Last week, an article in the New York Times, Till Death, or 20 Years, Do Us Part, explores whether a 20 year contract should be considered for marriage. The author, Matt Richtel, got the idea from 5 year marriage contract proposal that was proposed, but not passed, by lawmakers in Mexico a year ago.
The basic premise is that divorce rates are high with marriages failing half of the time. So, why not give people an opportunity (or out) to reassess their commitment after 20 years of being together? In 20 years, a couple would have raised kids (if any) and then they could assess whether they want to continue on in the marriage.
Richtel asked several marriage and divorce experts about his 20 year marriage idea and surprisingly, many of them agreed that at a minimum that some type of marriage reform is needed. People are living longer; there are many negative influences as a result of technology; couples are not living close to their families and marriage support systems; gay marriage is now on the scene; and people are choosing to co-habitat. All of these factors, lead to the question: “Is there another way to do this.”
Richtel wrote the following about what he learned from the experts and authors:
“BETWEEN Dr. Coontz and Dr. Rutter, I began to see the crystallization of alternatives. Dr. Coontz is talking about a new way of packaging the age-old solution of accepting and working through imperfect unions. Romance, hard hats and pickaxes, and compromise.
Dr. Rutter is talking about getting more real still. Eliminating the fantasy of marriage, or curtailing it sharply. On its face, it does sound like the most obvious side effect of acknowledging the reality that marriages often fail. But as I followed the logic, I found myself not wanting to.”
My personal opinion about the 20 year marriage proposal is that it is not a good idea. My belief is that you go into marriage with the idea that divorce is not an option. And then you take on the mindset that you are going to work on and manage any problems that arise in your marriage. My fear is that if people have an option to get out in 20 years, then perhaps they will not totally put in the effort that it takes to work on their marriage.
We live in a world where almost anything is acceptable. If I followed the standards set by the world, then I would allow my young daughter to dress any way she wanted because that is what she sees even on some of the popular kid’s channels, to start dating boys at a young age because they do that on the shows too, and watch any amount of trash on TV because her friends are watching it too. But the standards set by this world, by television and by celebrities are not going to dictate how I parent. And they certainly are not going to dictate the standards for my marriage.
If anything, it should make you work that much harder to protect all that is good about the institution of marriage.
BMWK – Checkout the article to see all of the input from Richtel and the experts that he interviewed. Let us know how you feel about a 20 year marriage proposal? Does the institution of marriage need to be reformed?
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