I can see it now: a nervous young man drops down on one knee, pulls out a ring-sized box from his pocket and hands it to his intended as he softly says, “Will you marry me?” Then, with tears of joy filling her eyes, the proposed bride to be looks back at him and asks: “Will that be a 2, 5, or 7 year commitment?”
Beta Testing Marriage
The idea of beta testing marriage, i.e. trying the marriage out for a specific period of time before fully committing to it came from an informal survey given to 1,000 Millennial in conjunction with the new television series, Satisfaction. The research results showed that 43% of Millennial supported a marriage model that included a two year trial-run, after which the marriage could either be formalized or dissolved with no paperwork required.
Other than the model that involved beta testing marriage, Millennial also favored various other marriage “models:” 21% liked the “Presidential” model in which your marriage vows last for 4 years, but after 8 years you can choose another partner, while 36% preferred the “Real Estate” model, in which you are married for 5, 7, 10 or 30 year terms.
The idea of changing the structure of marriage isn’t altogether new. Last year a Florida attorney proposed the idea of a “wedlease,” which was essentially the same as the real estate model of marriage proposed by the Satisfaction researchers’ survey. Back in 2011, Mexico City lawmakers proposed legislation that would have allowed couples to enter into a two year marriage contract. When the contract expired, the couple could renew it or just walk away. (The legislation didn’t pass.)
While its interesting that so many Millennial seem to favor beta testing marriages, the bigger, more important, question is, is beta marriage a good idea?
The Pros and Cons of Beta Marriage:
1. If people could dissolve their marriage every two years with no consequence, they would be free to marry again sooner. This would be a tremendous boon for wedding planners, flower shops, photographers and bridal salons. It would also take a lot of pressure off brides and grooms. No longer would they have to stress out about having “the perfect wedding.” Instead, they could try out a destination wedding this year, an intimate sophisticated wedding two years later, an all out party two years after that, etc.
2. It would dramatically reduce the number of people who carried the stigma of being divorced.If your marriage didn’t survive the two year beta testing period, you wouldn’t be divorced, you would just be “non-renewed.”
3. People would save a tremendous amount in income taxes.All you would have to do is get married to someone, anyone, every two years, and you could get all of the benefits of “married filing jointly” without any of the hassle of having a permanent commitment.
4. It would save thousands of dollars in therapy for commitment phobes. Since they would never have to commit to anything longer than two years, they wouldn’t have to spend years in therapy trying to figure out why they had a commitment problem.
5. It would put a lot of divorce lawyers out of work. If people could just walk away from their marriage after two years without having to get divorced, we wouldn’t need nearly as many divorce lawyers as now.
1. It doesn’t really exist. There isn’t a single state in the U.S. (or anywhere else that I know about) that allows two year, trial run, temporary, marriages.
2. In all of this talk of two year marriages, no one seems to have thought about the children. What happens to the children who are unfortunate enough to be born in a non-renewed marriage? Are they legitimate or illegitimate? Who takes care of them when the marriage dissolves? Will there be child support or, visitation?
3. What happens if one spouse cheats after 6 months and the other one wants out of the marriage before the two year beta testing period has expired? Do they get divorced, or do they just wait until their contract expires? And, if they do get divorced, how does that work? Each spouse may not have been entitled to get any of the other’s property if their marriage expired, but should the rule be different if they actually get divorced?
4. Human beings are not software programs. They are much more complicated, and they have feelings. To think that beta testing marriages won’t cause its own share of pain and problems for everyone involved is delusional.
5. Lawyers are a resourceful bunch.Even if there were less divorces, the divorce lawyers would still find something to fight about, some way to become involved and charge money at the end of the test perios.
The Bottom Line:
Call me old-fashioned. Call me a hopeless romantic. Call me whatever you want, but, I believe in marriage, real marriage. The kind where you love someone so deeply, and you want to be with them so much that you promise to stay together until death do you part.
Sure, it doesn’t always work out that way. And, yes, divorce is painful and messy and life-changing. But if you really love someone, and you want to be married to them, then you should be willing to make the kind of commitment that requires the two of you to stay together and work out, and work on, your problems without having the ability to bale out if it turns out there were a few bugs in your program that you didn’t anticipate.