April 24, 2009

Fixed-Term Marriage

Ah, romance!

Australia is toying with the idea of fixed-term contract marriages, rather than the one-size-fits-all life contract. Looking at marriage and divorce trends, they might have a point. Rather than "till death do us part" a couple would be entering a 5 or 10 year contract with each other, much like buying a car or house. When the contract ends so does the union, unless they renew it for another 5 or 10 years. After a couple of 5 or 10 year contracts you have the option of renewing for life.

Though an interesting idea, it would need to have stipulations and exceptions. Kids still get screwed over when contracts end and they have to get used to a new mommy or daddy every 5 years or so. Thanks to Fark.com, here are some rules:
  • Couples must complete an initial 5 year contract before having kids.
  • Couples must renew their initial contract for 20 years to have kids.
  • Contracts include stipulations for mandatory marital counseling and prenups.
Only couples who want kids need to get married at all and the mandatory 5 year waiting period allows couples to get a real taste of life together, and the union could easily dissolve if it doesn't work out without screwing up unsuspecting kids. Contract renewals would spur the economy because couples could have a party and a second honeymoon. Also, knowing you have to stay with someone for 20 years can be a greater challenge than committing for life with the unsaid option of divorce at any time, and hopefully couples wouldn't enter into a 20 year contract lightly. If a couple doesn't renew their 20 year contract the kids will be adults and will understand that the contract is coming to an end. If it's mandatory to follow rules like these, have a prenup, and sign a fixed contract when entering a union, the stigma of divorce would be reduced and kids would be taken care of. Maybe, even, more people would decide to contract for life, and actually understand what that means. 

Now, there is one huge problem with all this: unplanned pregnancies. However, if men are forced into a 20 year contract after an unplanned pregnancy maybe more men would wear condoms. Some men don't really see an unplanned pregnancy as that big of a deal: if she doesn't abort it and makes you pay to support it, the most you lose is a chunk of your paycheck. You can more or less go on with life since you're not the one giving birth or raising it. But if men see a pregnancy as the life-altering incident it is they (hopefully) will be more careful.

I don't see this happening anywhere any time soon, but it is an interesting thought.


  1. I'm sorry that all scares me a little. what is the point of getting married if not to stay with that person forever? Also I don't want to marry some man just because he knocked me up!

  2. That's just the point: no one goes into a marriage thinking anything other than "till death do us part." Everyone getting married has the purest of intentions at the time, but many people get married without knowing each other or themselves very well, and after several years are no longer as compatible as they thought.

    Second, if it was law to marry whoever gets you pregnant, would it make you more careful? Would it change who you have sex with? Probably not much (you're already responsible), but some people might think twice. At the very least, if a guy is going home with a girl he just met for a one night stand he might be more willing to wear a condom, and it could eventually just become habit for men, like wearing a seatbelt is habit when you're in the car.

    Third, you can still marry for life, and hopefully many people will. The laws just provide protection for the kids and hopefully make people realize what a commitment it is.

  3. I was going to say: I am wary about being forced to marry due to a pregnancy, but that whole part aside, I think this is actually a great idea. It would take some adjusting to, but I think people could get used to it.

    After taking a few more moments to think: I think there has to be other stipulations to get out of it though (Danger to a spouse, to the kids, etc.). I may not be so for it, because if anything happens there seems to be no out. If we were living in an ideal world with out spousal or child abuse then maybe, but then again, if we were living in an ideal world, would there be a need for divorce? I guess that depends on individual ideals.

  4. Of course no one would be forced to be in or stay in a dangerous relationship. I didn't even think about abuse because it's really a non issue. If mandatory counseling was also a stipulation women wouldn't be afraid to come forward about abuse.

    But even with ideal situations people will still grow apart and want a divorce. Think about it a minute from the guy's perspective: men don't worry about pregnancy as much as women do because it's a bigger deal for women. If you, as a man, knew you'd be daddy and husband for 20 years if you knocked up some girl, wouldn't you think twice about unprotected sex?