________ ______________________ __________________________
1.4  The following religious symbols are welcome to be displayed in the home: __ ___(A crucifix over in the master bedroom)_____________ ____________________
1.5  _______________________ will attend regular bible studies (or women’s meetings or men’s meetings, or whatever your example might include.)

Your Section One may be much longer or much shorter depending on what you have agreed to.  Don’t fret.  It’s your agreement.  Don’t compare it to this very general sample.   My agreement with Mr. C was very different than this one as we have differing spiritual views.  Whatever the two of you agree to is okay.  Just make sure you agree.

Section Two, for us, was really quite easy since we’d already discussed the overall view of our perfect marriage.   Here’s the sample:

SECTION 2–Head of Household

2.1 The Married Parties agree that _________________ shall be designated as Head of Household (“HOH”) and ____________________ shall be the Supporting Spouse (“SS”).  The HOH shall be responsible for making all final decisions for the care, support, and maintenance of all family members.   The HOH has final say but shall consult with SS on all matters and shall consider all thoughts and opinions of SS before making any and all final decisions.   Further, all decisions shall be made in the best interest of the entire family, even when at the detriment or discomfort of the HOH or SS.

For you, this may require lengthy discussion.   You may be thinking that it doesn’t require any discussion and that there will be no “Head Of Household” and that you will share this responsibility equally, but that won’t work.   Oh, it might most of the time.  Mr. C and I discuss absolutely everything.   Almost always we agree on a course of action, but there have been those times when we simply could not agree.   It happens.  You will experience them too.  So what then?   Will you let the conflict linger?  Resentment grow?   Or will you have a clause in place such as the one above?

Here’s the interesting thing.   Mr. C has final say, but in all the years that he has had to make the final decision on a matter do you know how many times he chosen his way?  One.   When given such a huge responsibility as being ultimately responsible for the well-being of one’s entire family, one tends to take this role very seriously.   In almost every other case, after much thought and deliberation, Mr. C went with my thoughts on the matter because he thought that ultimately my ideas were less risky for his family.  He didn’t like it, but it was the right thing to do, he decided.

So don’t fret.   Just decide who will have that responsibility–that burden, really.  And write it down.   And then be prepared to live by it.  (It’s very challenging at the time, but it can be done. I promise.  Have faith in your HOH!)

Section 3 was the easiest of all for us.  Here it is:

SECTION 3-Residence

3.1 The Married Parties agree that they shall reside ______________ (Insert address if known or City/State or general region if address is unknown)_______  until such time that HOH and SS deem a change of residence necessary.   This location meets the criteria of:   ____ bedrooms, ________miles from employment and ___________  (for example…fill in your own criteria) and does not exceed the family’s housing budget of $________________.

3.2  It is hereby agreed by the Married Parties that at no time and under no circumstance shall either party permit any boarders to move into the family home, with the sole exception of temporary stays of not more than ______ days of sick or injured parents or grandparents.  It is further agreed that even in the case of parents or grandparents, if the medical needs of the patient exceed the ability to maintain peace and calm within the home (as determined at the discretion of the HOH), then alternative care locations shall be utilized.

For some of you this may require discussion.   Has one moved far from home and feel an intense need to move back?  Close to grandma and grandpa maybe?   Are you currently exceeding your housing budget and need to find a cheaper place?  Is employment difficult to come by and a move to a different area necessary?  Work it all out.  Write it down.

I included the boarders comment in there straight out of our agreement.  Just trust me on this one.   You DO need to discuss it ahead of time.   Family, friends, foster kids, homeless people… they will all present in your lifetime needing a place to go.  You may feel compelled to help, and what you think will be a weekend sleepover can turn into a 5-year stay that could wreak havoc in your marriage and your life.   Having a clause in place resolves the issue before it begins.

If you are nervous about this one, do a little research and include a note in the clause about places where you could refer those requesting to stay at your home.  Have names, addresses, phone numbers and web sites listed for ready reference.  Sometimes just knowing that there are places takes the strain out of saying “no” when asked.

Discuss.  Agree.  Write it down.

And this brings us to Section 4.  The first of the really meaty sections.   Household responsibilities.   🙂  Here’s the sample:

SECTION 4–Household Responsibilities

4.1  The following guidelines establish the basic division of household responsibilities assuming all conditions of the Married Parties are stable and have not changed due to increased employment workload, illness, injury, birth of a child, or other mitigating factor,  in which case this Section 4 should be reevaluated and adjusted to meet the new abilities of the Married Parties.
4.2 The following shall be the responsibility of _______________:   general cleaning of the interior of the home including day-to-day tidying of all areas of the house, deeper cleaning of the kitchen, deep cleaning of the bathrooms, all laundry duties (including putting clean clothing in dresser drawers and closets as needed), changing of bed linens, dusting, vacuuming, and floor washing.  ________ also assumes all responsibility for planning, shopping for, and cooking the food for the family as outlined in Section 9.

4.3  The following shall be the responsibility of ______________:  All general maintenance, repair, and care of the working mechanisms of the home including all motorized and non-motorized components both interior and exterior. All exterior care and maintenance of the landscaping and grounds.   Removal of the trash from all receptacles inside and outside of the home.   General cleaning and  tidying of ______’s own messes, such as, but not limited to,  wiping of spills and splatters, placing dirtied dishes in the sink or dishwasher,  and placing discarded laundry into the proper receptacle.

4.4 General decorating and atmosphere of the home shall be the primary responsibility of _______________ with consideration given to __________________’s tastes and desires.  All decorating efforts shall remain within the budget for decorating established previously.  Any expense outside of the established budget shall be approved by HOH prior to proceeding.   All work requiring the use of outside contractors shall be handled by and overseen by the HOH.

Again, yours may look very different.  You may want to get more detailed and include a level of acceptable cleanliness.  You may want to be more generalized, but I don’t recommend it.

Be sure to include the notation that things will need to be re-evaluated whenever there is a major life change, times of illness, times of injury, before and after a vacation, holidays, celebrations…use common sense.   Any time that the playing field is not level, the other spouse should be expected to step up and lend a hand.

If you have been married a long time, and you think you don’t need to do this, do it anyway. You might be surprised at what comes up in the discussions.   I, for example, love mowing the lawn and sometimes would like to do it.  I find it relaxing.  The sound of the mower shuts the world out for a little while.  I can ride around and pretend that nobody can get to me.  This works out very well for Mr. C, too, as he has allergies to grass pollen.  So, for us, this clause is open.  It is his responsibility, but I reserve the right to get it done for him any time I can.

And it is especially important for newlyweds to come to a basic agreement of these items simply to remove the grudge factor that can set in when neither is sure what is expected and assumptions are made.   (This is one of the biggest first-year challenges!)

Another area of needed discussion is family finances.

SECTION 5–Finances

5.1 The Married Parties agree to maintain combined checking and savings accounts at the following institutions:  ______________________________________________________________________

5.2 The Married Parties agree to live within the budget attached hereto as Exhibit A

5.3 The Married Parties agree to deposit _____% (Or fill in a dollar amount) into a joint savings account weekly.  This account shall be reserved for the purpose of ______________________________ only.
5.4 The Married Parties agree to deposit ______ into the Employer-matched 401K Account at ________’s place of employment each week.

5.5 The Married Parties agree that any and all unexpected tips, winnings, or bonuses shall be applied toward the paying down of accrued debt until such time as there are no remaining consumer credit card balances.

Create a budget.  Yes you have to have one.   You don’t have to live by it exactly all the time, but it’s important for both parties to have an understanding of what is coming in vs what is going out.   Just this knowledge alone can resolve conflict.  It can also encourage cooperation to tackle any issues.    Create it and attach it to your agreement.

Mr. C and i have a clause that says that he handles all the banking and bill paying.  I am welcome to look in on these items any time i want, but I generally don’t.  He has always done a better job at these things than I ever did in the past.  I seldom know exactly what we have or don’t have.  But I don’t worry about it.  I tell him my financial needs for groceries or other items and he sees to it that I get it covered.  You may not be comfortable with that type of arrangement.  Or you might find it freeing, like I did.     Worrying about bills used to keep me awake at night.  Now I sleep quite well, and so does Mr. C.

On the other hand, it is my responsibility to make sure that we have adequate insurances in place.  He pays for them. I just obtain yearly quotes and compare premiums because he doesn’t have the time or the patience to do that chore.  Again, that’s a difference clause in our agreement.   You make yours match your personalities and talents.  There is no right or wrong.

Moving on to Section 6–Employment

SECTION 6–Employment

6.1  _______________ shall continue to be employed in the field of _____________ and shall be the primary income earner for the family.
6.2  ________________ agrees to remain employed as _______________ until such time as the Married Parties decide to have children. at which time he/she will become a stay-at-home mother/father until the last child reaches the age of attending kindergarten.
6.3 At no time during the marriage shall ___________________ seek employment as (insert forbidden or unacceptable employment rolls).  And at no time during the marriage shall _________________ seek or hold employment as ______________________________.

6.4  It is agreed by the Married Parties that all offers of employment shall be discussed by the the Married Parties before any decision to take or reject employment shall occur.

6.5  It is agreed by the Married Parties that a reevaluation of household and childcare responsibilities will occur with each change of employment, or occurrence of illness or injury by either Married Party, with adjustments being made to best suit each Party’s abilities.

6.6  It is agreed by the Married Parties that a reevaluation of the household and childcare responsibilities will occur with the addition of each new child into the family.

6.7 It is agreed that since ___________’s income is not primary, then ____________ will be the parent who shall stay home with sick or injured children when they can not attend school.

 

What?? What do you mean forbidden employment???  Exactly that.   When I first married Mr. C I was surprised to hear him tell me that I would never work as a waitress or bartender as long as I was married to him.  (No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those professions.  Yes, he has very personal reasons for his feelings.  I might not find them rational, but his experiences are his experiences and I just need to understand and honor his feelings.)  And as it turned out, there are things I never wanted him to do–bouncer at a gentlemen’s club, for example.  🙂   So those things (and more) made it into our agreement.  You may not have that clause.  You might.  Discuss it.

What about business travel?  Late hours?  Working very closely with the opposite sex?  Do those things come into play?  Might they?  Include them.

You may also have a spouse who is still in college (University).  Blend that into this section.  Also discuss student loans and such.  I have a friend who entered a marriage and her husband was floored to learn that she was going to have almost $80,000 in student loan debt.  He really should have known that ahead of time, to be fair. Talk about beginning on a sour note!  So include it and anything else you can think of regarding employment.

Next up: Those lovely little ones.

SECTION 7–Children

7.1 It is agreed by the Married Parties that both parties wish to bring ___#_____  children into the marriage.

7.2 It is further agreed that the Married Parties would like to wait until ______________________ to begin adding children to the family.

7.3 The following criteria for raising and disciplining children are agreed upon: _____________________________________ ______________________________ _______________ ___________________________ ______________________________ ____ ___________________________________________________

7.4  The following family traditions shall be shared and celebrated with the children: ______________ _____ ____ ______________________ _____________ ____ _______ ___________________________________

7.5  It is agreed by the Married Parties that the children shall be taught to speak the following languages within the family home: ___________________________________________________________________

7.6  If we can’t conceive, the plan is: ________________________________________________________
7.7  If we have an unexpected pregnancy, the plan is: __________________________________________

Kids.  Aren’t the cute?   Yeah.  And when they enter the marriage every single thing changes.   I can’t begin to calculate the number of marriages thrown into total upheaval by those cute little buggers.  And it’s not necessary to experience much of that turmoil.  You just have to agree on a bunch of things ahead of time.  If you have a plan, much is taken care of, and trust me, you’re going to be exhausted enough.  Having decisions made ahead of time will be a great help.

This section of your agreement can and should be very, very extensive.   If you do not yet have children there is a huge number of things to discuss, not the least of which is discipline.   I highly suggest that you talk about discipline in stages of child development.  Obviously you will do things very differently with a toddler than you will a teen.   The best way I can think of to do this is to discuss both of your upbringing.  How did your parents parent?  What worked?  What didn’t?  How did it make you feel?  Do you want to make your children feel like that?   Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Also do some research on effective parenting techniques that maybe you never knew about.  Decide what sounds right for your family.

Then start to piece together how you both think raising your children should proceed.   Ages 0-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, 19 and beyond.  Will these guidelines change? Probably.  You will learn things as you move along, but at least if you have an agreement on the most important points (spanking?, time out?) ahead of time, an area of great conflict will be eliminated.

Besides discipline, include agreements on things like holidays (where will you spend them? and which will you child celebrate?), gift-giving (will there be a reasonable spending limit?), interaction with grandparents (well intentioned in-laws can cause conflict), television and video games (yes or no?), sports, who will teach the teens to drive?  Who are acceptable care givers?   Will you make it a rule to eat together at the table as a family every night?  What other family rituals are important to you?

And the harder things, like what is the plan if you learn that your baby in womb has health issues?   What is the plan if a child becomes seriously ill?  What if you are struggling as a family?  Will you agree to counseling?  Where?

Last tid bit on this topic for today (We’ll discuss this section much more completely in a later post) is the 20-minute rule.    I talked about this in a prior post.   Include it here.  Not just for dad when he gets home.  Also for mom when she arrives home from work, running errands, or anywhere else.   Having a peaceful transition to home time with children is extremely important.  Don’t forget it in your agreement.

This next section is much easier.

SECTION 8-Pets

8.1 It is agreed by the Married Parties that due to _________________’s allergies, there will be no pets with fur or feathers permitted into the family home.   Fish and reptiles are permitted.

Some think no home is complete without a dog.   Some want to have a whole farm.  Some are allergic.  And others are terrified.  What’s your story?  Agree on it.  I will forward you, however, that children will throw a monkey wrench into this one with the adorable pleadings.   Be prepared.

On to 9

SECTION 9–Health & Fitness

9.1 _________________ acknowledges responsibility for planning and preparing meals for the family that are healthy and wholesome (as understood by current medical findings.)
9.2 All parties agree to complete regular physical check ups every 2 years (or yearly), and _______________ agrees to be primarily responsible for scheduling and taking the children to doctor’s appointments per the recommended schedule for each child.
9.3 It is agreed that all children shall receive all recommended immunizations.
9.4  It is agreed that all family members shall endeavor to obtain at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
9.5 It is agreed that sweets, treats, and restaurant take-out foods shall not consumed more often than once every ___ days.
9.6 It is agreed by both spouses that maintaining a healthy weight is important for health reasons but also for intimacy reasons.   Both parties agree to work to maintain their current level of fitness, or better.

This is just some of the types of clauses that could be included in this section.  There are so many differing views on health and fitness these days that I don’t dare share too many more viewpoints because it’ll just be confusing to those trying to write this section for themselves.   Talk together about your views and come up with a plan, but do be sure to include the stuff about the kids.

Next up! Sex.  Yes.  It’s in there.

SECTION 10–Sex

10.1  Both spouses agree that sexual relations are important to maintaining a feeling of closeness between them; therefore, the following guidelines surrounding the sexual relationship between the parties are established:
a.  Sex shall never be withheld as a form of punishment
b.  Both partners shall be free to express fantasies without fear of criticism.
c.  It is agreed that the frequency of relations shall be at least once every ___ days. (Or hours if you are newlyweds. 😛 )
d. ___________________________________
e. ____________________________________

Obviously I’m not going to get too detailed here.   Needless to say, whatever your “thing” is, put it in here if it’s important to you.

And then there’s this:

SECTION 11–In-laws

11.1 Both parties agree that parents and siblings can have the potential to cause conflict in any marriage, therefore the following guidelines are agreed to by the parties:

a.  during any conflict, neither party shall speak about the conflict to anyone except their spouse.
b.  Visitation during holidays shall be equally divided between our home, _____’s parents, and _______ aunt Matilda’s.   Meaning that one year we will stay home for Christmas, the next we will spend it at _____’s mother’s house and the following will be spent at ______’s Aunt Matilda’s.
c.  There will be no lending of or borrowing of money to or from siblings.
d.  It is agreed that due to suspected substance abuse issues, the children will never be left alone in the care of _____________________.
e.  To prevent excesses and jealousies, the grandparents shall be limited to giving __#___ gifts to each child for birthdays or Christmas, and shall not exceed ____$$s.

Again, this is just a sampling.  You all know your in-laws.  Discuss this and agree. Include anything important to both of you.

Section 12–Friendships:

SECTION 12– Friendships

12.1 It is agreed by both parties that close friendships of the opposite sex can be threatening to any marriage so, therefore, time spent with friends of the opposite sex will always be while accompanied by at least one other party.
12.2  It is agreed that having friends outside of the marriage is important to the emotional health of both parties, so nurturing of these relationships is important.   ____________ shall endeavor to remain on his/her softball league.  ___________ shall continue to attend book club.  And each spouse shall be granted at least one 4-hour excursion out with friends every _______ days (whenever possible).
12.3 To foster an environment of trust, all email accounts, social networking accounts, phone and text accounts shall be accessible to both spouses at any time.
12.4  No loaning or borrowing of money with friends shall be permitted.
12.5  Complaining about or bashing spouses to friends during times of conflict is not permitted.

Depending on your ages, the friendship section may or may not be a touchy subject.   Couples who have been together for a long time generally share a friendship base, so it’s less of an issue.  Newlyweds will need to spend more time here.    Everyone, however, needs to address at least some of the issues surrounding friends, so don’t leave it out.

13!

SECTION 13–Maintenance of the Married Relationship

13.1 Both parties agree that it is important to remember why they fell in love in the first place, so it is agreed that a weekly (monthly?) date night (day?) shall be  custom.
13.2 It is agreed that at least once every other year there shall be a kid-free vacation of at least 3 days but preferably closer to 5-7 days long.
13.3 Each party shall make it a point to acknowledge and show appreciation for the ways that the other contributes to the family at least weekly.

What’s important to you?  How can you agree to keep the home fires burning?  You have to make an effort and including that here is a nice reminder.

The opposite end of the spectrum:

SECTION 14–DISAGREEMENTS
14.1 Both parties agree that sometimes they will disagree or argue. The following guidelines are agreed to by all parties:
a.  Fighting in front of others or in public shall never be permitted.
b.  Calling or bringing conflict to places of employment shall not be permitted.
c.  Name calling is never okay.
d.  _____________ admits that taking a ten-minute break works best for him/her before discussing heated issues, so both parties agree to this procedure.
e.  Physical violence of any manner is not tolerated.
f.  What happens between us, stays between us and is not shared with family or friends.  (Outside counseling is okay.)
g.

What’s your buttons?  What’s your spouses?  Agree not to push them.  Agree to a way to resolve conflicts.   Agree to *never* bring up the word “divorce” unless papers are ready to be filed.  Too many people throw that word around as if it’s nothing.  It’s hurtful to say it, and it creates distrust and suspicion in a marriage even after the conflict is resoled.  So don’t go there.  Agree to fight fair.   What else?  Include it.

and the last two sections:

SECTION 15–HOBBIES AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES

15.1  ___________ enjoys golf and is encouraged to continue to play, not more than 2 Saturday mornings per month.
15.2 __________ loves scrap-booking and is encouraged to continue but agrees not to spend more than __________$ per month on this hobby.
15.3  Facebook can be addicting.   Both parties agree to limit time on social networking sites to _________ minutes (hours?) each day.
15.4   When one spouse is speaking, the other agrees to stop looking at the computer, phone, or t.v. immediately and turn to look at the face of that spouse to fully listen.
15.5  No t.v. shall ever be permitted into the master bedroom.
15.6 Alcohol use shall be limited to: ____________________________________
15.7 Street drug use shall never be permitted.
15.8 ______________________________________________________

This section can include absolutely anything considered a leisure activity.  A special notation about alcoholism and/or drug addiction should be included if that is something that runs in your families.  You are, to a degree, a product of your surroundings while being raised.  It is best to be prepared.  What interventions and/or treatments would be sought out?

And lastly:

SECTION 16–HOPES, DREAMS, & BUCKET LISTS

16.1 ____________ has always dreamed of _____________________.  Both parties agree to work toward achieving that dream.
16.2 ________________ would love to visit Africa to go on safari.   Both parties agree to save toward this dream vacation.
16. 3 _________ would love to publish a book.   Both parties agree to collect the resources and make the time to make that happen.

This part is fun, and you’ll learn a lot about your spouse.  It’s exciting to try to help someone’s dreams come true.  It’s even more exciting to watch it happen to the person you love more than life.    Share your dreams!

Okay.  That’s the basic outline.   There should also be an area that describes the consequences to failing to fulfill the agreement.   Talk about that.  For some things it’s small.  For others it quite marriage-threatening.   Be on the same page for outcomes to decisions you might make along the way.

As you can see by the time you work your way through this (and for some that could take a month or more!), you will know your spouse better than you ever have.  You will also have come to a mutual understanding for many of the biggest issues facing any marriage.   Can you see how you’d be stronger for it?  Can you see how being on the same page would make you feel closer?  and more confident?

As I mentioned, we’ll be talking more about different sections of this agreement in some future posts.  Watch for them.   Send in your requests for where you’d like to see more written.   We love hearing from you!

 

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Posted July 1, 2015 by The50sHousewife in category "Love and Marriage that lasts

14 COMMENTS :

  1. By Jennifer on

    This is wonderfully detailed. A wonderful resource for marriage. My husband and I have been happily married for almost 19 years. I really enjoy your blog, and sometimes will read it to my own HOH.

    Reply
  2. By Lari on

    This is a fantastic idea. I am saving this for future use. Just found the site and am not married but love all the information!

    Reply
    1. By The50sHousewife (Post author) on

      Why would getting on the same page as your spouse about a marriage’s most challenging decisions be a joke? Is it the samples that you don’t like? As we mention repeatedly, you should make it your own agreement. For some that might mean a wife who is the primary wage earner and decision maker, kids who spend their days with a nanny, or maybe even a stay-at-home dad. It doesn’t matter to me what you have in your agreement. It only matters that you and your partner have worked out the most common conflict-causing issues and created a life plan together.

      Reply
  3. By Emily on

    I have been on the same page as my spouse for over 30 years; the only written agreement necessary being our marriage license. I would NEVER insult my husband’s love, dedication and support of his family with this kind of nonsense. Perhaps yours requires this kind of ego stroking. I cannot even begin to imagine the damage you have done to young, gullible women who have presented this type of contract to their husbands, only to be ridiculed, insulted, and/or shamed. Be responsible with your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. By The50sHousewife (Post author) on

      Dear Emily, it seems that you have a very different view than I. Of course, obviously this post wasn’t meant for you. You have been on the same page for years! Is meant for those who aren’t. But that’s good. My blog gives you a wonderful place to vent your obvious pent up anger. Feel free. And of course, if you have something helpful to offer those poor gullible girls, rather than slinging insults at me, those comments are welcome also. Oh! And Stay tuned. Lots more ammunition for you coming up. Do keep stopping by

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Why Men Are Better Decision Makers, IMHO - The Modern Day 50s Housewife

  5. By Menay on

    I really enjoyed this post. While some may find making such an agreement silly, I find it to be very helpful. So many people never discuss these things before getting married. While I am not married, I am in a long term committed relationship and we have plans to get married in a few years(grad school first). We were just discussing the other day decor styles and realized we had vastly different tastes and have been working on trying to find a common ground as we plan to move in together soon. While that may seem like such a simply subject for some or even irrelevant, we were both shocked to find we didn’t agree on it. Imagine how much trouble it would have caused us later down the road. I feel this marriage agreement of yours if just the type of thing we need to really ensure we are on the same page for a lot of important topics and not just assume we are. It is like personal pre-marriage counseling! You should write a book going in to better detail about all of this and add in all of your tips for marriage that you add to this blog. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  6. By Clarence on

    My husband and I write in summer a document with the days we stay in in-lawys’s houses. Sometimes helps, and sometimes don’t.

    Reply
    1. By The50sHousewife (Post author) on

      it sounds like you have a good working partnership. Nothing is perfect, but it is perfect when you both make an effort.

      Reply
  7. By Clarence on

    It began like a complete disaster, but with time and effort of both, like you say, now it works fine.

    Reply

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