When couples marry, they discuss a plethora of topics. They agree about having children, about where they’ll live, and how they’ll divide household chores. Why, then, is discussing sexual practices and relationship exclusivity not on the list for premarital discussion?
Couples will be judged by society for every decision they make. They’ll hear from great aunts about how they really should have children, their parents will wonder aloud why they live so far away, and their friends will chime in about their division of labor in the home.
None of that judgment is going to convince a couple that wishes to remain childless to have children. People will judge your choices, no matter what. That judgment won’t cause you to waver in your decisions, so why do we worry about how our sexual practices will appear to the rest of society?
Rather than professing your love through personal vows, work together to create a contract that will guide you through the decades of marriage. Things are going to get tough, and having a mutual agreement and a space for open communication will make it bearable.
What is marriage?
Hubby and I are making our own rules, and we aren’t worried about what the rest of the world thinks, because, to us, the rest of the world seems a bit weird about marriage. Sure, we are rewriting our rules about monogamy, but we aren’t stopping there.
First, we had to define what marriage is. It’s impossible to make rules about something you can’t describe. To us, marriage is a commitment to keep each other’s best interests in mind as we work to build a family and a life we love.
Marriage means being mutually supportive of each other as autonomous individuals. Marriage means we choose to act in loving ways toward our spouse every day. Marriage means having a safe place to land when life throws pandemics at us. Marriage doesn’t mean we only have sex with each other — at least not to us.
Your contract must address the essential parts of life
If you’re married or considering marriage, then you are likely adults, which means you get to make your own decisions on everything from what toaster to register for to how you’re going to meet your sexual needs. Meeting your sexual needs is your responsibility, though your partner can certainly lend a helping hand.
Talk with your partner about what commitment and marriage mean to them. Come up with your own definition. Consider core ethical values, childrearing, career aspirations, and sexuality. Why do you want out of the different areas of your life? What does your partner want? How can you marry the two?
Do you value novelty and exploration while your partner values solitude? That doesn’t mean you’re incompatible, but it does mean you’ll need to let them stay home while you backpack through Thailand with a youth group.
Do you want five children, and your partner wants two? Maybe there’s a way to work it out, but you can’t have half a kid. Figure this one out early on, and know that you can always attempt to amend your contract in the future, but you can’t force someone into parenthood.
Do you both want high powered careers? Figure out a way to make it happen. Take turns putting your respective careers first, or decide that you’ll both go all in and sneak in moments together every fourth Tuesday evening.
Maybe your partner has a foot fetish that you aren’t interested in letting them indulge with you. I’m not a fan of having my feet licked or my toes sucked, so if this were Hubby’s thing, I’d have him visit a foot worship spa to get his fill. It’s not fair for me to say he doesn’t get his needs met. Our sexual desires correspond to our psychological health, and you have a vested interest in supporting your partner’s mental health.
Make a plan, then plan to change
When developing your marriage contract, it’s essential to include a method for modifying the contract. No agreement is going to outlast the difficulties of raising children and becoming empty-nesters. Schedule yearly contract reviews around your anniversary and have a method for proposing and discussing changes.
Whatever your marriage contract includes, keep in mind that you can modify any contract by mutual agreement of both parties. If you decide to be monogamous at the onset and six years later, you decide you want to revisit that bullet point, nothing is stopping you. Discuss your desires with your spouse and find a way to revise your contract.