Marriages should add expiration date

Marriage is a nerve-racking idea for both men and women. Men are taught to run screaming from the idea, while women are fed fairy tales of knights on white horses who will scoop them up and make every wish come true. Neither idea leaves people with a very strong idea of what they’re really getting themselves into when they say, “I do.”

Society tells us we should get married at some point in our lives. But uncertainty mixed with a hazy assumption of what marriage will be like leads to one thing: divorce.

According to a CBS Evening News story and countless studies, the United States has one of the highest divorce rates in the world.

The ironic thing is, many people are scared to walk down the aisle because they don’t want to end up in divorce court, and that’s exactly where they end up. So, wouldn’t it be great if we could try married life, but still have a way out if we learn it just isn’t right?

We can taste-test ice cream, tour a house before we buy it and test-drive a car before we sign the papers. Why can’t we “test drive” marriage? The exciting thing is, we could.

A few years ago I heard the most brilliant idea spouted by Jenny McCarthy – yes the crazy blond from MTV’s Singled Out. She said marriage licenses should be like driver’s licenses. After four years they expire.

When I first heard this idea, I laughed. Then I really thought about it and realized the brilliance behind her idea. Follow me on this one.

Joe meets Jane. Joe and Jane get married. Joe and Jane want to kill each other. Joe and Jane are stuck in divorce court, spending oodles of money and slinging mud at each other. Joe and Jane end up angry, alone and bitter about things ending the way they did.

If McCarthy’s idea was a reality, Joe and Jane could have just waited for their marriage license to expire, said “sayonara,” and walked away from each other.
Putting an expiration date on a marriage license could solve one of the biggest marital problems – honesty. If a couple gets married, at the end of four years (or however long the license is good for) the couple would have to sit down and ask each other “is this working for you? Is this working for me?”

If it is, they can renew for another four years. If not, they can let the thing expire and use the money they saved on divorce attorneys to go on singles retreats and try again with someone new.

Think of all the fighting and tears the couple could save each other. Not to mention, kids would no longer be thrown in the middle of an angry custody battle. The licenses would state in the fine print – in the event of an expired marriage license, all assets are split 50/50 and children are subject to joint custody. It really could be that simple.

McCarthy’s idea could also help aid state economies. If a couple wants to renew their marriage license, they have to pay the Secretary of State $50 for another license. There could also be extra fines for couples that forget to renew but want to stay married. Sounds like a win/win to me.

For those critics who think my words are the rant of a cynical chick – you’re partially right. I am a ranting chick, but I do believe in marriage. I just don’t believe in dealing with extra hassles and drama if I can avoid it. Sure, I’ll probably get married some day. But if it doesn’t work out, I’d rather wait for my marriage license to expire and have the chance to walk away from my husband as civil friends than fight him in open court for custody of our dogs.

Maybe some people like the drama of divorce court. Maybe some people think McCarthy is crazy. I happen to think many have underestimated her genius and I would love to start a state petition to put an expiration date on all marriage licenses.


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