Temporary marriage licenses not a solution to increasing divorce rates

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Natalie Rivera
Daily Sundial

Illustration by Kayun Chan

 

In September, Mexico City lawmakers proposed legislation that would allow couples to apply for temporary marriage licenses. Under the law couples would be able to choose the length of their marriage, starting at a minimum of two years, and would be able to renew their licenses if they wished to be married longer. According to Assemblyman Leonoel Luna, who co-authored the bill, the short contract will slow down increasing divorce rates and free couples from the hassle of divorce.

Choosing how long to be married is like an easy way out of a life-long commitment; it is like doubting the marriage before it even starts.
Stan Charnofsky, coordinator of the Family and Marriage Counseling program at CSUN, explains that the reason why  people would choose to partake in a temporary marriage is because they do not want to be fully committed. According to Charnofsky, in this time and culture of advanced technology and quick means of communication, it is easier for people to find partners. They do not wish to lose this freedom and ruin the fun for themselves by being tied down.

He also explains that the negative way people might view marriage, may be a result of incidents that have happened to them.

“I had a uncle who did joint physical custody for his children growing up, after he and his wife divorced,” Charnofsky said. “When I spoke to his son, who was in his 40s at that time, I asked him if he would ever want to be married someday. He said he would for maybe 10 years and that 10 years would be a good marriage. I thought that maybe the way his family functioned had to do with the way he saw marriage.”

Issues within families and staggering divorce rates can be the reason why people would be intimidated to take the long-term plunge. According to the National Vital Statistics Report, there were 3.4 divorces per 1,000 people as of 2010 in the United States. In Mexico, the divorce rate is 0.33 divorces per 1,000 people, according to nationmaster.com.These staggering divorce numbers may frighten someone out of fully committing to a marriage, but there are benefits that come with marriage that one cannot acquire otherwise. For instance, medical benefits allow you  to make medical decisions when your spouse is in critical care. These perks can be beneficial for someone who wishes to be involved in a loved one’s life.

Some may criticize marriage as irrelevant in today’s more progressive society because of the connection the institution holds with patriarchy and gender inequality. Charnofsky explained that marriage in the western world served to uphold society’s gender roles and economy – to obtain more land for knights in medieval times who fought for a wife–and that marriage was not considered as an act of love until the 1700s. Years before, there was “pair bonding,” which was a way to categorize women as the mothers and nurturers and the men as protectors.

Though marriage started off in this patriarchal way it can offer something valuable to today’s society.

Bryan and John-Rodriquez-Saringo are a gay couple attending CSUN who have been in a domestic partnership since last April – John is a political science major and Bryan is a linguistics major. They consider each other as their husbands, but cannot legally marry. Though they are both young, they wish to marry someday because of what marriage offers them as a couple.

“We want that option.” John said. “It will make us secure in some ways a domestic partnership can’t. If something were to happen to Brian, I would have more say if I’m married to him, than just being in a domestic partnership.”

John and Bryan said that they both grew up wanting to get married and that “even just the word ‘married’ means more than a domestic partnership.”

Allowing couples to choose how long they should be married for defeats the purpose of getting married at all. Marriage is a commitment between two people to stay together until death parts them; this is specifically stated in the vows that are said during a marriage ceremony. Allowing a person to choose how long they should be married would not decrease divorce rates because this “temporary marriage” should not have been considered as a marriage in the first place.


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  • Keith Wakefield

    Ms. Rivera, 
    who are you to define what marriage is?  I have heard many different marriage vows.  My definition might be “a union between two individuals that results in a tax break”.  Charnofsky explained that marriage is an evolving institution anyway.  Let it evolve!

  • Michelangelo_L

    Dear Ms. Rivera,

    Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but aren’t you are in favor of legalizing gay marriage? I vividly recall hints towards that in your past writings, but I apologize if I misread your position on the issue.

    If you do however favor legalizing gay marriage, why the opposition for short term marriages? On principle if shouldn’t matter how people marry. It should not matter that two people of the same gender wish to marry. Nor should it matter if an inter-racial couple wishes to marry. For that matter it shouldn’t matter if several mormons want to get hitched with several consenting wives or husbands. It certainly shouldn’t matter if any of these groups wish to put short term leases on their marriages.

    Marriage is between consenting people. Others should have no say in it in so long as it does not harm them or their property. No more than they should have a say in how people eat or spend their freetime. 
    http://sundial.csun.edu/2012/02/californias-ban-of-gay-marriage-ruled-unconstitutional/