Yesterday while I was browsing Twitter, I stumbled across something that made my stomach churn. It was an article about "beta marriages", something that researchers are calling the "real estate" approach to marriage. A marriage license would be issued for five, seven, 10 or 30 years and when that time frame was over the terms of the marriage would have to be renegotiated. The thing that disturbs me the most is the number of people, particularly millenials, who support this idea! According to this article from Family Studies, 33% of those surveyed (ages 18 to 49) said that they'd be open to trying the "real estate" approach to marriage, almost half are in favor of a two-year trial marriage that at that point can either be formalized or dissolved without the hassle of going through a divorce, and 21% support a "presidential" method which involves marriage vows that last for four years and then after eight, you can decide to get a new spouse. These hypothetical arrangements have been termed "beta marriages"--"unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence". (Because our choices don't have to have any consequences anymore apparently...)
To be honest, the whole idea has me fuming!!! I've always had very strong opinions about cohabitation and the lack of true, unwavering commitment that I feel it portrays, but these "beta marriages" are a million times worse. I couldn't agree more with every point made on family-studies.org stating that these temporary marriages aren't marriages at all. And while there maybe no legal consequences to this type of arrangement, as much as I'm sure people would argue against it, the emotional and mental consequences would be huge!
If you have decided to get married, you should be past the point of questioning if that person is the person that you want to be with forever. You should be fully committed to each other and if you can't go into marriage completely devoted to making your relationship work no matter what comes your way, you shouldn't bother getting married at all.
Marriage is not playing house, it's not something to be taken lightly and it's not something to go into with a nonchalant attitude. Marriage is vulnerable, it's intimate, it's a serious commitment and it's rewarding.
I realize that sometimes divorces happen, but I doubt that any of those people went into their marriages with the purpose of ending them later on down the road. And I can guarantee that one or both parties did everything they possibly could to make their relationship work before deciding that ending it would be the best option.
"The time for questioning, putting one another on trial, holding back one's full commitment, is called dating. Marriage marks a new stage: because they have taken a binding and permanent vow, both spouses feel secure in the relationship and paradoxically more free to grow together and adjust to one another as their love will demand. ..... Long-term nonmarital relationships and the spread of divorce have blurred the lines between dating and marriage. But a beta marriage would offer only a poor combination of the two: marriage's aspiration and permanence and dating's distrust and insecurity." (Source)
Last week I shared a video that I feel illustrates a marriage relationship perfectly. It shows perfect selflessness, love, intimacy, commitment and vulnerability. To me, beta marriage's portray an unwilling attitude of laziness and selfishness. How can you feel any sense of comfort, vulnerability or intimacy in a relationship like that? This type of agreement makes a mockery of marriage and it makes me sad that so many people would even think about or consider giving it a try. Marriage is going to be hard word, but that's true about a lot of different things people decide that they want to achieve in life. You may choose to run a marathon, pursue a degree in school, start a business, or a multitude of other things. Each of them is going to take effort, it's going to be painful and it might not always seem like fun. But in the end, every single one of them will be worth it and the pros will heavily outweigh the cons.
So if you want to be married, go for it, but approach it as the serious commitment that it is and don't ever go into it thinking that in the future, it might be nice to try it out with someone else. Those types of relationships are for kindergarten, where you can play house every single day and never be "married" to the same person twice. Kindergarten weddings are cute, but we're not five anymore, we're adults. You have a grown up job and grown up responsibilities, don't you think it's time to have grown up relationships too?