And do you always agree on what they are?
What do I mean by the rules of a relationship?
I am referring to the decisions you both make together as a couple as to what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of values, norms, behaviour and boundaries. For example, when it comes to the subject of children – there will undoubtedly be discussions on whether or not you want to have children together and if you decide to be parents, how you plan to bring them up (if of course you are both at this stage of life!).
When it comes to finances, couples often have discussions upfront regarding money management. Often there can be major disagreements in this area, which if not resolved will in all likelihood lead to recurring conflict throughout their union.
In many areas of a couples’ life, however, there will have been little discussion and each person will have their own views regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable, based on their own background, beliefs and upbringing.
For example, one partner may make a decision to go out to a club with a friend, only telling their spouse about this one the date has been made. The partner may react angrily, saying that their relationship should be a priority and that all invitations from “outside” of the couple should first be discussed between the couple. This may take the partner by surprise, as they may have thought that seeing a friend once in a while without their partner’s prior knowledge/agreement/consent is no big deal!
This example demonstrates that a great many “rules” in a couples’ relationship are implicit (i.e they are never explicitly discussed). This can cause problems in a relationship if partner’s tend to bottle-up their resentment and don’t bring up any issues that are on their minds at the time when a concern comes to light.
If partner’s are upfront with their “other halves” there is a much better chance that compromises and mutual understandings can be reached.