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An Expiration Date for Your Marriage?

One guy proposes a time limit for marriage as the cure for divorce. Yeah, good luck with that one.

By Kristin Wong Mar 29, 2012 3:42PM

Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
If you're married and under the age of 45, there's a 50 percent chance your union won't last. But despite that fact, most people tie the knot with 'forever' in mind. Sure, they might not realize the heft of 'forever', but usually, the intention is: till death do us part.

But Tad Low, a writer for Men's Health, says therein lies the problem. He argues that, because most couples know they've got each other locked down, they stop trying. We know where he's coming from, right? We've all seen the slew of sitcoms featuring a half-assed husband and his hot wife.

But here's where Tad gets controversial. He proposes the concept of "time-limited marriage." Instead of committing for life, each partner has the opportunity to end their 'contract' at predetermined intervals: every three years, five years, seven years, etc. Think of it as a maintenance schedule for your marriage.

Generally, the reaction is…well, here. I'll let this commenter explain:

"Hell no."

But come on; let's hear Tad out. His theory is that a marriage contract would force each partner to try. It would keep them on their toes, making them work for their marriage. Theoretically, it would keep the fire going, and ultimately—prevent divorce.

And if you're really committed to each other, and confident about it, you shouldn't have to worry whether or not you or your other half would want to renew the contract. If there's doubt, marriage might not be the best idea in the first place.

Then again, marriage is work. And where there's work, there are people who want to quit. Perhaps an expiration date on your 'contract' would encourage that. Saying 'I do' means a commitment forever, for all time, for better or—and here's where the work part comes in—for worse. It's kind of a big deal.

Also, the concept sort of begs the question, what's the point? There's always the possibility of being together forever and not getting married. Or am I just crazy talking now?

328Comments
Mar 29, 2012 5:10PM
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Sounds good to me.  I am happily married but I sure respect the rights of others to want to get away from their b-tch wife.  A guy I work with really needs to divorce his wife.  He says, "Catholics don't divorce".  To h-ll with that.  Divorce her and find a different church to go to.  No church is going to stop me from doing what needs to be done.
Mar 29, 2012 5:08PM
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Marriage is a trap if you happen to choose wrong person. Perhaps that may be a good thing if you don't renew you don't have to go through messy divorce
Mar 29, 2012 5:06PM
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Unexamined assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Identify what these are in your relationship (with your spouse, and with yourself)--and the marriage will work.

So many people look to a relationship to "fix" them or make them feel good. In an intimate marriage that WORKS, you get a mirror held up to your face every day. The question is whether you want to face your weaknesses and work through them, if you're willing to be vulnerable, if you're excited about loving unconditionally (and receiving it in return)---if you are then marriage is a phenomenal union.

When you work your marriage, you are accepting the challenge and joy that comes with witnessing every aspect of another person's life, and they yours. How pop culture conveys "marriages," is misleading at best, and unfortunately, this is where many people turn to get advice. No one comes from a perfectly functioning family. We are all learning and growing. When you commit to someone, and they love you warts and all, that's quite a testament to the staying power of committed love and to growing into a humble, compassionate, giving adult.
Mar 29, 2012 5:05PM
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Never married.  But I do have one year contracts with my girl friends.
Mar 29, 2012 5:05PM
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The last sentence of the next to last paragraph illustrates the problem: Marriage "is kind of a big deal."  Marriage used to mean a serious life-long commitment with someone you truly love and with whom you desire to spend the rest of your life.  Now, it's "kind of a big deal" and "work."  This lazy, instant gratification-seeking, self-absorbed and comfort-obsessed society no longer has the emotional maturity or the intellectual capacity to even attempt to honor a serious promise of fidelity.  I would say this is the stupidest thing i have ever read, but this is MSN, I'll be wrong tomorrow, or in 15 minutes.
Mar 29, 2012 5:04PM
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I think the main problem here is that Tad is thinking of marriage as a simple contract.  That may be the case with civil unions, but "marriage" is a religious contract.  Not just with one another, but with God.  I have the feeling that God isn't really down with "opting out" at any interval.
Mar 29, 2012 5:04PM
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Great Idea!  Would probably work better than what we have now.
Mar 29, 2012 5:03PM
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I have been married for 30 year to the same man.  If I had believed every "so called" reason for why my marriage would fail it would have been over long ago.  Marriage is work and it requires a lifetime of sacrifice and commitment.  When we as a society decide to stop "playing house" and get serious about what being married means then we won't need to create timelines for marriage. 
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