Relationships are often described by their participants in magical language. We cite fate as being responsible and use phrases such as “it was meant to be”, “We are so in tune” etc. As pleasant and wonderful and real these feelings are, they can potentially sabotage the reality of the relationship, preventing it from maturing and creating unsettling, unpleasant and disillusioning characteristics. Contracting, while appearing to be cold and in denial of some of the magical illusions of an idealised natural relationship, inevitably prevent a wealth of disillusion, and allow a closer bond. Even when researching resource material, I find that contracting invites negativity through its language – whether by creating a list of “no….”. “don’t….” or “Thou shalt not….” negativity, and by recourse to parental terminology such as “must” “mustn’t” and “never” as prefixes to conditions. Ultimately the best results will be seen in a free will atmosphere of choice by contracting parties, so where possible I have avoided negativity and parental pressure in composing and drawing information from various source material. Hopefully, this will not disturb the phrasing by making it unwieldy.
Rules for relationships Health and Safety
This is dependant on refusal to employ violence, threats of violence or any out of control behaviour. Any examples of these can destroy feelings of health and safety, perhaps permanently.
By respecting your partner’s boundaries of person, property, papers, time and space, and by staying calm in order to avoid behaviours such as yelling, screaming, blaming, shaming or name calling, we keep our own dignity and that of our partner.
Only make agreements you can keep. If you are unable to keep an agreement, renegotiate it in a responsible manner. Breaks can occur, though if they recur take account that there may be a hidden, even unconscious purpose to them that require investigation. Agree to stay in Adult Ego state (see Blog on ego states last month). Co-operative adult living excludes concepts of reward and punishment, staying clearly in terms of consequences of actions. Focus on helping, support and sharing in negotiation. Share feelings regularly, especially mad, sad, glad, scared feelings as “I feel” statements. If you want something, do ask for it rather than feel sore that your partner didn’t read your mind. If you offer something that is not accepted, take the refusal without bad feelings. Be clear about things that are or are not personal. Whining and sulking are not found in Adult ego state. Stay in adult and offer please and thank you to keep the strokes appropriate.
Relationships require feeding and appreciation to grow. Ritual mutual respect verbalised is good care and a good habit to keep, Regular crises indicates a dysfunctional life style, calmly discuss change. Discuss difficulties while they are still small to prevent their growth. Maintain and confirm a relationship of equals, if you are unequal, one of you may be viewed as an authority figure by the other, which may prompt rebellious acts. Make parenting agreements together which are fair, firm, functional, flexible and also fun. Trust grows from consistency, reliability and productive behaviour and communication.
Five Trust Contracts
Non-Collapsing Contract. The couple agree to maintain personal standards without collapse. Therefore behaviours such as ultimatums, walking out, breaking contracts, switching off integrity, discipline or hygiene, or any threats of these behaviours are excluded behaviours. When this is broken the implied statement is: I’m free to make whatever decision I want.
Protection Contract. The couple agree to anticipate stressful situations by giving each other preventative support and information and thereby save each other needless pain and anxiety. By being considerate, knowing the partner’s weaknesses and showing restraint the couple save each other the pain of jealousy, embarrassment, needless anger and hurt, and uncertainty. When this is broken the implied statement is: I don’t care how you feel.
Openness Contract. The couple agrees to talk through issues, preferably on the same day, and with calmness. They exclude condescension, abruptness, secrecy, and blocks to intimacy, while observing three principles of openness. Bring it up, Talk it out, wrap it up. When this is broken the implied statement is: I don’t have to tell you anything.
The Pleasuring Contract. The couple agrees to pleasure each other. In sex by asking for and doing as the other asks, without gameplay that delays or avoids the other player’s requirements. In events by going to new places on the request of the other. In personality by revealing surprising and refreshing sides of the personality to the other which will challenge the routine predictability of the relationship. When this is broken the implied statement is: we can both have fun in our own way.
The Flexibility Contract. The couple agrees to spontaneously give in during an argument regardless of believing they are in the right, without an attitude of giving in just to keep the peace. When this is broken in flexibility the statement is: I will not change my position for anyone. When broken in actuality the statement is: It looks like we see things differently