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Crista Tharp Headshot

Are Renewable Marriage Contracts The Wave Of The Future?

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MARRIAGE CONTRACT
Alamy

Mexico City is trying to cut their divorce rate by proposing a "Renewable Marriage Contract" which would give couples a two-year trial-run to see if their marriage has what it takes to stand the test of time.

If it is approved, they would decide in advance important household things like childcare, who would pay the bills, budget, and every day operations of the family. If they make it the two years they can choose to divorce or renew their contract.

I'm confused. Doesn't this already exist? It's called ENGAGEMENT.

I don't see any benefit to this for two reasons: one, even if you choose this path and decide your marriage isn't working, you still get divorced. What's the benefit? Two, it plays into one of the very reasons divorce rate is so high - it makes a marriage disposable. Who really goes into their marriage thinking, "I really love this person, but hey, just in case they start snoring or take up bowling I want the chance to cut and run"?

One good thing I see about this potential policy is that the couple has to sit down and discuss what their marital home-life will be like. Every couple should do this. It's usually called pre-marital counseling and it is a very critical thing for couples to go through. Unfortunately, a lot of couples are not required to do this so they skip it all together. They are too busy with dance lessons and tying little ribbons around bags of M&Ms. I guarantee you, in five years when they are juggling work, finances and kids, those bags of M&Ms are the last thing on their minds.

Many couples are already trying a trial-run by living together. The numbers of Brides and Grooms tying the knot when the already have kids at home is climbing so high that planners are modifying typical wedding planning by creating new and creative traditions that involve their children. For example, I recently had a Bride who had two girls with her Groom. During the ceremony he presented his daughters with very simple gold rings. He married them as well.

All of this just goes to show how quickly our society is changing. Fifteen years ago it would have been almost scandalous to have color on your wedding dress. Now it is more acceptable. Traditions and expectations are changing. But I can't help but thinking that some of these new ideas are contributing to what I consider a "throw-away" culture. There seems to be no desire to put the work or effort into saving marriage.

A marriage is a constantly evolving experience. It will be difficult at times. If there is an easy "out" button like these renewable contracts, won't that just be an incentive to couples to let it go and try again? Let me tell you, marriage is worth fighting for. A "get out of jail free" card should never be used when it comes to your family. Here's an idea: after two years if you are having problems, take it as an opportunity to renew your vows. Remind each other why you fell in love in the first place. THAT'S the kind of renewable contract that will actually work.