Marriage should only be a 10-year contract

Marriage Should Only be a 10-Year Contract

There seem to be few things more likely to get people fired up than suggesting changes to marriage. It makes the inner romantic in a lot of people come alive and start defending the idea that of course marriage is perfect the way it is because true love and stuff. Start suggesting pre-nuptial agreements to protect the couple if things don't work out, and people accuse you of being unromantic. Suggest you allow all loving, consenting, adult couples to get married, and fundamentalists argue this sort of equality would somehow undermine their own marriages.

The truth is, marriage is not a perfect institution, and a lot of its problems stem from the fact it is supposed to be a lifetime commitment. Things would be a lot simpler, easier, and better all-around if marriage were reduced from "'till death us do part" to a ten year contract.

People Change

Alright, believe in true love if you want. Believe you have found somebody with whom you are totally, utterly, absolutely compatible. So compatible there is no way that a relationship between you and this person will fail.

But people change. Over their lifetime, they change so much they practically become different people. Since people tend to marry when they are young, they have most of this change still ahead of them. However perfectly compatible two people may be now, there is no guarantee that years later the two essentially-different people they become will still be compatible. This is why marriage doesn’t work as a lifetime commitment, and would be better as a contract for a given period.

Divorce Rates

This is, in many ways, the big issue. Once-upon-a-time, it was very hard to get divorced, and to even think about it you had to be rich and male. Then, it was decided that maybe things should be a bit easier. Divorce rates have been heading steadily upwards ever since.

Another thing that's been happening ever since is that people have been moaning about rising divorce rates, and saying that the current generation doesn't know how to make a relationship work. But the truth is people weren't happier in their marriages beforehand, they just couldn't divorce as easily. They just stayed where they were and were miserable or, in the case of some terrible people, arranged for their spouse to be put into an asylum.

But divorce still isn't as easy as it could be, and this is because there's still a lingering belief that marriages should be for life and that those who decide years later that the relationship is no longer working are failing in some way. If marriage were only a temporary commitment to start with, things would be so much easier and there would be less stigma.

You Could Always Renew

The biggest argument against the idea of marriage as a temporary contract is that not all marriages do come to a "premature" end. There are many couples who remain happily married and in love throughout their lives, and many more who manage a stretch which far exceeds the ten year mark. What about them?

Here's the thing, though. When a contract ends, you usually either have the chance to renew it or to carry on under the same terms until one of you decides to end the arrangement. There is no reason this should not apply to marriage. It would allow all those happy, still-in-love couples to carry on unhindered, but give the unhappy ones an easy and comfortable way out.

Do you agree that marriage should only be a 10-year contract?

Final poll results: 28-days poll expired: 30 Jun 2015
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