Imagine yourself, a young man on a date with your girlfriend. It’s a warm summer evening, the sun is setting, and she’s never looked more beautiful. After dinner, you go dancing, and then walk alone through the park. Nervously, you reach into your pocket to take out a ring box and a piece of paper. Ever smooth, you suddenly get down on one knee and bein to tell her how much you love her, and how much she means to you. When it’s finally time to pop the question, you bring out the ring and unfold the paper.
“Will you marry me? Also, will you sign this contract for our love? We’ll hash out the details later, and if things are going well in two years, we can re-up together.”
Romantic right? This scene might soon become a reality as Mexico City is contemplating offering a two-year marriage license to its citizens. As an attempt to hedge the growing number of divorces, the new marriage contracts would allow couples to split legally after two years if they decide that the relationship isn’t working out – no messy divorce process needed. The contract also acts like a kind of pre-nup, clearly laying out all custody rights and property divisions beforehand. Essentially, they are providing an opt-out clause for marriages, with either party having the ability to renege on the contract as long as the two years are up.
What stands out about this proposed legislation, is that it reminds me more of a sports contract, rather than an informed decision that otherwise basically dictates a major part of your life. In baseball at least, a two year contract is nothing to be thrilled about. It’s usually reserved for an aging player or someone you are not willing to make a commitment to; either trading them part way through the season for prospects or simply cutting them if things ‘aren’t working out’. I feel like this kind of marriage contract would work the same way – you get cut or traded then its right back to free agency.
Conservative policy makers in Mexico City are vehemently opposed to the law, citing the tired and oft used ‘sanctity of marriage’ argument. I don’t consider myself a part of this camp – but I do believe that if you are going to commit to marriage, you should commit to it all the way. If things don’t work out – no one said it would be easy – that’s life. We make the best of things and move on. Committing to marriage when you know that you can renegotiate your terms in two years seems like you are just setting yourself up for failure.
It remains to be seen what the long terms of this law could be – if passed. I do give them credit for trying to correct what is basically a market inefficiency (the whole law seems incredibly American if you ask me), but allowing couples to flirt with free agency once the contract is up may be fine for baseball, but probably isn’t the best for the average person.