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The Future of Marriage: Roles, Contracts, and Divorce

 

Our belief in marriage and its value stems from, for most of us, a very religious background. The hypocritical nature of all the swirling modern facets of marriage has led some to contemplate other options. The rise of divorce, same-sex marriage, and the redefining of traditional roles in a modern relationship only heightens the contradictory and hypocrisy of still trying to define marriage in traditional archaic terms. Pardon the following pop culture reference but it serves as a jumping off point to a more subtle yet possible ground breaking shift that the future of marriage may one day find itself firmly entrenched in.

Contractual Nuptials

Take Katie Holmes and Tom Cruises whole scenario: Marriage, kids, divorce, rumors, etc. A specific rumor recently popping up when talking about their divorce alludes to the very real possibility that Katie Holmes signed a 5 year marriage contract. Forget for a moment the mysterious black spot that is Scientology and whatever that has to do with could and focus on the marriage contract aspect of it. It’s a fact of life that Hollywood celebrities and the rich in general exist under a different code of rules and boundaries then the average middle class family. But the proposition of marriage contracts is not that far fetched.

Marriage contracts, after all are not something conjured up form pure fantasy, we have shadowy forms of agreements that mostly have to do with someone’s possessions and their ownership when entering into a marriage. But along with pre-nuptial agreements, should we be thinking about a paradigm shift in the way marriage is defined and applied? In a realistic sense the idea of a contractual marriage or any other pre-determined agreement about the possible split of a union is not something that should be scoffed at. In New Mexico just last year considered the idea of implementing 2 year renewable marriage contracts, set with defined provisions about the potential splitting of assets and custody of children if there was a divorce. After 2 years if the couple was happy they could renew their marriage contract, if not the contract would simply end. It breaks all our stained glass romantic thinking that has been embedded into the fabric of what we traditionally expect in a partnership with the opposite sex. (Or same sex depending on your sexual preference)

Climate Change?

Consider for a moment the cliff upon which traditional marriage sits upon in this technology driven society. The very definition of marriage and traditional gender roles has been a hotly contested topic for the last decade; and with the social views of society swaying towards more progressive lines of thinking a prognosticator would not be a fool to project the overall legalization of gay marriage is inevitable.

Economic reasons also have a lot to do with the changing in marriage climate. Couples are waiting longer than ever before getting married as the average age for both men and women has hit all-time highs.  28.7 average age of first marriages for men and 26.5 in women. In the same respect there seems to be a growing gap in marriage that is similar to the economic gap in the United States. The more educated and older you are when you marry the more likely you are to stay together. The less educated and earlier that marry are more likely to eventually file for divorce.

So what will become of marriage? We often overreact as a society, taking the needle of the future to the extreme realm of eventual possibilities. More than likely we will continue stagger through the contradictory nature of using historic rules and ideas to define and continually changing faction. Our human emotions would not become any less responsive just because the judicial and legal definition of marriage and how it is experienced is changed. For those on both sides of the fence when it comes to the debate around marriage the battle will be ongoing. To try and change something that crosses over so many aspects of our nature would be met with only more mutinous and heated debates. What is clear is that half of marriages do not work, what is never clear is why we are so always so vehemently resistant to change where it is clearly needed.

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