Like the bouquet at your wedding, the images of marriage are flowery. Love is without a doubt the basis of every marriage, but what principles will define your marriage that will make it uniquely yours? Will you recite traditional religious vows or write your own? Will your relationship be defined the same way in 20 years?

How you and your spouse define your relationship will likely change as time passes. Love and romance grow for some and fade for others. Although love can be whimsical and hard to describe, marriage is seen legally as a contract signed between two parties. What will this “contract” signify in your marriage?

Wear the ring, sign the dotted line

When you get married, you will sign a marriage license issued by the State of New York. Are you also hoping to write a prenuptial agreement? Both of these are recognized as legal contracts. Once the paperwork is complete, how you and your spouse define your marriage is entirely up to you. How can you use these contracts to your advantage?

Put it in writing

Marriage is for the mutual benefit of the both of you, but how do you define those benefits? As written in New York Times, one relationship expert uses a “relationship contract” to put in writing what she expects of her husband and what he expects from her. They rewrite the contract every year as a way to “name and recognize” their desires.

Having a conversation as a candid as this can be daunting, but hesitation could reveal why some marriages fail or succeed. Research shows that women ask for a divorce more often than men. Among the reasons why women file for divorce, “failure to meet emotional needs” is among the top.

Mutually beneficial marriage

It is common for couples to put their legal, financial or business needs in writing through a prenuptial agreement, but it is time to consider long-term emotional needs as well? When spouses can recognize the mutual benefits of their relationship, they may better understand what should be included in the contract of their marriage.