A long time ago in a university far, far away, I attended law school and passed the bar exam. Which just goes to prove that an outstanding law school education is no guarantee your life will turn out the way your parents had hoped. But I digress. My point is that if there is one thing I learned from my legal training, it’s how to create oppressively one-sided legal agreements primarily designed to obfuscate.
Therefore, as a public service to all five of my readers, I urge you, before you enter into a long-term romantic relationship like marriage or going steady with Morgan from your 11th grade biology class, to be sure you and your very special someone have signed a legally enforceable Relationship Agreement that clearly spells out what each of you agree to do – and not do.
I am proud to say that when it comes to suing one’s spouse, America ranks #1. We’re the most litigious society in the world. The United States has as many lawyers as the next six countries combined. Where else can a woman sue a local television station for making an inaccurate weather prediction or a man can sue himself?
My point is, if we’re not careful, we’re liable to get sued for the least little hit and run car accident I failed to report. (Wait, did I just think that or did I just type that?) Sometimes our fairy tale romances take a few unexpected turns and what starts out as Happily Ever After may later descend into the War of the Roses.
That’s why I’ve created VFTB’s Standardized Relationship Agreement. It could save you a lifetime of misunderstanding and resentment. Check out the Relationship Agreement I created for my wife and me. Feel free to modify the terms to meet your unique situation.
RELATIONSHIP AGREEMENT BETWEEN MR. AND MRS. TIM JONES
This Spousal Relationship Agreement is hereby voluntarily entered into between [your name here] and [your partner’s name here] as a pledge of our eternal commitment to a faithful, loving and supportive life partnership…*
[* …unless by an unforeseen Act of God, my partner turns into an obnoxious, overbearing, nagging pain in the ass, causing me to rather have my eyes poked out with a scalding hot cattle branding iron than spend another minute on the same continent as that self-absorbed ballbuster, in which case, this agreement becomes null and void].
Because of our deep mutual respect for each other and our appreciation of our enchanting differences, we agree to the following terms and conditions as a sign of our everlasting dedication to our relationship, contra bonos mores. [That’s Latin. I have no idea what it means. I just inserted it here because in order to be a valid legally enforceable contract, you need to include random Latin legal phrases, to add gravitas – hey, that’s another Latin word.]
I, HUSBAND, actio in personam, (that’s Latin for “personally”) agree to the following:
- to do my fair share of the weekly household chores (not to exceed 25% of the joint marital workload), on the condition that you don’t expect me to be a mind reader when I forget to buy chai tea for you at the grocery store when you forget to put it on the list.
- to answer your question, What are you feeling? truthfully, so long as you are willing to accept the possibility that my response may include one or more of the following sentiments: I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m horny, or I wonder what’s the score of the Mets game?
- to not look at other women who pass by when you’re talking to me – unless I am 100% certain I can pull it off without your noticing. (The aforementioned provision does not apply to sightings of that blonde chick at your office with the large rack.)
- that whenever you ask the question, Does this dress make me look fat? I am willing to stipulate that my response will always be the same: Absolutely not. You look gorgeous. Have you lost weight? (regardless how huge it actually makes your ass look).
- to do a date night together without kids at least once a month, to keep our relationship from getting stale. I am willing to reluctantly stipulate that the following do not qualify as date night activities: Ultimate Cage Fighting events, skeet shooting, go-kart racing, fly fishing in hip waders, or anything involving a batting cage.
I, WIFE, actio in personam, agree to the following:
- to not ask you to discuss anything involving feelings, the future of our relationship or whether you still love me, more than once every six months, and even then, by appointment only.
- to not delete a TIVO recording of a football game you have not yet watched without the express written consent of the National Football League.
- that in response to your yelling upstairs, We need to leave now or we’re going to be late, I agree not to try on four more blouses until I find the one that goes with my jade earrings. By signing this agreement, I further acknowledge that nowhere in any English language dictionary can the word “now” be defined as “we’ve still got 20 more minutes.”
- to not gain more than 30 pounds over the course or our marriage, regardless how much weight you put on. Violating this provision will make null and void the “don’t look at other women” provision above.
- that when you appear to be doing absolutely nothing, laid out on the couch snoring, with the TV on, I will not wake you up to ask if you’d like to go to a local arts & crafts festival to look at hand-knitted tea cozies.
Both parties agree to submit to binding arbitration in the event either party feels the other party has violated any terms under this agreement, which arbitration will be conducted by an impartial panel of HUSBAND’s Tuesday night bowling team, the Bowl Movements.
Would this agreement be enforceable? Well, I ran it by a buddy who almost finished law school and is now a jazzercise instructor. He assured me he’s pretty sure this Relationship Agreement would be legally binding – in just about any tribal area of Pakistan.
That’s the view from the bleachers. And I’m willing to stipulate the possibility that I could be off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2012