The Marriage Contract

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Matt Richtel, New York Times reporter, discusses new ways to think about marriage--as time-limited contracts.


Matt Richtel

Comments [19]

jgarbuz from Queens

To Sheldon

There was no "property" in the hunter-gatherer days. Nobody "owned" land. There was little trading, no farming, and hence no wealth creation. Farming was invented by females in their spare time. At first females had the upper hand, with their little fat female goddesses and fertility rituals. Then came war as more people became land bound, and it was roped off for food production and protection. Men had to become warriors to defend those farmlands from neighbors and attacking nomads. The family system came into existence so that men could be sure that the children were really their own (not raising someone else's) and women became more restricted to the home.

Oct. 03 2012 01:53 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Jg - Marriage was usurped by Religion with it's "pagan" rituals - it was always about the division of property (the only part the state should be interested in), and BTW - blood lines used to be traced via female "gens" before it was switched to male "gens"

I agree with you that the State should get out of the "marriage" business altogether.

Oct. 03 2012 01:23 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

to Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Far Left Lesbian? Ha! I wish! That's the top of the food chain! It doesn't get better than that. Ask Helen Degeneres.

Nope, no such luck.

Oct. 03 2012 01:10 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

jgarbuz, I am beginning to suspect you are actually a far-left lesbian actually celebrating the demise of the patriarchy!

The "throne" stuff is just so ludicrous as an argument in 2012....perhaps you can revel in that period of history by visiting your local "Medieval Times" restaurant and getting a "wench" to wait on you.

Oct. 03 2012 12:55 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Marriage" was created by MEN, not by women. Women only acceded to it because they needed the protection and help of a man. The "family" is inherently a MAN-made concept. In this contruct called "family," the father is the TITULAR head of this "family." Like the king of a little country. He is the chief. The female may well be the real power behind the throne, but throne itself is respected. The coming of democracy and the end of monarch, for all practical purposes, foreshadowed the end of the patriarchal family system originally created by men. Economically and every other way, men are mostly superfluous to modern life. The family concept is dead. Marriage is dead. Long live BRAVE NEW WORLD and thank you Aldous Huxley!

Oct. 03 2012 12:14 PM
CK from Westchester

Actually, marriage has historically been about property and finance. Children included in that idea of "property." Love has historically, had little to do with it. More stability, finances and creating children to do work, carry on the family name, inherit any wealth. So some of the points that it's outmoded are probably correct.

Oct. 03 2012 12:03 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I read Matt's article this past weekend; I totally agree with his feelings about why marriage is challenging and often fails, but I do think the contract is a silly idea.

However, I do think more steps need to be taken to legally shore up the institution (as to jgarbuz's points about unequal custody laws), but also to re-jigger society's expectations for marriage, and what it really, really takes in order to make it work.

Marriage - at its best - makes one rise to the occasion in terms of learning how to negotiate, compromise, consider someone else's needs against your own, and it also makes it possible to have a more solid financial foundation. The added perks are of course having a "best friend" whom you want to share your life with, and to lean on in times of stress, and if you're inclined to do so - to raise a family with.

Most people - it seems - are so wrapped up in the romantic, sexual, and selfish gains they expect to receive from "love" that they are completely incapable of approaching marriage like a real "partnership." I'm not sure if a set contract can really do anything to make people smarter and more kind about their relationships.

Oct. 03 2012 12:01 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Another silly pseudo-intellectual liberal idea. The problems began when government got itself involved in marriage in the first place. Then when women got the vote a century ago, the beginning of the devolution of the traditional, patriarchal family system began. "Marriage" and "family" were literally a MAN-made institutions to protect his rights to his children and property, and make sure they would not be transferred to some third party, such as another man waiting in the wings of his adulterous wife. Women could not own property it was all to protect men. That was turned on its head in the 20th century, and now its all about protecting women.

Oct. 03 2012 11:59 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

jg - you are showing your age? Will you propose honor killings next?

Marriage was always about dividing private property, NOT God or religion, which is a relatively new phenomenon.

Oct. 03 2012 11:59 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

What I don't understand is why penguins and geese and so many other "animals" on this planet can have monongamous relationships "'til death do they part," but we human beings, who consider ourselves so much more rational than our furred and feathered friends, can't seem to handle this concept.

We marry to have families and to advance ourselves as people and to have companionship and friendship and love. Why would we walk into such a relationship with the expectation that it would have a pre-determined end? Why our how would we want to develop that degree of intimacy with someone on a short-term basis?

Oct. 03 2012 11:58 AM
jonn knoxx

There is ZERO reason for marriage unless you are having kids.

Oct. 03 2012 11:58 AM
John S from Brooklyn from Ditmas Park

My wife and I have decided (jokingly) to only marry for 10 years and consider our state at this point. I put jokingly in parentheses as we knew full well we'd come out the other end okay. The point is, we knew we should not take it being together for so long for granted. We celebrate 10 years this month and have decided to renew for another 10 years!

Oct. 03 2012 11:58 AM

The main unconventional thing about my marriage is that our finances remain separate. We both work, use our individual bank accounts, and split most bills. I know it seems weird or silly or maybe even sad to some, but it totally works---we rarely fight about money.
For those who might think it represents non-unity, we also both work in home offices at our individual careers, and so are essentially together all day every day, and enjoy it a lot.

Oct. 03 2012 11:57 AM
Christine from Yorktown

Jgarbuz: EXACTLY! Thanks for a realistic comment. Marriage is a religious ceremony. The state should simply register domestic partners and "divorces" or simply dissolving said unions. Separate church and state.

As for making the unions last longer: aint gonna happen. People no longer need to stay in marriages (or unions) that just aren't working. Married or united or just living together: there's nothing to keep non-working relationships together.

Oct. 03 2012 11:56 AM

Marriage is a contract between two individuals,that's it. Not a religious ritual but a business contract. Let those who can legally and of their own free will decide.

Oct. 03 2012 11:55 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The ENTIRE point of marriage in ANY society -- whatever we call it -- is for children. To create a social nest to raise and socialize them into the larger community and society.

Period, end of story.

Oct. 03 2012 11:55 AM
Jeb from Williamsburg

Aside from the moral/religious implications, wouldn't temporary marriages cause havoc for taxation and other benefit systems? What would that do?

Oct. 03 2012 11:52 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

jgarbuz, I too was a victim of the Kafkaesque divorce-industrial complex, and indirectly, my children even more so (although as victims of so-called "parental alienation syndrome", they don't realize it yet.)

But I don't understand how anything would change if society did what you suggest. It would just be the same unequal and unjust custody/divorce rules by another name -- civil unions. I don't see how that fixes the abuses.

Oct. 03 2012 11:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Marriage is DEAD. Stop beating a dead horse! Men have NO RIGHTS under "marriage" today by the many way the feminist-controlled courts have essentially disembowelled it, by enacting "no fault" divorce laws and by giving child custody and domiciling to the mother in well over 80% of divorce cases, not to mention at least half of all the man's assets if he was foolish enough to have any assets before he made the fatal mistake.

The state should not be involved in "marrying" people, or "divorcing them" gay or straight. The state should only recognize civil unions for legal purposes. "Marriage" should only be a religious vow and ritual. If any number of people want to live together outside the bonds of ritual marriage, in some government recognized union they should file as a civil union.

Oct. 03 2012 10:18 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.