5 Things Your Sex Contract Needs If You Want Your Marriage to Last

When you think of pre-nups, you think of finances. You don't think of sex. But would it be such a bad idea to have a sexual pre-nup? Sex is one of the main issues that crop up during a relationship and can be the trigger that leads to divorce. Sex can be inside the marriage or outside -- generally referred to as cheating. And we all know cheating doesn't lead to a happy marriage. You'd think that most people would go into a marriage already understanding sexual boundaries, but that would be fallacy. One person can think it's no big deal to have lunch with their ex every week, while for the new partner, the "no big deal" can be a dealbreaker. Here are five of the sexual topics people should think about getting in their sexual pre-nup before marriage.


1. Sex. It seems a given that people would discuss sexual issues before marriage, but most of us assume that how our sex life is before marriage is how it will be afterwards. Nothing could be more false. Sex ebbs and flows throughout a long relationship. There are times when both partners are feeling frisky and horny and you two will be getting it on at all hours of the day and night. Other times, life may be particularly stressful for one partner, whose sexual desire may dramatically dip. Illness, babies, and family problems can all make sexual desire dry up and float away. And there may be times when things are going relatively good but the sex just takes a back seat to the various activities of life.

The important thing here is to take a vow before marriage to discuss your sex life. To have open communication about it and not to let things fester. That's how affairs can get started. Put it in your sexual pre-nup that you will not only talk to your partner -- TALK, not accuse -- but you will listen, and listen undefensively. If your partner suggests spicing it up a little, it doesn't necessarily mean he/she is bored and going to leave you! But keep your boundaries firm. If you really don't want anal or a threesome, don't let someone talk you into it!

Likewise if one person doesn't feel like having sex for weeks because of an illness or other issue, don't assume that person just doesn't want you anymore. Be open to the ebbs and flows of your sex life. Keep the lines of communication open, honest, and non-accusatory.

2. Cheating. Once was a time when identifying cheating was pretty simple -- one person has sex with someone outside of the marriage. Nowadays, "cheating" can encompass an entire range of "gray area" behavior. Technology has made it SO much easier for people to cross boundaries -- all from within the comfortable confines of their living room.

So before you are deep into a relationship and discover your man just loves to sext ladies from his office -- talk to him beforehand about what you consider unacceptable. You may think it's quite obvious that he shouldn't be sending flirty text messages to other women, he may think it's no big deal. What is a dealbreaker and what is cause for renegotiation? I once dated a guy who thought nothing of texting female friends late at night. I explained to him that, as a woman, a guy sending me a text at midnight was much different than at 3 p.m. even if it said the same thing. I assume a guy texting me late at night has ulterior motives even if he's only writing, "How did you like that book?" He thought it was no big deal. We had to renegotiate.

And you'd be surprised at how many couples disagree at what constitutes cheating besides having sex with someone else. What about making out? What about emotional affairs?

You can't possibly know every iffy sexual situation that will crop up in the course of a long relationship, so don't expect to hammer it all out at once beforehand. But make it known if you have things that are totally unacceptable to you.

3. Exes. This can be a touchy subject for any couple. Some people start off being pals with their exes, and as the relationship ripens and deepens, what wasn't problematic in the beginning suddenly becomes so. So make a vow to discuss exes as situations with them crop up. I know a man, married 25 years, who ran into an ex on the street and began having regular lunches with her -- without telling his wife. He thought they were harmless and didn't want to alarm her. More likely, he didn't want to risk that she would tell him to knock it off, and he'd have to stop them.

Negotiate "ex issues" at the beginning and throughout the relationship. Is it okay to email them but not see them in person? Is this ex okay but that one not? One ex may seem more threatening to you than another one.

Remember that ex boundaries can be flexible, but if you have dealbreakers, i.e. you can't see your ex without letting me know, then make those apparent.

4. Extracurricular activities. This can be anything from watching porn to going to strip clubs to flirting with women in bars. If you don't want your man watching porn, this is something you need to negotiate beforehand because most men do, and they are simply going to go underground with it if it's not discussed. Maybe one type of porn is fine, but another isn't. For instance, I don't care if my man watches generic porn; however, if I found him watching kiddie porn, animal porn, or any porn where a woman is physically or emotionally abused (even if it's fake), this would NOT be acceptable to me.

I personally do not care about flirting as long as tongues are not involved. However, I do care about exchanging emails or phone numbers, but that is something that needs to be negotiated since nowadays, most of us throw people our information whether or not we ever want to hear from them again -- it's called "networking." So seeing a collection of cards and numbers in your man's wallet may mean absolutely nothing -- or it could be an issue. Keep the communication open.

Do you care if your man goes to a strip club? What if he goes with 20 other guys? What if he goes without telling you? What if he goes but calls you repeatedly? Set the boundaries and negotiate.

5. Opposite sex relationships. The opposite sex is 50 percent of the population, so chances are you are going to have some friends of the opposite sex. Yet this can lead to a lot of friction. For myself, I am fine with friends of the opposite sex as long as, at some point, I can meet the person. If, however, my man's "friend from work" remains stubbornly off-limits to me despite their texting or work lunches, then I'm going to have an issue with it. I think the key to having successful opposite sex relationships is to keep your partner informed as to who you are friends with and what your friendship consists of. For example, I once dated a man who was helping a female friend with a project. Because he never once mentioned this woman to me, when I found out about the project, I was dismayed. If he had kept me informed of his relationship with this woman and what their project was, it most likely wouldn't have been an issue.

Everyone has their own boundaries. A friend of mine once dated a woman who wanted him to have NO female friends. When a female friend he had known for years picked him up at the airport, she broke up with him. I have another friend who is fine with her husband having female friends -- as long as she thinks they're not good-looking. But pretty friends are out of the question.

Negotiate your boundaries with opposite sex friends, and keep the lines of communication open as friends like these move in and out of your lives.

Do you have a sexual pre-nup?


Image via Corbis

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