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Is Marriage Dead?

Is marriage dead? According to New York writer Emma Johnson, the steady, high divorce rate in the U.S. and declining number of Americans who get married at all proves that it is. In her hit blog, Wealthy Single Mommy, Johnson proposes a new marriage model: a 10-year marriage contract.

Johnson proposes that in this new alternative type of union, parties to a marriage would delineate their goals for their relationship in a pre-marital contract. This would function similarly to a prenuptial agreement, but would not just encompass finances. It would include matters such as how the children will be raised and what type of marriage it would be (i.e. partnership or passion?). After nine years, the spouses would have to make a decision about whether or not to sign another 10-year contract. If they choose to dissolve their relationship, the broad prenup will make the process hassle-free, and if they decide to renew the contract, they will have to discuss any changes they want to make to their marriage agreement. Ultimately, Johnson claims, her idea would provide either an easy-out, or better yet, a romantic opportunity to renew one’s vows after 10-years of being happily wed.

In another online blog, The Stir, Sasha Brown-Worsham praises Johnson’s novel marriage model, arguing that for many people, Johnson is correct: marriage is dead. Perhaps the well-known fact that half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce indicates that humans are not intended to stay together for 50 plus years, she writes. If Worsham and Johnson are correct in their assertion that “forever” isn’t working anymore—is a 10-year marriage contract the answer? Would future legal battles be fought over disagreements between spouses on whether or not to renew their marriage contract? Or would the bulk of divorce law matters become obsolete? While legally speaking, this notion is far-off if not entirely unrealistic, the concept of a new marriage model certainly raises interesting questions about the nature of marriage and divorce.

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