I have been subscribed to the daily Scream-Free Parenting e-newsletter, The Daily Pause, for several years now. Today’s message was interesting. Below is a partial clip of the entire message.
Monogamy has its detractors.
Some anthropologists claim it is a relatively new phenomenon and, given how many affairs and divorces there are in the world, believe it’s not going to last much longer. Some psychologists claim it simply isn’t realistic, with our longer life expectancies and higher happiness demands, to expect people to settle for “death do us part.”
There are even some modern marriage experts who propose a “beta” marriage, whereby couples’ commitments are only allowed four-year terms, and the spouses must choose to either allow its end or re-up for four more years. (I’m actually fascinated by this one–imagine the campaigning season during year four!)
Mandatory monogamy, from arranged marriages to fault-finding divorce prohibitions, is no longer in play. What, then, keeps drawing us back to the ol’ one-on-one? Why do all our love stories and romantic comedies always end up with a pair-bonded monogamous couple at the end?
In a word, choice. We each crave to be exclusively chosen by the one we exclusively choose. And because this feels so improbable when you’re single, we want it to last whenever we find it.
This perfectly sums up for me why I am a serial monogamist: I crave being exclusively chosen by the one I exclusively choose. It’s also no surprise that I am also a hopeless romantic.
Beta marriages are a brilliant idea. It reinforces my new belief that marriage should not be intended to last forever. Joaquin and I have talked extensively about this.
Shockingly, marriage is a legal contract that doesn’t require two parties agreeing to the terms before entering into it. Would you sign a marriage contract if you saw the fine-print of the law right there in front of you? I think I would have. Mars has told me he probably wouldn’t have.
I thought this New York Times article, ‘Til Death, Or 20 Years, Do Us Part, was excellent. There are some good ideas on alternative contracts here.
It’s clear we need marriage reform and innovation.
Would you enter into a 20 year marriage contract? Or a 5 year renewable contract? Or would you base your contract on life events, such as career pathways or your children turning 18?
Or do you prefer the current traditional marriage contract where marriage is dissolved only once one of you dies?