Monday, November 18, 2013

Short-Term Marriage

Photo credit: pholl000
His Awesomeness and I celebrated out ten-year anniversary as a couple by checking out the Magritte exhibit at MoMA and going out to dinner. I love surrealism, but I do reach a point when I'm all, "Come on, René. Now you're just being weird for the sake of being weird." Especially when the painter known for a painting a pipe labelled, "This is not a pipe" also has a painting of a pipe labelled "pipe." This is really unfair to one of the pipes (one of them gets to be pipe, and the other gets to be famous), and also unfair to everyone on the planet because clearly, Magritte is just messing with us.

HA can take all the surrealism you can dish out, because he's a surrealist at heart. The marmoset story was just the tip of a very strange iceberg. 

At dinner (French restaurant because we honeymooned in Paris - they brought me an entire jug of cornichons to go with my pâté, which is the most civilized thing EVER), we started talking about those short-term marriage contracts that you sometimes read about in science fiction, and that Mexico City actually talked about trying a couple of years ago.

The idea is that if you only get married for two years at a time, you won't take your spouse for granted. You'll stay on your best behavior, won't let yourself go, all the hopes of renewing the contract. And if you do split up, it'll be easier legally than a divorce. 

When I first read about this in some science fiction book in my twenties, I thought it was quite practical. Now, I see it as ridiculously impractical. For starters, it's just one more thing for couples to argue about. "What do you mean you only want the five year marriage? Why not the ten year?" and so on.

Then, how are you supposed to get a fifteen or thirty mortgage together if your marriage contract isn't for that long? Are banks going to get on board with that?

What about adoption? No one's giving a child to a couple who isn't sure they'll be together in five years - not when there are still theoretically permanent marriages around.

Marriage requires a great deal of optimism. Screw that self-sacrificing "marriage is not for you" crap. Marriage is an agreement to put up with someone else because you get something out of the relationship. I requires a leap of faith that they won't suck the life out of you, and that they'll make you happy more than they'll annoy the Hell out of you.

Marriages end for loads of reasons, but I'm not sure that they can ever start with the feeling that you'll only be able to put up with each other for five years.

A quick note: I've started a food writing blog - The Famished Freelancer. I'm planning to keep posting here Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while posting there Tuesday and Thursday.


  1. Laughed at loud re the discriminated against pipe (though I loved the exhibit). I think I saw the 5-year contract thingy in Arthur C Clarke.

  2. Ah - I love what you said about marriage being an agreement to put up with someone else because you both get something out of it. That's the most realistic description I've ever heard, and it's one I wholeheartedly agree with.


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