All relationships are based on open and hidden dynamics. Part of why you are together is probably obvious to you – physical attraction, stability or excitement, making each other laugh and so on. Most people have some sense of what it is about the other person which is attractive to them and why they chose to be with them. We could call this the Explicit Contract – it’s out in the explicit because both parties know it exists. There are many forms, but it might look something like this: “I’m with you because you make me laugh and I enjoy your company and in return, I will tell you how funny you are and that makes you feel good”. Another example could be physical attraction – “You’re hot and it makes me feel good to be with someone who is physically attractive or whom I find sexy. I tell you this and this makes you feel good”. Both people understand this is part of what the relationship is about and make an unspoken contract to abide by it.
However, what is more interesting is what lies deeper. It is these aspects, which I call Hidden Contracts that show up in abnormal situations and which can reveal a lot about the unseen dynamics within a relationship.
Let’s take an example to show you what I mean. A Hidden Contract might emerge when your man gets sick. If he is really ill, and unable to operate normally, the Explicit Contract might not be able to function normally – it’s not easy to be funny or sexy if you’re feeling at death’s door.
So what could happen to the relational dynamics in such a case? Maybe your man stops being “the provider” or “the strong one” and instead becomes a needy child, looking for his mother to take care of him. It’s probable that this was part of the relationship dynamic all along but other things could have masked it. When normal patterns of relating get disrupted is when these Hidden Contacts will pop up.
What if you man is no longer able to tell you how sexy you look or he is not able to make love to you? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you get your sexual sense of self-worth from you man telling you how hot you are and suddenly he is not able to do that because of illness, how does that feel? What if he isn’t well enough to have sex with you? What happens to your sexual needs then? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you relied on him to make sex happen or to make you feel good about yourself by these means, you may start to feel bad about yourself. You may blame him and get angry with him for getting sick.
However, when these hidden patterns show up, don’t despair. This is a beautiful opportunity to grow in your relationship and in yourself. Instead of relying on him to make you feel sexy, find the sexiness within yourself. Wear underwear that makes you feel good, maybe go and buy a new sex toy or explore erotic literature or other materials. Find the place within yourself that makes you feel good, and don’t rely on your partner for that sense of self-worth.
So, even though these Hidden Contracts can be uncomfortable when they are revealed, they are beautiful windows into a deeper way of relating. Explore them and you will move to even deeper ways of being with one another.