Problems with the Institution of Marriage
Humanity seems to operate on a very short-lived spectrum of satisfaction. In today’s advancing era, we demand the latest and greatest, the newest and most advanced, the extra features and added bonuses. Technology and consumer products seem to be updated, redesigned, and “improved” constantly just to keep the average customer contented. Yet in this culture of progression, it’s shocking that most people still insist upon signing a life-altering, eternal, contractual agreement that has remained relatively standard for centuries.
That’s right. The marriage license that approximately 2,077,000 Americans sign every year is outdated and in drastic need of a revamp.
With 50% of modern marriages ending in divorce, it’s surprising that an updated, redesigned, and “improved” version of matrimony is not more widely embraced. Infinite amounts of time, energy, and money are dedicated to an institution that supposedly has a life-time guarantee. Yet time and time again, this flawless establishment fails dramatically.
I’m not enthusiastic about the idea of devoting years of my life, wealth, and emotions to an institution with a 50% chance of failing.
However, this article isn’t about becoming a good spouse. It’s not even about overcoming common marital pitfalls. But since I’m sure you are all wondering, I’ve included a list of common hitches experienced after getting hitched. Why do marriages fail?
- Financial Problems
- Lack of communication
- Differing life-goals
- Unwillingness to problem-solve
- Lack of intimacy
- Low compatibility
- Family problems
- Poor conflict resolution
And the list goes on and on. Perhaps one day when I’m old and wise, I’ll write an article about becoming the type of person who is primed for marital success. But for now, my quandary happens to be with the actual contractual aspect of marriage.
Marriage licenses have been around for centuries. But why? They’re really only an archaic tradition. What if couples decided to write their own marriage contract? Perhaps “till death do us part” could be replaced with a binding contract that lasts a set amount of time—say, 5 or 10 years. Following the allotted time, the contract may either be renewed or dissolved.
A personalized marriage contract with a defined expiration date actually makes a surprising amount of sense. There are personality placement tests and internships to aid in choosing a career. A driver’s permit and a driving safety course are often required before obtaining a driver’s license. Standardized tests and summer programs ease the adjustment to university. Yet the (arguably) #1 greatest life-altering institution of marriage may be entered on a whim. There are embarrassingly few prerequisites, preparations, stipulations, or specifications required before the exchanging of vows.
Additionally, humans are in a perpetual state of change. As we progress through life our ambitions, motives, ideologies, and personalities are redefined. This is not a bad thing—adaptation, growth, and evolution are all beautiful aspects of nature. Yet it may be unreasonable and thoughtless to enter into an arrangement with a partner who will likely metamorphose into a dramatically different individual within 1, 5, 10, or 20 years.
Many argue that a marriage contract with an expiration date will take the love and commitment out of matrimony. I’d argue that love and commitment are already gone—at least in 50% of the cases. It’s hard to judge the remaining 50% of couples of who are “un-divorced.” Often times couples stay married for reasons other than love (financial stability, children, religious obligations, or just to avoid the taboo of divorce). So no one really knows what percentage of marriages experience true love on a regular basis.
But maybe, just maybe, marriage isn’t a one-time commitment and love isn’t a single manifestation. Perhaps love and commitment are choices that need to be made every day. Perhaps successful and lasting relationships involve the constant reaffirmations to love, cherish, and protect until death. If marriage is more than a mere license and love is avowed and renewed, then maybe it’s an undying and lasting institution after all. Just maybe.
I don’t pretend to fully understand what does and doesn’t work in marriage. I’m still a teenager. There’s only so much life wisdom to be had at 19. I can’t even argue that a 5-year or 10-year marriage contract will solve all matrimonial issues. However I can argue that there is a problem with current marital trends.
However you choose to combat the sad statistics of wedlock, at least be sure you enter this binding institution with open eyes. Don’t be naïve. No one gets married expecting to get divorced. But it happens. Way too often.
On a more encouraging note, it’s important to point out that as humans we have the ability to incite change. Maybe the system is broken; maybe the people entering the system are broken. Either way, we have the responsibility to make the most of life and improve every situation we encounter.
Have hope and remember: today will be amazing!
Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!