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                    MARRIAGE: A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT


          I work with many people who are having marriage problems.  I guess I have worked with every kind of marriage problem that has ever existed and I can see that a simple solution is needed.  I believe there is a simple answer to the “bad-marriage” situation. That answer is to make the marriage a simple two-year legal contract that automatically dissolves at the end of every twenty-four months.  This is much more practical than the open-ended contract that is predominately used today.  If the marriage contract were to end at a prescribed time, many people would simply let the marriage run out and would not re-up their contract.

          The following are my proposals for the two-year contract:

  1. The contract would become null and void at the end of twenty-four months and could only be renewed at the courthouse or other designated place.  The renewal would require the consent and appearance of both partners.  If one or both did not wish to continue the marriage, they could simply not show up for the renewal.
  2. If the two parties did not renew the marriage contract within fifteen days from the end of the twenty-four months, the court would divide any property down the middle; one-half for each party, unless separate property rights had been previously designated.
  3. Any children would become wards of the state until settlement was made regarding custody.

          In the course of my practice, I saw one couple who had been married for 55 years and the wife stated that she had hated every moment of that 55 years. Back in 1935, her boyfriend went to the courthouse and got a marriage license, hoping that his girlfriend would marry him.  She, being very naive, thought to herself, “He has the license. I have to marry him.”  Since she was from the school of thought that marriage is forever, she would not consider divorce.  She believed that divorce was immoral and out of the question.  If divorce were immoral, a lot of us would burn in Hell.  Thank goodness, God forgives.  How different this woman’s life could have been, if she had contracted for a two-year marriage, rather than a lifetime of marriage to a man she didn’t love.

          I see many a young lady who marries in order to get out of a bad situation at home.  If there were a two-year marriage contract, she might think twice about using marriage in this way and possibly being left single again in two years’ time, with no education or means of making a living.

          Jealousy seems to be a big problem that a lot of couples experience.  Under the two-year marriage contract, if a husband is too jealous, the wife could end the marriage simply by not renewing.  Since the jealous husband would be aware of this, he might decide to clean up his act, rather than taking a chance on losing his wife.  I once had a young lady in my office who told me that as she was growing up, she learned that jealousy meant you were showing your spouse that you cared.  The more jealous she was, the more she was showing him that she loved him.  It’s kind of stupid, don’t you think?  People learn some weird ways in this world of ours.

          One of the problems that seems to be very common occurs when a couple is married for about 30 years; the children are grown and out of the house; and the husband becomes a “do-nothing.”  He has his drinking buddies down at the pub.  He has his fishing buddies and his boat.  He has his easy chair that sets directly in front of the TV.  When it comes to being with his wife, talking with his wife, making love to his wife, nothing doing.

          I recently had a client who lived under those conditions.  Her husband had his boat, his motorcycle, his drinking buddies, and his cabin at the lake and he would not purchase his wife her own car, even though he was financially able to do so.  This had been going on for 30 years.  Of course, it is partly her fault for not taking a stand.  I think the two-year contract would get her that car.

 It is easy to understand why a 100,000 or more women each year simply choose to disappear.  They want out of the marriage without going through a hassle.  I am sure many men want the same thing.  Remember, love is a choice, not an obligation.  I do not like the word, “force,” but I think this two-year marriage contract would force a lot of people to get along.

          An elderly man came to my office with a letter from his doctor, stating that he had several strange problems.  The doctor used a lot of those $25.00 medical words in describing his patient’s behavior.  In doing so, the doctor only stated the symptoms, not the problem.  Apparently, the man would not talk to his wife.  He would not work. He slept all the time.  He would not become involved in anything at all and he may as well have been a vegetable.  In our discussions, the problem finally came out.  He could not stand his wife.  She was an overbearing nag and constantly criticized him for his actions.  He determined in his own infinite wisdom, “If I do nothing, I will not be criticized for making mistakes.  If I sleep, I do not have to face her.  I can’t divorce her.  My church would excommunicate me. So, therefore, I will retreat into my shell.”

I think this is one of the beginning causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.  I believe that rather than being a disease, Alzheimer’s Disease is the result of a thought process. Everybody experiences not recalling things at one time or another.  For instance, the other day, I took a plate out of the kitchen cabinet to put a piece of watermelon on.  I cut the melon, put the empty plate into the refrigerator, and was left standing there with the watermelon in my hand.  Do I have Alzheimer’s Disease?  No, I was simply thinking about other things while I was preparing to eat the melon.  But, if my wife were to ask my doctor why I did that, he would probably tell her that I was just getting old and forgetful! And, if I heard often enough that I was getting old, senile, forgetful, etc., and if I didn’t know how to throw that off, I could easily become that way.

          I am sure if you thought about it, you could come up with a thousand good reasons for the two-year marriage.  I believe it would encourage better communication between husband and wife.  The marriage that continued would likely be stronger, as a result of this increased communication.  Maybe we should eliminate the word, “love” and introduce logic and good sense when it comes to marriage.  Marriage should be a fun and compatible partnership. When the fun and compatibility is gone and everything has been attempted, in an effort to bring the marriage back together, with no success, then there should be a quick, easy, logical and economical way out...the two-year marriage contract.


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