Why Every Sane, Long-Lasting Couple Should Require A Relationship Contract

Photo: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock
Why Every Sane, Long-Lasting Couple Should Require A Relationship Contract

When I fell in love with a Parisian after living in Paris for three months, geography all of a sudden became a major issue. As any diehard New Yorker knows, I'm in love with the city in which I live, and always assumed it would be the place where I would grow old and die.

I knew I'd leave it often to travel, but I always knew I'd return. Then, I met Olivier.

What followed after I returned to New York City was the struggle of deciding what I wanted more: New York City or Olivier. As a divorced man with a four-year-old daughter, he doesn't have the luxury of leaving his city; so if this, if we, were going to make it work, I would have to be the one to move.

Olivier, knowing full well my love for this city, knew that he was competing against something to which he could possibly lose, but he decided to make the gamble with his suggestion that I move to Paris.

After much thought and endless reassurance from friends that "New York will always be here," I decided that yes, I could make the move to Paris. However, I wanted something — actually, many things — in exchange for my sacrifice.

When I first told Olivier that if I move to Paris I wanted a contract stating we'd have sex five to six times a day, it was a joke. But then I really thought about it.

Why shouldn't I make demands on which we'd both have to agree? I'm about to give up my life in New York City for him; I deserve to get some specifics in return.

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From how many times a day we'll have sex, to picking up the New York Times for me every Sunday, to a guaranteed trip to Morocco, to him doing all the cooking — these are just a few things that will be going in our contract. It may seem absurd, and at first even I acknowledged it was (although I must admit, I thought it very creative), but then I realized I wasn't alone.

Sadly, for my creative ego, my idea was not so novel — relationship contracts are currently all the rage.

As The Daily Mail explains, "The so-called 'lifestyle clauses' can include how often the couple is intimate, how they spend their leisure time, and spell out what defines cheating, among other things." Yes, that's right, people besides my pervy self are actually laying down the law as to how often they want to get laid a week.

At first glance, it may seem unromantic, but when you really think about it, a lifestyle clause — whether or not you're married — does provide a structure for the relationship. It's also not very different from a pre-nup that stipulates how the two parties will fair at the end of a marriage. Sometimes even the greatest romances need guidelines to which the couple must abide, as well as repercussions should someone fail to deliver.

For example, Catherine Zeta-Jones will be awarded $5 million should she discover Michael Douglas is cheating on her, on top of the $2.8 million she gets every year for just being married to him. And The New York Post has found even more ridiculous requests that couples are injecting into their contracts:

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Among the craziest pre-nup requests were "no piano playing while the husband is home," "wife not allowed to cut her hair," and from a man in his 40s who didn't want more children, "if the wife were to get pregnant, she'd have to have an abortion."

Couples have asked for random drug tests, custody of a taxidermy horse, guarantees of certain sexual positions, and in one case, a $100,000 payout to the husband if the wife weighs over 170 pounds.

Some of these aren't just crazy, but downright offensive. However, some couples need such regulations to keep them happy and together, just as some must have a love that's free from rigid constraints in order to have a successful relationship. To each their own.

I, for one, am not about to run off to a city that actually sleeps if I can't eat croissants in bed while reading the Times and missing the great love of my life. Paris is beautiful and I'm lucky he resides there as opposed to, say, Ohio. But let's be honest: Paris is no New York.

Olivier and I have yet to officially draw up the contract; at this point, it's just a running list of demands on my part. But as my mother has always told me, love is about compromise; it's about a give and take, and if some of that giving and taking needs to be in pen and co-signed by a lawyer, then so be it.

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Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post and others. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook for more.

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