Marriage Contracts

I was listening to Weekend Edition on NPR the other day, and they were discussing the fact that in Israel, a woman cannot get divorced without her husband’s permission. Even a secular woman in that country is bound by this ancient Jewish practice. So if you have a vindictive husband with nothing to lose (the very type you’d most want to leave), you could very well be stuck with him for life. That means that even if you don’t live together, his debts and problems will forever be yours. What a nightmare. That’s not marriage. That’s slavery.

I love it when people talk about the sanctity of marriage as if it were some sort of never-changing feature in life’s landscape. The fact is that more marriages end in divorce than live happily ever after. That has been the reality for many, many decades, and it obviously isn’t going to change. With that in mind, isn’t it high time we develop our laws to reflect this irrefutable evidence?

Divorce should be a much simpler, cut and dried procedure that doesn’t cost a fortune and doesn’t require lawyers. As a matter of fact, from a sociological standpoint it would make much more sense if the marriage contract were something that people had to renew every, say, five years. If it wasn’t working out, you simply let the contract expire.

“Oh, but then there would be no stability for the poor innocent children!” Gimme a break. There’s no stability for them now. If people don’t want to be together, they’ll find a way not to be together. Making divorce easier isn’t going to impact that. It will just mean the inevitable will come to pass in a more equitable, rapid, inexpensive and less stress-inducing manner.

Marriage was invented at a time when people weren’t expected to make it to age 40. It was a lovely, romantic construct that added to a stable society, and provided support for women at a time when they couldn’t work outside the home. But let’s face it, you can live with the devil himself for that short amount of time but it’s quite different when you tack on an additional 40 years to that proposition, and women these days can take care of themselves. This delightful tradition no longer suits the reality of the situation.

It’s high time we take the religious fantasy out of our legal system and deal with the practicalities at hand.

happily

[Image credit: buquedeideias.tumblr.com]

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