Have you been married before? Are you divorced? Over 40% of all marriages in the States currently end in divorce. Marriage is a contract. A contract we unfortunately don’t have the option of negotiating for 5, 10 or 20 years. We are stuck with “’til death do us part.” It’s no wonder prenuptial agreements are on the rise and marriage is unwinding quicker than a ball of twine rollin’ down a mountain ledge.
Pair bonding began in the stone ages. The first recorded evidence of marriage is found in Mesopotamia around 4,000 years ago. Marriage was strictly a social-economic transaction for the purpose binding women to men (as property) to protect bloodlines, produce legitimate heirs and acquire and control property. The times they are a-changin’. Most of us marry for love. But today, the church and state are still poking their sticky little fingers into our marriage cake.
As a species we crave love and connection, we need it to thrive. Our society spends billions of dollars primping, preening, dreaming and scheming on how to land our one true love. But, more often than not, life doesn’t play out with a “happily ever after” fairy tale ending. New research even suggests we are not meant to mate for life. Monogamy is not common among mammals. New York Times bestseller, Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan suggests, with strong scientific data, that sexual monogamy is not our natural inclination.
In Mexico City half of all marriages end in divorce within the first two years. To counter the calamitous impact of divorce, in 2011 D.F. lawmakers proposed a marriage reform that would give couples the option to decide on the length of their marriage. Upon completion, a minimum contract of two years could be renegotiated or end without the vexing hassles of divorce. The reform didn’t pass but, I believe it was a step in the right direction.
My fiancé and I are entering into a commitment for three years. This feels doable for me—a vow I can uphold and honor. I can be faithful and true, solid and committed through whatever life throws at us during this time. I haven’t had a relationship last over five years. When a relationship ended, sad as it was, I never thought of it as a failure. I considered it an end, and therefore, a new beginning.
Personally, I think it’s ludicrous that people even consider mating for life, especially when they are still in their 20’s or 30’s. I don’t know how anyone could intelligently and genuinely ever commit to a relationship until “forever.” It baffles me, yet I know couples who have been together for over 20 years. They are miraculously happy and still fucking regularly… so I know it does happen. Yes, some people couple for life, like swans or wolves or black vultures.
But, I wonder if there are more folks out there who, like me, are more prone to having a series of life-partners. Partners with whom we share deep, committed, powerful unions that contain transformative personal growth, potent soul-shaken awakenings and tremendous life lessons and then, end. I would be bored to tears with the same partner year after year after year. I like knowing I’ll fall in love again, and again.
No bones —endings are tough. Many couples are discussing transitions at the onset of entering a new relationship. It’s not unheard of to now factor “conscious uncoupling” into the whole. There is nothing wrong with having a big picture game plan. And, with all that said, being completely devoted to the vows you have taken with your beloved.
Ask yourself, could you make a ’til-death-do-us-part vow in all sincerity? I don’t know how people do. The statistics, I’m sure, would be much more optimistic if folks decided to vow for three or five or 10 years. Perhaps even 20, if a couple wanted a family. With their pledge fulfilled, the couple reevaluates and decides if they want to re-vow. Together, they could opt to make a longer or shorter commitment or begin the tender process of separation. They could change their vows or shift their relationship paradigm.
There would be a lot less aftermath of broken lives and hefty alimonies. Once the brunt of parental obligation is over and the nest is vacated, a well-earned sabbatical may be desired. Partners may have different needs, one may want to focus on a spiritual practice, while the other may be ready to explore a same-sex relationship. Instead of punishing each other for growing and transforming into new beings we could celebrate each other’s life changes.
Maybe short-term marriage will become a new trend.
Wish me luck,
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