Date Night, Notarized

A lesson in relationship management from Facebook's royal newlyweds

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Illustration by Tomasz Walenta for TIME; Cupid: Araldo de Luca/Corbis

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Mark Zuckerberg has done a lot for our relationships, though those relationships are all with people we barely remember, who did not age nearly as well as we did. The one relationship he has majorly screwed up, however, is our marriages: A recent study in the U.K. showed that more than one-third of all divorce filings contain the word Facebook. And that was before people invested in the company's IPO.

But Zuckerberg also helped invent a system to improve monogamous relationships. All the articles about his wedding to his college girlfriend, which took place the day after the IPO, mentioned the "relationship agreement" they drew up years ago after she moved to Palo Alto, Calif., to get back together with him. In it, he agreed to take her on a date once a week and spend 100 minutes of alone time each week with her outside the office or his apartment. It was so romantically inspiring that on The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gave one to Amy, stipulating that hand holding was reserved for congratulations over a Nobel Prize, comforting each other during flu shots and aiding someone falling off a cliff. I needed my own relationship agreement. I needed my hand back.

Like Zuckerberg's girlfriend Priscilla Chan, who was taking him back and moving across the country, I was in a power position to dictate the terms of my relationship agreement with my lovely wife Cassandra. We have a kid, and she's afraid that if I were to leave, she might have to raise him alone, thereby doing 10% more work.

Still, I was surprised at how eager Cassandra was to draw up a relationship agreement. Less to my surprise, she started listing her own demands before I'd presented my first clause. She had clearly been thinking about each of these issues for many years. I know this because she has brought up each of these issues regularly for many years.

Like Chan, Cassandra demanded date night, though a more reasonable once every two weeks. Since I know from selling network-television pilots that contracts are specific and thorough--each sitcom I've sold about a journalist has included the percentage I'd get from sales of action figures--I asked if dates with other couples counted. "Just you and me," Cassandra said. "Suck it up." Then she stipulated that I take one day completely off 0f work each week--a Shabbat without our computers, cell phones or TV. As if that weren't scary enough, she added, "We'd have to read books." I told her we needed to table that until I talked to my lawyer. My lawyer, by the way, represents TV writers.

I got about halfway through my first request, which required exposing my feelings and the deepest parts of my psyche, when Cassandra rudely interrupted: "I feel extremely objectified," she said, referring to my request to improve our intimacy. "You're saying you're Richard Gere and I'm Julia Roberts."

"At the end of Pretty Woman, they love each other very much," I explained.

"I have a feeling all of your contract is going to involve sex," she said.

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