The Relationship Contract Every Long-Term Couple Needs To Follow

Setting boundaries in a relationship is important, especially if you’re planning on keeping your partner around for a while. While most rules of a relationship are pretty much common courtesy — think putting the damn toilet seat down or cleaning your nasty hair from the shower — some rules are less obvious. It’s the little things that keep a relationship alive, so make sure you both sign off on the following:

We’ll always say “I love you” before leaving for work and before going to sleep. What if it’s the last time you see your partner? Yeah, that’s kind of dark to think about, but it’s true. We lose people unexpectedly all the time. Never miss an opportunity to tell your S.O. that you love them.

We’ll schedule a regular date night. It doesn’t have to be some extravagant dinner or a night downtown. You don’t have to spend any money at all really, you just need to spend quality time with each other without distractions. Choose a specific day of the week, or maybe the first Friday of each month. Just make a plan and stick to it — no cancelling, no distractions, no excuses.

We’ll never go to bed angry. This one can be hard, because let’s face it, if it’s 2am and you’re pissed off, you just want to go to sleep and deal with it in the morning. Don’t. Diffuse the situation and agree to continue the discussion the next day.

We’ll have positive physical contact every day that doesn’t have to do with sex. A positive touch can impact your entire day. Whether it’s just a kiss on the forehead, a warm hug, or holding hands, physical contact provides reassurance that you’re still loved and cared for by the other person. It also provides a sense of comfort and safety and tells you that your partner cares about you, not just sex.

We’ll put our phones away at dinnertime. This is so important because when we’re on our phones, we aren’t giving our partners our undivided attention. Dinner should be a time to catch up with each other on what went on with your day. Just put your phone down. Nothing happening on social media is more important than the person who is sitting right next to you.

We’ll always express interest in each others’ lives. Nothing is better than the person you love being just as excited as you are about the $20 you found on the street this morning. Staying interested in the smaller stuff about each other is crucial. The moment you stop being interested in the little details is the moment you stop being interested in your partner.

We’ll actually talk every day. OK, this sounds like a no-brainer. But imagine being in a relationship where you go an entire day without hearing from them. It doesn’t feel that great, does it? Make a point to send random texts throughout the day, or send a picture of something that made you smile. Let your partner know that you’ve been thinking about them, even if you’ve been busy all day at work.

We’ll continue to learn new things about each other. There’s no way you know every little thing about your partner — it just isn’t possible. Sure, you might know his favorite color, but did you know it’s his favorite color because it reminds him of his grandpa who passed away when he was little? Make an effort to keep digging for childhood stories, new dreams, hopes for the future — there’s always something to learn.

We’ll never give each other ultimatums. “If you continue to ____, we’re through!” Yikes. If you’re giving each other any type of ultimatum, that shows your inability to compromise. It isn’t fair to either of you. You should never use the words, “If you really love me, you’ll change for me.” If you really love someone, they shouldn’t need to change because you should love them exactly as they are.

We’ll always support each other. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Support is a huge part of the foundation of a relationship. Without support, everything you’ve built together will crumble under too much stress.

We’ll be honest, even when it’s easier to lie. If he looks like a caveman with his beard, tell him gently. Don’t be a bitch just for the sake of being a bitch, but do tell him if something is bothering you. If you disagree with something she’s done, tell her. If you don’t have honesty in a long-term relationship, your relationship isn’t going to last long-term in the first place.

We’ll be willing to share everything with each other. No, you don’t have to share a toothbrush, but you should be willing to talk about every detail of your lives. You should be willing to give the shirt off your back for the other person if necessary. Remember in elementary school when we were told “sharing is caring”? This is still true. Always keep an open mind and an open heart for each other, and your relationship will be exponentially more satisfying.

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