“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you can find one at the end of your arm”
Contracts – Both Implicit and Explicit.
All relationships are based on both explicit, open agreements and those that are suppressed and not normally discussed. Part of why you are with your partner is probably obvious to you – physical attraction, stability or excitement, sharing a sense of humour and so on. Most people have a sense of what in the other person they are attracted to and why they chose to be with them. This is an Explicit Contract – it’s out in the open because both parties know it exists. : “I’m with you because you make me laugh and I enjoy your company and in return, I will tell you how funny you are and that makes you feel good”. Another example could be physical attraction – “You’re sexy and it makes me feel good to be with someone who is physically attractive or whom I find sexy. I tell you this and this makes you feel good”. Both people understand this is part of what the relationship is about and make an unspoken contract to by it.
However, what is more interesting is what has not been stated. It is these Undisclosed Contracts that show up in stressful situations and which can reveal a lot about the unseen dynamics within a relationship.
A Hidden Contract for instance might emerge when one of you gets sick. If they are really ill, and unable to operate normally, the Explicit Contract might not be able to function normally – it’s not easy to be funny or sexy if you’re feeling dreadful.
So in this instance what might happen to the relational dynamics? Perhaps your partner stops being “the provider” or “the strong one” and instead becomes a needy child, looking for mother to take care of them. It’s probable that this was part of the relationship dynamic all along but other things might have masked it. It is when normal patterns of relating get disrupted is when these Hidden Contacts will pop up.
What if you partner is no longer able to tell you how sexy you look or not able to make love to you? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you get your sexual sense of self-worth from you partner telling you how hot you are and suddenly they are not able to do that because of illness, how does that feel? What if they aren’t well enough to have sex with you? What happens to your sexual needs then? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you relied on them to make sex happen or to make you feel good about yourself, you may start to feel bad about yourself. You may blame your partner and get angry with them for getting sick.
However, when these hidden patterns show up, don’t despair. This is a beautiful opportunity to grow in your relationship and in yourself. Instead of relying on another to make you feel sexy, find the sexiness within yourself. Wear underwear that makes you feel good, maybe go and buy a new sex toy or explore erotic literature or other materials. Find the place within yourself that makes you feel good, and don’t rely on your partner for that sense of self-worth.
So, even though these Hidden Contracts can be uncomfortable when they are revealed, they are beautiful windows into a deeper way of relating. Explore them and you will move to even deeper ways of being with one another.