Love is Abstract, So, Should We Treat Marriage Like the Contract It Is?


Article by: Mourine Achieng'

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It bothers me that there are people out there who get into marriage with flimsy statements, like "love conquers all." "Because we love each other, we will make it work."

Don't get me wrong. Love is an honourable thing. In fact, I've heard it said that it's one of the most powerful forces in the universe. And I'm not in any way refuting that statement. My only concern is that love is abstract. If you throw in "to honour and to cherish," it becomes even more difficult to explicitly describe what one is talking about. These terms are vague.

Given that people have different upbringings, what love, honour, and cherish mean to one person may wildly differ from their partner's definition. And so, instead of banking on assumptions, how about putting it on paper, a marriage contract to be precise, and writing a detailed description of what one wants from their partners and their expectations?

Why is this important? Marriage is a legal contract. Hence, it's only right to treat it as such. If business and employment, which also involve legal contracts, are held with such seriousness that business partners and employees must sign pages of binding agreements, how about marriage? These two endeavours don't even come close to what the marriage institution is about. Don't you think then that the marriage contract should be more detailed, more solid even?

The logic of marriage contract

Just like a business, marriage should have a contract that irons out all the differences and expectations of both parties. A marriage contract allows partners to talk about sensitive issues that would otherwise not be addressed. Important things like finances, children, chores, family and friends, communication, boundaries, value differences, fidelity, and sex are part of what couples should seek to address before signing up for a lifetime together. How one wants to be treated on a daily basis is better written down than left for their spouse to figure out how they'll treat them.

When it comes to finances, many people get married when they have a job. Others have business empires, real estates, and many other investments. Some have huge debts. Therefore, it's only right that couples decide beforehand how they'll handle their finances and prior financial obligations.

In many practices, marriage requires partners to commit to their spouses. In such instances, what constitutes infidelity? Is it only having sex outside of marriage? Or does watching pornography, flirting online with the opposite sex, having fans only page, going on a date with the opposite sex compound cheating? How about getting intimate with the same sex? While many may assume that these things will simply require common sense, common sense is not always common to everybody.

What will make the marriage intolerable? Is it drug addiction, violence, mental health, infertility, or infidelity? Instead of only discussing the nuances, having a thorough discussion and addressing all these issues in a marriage agreement helps everyone to be on the same page.

It might be unromantic, but it sure is reasonable

And yes, having a marriage contract may sound extremely unromantic. But it's better to be deliberate about what one wants than simply leaving it to tradition or rather what is expected. Again, what one expects from a wife or a husband is not the standard. It's simply their expectation. So, one can save themselves the agony of being misunderstood and have a session on what exactly they want and the accompanying penalty for what happens when those written expectations are not met.

Important to note is that a marriage contract is not cast in stone. People change. A couple's priorities will have changed a dozen times in the next ten, thirty, or fifty years. The person one falls in love with today will change as time goes by. And so, as couples grow, so should the contract.

I believe if one knew they'd have to re-sign their marriage contract every five years, perhaps the marriage institution would be treated with more respect. Instead of taking their spouse for granted, they'll put in more effort, work a little harder, just like they did during the courtship stage.

In my opinion, giving one's spouse a free pass to treat them however they feel like since they've signed up for a "till death do us part" is neither healthy nor right. Resolving the potential issues that may trigger fights and divorce early before spending a dime on a wedding seems like a better solution.

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