Unspoken agreements are the agreements that we do not speak, but they play out in our lives. They are agreements that we make with ourselves, another person, or group as a way to get love, attention, or to feel safe.
From the time that Kathy married Bob, she took the back seat in their interactions by trying to please him and not focusing on her needs or her growth. His needs were the priority for both of them. He was a successful accountant who worked very hard to move up in his accounting firm. She stayed at home because that was what he wanted her to do.
He never asked her what she wanted to do. When she would praise him or do things to enhance his career and his social standing in the community, he would show satisfaction with her. For the first eight years of their marriage, her purpose in life was to get his approval. The unspoken agreement was “I’ll be lesser than you and in exchange, you will love me”.
As time want on, Kathy became stronger and more aware of her own value as a person. She realized that she wanted a career for herself and enrolled in a PHD program in psychology.
This brought about a change in their relationship causing cracks in the bridge. A relationship is a bridge. Dr. Bruce Fisher, in his book “Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends,” compares a relationship to a bridge. The relationship is the horizontal part of the bridge that connects two people who are the foundations of the bridge at either end.
The foundations must be strong to support the bridge. If one of the foundations shifts or changes then the bridge develops cracks. If not dealt with, these cracks will result in the breakup of the relationship.
Change is always happening as long as we are alive. If you deny, or resist these changes the relationship will either become strained and lose the good feelings which were there in the beginning, or it will break apart.
Each person must work on his/her own personal growth to have a healthier relationship with self. He/she also needs to understand the needs of the partner. Then the couple must work out which needs they want to meet separately and which ones they want to work out with their partner. This is a main reason why people end relationships and is something that CAN be worked out.
If you don’t take responsibility of meeting some of your needs, you will end up blaming your partner for your unhappiness and failing to support your partner in their pursuits. It doesn’t have to end this way
The paradoxical fact of relationships is that we pair with people who express our opposite or complementary tendencies. For example, Kathy and Bob had a pattern of Giver/Taker as the way they related to each other. That worked well at first, but when Kathy shifted what she wanted, she broke the original agreement.
These agreements are not spoken and certainly are not conscious, but they are fastidiously acted out in the daily life of the couple. This shift in her foundation of the bridge caused irreparable cracks in their relationship and they divorced.
It doesn’t have to end this way, although this is what we see much of the time. If both people are willing to look at what they expect and the roles they have been cast in from childhood, they can grow and incorporate new ways of being, which give them more choices in life.
This willingness to look at oneself and embrace new information can and does lead the couple to a level of intimacy that never would have been imagined at the beginning of the relationship.