Our contract had these sections:
3. Term and Renegotiation.
4. Duties and Obligations.
6. Maintenance Sessions.
7. Journal Requirements.
We started the agreement with a preamble that clearly stated what we both were looking to get out of this. Basically stated our intent to create a caring, consensual, fair structure of rules and responsibilities that would positively impact our life and relationship by reinforcing our commitments to one another, thereby deepening our intimacy, respect, and love.
We took time to define a few terms so that it was clear those terms would have the same meaning and impact to both of us.
Term and Renegotiation
This addressed how long the contract was good for and how we would renegotiate the contract at a specified time.
Duties and Obligations
This is where we state the behaviors I was agreeing to. We then created rules around the 3D’s: Dishonesty, Disrespect, and Danger, but reworded them in the positive of Honesty, Respect, and Safety.
We wanted to keep the rules simple. We knew we couldn’t be referring back to the contract every time something happened to see if I broke a rule or what the punishment should be. But we also needed to be on the same page regarding what actions had consequences and what those consequences would be. I believe we found a balance but we probably ended up with a little longer contract than we intended. What we found was that as we “lived” the contract, it became easier to identify actions and consequences without having to refer to the contract. Also, regardless how short or long the contract is, it should not be used as an arbiter. My husband is the only arbiter. He is the judge and the jury. The contract only helps provide him guidance on the appropriate sentence but he is still free to deliver any punishment he deems necessary and I must accept it. You’ll see that we did provide some checks and balances through the Maintenance Sessions that would give me an opportunity to seek clarification if I felt a prior punishment exceeded the contractual terms.
So here is how we tackled each of the Duties and Obligations:
- Honesty. This one was interesting for us, as I feel I have always been honest with my husband. I don’t know that I ever lied to him. So I felt this was sort of a give-away. He was ready to just accept the rule as being I could not lie and leave it at that, but this did not feel challenging to me and I felt I needed to be challenged if I were to be the person I wanted to be. He agreed on this definition: Dishonesty included not only telling a lie, but also withholding the truth or embellishing the truth. It was my duty to keep him informed of anything that should be important to him, but also not bother him with petty details. This included self-reporting of Transgressions. Turns out that Honesty would become the first transgression I committed, but that is for sharing at another time
- Obedience. This one was tough for us, because it is the broadest. Is it simply, “not listening to Mike?” While we knew that was an element of it, it seemed incomplete. What ultimately helped us define this one is when Mike suggested it was about my obedience to achieving the goals I set out for myself. From there, the terms became crystal clear and would address any actions that moved me away from my goals.
- Safety. This one was pretty simple for us. It included my activities that may pose a danger for me or others. Things like speeding, texting while driving, leaving trip hazards on the floor. Funny, but of all the duties and obligations, I thought this one would be the toughest for me to accept a punishment. Really? I would be spanked for leaving my shoes in the middle of the floor? So be it.
We ended up calling the punishments “Rewards” and the act of receiving the punishments was the “Reward Ceremony.” Also, my infractions would be called “Transgressions.” We established a procedure for receiving a reward and agreed upon the overall framework of tying certain transgressions to certain rewards. Again, it was important to state that ultimately Mike had full discretion in giving a reward. We would go back to the contract when a reward was needed as it may not always be timely or possible, but the contract would serve as a reference and we would use our Maintenance Sessions to help ensure consistency.
I explained our approach to Maintenance Sessions in the prior post, so won’t repeat it here. Suffice to say I set up a fairly detailed process that took us some time to learn as I used this as one of the “controls” in the contract. As I explained in a prior post, it allowed for the opportunity for me to clarify certain things that occurred during the week.
I am required to journal daily and I have to hand write the journal. We agreed on the things I would write about and that I would share the journal with Mike. Journaling is great for self-reflection and hand-writing it causes you to write more in the moment, no editing.
So that’s it. The only thing left to show you is our contract. That’s coming next.
NEXT – 12. The Contract