What are the agreements that give shape to your relationship? Many couples do not know what I mean by this question when I ask them in therapy. I am amazed at how many couples, who enter therapy after one has had an affair, never openly spoke of the "agreement" regarding fidelity. Both assumed that marriage or a committed partnership meant, by definition, sexual fidelity.

Sexual issues are only one aspect of a relationship that requires agreements. Every day, partners make agreements with each other. Far too often, for the sake of expedience, these agreements are broken. Intimacy suffers.

When the inevitable happens, and one breaks an agreement, there is a tendency to make an excuse for the failure to keep one's word. Instead, take responsibility for it. Acknowledge you broke your agreement. Instead of trying to talk your partner out of having his/her feelings, invite him/her to express them. When finished, ask if there is anything you can do now to make good on the situation.

Sit down with a piece of blank paper. Write down all the agreements that you think are assumed in your relationship or that you want to be a part of it. When done, hopefully your partner has done the same, compare what you have.

Remember, it isn't an agreement until both of you understand it and agree to it.