Nobody wants to die alone. But nobody wants to cough up half their assets, if a marriage goes south, either. And thanks to the legal aspects of marriage, it has become just about the highest-risk move a savvy investor can make. It's like betting half your stake on a penny stock you know nothing about until after you own it. Because no matter how much you know about someone, marriage really does change everything.
It's not that I am against marriage, the drama-filled ceremony. I am against the legal aspects of it. And, apparently, it is turning off a lot of other folks, too, according to a recent Pew study.
I know, do it for the children. But, frankly, the children get protection--or at least the same protection--whether you are married or not. Paternity is not a he-said-she-said matter anymore. Child support is already a matter for the courts, if you have children with someone. And you will get the same--often lousy, sometimes great and caring--help from your mate, regardless of the marriage contract.
That's a different conversation. I am all in favor of each parent paying half the real cost of raising children, and providing half the care and love, period. But we have this little thing called DNA testing now, and unless you find yourself in front of a judge who is pretty much insane or scientifically illiterate (I admit, that's a possibility), the matter is more-or-less cut-and- dried (OK, that was an awkward metaphor).
On top of that, there is all this crazy defense of marriage-act business to contend with. As if the government wasn't already sticking its nose into our bedrooms far enough! Get outta here, already!
And it's not just me and my own little personal life. The Pew study shows that marriage is less popular than ever. Not relationships, though, they are doing just fine. But the legal rigamarole is getting to be as bad as taxes. And we all know what a nightmare that is. You can't even figure out how to be honest with those anymore.
Frankly, I think people are voting with their feet on this one, and just plain opting out of the legal and societal craziness associated with the traditional, and ultra-legally-binding, unmanageably-open contract called marriage.
This from Pew:
Barely half of all adults in the United States-a record low-are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.
In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements-including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood-have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.
Sure those sacred voiws, what the mean at least, about sharing and honesty are important--in your love life, and in life in general. It's also way more practical than being a lying, thieving cheat in the long run. But marriage and laws about marriage and laws protecting the sanctity of marriage--promoted by people like serial cheater Newt Gingrich, just to name one of the hypocrites out there--really have nothing to do with that. Call me crazy as Ron Paul, but I am a strict libertarian when it comes to a person's personal life. I think we have plenty of tools to protect the rights of partners and progeny these days...ones that can have specific, clearly defined obligations and rewards spelled out it them.
And we also have a new generation of adults, if you look at the Pew study, who are educated, trained and conditioned to be equals, regardless of gender. Holding a door may be a nice thing to do. And ministering to your partner may also be appealing. But we don't need laws for this. That's between two consenting adults.
And if you want a ceremony, a party, or a honeymoon, go for it. Don't let me stop you. If you want to pool assets, there are these things called contracts and these structures call partnerships that a lawyer can arrange for you a lot cheaper and clearer--and a lot more dissolvable--than traditional marriage contracts.
In fact, marriage contracts are about the dumbest contracts out there. What other ones force you to pay thousands of dollars to fight over the lawn furniture and other trivial assets. Buy a house together, fine, put both your names on the paperwork and you are done. It's legal; you each own half (or whatever).
The only reason to actually get married, legally, is the stupid and arcane restrictions on partners, when it comes to life-crises (like visiting your mate in a hospital), and insurance and such. And those laws and rules are changing, and should be changed. If you are committed to someone, there is no reason that you should be denied these things. But again, that is a different sort of limited contract. One that any decent lawyer should be able to draw up for you.
But fighting over who owns which DVD? You are better off doing that informally. Cause breaking up can be heart-breaking, but it shouldn't lead to the poorhouse, and leave no one but your divorce lawyers with any assets left. It would be much better, instead of fighting for the rights of people, straight or gay, to marry, to just take the legality out of marriage altogether and make it a ceremony, (or not), that two people can decide about for themselves.