We think that defeats the purpose of marriage.
There is a new book called The New I Do. It is a book that suggests we should not be saying ‘until death do us part’ when we get married. It suggests that we should see marriage as a short term commitment that we stay in until we no longer think it’s right, or working.
The book was written by two American ladies, author, Susan Pease Gadoua and journalist, Vicki Larson. The basis of the book is about major shifts that the two authors believe has happened in the way we love, partner, parent and indulge in sexual fantasies today. Based on trends and research the women have predicted what they think love and marriage will look like in the years ahead.
One of the most controversial ideas to come out of their book is this idea of having a short term marriage option, or ‘marriage contracts’. They believe that instead of assuming monogamy as a default in a romantic relationship, many millenials are looking into ‘ethical non-monogamy’.
Basically the authors' idea is that you should be allowed to sign in to a 'starter marriage' contract. This is a short term contract that you can come back and re-assess after the agreed length of time. You can decide whether that's the end, or if you want to move on to another commitment such as a 'parenting marriage' contract.
But the idea of short-term marriage contracts seems at odds with what the term 'marriage' actually means. Anglican Minister, Reverend Gill Varcoe spoke to iVillage and explained how this idea actually goes against 'marriage'.
"Short-term marriage contracts are at odds with the official definition of marriage (in the Marriage Act). But I’d note that the 1975 Family Law Act laid the groundwork. I’m certainly not an advocate for going back to the bad old days of the Matrimonial Causes Act, which tended to trap people in dangerous relationships, but the assumption of ‘no fault’ in the breakdown of relationships goes too far in the opposite direction."
It's also not an entirely new phenomenon the idea of being able to break a marriage contract.
"Given the Family Law Act, there’s nothing to stop couples already doing what’s proposed. The only difference is what I think is the quite weird proposition that you’d avoid the ‘shame’ of failure by not renewing the contract," Gill says.
"Is it such a bad thing to own up to our faults and failures? (And maybe if we were better at that, and at saying ‘sorry’ and being willing to sort things out, marriages would flourish somewhat better!)"
It seems that the idea behind shot-term marriage contracts is taking away the responsibility to work at a relationship. It seems to provide a platform so people don't have to own up to their faults and hence don't have to say they have failed - because they never said they could do it in the first place.
"I note also, that the way the cultural view of marriage has gone, and this includes the push for same-sex marriage, that the choice to move from cohabiting to marriage is precisely about making and celebrating a public lifelong commitment. Anything else probably isn’t “marriage”," Gill says.
Perhaps there are people who would like a 'short-term' option as opposed to monogamy, but Gill suggests that this is then not marriage, it is a different contract. It needs a different name.
"The Christian view of lifelong committed marriage is predicated on the fact that God cares about us, and especially he cares about those who can’t care for themselves — in marriage that means children and, at least in the past, women. And God helps us with what he calls us to, if we are willing to let him be in control," she says.
Would you enter in to a short term 'marriage contract'?
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