Have you ever felt like you and your partner were on totally different pages?
Trying to navigate a relationship when you disagree on the terms is no fun.
A relationship contract could be the solution you need to get everything out in the open.
While it may sound super formal, these agreements can help couples define boundaries, manage expectations, and align on shared goals.
Crafting one together fosters communication and understanding and can ultimately strengthen your bond.
So don’t be afraid to lay down the law of love with a mutual relationship agreement.
What Is a Relationship Contract?
A relationship contract is pretty much what it sounds like – a written agreement between partners that lays out the relationship’s terms, expectations, and commitments.
It covers the big stuff, like finances, future goals, and boundaries.
It’s not legally binding but more of a guideline and mutual understanding.
The idea is to get everything above board to prevent misunderstandings down the road.
A relationship contract allows you to design the partnership you want and make sure you and your partner share the same vision.
It’s a chance to clearly define the rules of engagement in your love life.
What Should Be In a Relationship Agreement?
When creating a relationship contract, the goal is to cover all the important aspects of your partnership. Here are some key things to address:
- Expectations – They include things like how you’ll communicate, spend time together, show affection, manage conflict, etc. Discuss your needs and relationship values.
- Finances – How will you manage money as a couple? How will you split expenses and savings goals?
- Intimacy – Discuss your sexual expectations and boundaries. How will you address issues or changes?
- Future plans – Are you on the same page in regard to major life goals? Discuss priorities and timelines for things like marriage, kids, relocation, etc.
- Trust and fidelity – If monogamy is expected, state it explicitly. Discuss what constitutes cheating and betrayal of trust.
- Personal growth – Ensure you both have space to pursue individual interests and self-care.
- Division of labor – How will you split up chores, childcare, etc? Is the division equitable?
The key is covering what matters most so you start off united and avoid misunderstandings.
What Doesn’t Need to Be in a Dating Contract?
While you want to cover the big, important topics in your relationship contract, don’t feel like you need to document every single aspect of your relationship meticulously. There’s no need to get overly granular about minor day-to-day interactions or infringe too much on personal freedom.
You don’t have to dictate schedules and mundane details or try to control every behavior. The contract shouldn’t feel rigid or restrictive. Focus on larger priorities, values, and vision. The little things will fall into place if you get the big-picture stuff aligned upfront.
13 Relationship Contract Examples
When creating your relationship contract, it can help to have some templates to reference. Below are 13 relationship contract templates covering different topics and scenarios to help provide some ideas and inspiration as you and your partner design your own unique agreement.
Template 1: Relationship Values and Goals
We, Sam and Alex, agree to enter this relationship with the following values and goals in mind:
1. Communication – We will communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully with each other. We will share our feelings, needs, desires, hopes and concerns.
2. Trust and Honesty – We commit to building trust by being faithful, loyal, and truthful with each other. We will not keep secrets or tell lies.
3. Quality Time – We will prioritize spending quality time together, free of distractions. We will go on regular dates, share activities, and be fully present with each other.
4. Personal Growth – We support each other’s individual growth and interests. We will encourage each other to pursue hobbies, friendships, careers, and life goals.
5. Compassion – When conflict arises, we will seek to understand each other’s perspective with empathy, care, and respect. We will not insult, accuse, or purposefully hurt each other.
6. Commitment – We are dedicated to nurturing this relationship for the long term. We will work through challenges together, persevere, and not take the easy way out when things get difficult.
7. Love – Our relationship will be rooted in love. We commit to showing love through our actions – with kindness, patience, affection, laughter, and care for each other’s wellbeing.
Template 2: Defining the Relationship
- We, Sarah and Tyler, agree that we are in a committed, exclusive, romantic relationship with each other.
- We will openly communicate our needs and expectations for this relationship.
- We will respect each other’s personal interests, friendships, and time apart.
- Major life decisions that affect our relationship (ex: moving, career changes, finances, etc.) will be discussed together before finalizing.
- We will work to resolve conflict quickly, calmly, and fairly.
- We will support each other’s personal growth and avoid controlling behavior.
- We commit to regular check-ins to nurture intimacy and discuss the relationship.
- If we experience doubts, challenges, or changes in needs, we will discuss them openly rather than let resentment build.
- We enter this relationship fully and freely, without coercion or obligation. Our relationship will evolve based on mutual love, trust, and care for each other.
Template 3: Setting Healthy Boundaries
Space to Explore
We encourage each other to pursue fulfilling experiences separately. This includes hobbies, friendships, career growth opportunities, and travel adventures. We will regroup with enthusiasm to share our stories.
No phones or devices when we are focused on connecting with each other. Our full attention will be a gift we exchange in those moments.
Personal property and communications will remain private unless otherwise agreed. Trust is granted, not taken.
Togetherness & Autonomy
While we love sharing life together, we also need alone time to recharge. We agree to solo outings and trips.
We acknowledge jealousy stems from insecurity. We will openly discuss our feelings and avoid attempts to restrict or control each other. Our relationship will be built on care, not possession.
If we feel smothered or desire more alone time, we will communicate this respectfully before resentment builds. The other partner agrees to listen without offense.
Template 4: Rules of Engagement
Fidelity – We agree to an exclusive romantic and sexual relationship, committing fully to each other. We define cheating as any romantic/sexual activity with another person, whether physical or emotional. Complete faithfulness is expected.
In-Laws – We will stand united as a couple in setting healthy boundaries around time spent with extended family. No decisions will be made to please them without mutual agreement.
Household Responsibilities – Chores will be divided based on our availability, schedules, and strengths. Adjustments can be made over time as needed. We commit to sharing the workload equitably.
- Joint account for bills, rent, groceries, etc.
- Individual accounts for personal spending
- 50/50 split on rent
- Alternate who pays on dates
- Discuss major purchases
If either of us does the following, it will be considered intolerable and grounds for ending the relationship:
- Violence or abuse
- Repeated infidelity
- Financial deception
- Endangering our children
- Major dealbreakers to be added as needed
We aim for this relationship to be healthy, fulfilling, and built on mutual trust and care. However, certain damaging behaviors cannot be tolerated for the good of both partners. We will end the relationship cleanly and fairly if these circumstances arise.
Template 5: Our Shared Vision
We envision a future where we:
- Get married in Bali on our 5th anniversary
- Buy a home in the suburbs with a big yard
- Have two children spaced three years apart
- Begin saving for college funds once we are married
- Put experiences over material things
- Go on annual family vacations
- Have an equal partnership where we both pursue careers we love
- Cook together every Sunday night
- Support the growth and individuality of each member of our family
- Grow old happily together, enjoying our grandchildren
Template 6: Financial Plan
Joint checking account at First National Bank for shared expenses:
- Emergency savings fund
- Retirement investments
- Large purchases over $500
- Other expenses TBD
Contributions, Proportional to income:
- Partner 1: 60%
- Partner 2: 40%
Budget check-ins every three months to review and realign
Individual checking/savings accounts
- Personal spending
- Outstanding individual debts
- Individual travel
- Personal care
- Gifts for others
- Clothing/personal items
- Fun money
- Separate credit cards
- Individual assets and investments remain separate unless agreed otherwise
- Inheritances are personal unless jointly decided to share
- No concealment of income, debts, or assets
Template 7: Conflict Resolution Protocol
When conflict arises, we agree to:
- Take a 24-hour pause before discussing if needed to cool down
- Use “I feel ___” statements without accusation
- Listen fully without interruption
- Take turns to share perspectives
- Understand rather than judge
- Compromise wherever possible
- If too escalated, seek counseling to mediate
- Remain respectful even when angry
- Never resort to name-calling or meanness
- Refrain from dredging up past issues
- Take space if needed but commit to timely resolution
- Focus on the problem, not the person
- End discussion if it becomes unproductive
- Express appreciation after resolving conflict
Template 8: Our Love Languages
We each feel loved in different ways. For our relationship to thrive, we need to understand how we can best make each other feel cherished and appreciated.
For Partner 1, nothing speaks love louder than physical touch and quality time. Holding hands, cuddling, back rubs, and physical intimacy makes Partner 1 feel adored. Dedicated alone time without distractions where full attention can be exchanged is also so important. Whether over a meal, taking a walk, or just talking, having that quality time to connect makes Partner 1 feel loved.
For Partner 2, acts of service are more important than words when it comes to feeling cared for. When Partner 2 comes home to a cooked meal or the chores are unexpectedly done, it speaks volumes. Giving gifts is also appreciated, whether it’s surprise flowers, a small and thoughtful trinket, or a carefully thought out gift for a special occasion. Most importantly, Partner 2 loves shared experiences and fully engaged quality time as well.
We may express love differently, but we can learn to speak each other’s love language. We commit to showing our affection through intentional actions that make each other feel cherished. Our relationship will flourish when we demonstrate our love in ways most meaningful to the other.
Template 9: Our Intimate Connection
Physical intimacy is a sacred gift between us meant to cultivate closeness, pleasure, and mutual fulfillment. We agree to the following regarding our intimate bond:
- We will foster open and honest communication about our intimate likes, dislikes, desires, boundaries, and comfort levels. Neither will make assumptions.
- We will check in regularly to nurture our intimate connection and discuss what is working well versus what we want to change.
- Consent, comfort, and safety are crucial. We will never pressure the other or make demands.
- We respect each other’s bodily autonomy completely. Any reluctance or hesitation will be honored.
- While intimacy is important, we will not let it become obligatory. It should come naturally from affection.
- We will make time for sensual pleasure while also understanding when life circumstances affect libidos.
- We will incorporate variety, playfulness, and even humor in our intimacy. Laughter and joy should be present.
- Our goal is to make intimacy rejuvenating emotionally and physically for us both. We will prioritize mutual satisfaction.
- Our intimacy will grow deeper as our friendship, care, and trust in each other deepen.
- We commit to maintaining an intimate connection that brings us closer as long as we are together. Our bodies, hearts, and souls will be united as one.
Template 10: Our Annual Relationship Review
Each September, we will have an in-depth check-in to assess our relationship. This will be a time to gauge if we are growing stronger or drifting apart.
We will start by identifying what is going well. What do we most appreciate about each other and our partnership? How have we built trust and intimacy over the past months? Celebrating our strengths sets a positive tone.
Next, we’ll take time to voice any problems we’ve been having or challenges on the horizon. The goal is to surface issues early before resentment builds. We agree to share our feelings without blaming one another. Our partnership is strong enough to handle honest dialogue.
Setting new goals for the next year comes next. Do we hope to travel more together or finally start a family? Are there bad habits we want to change or new activities we want to try as a couple? We will dream together about the coming year.
Based on this discussion, we may choose to modify our contract. Our needs and the relationship dynamic inevitably shift over time. We will revise the formal terms to ensure they still serve us.
Most importantly, we will gauge our satisfaction with the relationship overall. Do we feel loved, supported, and intimately connected? Are we still compatible? We will voice any doubts so we can work through them.
Our annual review ensures we align the relationship with our evolving needs. We will enter each new year with a renewed sense of understanding, commitment, and purpose.
Template 11: Relationship Recharge Retreat
Twice a year, we will plan a dedicated weekend retreat just for the two of us to reconnect, reset, and reinforce our bond away from everyday stressors and distractions.
1. We envision escaping to a beautiful, peaceful place in nature where we can relax and focus exclusively on each other. No kids, no work, no devices – just us.
2. We will participate in activities like hiking, massages, yoga, or whatever brings us joy and tranquility.
3. The weekend will be filled with deep conversation, dreaming together of the future, enjoying long meals, rest, recreation, laughter, and romance.
4. We will reflect on our relationship by celebrating the positives, communicating ways to improve, and reminding each other why we are so grateful to have this partnership.
5. We will check in on our contract and relationship goals. How are we doing, and what more can we do to nurture our continued growth?
By the end, we will feel spiritually and emotionally reconnected and renewed in our purpose.
Returning home, we will carry that rekindled energy into our everyday lives. When the stresses of normal life start to strain our relationship, we will look to our next recharge weekend as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Template 12: Keeping Our Spark Alive
We recognize that complacency and routine can dull passion and excitement in long-term relationships. To combat this, we agree to:
- Try new activities together regularly – concerts, classes, sports, experiences neither has done before. We will get out of our comfort zones.
- Plan spontaneous date nights and romantic surprises for each other.
- Flirt, compliment each other daily, and openly express affection. We won’t take each other for granted.
- Take short weekend trips and getaways when possible to share new adventures.
- Rotate choosing date locations and activities so neither gets stuck planning.
- Dress up for each other on dates to look and feel our best.
- Exchange thoughtful, meaningful gifts to show we are thinking of each other.
- Write old-fashioned love letters expressing our feelings.
- Prioritize intimacy as an emotional reconnector and enjoy being playful.
- Recall our favorite memories together and reminisce. Also, make exciting future plans.
- Appreciate our differences that initially attracted us.
By valuing variety, fun, and new shared experiences, we will keep our relationship fresh, passionate, and mutually fulfilling.
Template 13: Growing Our Bond Over Time
1. We commit to unconditional support for each other’s personal growth and self-actualization. This includes career advancement, educational goals, developing passions and talents, improving health, and pursuing purpose.
2. We will motivate each other during challenges and celebrate successes. Our wins and losses as individuals will be shared.
3. We agree to be lifelong learners together, curious to explore new ideas, activities, places, and ways of thinking. Stagnation has no place in our relationship.
4. We will regularly ask questions to understand each other on a deeper level. Assuming familiarity breeds complacency.
5. We will reflect together on our values and goals annually. As we grow and change as individuals, our partnership must also evolve.
6. We will challenge each other intellectually and engage in thoughtful discourse. Two perspectives make us wiser.
7. We will admit when we make mistakes and be open to criticism to improve – the key to growth is acknowledging flaws.
8. If we grow apart, we owe it to ourselves and our relationship to communicate and actively reconnect on a deeper level.
9. We will share resources – books, seminars, articles, anything educational – that helps us both develop into better, more enlightened partners.
10. As individuals, partners, and a couple, we will embrace growth. Our relationship will flourish when we take the journey together with mutual support. The day we stop evolving is the day our relationship ends.
What Are the Benefits of a Relationship Contract?
While defining a relationship through an official contract may seem rigid, the truth is there are many advantages. Here are some of the key benefits:
Alignment from the Start
Crafting a contract forces you to get on the same page from day one. You understand each other’s needs, goals, values, and expectations upfront rather than letting important differences slowly emerge.
Simply hashing out the contract requires thoughtful communication as you navigate compromises. You become more comfortable expressing your feelings and needs.
Clarity and Transparency
Ambiguity is the enemy of lasting relationships. A contract creates clarity around everything from finances to fidelity, so there is no room for mixed signals or unspoken assumptions.
With clear terms spelled out, you are accountable. A contract reminds you to uphold your end of the bargain and communicate if your needs change rather than withdraw.
Your wants and dealbreakers are explicit. Fewer fights emerge over unclear expectations or misaligned priorities that should have been discussed but weren’t.
Deeper Connection and Understanding
Drafting an agreement together fosters intimacy as you glimpse each other’s inner worlds, dreams, fears, and vulnerabilities.
Abiding by a relationship contract demonstrates you take the relationship seriously and can be counted on, establishing trust.
Overall Strength of the Relationship
With aligned values, defined roles, good communication, and trust, your partnership rests on a solid foundation right from the start.
What Should Be the Consequences If You Break a Couple’s Contract?
So what happens if you or your partner breaks the rules in your relationship agreement? Relax, no one gets hauled off to relationship jail! But you do have to talk it out.
- Have an open and honest discussion about why the contract terms were breached. Get to the root of the issue.
- If it was an innocent mistake, no big deal. We’re all human. But repeated “mistakes” indicate a real problem.
- Express how the violation made you feel. Was trust broken? Did it reveal some misalignment in the relationship?
- Is the issue serious enough to involve a counselor? Infidelity or other major breaches probably warrant professional help.
- For minor things, the violator should acknowledge fault and re-commit to the contract.
- If they blatantly refuse to address violations, that itself breaks the contract. So you either revise the terms together or decide it’s not working out.
Bottom line – violations should spark productive talks and relationship-strengthening understanding. That was the whole point…to keep you communicating!
At the end of the day, a relationship contract is just a tool to foster understanding and alignment between partners. It represents mutual hopes, needs, and expectations. While not legally binding, it can set your partnership up for long-term success when both parties uphold their end. Approach the process with open hearts and communication.