First of all, let me clarify something.
Originally Posted by LoveBomb
Agreements are made in response to the rules. For example:
Rule 1: Be Honest with one another
Rule 2: Don't keep secondary relationships a secret
Rule 3: Talk about your feelings, especially any jealousy
Rule 4: Maintain an open dialogue and strong communication
Rule 5: Respect each other's feelings and work together towards resolving issues
It seems that many of you have taken this passage of mine completely out of context. I was illustrating a point with it, not suggesting that people should make these rules explicit. I agree that these things are completely necessary for a healthy relationship. I brought those up to illustrate that "agreements" between people come from a foundation of mutually accepted "rules".
Those of you who claim that they don't have rules are straight up not paying attention. You DO have rules, you just don't think about them because you and your partner accept those rules implicitly. Is it okay with you if your partner dates people without telling you? No? Then that's a rule. Implicit or otherwise it IS a rule. Those of you who claim that there are no rules in your relationship are quite simply lying to yourselves. There are certain kinds of behaviour that you will not accept from your partner (or if you accept everything your partner does, regardless of how it makes you feel, then you're probably a doormat). If there's something that your partner might do that is a deal breaker for you, then YOU HAVE RELATIONSHIP RULES.
Relationship rules are important with ANY relationship. You may not define them as "rules" in the context of your relationships, but if you discuss a topic and come to an agreement regarding how to behave within the context of that topic, you have created a new rule within your relationship. You may not call it a rule specifically, but a mutual agreement that defines how people should behave is a rule whether you like it or not.
Yes, it's implicit that everyone respect one another within a relationship. Nobody goes into a relationship intending on disrespecting their partner. But HOW you go about respecting that person is WILDLY different from relationship to relationship. Someone with the best of intentions can end up disrespecting their partner without realizing it because the offender is oblivious that what they have done is disrespectful. Respect within a relationship is a RULE, pure and simple. How each person defines that rule is what requires open communication.
I, for one, have made it explicitly clear to my wife that she is free to explore feelings with other people, but if she ever meets someone that she really likes and wants to pursue a relationship with that person, then all I ask is that she talk to me about it. I made that explicit to her so that she knows that she can talk to me about it without worrying about how I might react.
It seems like a lot of people here really dislike the word "rules" as though they are meant to control someone. They aren't. They really aren't. They are in place to define boundaries and limits to what can be done within a relationship. Without rules (whether implicit or explicit) disrespect, pain, and heartbreak is INEVITABLE. That's because rules naturally arise within a relationship through an active dialogue between partners. They go hand in hand. By talking to your partner, you define the relationship with that person, which inherently defines the rules of the relationship.