PQ 14.10 — Is this agreement serving the people involved, or are the people serving it?

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PQ 14.10 — Is this agreement serving the people involved, or are the people serving it?

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He’s just gotten done telling me about his relationship agreement. Complaining, really. About what he doesn’t like about it. And there’s a lot.

“I get where you’re coming from,” I say. “Have you talked to your partners about changing your relationship agreement?”

“Changing it?” he says.

“Yeah. You know. Renegotiating the terms.”

“We’ve had this agreement for a year,” he says. “I can’t just go changing things.”

“Oh, I’m not suggesting you do it on your own. I mean… just letting your partners know you’re unhappy and why. And asking if maybe there’s some way to tweak things so that you’re a little happier. From the sound of it, it wouldn’t take much to make a big difference for you,” I say.

“I know what you’re saying, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go changing the relationship agreement is all,” he says.

“Why’s that?” I say.

“Well, okay, so if we can just renegotiate the agreement at any time, what’s there to say that it won’t get changed to something that’s awful? How do I know we won’t end up with something that’s even less workable?”

“You don’t,” I say.

“I hope you didn’t mean that to be reassuring,” he says. “Because it’s not.”

I laugh. “Okay, how’s this for reassuring? It doesn’t matter if you end up with something even worse.”

“How do you figure?”

“Because if you do, you just change the agreement again,” I say. “Keep making adjustments until you get things right.”

He stops. Considers this. “But how will we know?” he says finally.

“Know what?”

“If we can just change the relationship agreement whenever we want, how will we know when we’ve got one that’s right for us?”

“You pay attention to how you feel. And you make sure to keep checking in to talk to each other about it. If everyone’s happy and things are going pretty well, then that’s the right relationship agreement. It’s there to serve you, not the other way around.”

 

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.

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