When Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel got back together after a five-month split, sources close to the pair revealed there was a catch in their relationship the second time round: they'd get hitched, but if and when Jess said so.
It was a ballsy move to deliver such a drastic ultimatum, but for Jess, calling the shots has paid off, with the couple announcing their engagement earlier this year.
So could an ultimatum be the way to solve your relationship woes? According to relationship psychologist John Aiken (johnaiken.com. au), an ultimatum could save your man from being banished to the isle of lost relationships.
"Ultimatums allow you to know exactly where you stand with your partner on big issues," Aiken explains. "There are times when you need to let him understand the consequences of certain actions if he won't change them."
Before you jump on the ultimatum bandwagon, remember to give your partner ample warning first. Bianca, 25, gave her boyfriend John, 23, plenty of chances to give up his smoking habit before delivering her final notice. "I was sick of the way it made my hair and clothes smell and I could see it was badly affecting his health," she says.
After repeatedly pleading with him to give up, Bianca told him: quit smoking or it's over. "At first he didn't think I was serious, but when he realised I was sticking to my guns, he was quite accepting," she says. "He started using nicotine patches and tablets and made a real effort; he knew how much it meant to me and was willing to sacrifice his cigarettes."
But ultimatums don't always have happy endings, as Anne, 28, discovered. When she received an ultimatum from her boyfriend to come home from a fun overseas trip or lose him, she jumped on the next plane. But when she got home, their relationship didn't work out. "I really resented him for making me cut short my trip of a lifetime. I'd never give someone an ultimatum now, because of what happened to me."
It's important to think through the repercussions of an ultimatum before you deliver it. To prevent it from backfiring on you, talk it through with trusted friends first to get their opinion. "Chat about the situation to make sure you're reading things correctly," advises Aiken. "Your friends may suggest you take more time or even try a different approach first."
Three things to consider before giving an ultimatum:
1. Are you prepared to follow through with it? If you give an ultimatum and your partner won't comply, then you need to be prepared to act on it otherwise it's just an empty threat.
2. Give your partner a timeline to change: they're more likely to agree when it's not an instant change you're after. Make sure you're both clear on the timeline to avoid any further issues arising from miscommunication.
3. Consider your behaviour: no-one's perfect, so make sure that you focus on your own actions before criticising someone for theirs.
Have you ever given or been given ultimatum? Did it work? Have your say below.