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If Almost Half of All Marriages End in Divorce, Does Making Marriage Temporary Make Sense?

Maybe this whole ’til death do us part’ bit is asking too much of people in our modern era.

Maybe the idea that people can couple up in their 20s or 30s and stay happily married for 40, 50 or more years is just flat-out wrong-headed and archaic, the product of another age – an age in which marriage wasn’t about love or personal happiness, but rather about forming family alliances and acquiring wealth, land, and status by way of a legally binding agreement until death (at which point said wealth, land, and class status would be passed on to summarily produced heirs (romantic!)). Maybe the whole institution is just plain outmoded, and needs an giant overhaul to continue being a viable institution.

Legislators in Mexico seem to think so.

Mexico City lawmakers want to help newlyweds avoid the hassle of divorce by giving them an easy exit strategy: temporary marriage licenses.

Leftists in the city’s assembly — who have already riled conservatives by legalizing gay marriage — proposed a reform to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime.

The minimum marriage contract would be for two years and could be renewed if the couple stays happy. The contracts would include provisions on how children and property would be handled if the couple splits.

“The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends,” said Leonel Luna, the Mexico City assemblyman who co-authored the bill.

“You wouldn’t have to go through the tortuous process of divorce,” said Luna, from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, which has the most seats in the 66-member chamber.

So what’s wrong with that? Couples can renew the contract, or opt out after the agreed-upon time frame comes to an end. They can decide together, like adults, if the marriage is something they both want to continue with, or scrap it and not have to go through the elaborate, horrible legalities and emotional strife that half of all people who marry today have to go through. Accepting the idea that, indeed, 50% of all marriages will continue to end in divorce whether we like it or not, why not make the experience of ending a marriage less horrifying for those who have no choice but to endure it – including the children produced by these marriages that inevitably do end? Why continue making marriage incredibly easy and divorce ridiculously hard, as we presently do? If anything, should it not perhaps be the other way around? Why not change things to be aligned with the reality of modern coupling, rather than with laws and customs instituted when marriage was undertaken for reasons having nothing to do with why people get married today – i.e., wealth and power-accumulating reasons that required a life-long, binding commitment? What do you think?

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Read more from Tracey Gaughran-Perez at her personal blog Sweetney.com

 

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