We all know that over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the rate for subsequent marriages are even worse. And we all know that the 10 year contract Alex Rodriguez signed after the 2007 season with the New York Yankees for $275 million was horrible. Then LeBron James only signed a 2 year contract with the Cavaliers in 2014 with the option of opting out after one year. So why was LeBron’s contract so much better than Alex’s? The difference is that LeBron’s contract was designed to sustain the relationship between the two, and Alex’s was not. Why? Alex’s contract allowed for complacency, which is something that occurs far too often in our marriages today. Correlation; a shorter contract leads to less complacency and a better chance for a sustainable relationship. Alex had the opportunity to do things that were not in the best interest of the team and become complacent, because he had unequal leverage. In LeBron’s case, the lack of a long contract led to equal leverage and didn’t allow the Cavaliers or LeBron to become complacent. The result is a better relationship because they had to continuously work to keep the other happy. Now think about that in marriage terms, we sign a lifetime contract and immediately forfeit all of our relationship leverage! Is it crazy to think that if we created marriage contracts, it might lead to better relationships?
Let’s think about some immediate advantages to marriage contracts. First, just think about how the mentality of a marriage would change. Right now people get married and it’s almost as if you are handcuffed together for the rest of your lives, obligated for eternity regardless of how your life situations might change. Now, if you knew that you had to periodically revamp your marriage enough to justify a remarriage, complacency would be much less likely to set in. Naturally, you would be more motivated to earn the respect of your spouse, which is the most important factor when determining the outcome of a relationship. So instead of being Alex Rodriguez and becoming complacent in your lifetime marriage, you’re more likely to be like the Cavaliers and LeBron James and work to make the relationship work.
Increased romanticism will naturally occur in contract relationships. You would be less likely to take your spouse for granted because you would realize that you both have an option to part ways at some point, similarly to the relationship between the Cavaliers and LeBron James. If you both decide to discontinue the relationship before the contract expires (divorce) you would then have two options instead of one; divorce and cut all ties immediately, forfeiting to financial and additional obligations, or wait it out until the contract expires and then have no obligation to each other at all! I believe that you are more likely to live in peace and come to a civil agreement because eventually you know that you both have no obligation to each other after the contract expires. Who knows, it might even force you to discuss your relationship more often.
Ok, so you decide not to continue the marriage after the contract expires. The fact that you have no ties to each other would only increase the chance of a having a lasting friendship after the marriage has ended. What about the financial situation for the couples who only have one working partner? Well, a 2014 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 48% of married-couple families had both partners working. This will only continue to increase as our millennial generation continues to take over the working population, which is a good thing! If a non-working married partner knew that their partner could leave at the end of the contract with no financial obligation, they would be much more willing to develop their own abilities and traits. So the non-working married partner would be forced to develop them self as a person to create relationship leverage, which would naturally lead to a better relationship. Why? Because people with more interests and who are less dependent on another person for happiness, are much more likely to be in a healthy relationship. The non-working partner, who could live through their spouse in the past, would be forced to develop them self and fall in love with who they are as a person. And relationships are more likely to last when both partners aren’t so codependent on each other for happiness. It’s easier to find happiness with others when you are happy with yourself.
So now, you are no longer taking your partner for granted when you are together and there’s an increased chance of maintaining a friendship if you decide to discontinue the marriage. You wouldn’t even have to say you are getting divorced, you’re just not continuing the marriage. That even sounds a little better.
Let’s see, what else? Well, sorry baby boomers, but your time in the marriage spotlight is over and the millennials are here. The millennial brain is much faster and adaptive to our world than past generations. Translation; we get bored much faster, and it’s harder to keep relationships interesting. Solution; party time! Say that five years pass and you are more in love than ever! Hooray! Well, let’s go back to our bored millennial brains. Who doesn’t love an excuse for an awesome party with all of your family and friends? Just get married again! You wouldn’t have to have this ceremony every time that you get remarried… but you could! Who wouldn’t enjoy returning periodically to celebrate the love of a couple with a party? It will keep things interesting and give you both something to look forward too. With all of these new marriages and ceremonies, it might even help out some of the local DJ’s!
Alright so what are the drawbacks to marriage contracts? Let’s face it, to traditionalists, this sounds insane. What happened to true love?! It certainly goes against all of the traditional religious beliefs and this would be an issue. Obviously you would still have the option of signing a lifetime contract! (Cringe) But with everything else evolving in our world today, why wouldn’t we at least consider a change in this system? There aren’t many processes or beliefs that haven’t been challenged in our culture today, but this remains one. Until recently, people of the same sex weren’t allowed to get married. Maybe it’s time to expand our minds and consider a change to the process. We challenge everything in the world today, why aren’t we challenging something that doesn’t even work 50% of the time?