On Andrew Sullivan's weblog is a link and partial representation of an 1966 article in The Atlantic titled, "Against Marriage." Here's the link to the complete essay.
"Consecutive polygamy," huh? That's a nice turn of phrase. It refers to the fact that situations where you grow up, find The One, are married, and spend your natural lives together are terrifically rare. Add to that complete and undefiled sexual monogamy and you get into hens-teeth realms. And think of those arrangements in the overall timeline of fifty thousand years of human history. Or even the last two thousand years during which the Judeo-Christian has held sway.
I also appreciate how Cadwallader, who wrote the essay, discusses the pressures all of us feel to buy into the paradigm. At the risk of being decried as a Marxist, I'd point out that there are significant widespread economic interests in seeing the perpetuation of marriage, also.
But when the essay talks about the toll taken by extricating yourself from the encumbrances of a marriage, my wheels started to turn. Cadwallader suggests that a better way to go about things would be for the legals aspects of the relationship to take the form of a one to two year contract rather than in perpetuity. (If I remember contract law, doesn't a contract have to have a term in order to be valid? Is there a term--as in span of time for which the contract holds--for a marriage contract?) That made me recall the advice of Black Rose founder, weapons inspector, and Guy Who Owns Slaves Jack McG. with respect to good Master/slave relationships. Jack commends that a Master and slave start out with an initial contract of three to six months. At the end of that time, they parties sit down and decide whether or not to renew the contract for a period of a year or two. And renew and renew and renew until you don't. Or don't renew.
The genius of this scheme is that if it's not a good relationship, no one loses face. You don't have to give a reason for not renewing, you walk away having fulfilled your obligations.
To be sure, especially for a romantic pig like me, "Will you enter into a one year contract with me?" sure doesn't hit the year like, "Will you marry me?" does.
Or doesn't it?
Mick Jagger famously only asked for one night, and I don't think I know of anyone, male, female, homo, or hetero, who wouldn't say yes to that.
So perhaps the day might come when hearts will sing to hear the request, "Let's spend a year together."
And how cool would that be?
I could plan a great year!
For one year, I'll do the cooking, and I promise you some really great meals. We can have some project that we do together, like renovating a house or putting in a garden, we'll plan a great two week trip together, we'll figure out some long weekend trips, too. From the git-go, we'll do couples therapy once a week. And at the end of the year, we'll sit down and see if we want to go for another year. In lieu of a complete melding of financial resources, each of us can benefit from the pooled financial resources that couples enjoy by keeping separate savings accounts that will provide a cushion in case the contract is not renewed.
I would love that! I would so totally be up for that!
Tragically, this stunning insight puts me decades ahead of the rest of humanity, so finding someone who wouldn't respond with "Say what?" to that proposal isn't likely. But time is on my side.