Question 6
How long will our relationship last?

Default answer:  Until death do us part—a life-long partnership.
Marriage is supposed to last until one spouse dies.
When life expectancy was less than 50 years,
promising to stay together until death was not difficult.
But now that we typically live much longer and go thru many changes as adults,
it is less likely for our personal relationships to last until death.

     But so far, no official marriage vows have been changed
to allow for a termination before death.
And marriage contracts that included any provisions for divorce
were long held to be invalid by the courts.
If you included any provisions for ending your marriage,
you were committing some kind of fraud under most marriage laws.

     But what does frequent divorce say about the vow of permanence?
Now about half of marriages in the Western world end before death.
And many people enter marriage with a mental reservation
that they will divorce if their marriage becomes unhappy.
Also, the social stigma that used to surround divorce has mostly disappeared.

     We know that there are millions of men and women
who have left their first marriages.
Many have married again without being called adulterers.
And eventually those churches that condemn divorce-and-remarriage
will have to adjust their rules to this new social reality.

     In the 1800s, women had few other economic options
besides getting married and being supported by their husbands.
But now they can hold almost any job that a man can hold.
So, from the economic point of view,
it is no longer as necessary for women to have husbands to support them.

     Divorce laws used to be punitive,
making it very difficult and painful to dissolve a marriage.
But slowly these laws have been revised.
For example, it is no longer necessary to prove that one spouse
was at fault in the divorce suit.
And provisions for financial support for a dependent spouse
and any young children are becoming more reasonable.
When more than half of marriages are not permanent,
the laws need to take this social reality into account.

Question 6:        HOW LONG WILL OUR RELATIONSHIP LAST?        by James Park         39

Above you have the first page of Question 6 from Designer Marriage.
The next 16 pages of the book discuss possible term and renewable relationships.
See the following table of contents for the subordinate Questions discussed.

Return to the table of contents for

Designer Marriage: Write Your Own Relationship Contract

Created April 4, 2009; Revised

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