This morning, KS95 had an interesting conversation. They spoke about a news article that stated Mexico City was considering provisional marriages wherein the couple could terminate the marriage after a 2-year (but KS95 spoke of it as a “couple’s specified” timeframe..2yrs, 5yrs, etc.,) period if they were not happy. Financial issues and child custody/support would be settled up front and there would be no surprises if it didn’t work.
Melissa was the vocal one against this new practice and stated her “traditional” beliefs as grounds for her argument. Ryan and Trey seemed a little more open. I called in to question Melissa’s beliefs. When I was on the air, I made a factual statement about marriage. I said, “Marriage as we know it is not what was originally in the Bible. Marriage as we know it was instituted by the churches as a way to tax people.” Melissa (obviously having not studied anthropology or sociology in college), said I was wrong and when I disagreed, and before I could state the rest of my case, she hung up on me..then called me a buzz kill. Melissa didn’t even stick around to hear my argument. She simply let her religious/historical confusion get in the way of a healthy discussion.
Ancient marriage was not even a women’s choice. In very early civilizations, a man could literally walk down the street and choose someone as his bride, then find a more attractive woman, ditch the original, and “choose” the second woman. Ancient Greece had marriage as an agreement for the husband and wife to publicly regard each other as the other half of their union (however, the man could leave his bride and move on to a new woman whenever he chose to). The Romans The “tax” part of marriage that I brought up was a part of the Christian formalization of marriage. In early Christianity, there was no formal union for marriage and it was simply a private agreement between families. The church at the time was basically broke and gradually instituted a policy that declared that marriage would only be valid if it were officiated by a member of the clergy. The catch was, it cost money to have the clergy perform the ceremony and with the clergy being the ONLY ones to validate the marriage, it had to be done. People with little money would give personal belongings or land in place of money. In early Christian marriages, the wife was also “under the authority” of her husband. keep in mind, this is only Europe! Other Native American, Asian an African cultures had variations of the same theme too.
Any of this information can be found in history books worldwide. It happened. Marriage as we know it is the result of years and years of progress. Mexico City is now making more progress with their new marriage contracts. Personally, I feel it’s a great thing, provided it had a few stipulations:
1. Marriage must remain monogamous throughout contract.
2. Financials are handled up front.
3. Breach of contract would require the person found guilty of breach to pay half of his or her earnings for the rest of her life, surrender custody of the children (and pay child support for them until the age of 18), and consequently be ineligible from any sort of low income welfare programs they may need as a result of paying for their breach.
4. Length of contract is decided upon by the couple and may not be altered after the contract is made binding. Within 30 days of the end of the contract, the couple MUST notify the government of a termination is desired otherwise, the contract will automatically renew at the initial end date for the same length of time that was originally decided upon. (This means if you have a two year marriage, it would renew two years at a time.)
Now, if that were all in place, I’d say that something like this could SAVE marriage as we know it. People roped in to skewed religious beliefs would have an option to end an unhappy marriage without years of unhappiness. Cheating would be illegal in the context of a marital union. There would be no financial surprises based upon emotion if the marriage ended, only a legal contract left to be fulfilled. It would also give people the option to enter into a union that they are comfortable with. If they tried a two year union, and it didn’t work for some reason, do you really think they’ll want to try another short term contract, or will they be introspective enough to find their faults and try again for a longer term marriage with the next person they want to marry? The problem with marriage right now is that the promise we make to our friends, family, and usually our God, isn’t being truly enforced. As it stands, there is really no physical penalty for violating the terms of your marriage. The religious side would argue that you’ve now committed a sin against God, but with religion, that’s a punishment to be dealt with after this life ends. In a world that has adapted to living in the “now”, there is no “this life” punishment for violating a marriage (assuming there was no pre-nup). This contract would literally FORCE people to think about the seriousness of entering into a contract like marriage should be and either back out, or enter in, knowing full well the responsibility they will then have.
My daughter will get married some day and whether it’s to a boy or a girl, I’d hope she chooses a lifelong contract, knowing full well how she feels (and will continue to feel) about the person she marries. It’s not a laughing matter anymore with a 50% divorce rate. When the time comes for me to get married, I’d choose the lifelong contract as well, because I will know by that time whether or not I will truly be able to love that person through sickness and health, until death do we part. I’d put up 100% of my belongings knowing full well, I’d never violate that contract..but I can’t speak for someone else, and in marriage today is faltering because we (churches, families, cultures) are all too busy speaking for other people rather than letting them make up their own minds.