Why America Should Be More Like Mexico

“But Mexico has those terrible drug wars,” you say.

True. But this is about something some Mexicans actually want: a two-year marriage contract.

Leftists in the city’s assembly — who have already riled conservatives by legalizing gay marriage — proposed a reform to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime.

Call me a “leftist,” but I love this idea. Vive la divorce? Au contraire! This would prevent divorce.

Not that I’m in favor of preventing divorce…  After all, I’ve benefited from it twice (no, not financially). I’ve always thought that if you don’t believe in divorce, it’s a terrible idea to get married, and this is especially true if you’re someone – and usually, this is a man – who can be bullied into marriage, or if you’re someone who decides to get married purely because that’s where your relationship inertia took you. (Have fun for the next 25 years to life, you two.)

Marrying the person you love with both of you entertaining divorce as a viable option simply means entering into a committed relationship with the understanding that you’re there because you want to be, and that if you and/or your partner fall(s) permanently out of love or decide(s) you’re no longer happy together, neither of you will feel obligated to remain in the relationship until the day you take your final, mournful breath on this earth.

There are several benefits to believing in divorce as an option – or, as in the case of the proposed two-year contract in Mexico, to being contractually obligated to stay married for a limited amount of time – that will actually help couples stay happier, longer:

1. Marriage doesn’t scare you, because you understand you aren’t making an absolutely irreversible decision, which means you’ll go into it without reservation (“Cold feet? What cold feet?”).

2. With that fear no longer a factor, the commitment becomes less about signing a contract, and more about expressing your pure and genuine desire to share a life with the person you love.

3. You’re both substantially more motivated to maintain the romance and heal the relationship after conflict, because neither of you is lulled into complacency by “forever-no-matter-what.”

4. The healthy fear that you could lose your partner if you mistreat the relationship in turn makes both of you more alert to each other’s needs, more attentive to each other’s happiness, and more appreciative of the time you spend together.

5. The marriage “trap” dissolves, leaving both partners feeling more empowered in the relationship.

Marriage101.com asks, “Why is the divorce rate so high?” and offers this as a possible explanation:

I think we should look for the answer from the American belief. Freedom is one of the most important beliefs for America and nothing can replace it besides love.

Yes! Freedom! The freedom to stay or go. Who wants someone to stick around because they’ve made a promise at the age of 18 or 22 to love you forever and ever? No one can realistically make that promise. If you do end up loving someone forever and ever, fantastic. I truly believe it happens all the time, and not as the result of a promise, but because the love just is. But just as often as it happens, it doesn’t happen. Why force it?

“Love is a behavior,” you say. “You can choose to actively love someone for the rest of your life.”

Well, I don’t know. You can choose to not slap someone on the back of the head when they chew with their mouth open (or, you know, treat them lovingly), and I suppose you can choose to convince yourself you love someone (by telling everyone you know that you love him, really, you do, he’s so incredible).

But make yourself love someone when you’re pretty sure you don’t love them anymore?

I just don’t think so.

Our minds are crazy powerful, but in my experience, when the love is gone, it’s gone.

There’s nothing wrong with divorce (people break up – big deal), but America as a whole obviously doesn’t like it (what else could explain the obsessive tracking of divorce statistics?), and that’s why we, as a country, should adopt the two-year marriage contract.

All of those poorly thought-out decisions to marry (HER: I want to wear a big, fluffy dress and be a princess and have a special princess day all about me! HIM: She said she’d break up with me if we didn’t get married. Also, I really want to keep having sex.) would naturally fall away as if they never happened when the contract ran out.

Consequently, fewer divorces would be on the books, thereby lessening our country’s shame that too many of us just can’t seem to hold a mate.

This would be a good thing for America. No-fault divorce was already good:

The benefits seen after divorce law changes were not small or insignificant either. In no-fault divorce states, there was a 10 percent drop in a woman’s chance of being murdered by her spouse or boyfriend. The rate of female suicide fell by 20 percent in states that enacted no-fault divorce laws. And with domestic violence, an even more dramatic drop was reported. In states that passed no-fault divorce laws, domestic violence declined between 25 and 50 percent between 1976 and 1985.

Now just imagine having the “out” option without having to do all the pesky legal paperwork.

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