When two people enter into a business deal, they usually negotiate and put their agreement in writing so there will be no misunderstandings. Not so, says divorce attorney, Larry Frolick, in the case of a marriage. Frolick describes the unspoken terms and conditions that Mary and Joe think they have in their marriage contract. Perhaps not surprisingly, their terms and conditions are different.
Mary: I’ll love you (and sleep with you and nobody else, listen to your problems and try to help [as long as they are not too overwhelming and especially if they don’t remind me of my alcoholic father’s problems] and keep you company on most weekends [unless the business I intend to start in 36 months takes off and gets me out of town, and unless my sisters call for a family emergency that will take precedence over any situation here, except your heart attack or other life threatening disease]), and I’ll continue to work at my (boring) job to pay for our (first) house (but only for two years after which I expect [based on what you bragged about when we were drinking orange juice and champagne with the Fergusons], that you will start earning $100,000 by then), when we will move to a house (at least as good as my parents’ and in a comparable neighborhood) and have a baby (who had better not remind me, as she grows up, of your mother, whom you’d better stop defending pretty quickly) who will be like me (but who will not be forced into things by her family, like having to escape because they are so demanding and unreasonable) etc., etc.
Joe: I chose to marry you, Mary, because you’re calmer and more deliberate than my mother, so don’t you dare ever do anything that reminds me of her, and especially when I go fishing every spring like my dad, and don’t freak out like she did, about leaving her alone on weekends É etc., etc.
Side Deals. Then there are the unspoken side deals with third parties: “This marriage doesn’t mean, Mom, that I won’t come home every Thanksgiving for the rest of my life, and sleep in my room and overlook Dad’s fooling around with Mrs. Carter in our little family game we know so well, and I’ll continue to be your little girl/boy, etc.”