Why Marriage Should Be Renewable

You’ll have a stronger union and it’s actually romantic AF

  • It’s more romantic — Who wouldn’t want to know that his or her spouse is signing up for another go-round instead of staying together because of vows made years ago, with all the hope and often unrealistic expectations of young love; or because of fears of paying alimony and losing half of their retirement plans and access to the kids (reasons many men cite for not wanting to wed); or even just plain inertia? While marriage offers the illusion of everlasting love, commitment and a blissful life together, divorce is always an option and women overwhelmingly initiate it.
  • More transparency and accountability, less complacency — By creating a renewable marital contract based on a mutual needs, goals, expectations and values, couples will have to have open, honest discussions instead of assumptions and unexpressed expectations. You not only hold each other accountable, but you hold yourself accountable for what you agreed upon — and you can’t ignore things for too long because there’s a date that will require action; renew or not. You won’t easily be able to become complacent, the big killer of relationships.
  • You’ll have a stronger union — Some people fear an expiration date will give people an easy out, seemingly forgetting that divorce is always an option and no out is “easy.” There’s a lot of talk about the “work” of marriage. Define that as you may, all relationships, romantic or not, need attention. A renewable marital contract defines exactly what that attention is. As research indicates, matched expectations = happier partnerships.
  • Conscious uncoupling vs. contentious divorce — Even with renewable contracts, divorce may happen. One person may want out at the end of the contract or both. While no relationship breakup is painless, having a renewable contract may be less painful because the contract lays out the actions you will take (such as counseling), and by when, if there are problems the two of you can’t solve on your own. It also lays out what will happen in the event of a non-renewal (how you’d split property, savings, etc.), in a way that feels loving and fair — a very different reality when you’re in the typical crisis mode of divorce.

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store