David Bouchier: A Thoroughly Modern Marriage

Apr 17, 2017

Easter is the season of bunnies, and chocolate eggs, and weddings. Like the opening day of baseball it signals that the wedding season has started and play can begin. Marriage is still quite popular, and will never die out I’m sure as long as there are weddings, although I suspect that the desire to have a wedding is sometimes much stronger than the desire to have a marriage. So the traditional family is safe as long as the fifty billion dollar a year wedding industry continues to flourish.

Marriage is not an easy choice. It seems to go against human nature. “Till death us do part” is a big commitment, especially now that we are all determined to live so long. Young men in particular are accused of being commitment-phobic. Yet they readily make lifetime commitments to things like tattoos, body piercing, football teams and Harley Davidsons. What’s so special about marriage?

It may be the idea of a thirty-year mortgage that gives them pause, or the trauma of wedding itself, or the fear that marriage and adulthood will be the equivalent of a police raid that closes down a long and enjoyable party. Those carefree teenage years can be stretched into decades, and it must be hard to give them up.

Young women too are becoming more attached to their freedom, and marrying later or not at all. Given that the average wedding costs $25,000 an increasing number of couples choose to bypass the whole white limousine and catering hall extravaganza and just live together no matter what their mothers say.

A wedding used to be a rendezvous with destiny. Now it’s more like a throw of the dice. Many people have to march down the aisle twice, or maybe three or more times before they pick a winner. There’s no three strikes rule, which is good news for Mr. Trump, now on number three, and some people have a really hard time making the right choice. Liz Taylor for example, had eight husbands.

This practical, unromantic trend in matrimony has revived the old idea that marriage should have built-in time limits, rather like a car lease. You could turn in your partner in good condition with a limited mileage after three years, or take the option to make the contract permanent. Another suggestion is the time-limited marriage license, renewable after a certain time, say every ten years, like a driver’s license or passport. The Marriage Licensing Authority could refuse to renew a license in cases of obvious marital incompetence, and either partner could let the license lapse at the end of its term, and take off for Hawaii with a clear conscience.

Romantics naturally hate this notion of conditional marriage, but consider that the result would be even more weddings, but without the intervening traumas of divorce. More weddings would mean more hearts and flowers, more tears, more bad poetry, more family drama, and many more shopping opportunities. Children could look forward to a regularly scheduled supply of new and indulgent parents, and nobody need ever feel trapped in a relationship again.

This is a perfectly rational, workable and sensible proposal, like having term limits on Congress. And like all rational, workable and sensible proposals, it stands absolutely no chance.

Copyright: David Bouchier