Brad Brown suffered through an all too common occurrence in today’s America: his marriage collapsed, his children felt he’d let them down, depression set in and he didn’t know where to turn. Meeting up with an old friend who’d also been divorced helped him discover what he believes to be a modern answer to a very modern problem.
Marriage is an institution, as the saying goes. An institution that helps to sustain the structure of any society. As times changes, structures must be reinforced, upgraded and shored up or else crumble under the weight of what they’re supporting- which also means the structure will begin to collapse as well.
Some will still argue that marriage is an overrated, outdated concept. Not so. Marriage is more than just a piece of paper, a symbol of social status or the government poking its nose in your business. It’s also about the rights and privileges of those involved; just ask any gay couple who’s been denied the opportunity. A spouse has the right to make certain decisions, the authority to back them up and is afforded courtesies that a domestic partner will never have. In the society you live in, marriage is the official acknowledgment of your relationship.
The basic premise of the book is that marriage has failed to keep up with societal changes. The traditional definitions which marriage was based upon don’t apply so much anymore yet couples continue to be expected to be as square pegs in round holes. The concept of the no-fault divorce was seen to be an answer, but as the book argues, is more about sanctifying divorce (and creating a new billion-dollar industry) than strengthening marriage. It was reduced to a meaningless, empty agreement with no consequences or responsibilities attached to it. Would you sign an employment agreement where the company had NO responsibility towards you the moment there was a dispute? Doubtful. This led to the rise of the Pre-Nuptial Agreement, which the book argues as merely laying the groundwork for a divorce. So what’s a possible solution? Let’s find out.
Not surprisingly, the book’s layout is like an ad campaign- relevant cartoon panels, colorful and different sized fonts, graphs, vivid photos, etc. First it delivers a discourse on getting to know your prospective mate better- what their future plans are, their financial goals, expectations, etc. It also asks the reader to do likewise and examine their own reasons for wanting to get married, taking compatibility tests, emphasis on open communication, a clearly defined plan for the future… nothing really new there. But the book then takes all these reasons and rationales and applies them to the concept of Term Limits.
Term Limits. On a marriage.
And we’re not just talking about a set number of years. There’s also tax incentives, performance bonuses (yeah, I’d love to see that review), early termination and breach of contract penalties- you name it! Maybe even add an Acceleration clause (terms becoming fully mature due to breach of contract), say in case of an unexpected pregnancy. Marriage would be a contract as binding and immutable as any EULA from Apple. And let’s not forget the ultimate objective- contract renewal. For you sports fans think of it as having your option picked up.
Kind of takes all the romance out of it, huh? But at least you’d get an extra honeymoon with every renewal.
Some of it I find a bit naïve- such as turning over your internet passwords to your mate. Even though I understand the idea- and I have a friend who found out her husband was cheating on her just that way- there’s some things that simply need to stay private in relationships. If there are no boundaries and no respect for them, doesn’t that undermine the whole thing? You can’t build a relationship on a lie, but you also can’t build it on a lack of trust.
Though the book is clearly geared towards straight couples, there’s no reason it shouldn’t apply or appeal to gay couples as well. It’s not based on anything really new, but the direction is an intriguing concept, and definitely has some legs to it. Now we just need some newlyweds to test it out on.
Street date: Aug 1, 2013.