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~~~ Tidbit of Information: 21st Century Marriage Contract ~~~

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This Web Page Contains Material Written by Bobby Matherne in 1978 and ©2004.

This Web Page Contains Material Written by Bobby Matherne in 1978.
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Tidbit of Information: 21st Century Marriage Contract

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1. We will not require each other to be unfaithful.

2. We will not be required to disobey the other.

3. We will not be required to cherish the other.

4. We do not promise to stay together for any specified period of time.

5. We do not promise to forsake all others.

6. We do not agree that marriage has meaning to us outside of the legal issues.

7. We do not agree to treat the other differently just because we're married.

8. We do not require complete secrecy in any of the other's activities.

9. We do not require unilateral support from the other during any stage of our relationship, including any possible post-marriage stage.

10. We do not require that any product of our joint efforts reside in the sole custody of one of us.

11. We agree that in this contract there is no Sanity Clause.

12. We do not require anything of the other except as stated in this contract.

Signature, first person
Signature, second person

Signature, witness

Clause #4, Explanation, from Pragmatics of Human Communication by Paul Watzlawick, Janet Beavin Bavelas, and Donald D. Jackson

Back in 1978 I had been living with a woman for about a year and asked if she would marry me. "Why get married and ruin a good thing?" she said. I gave serious consideration to her question. I knew couples that had been good friends such as we were who got married and then came to hate each other. What was it about marriage that could lead to good friends hating each other? The authors point to an interesting paradox of marriage in Jay Haley's book:

[page 119, The Strategies of Psychotherapy] "When a man a woman decide their association should be legalized with a marriage ceremony, they pose themselves a problem which will continue throughout the marriage: now that they are married are they staying together because they wish to or because they must?"

[page 66] In the light of the foregoing, we would say that when to the mostly analogic part of their relationship (courtship behavior) is added a digitalization (the marriage contract) an unambiguous definition of their relationship becomes problematic.

How did my wife of 30 years (as of 2008) and I avoid that problem of why we were staying together? We decided that we were not going to stay together for any specified length of time nor treat each other differently. "The next two or three weeks" is enough was our motto. We basically deconstructed the usual marriage vows, promises, and expectations. We saw them as a box that people defined and then jumped into and wondered why they felt trapped. We decided to create the usual box, but to define our relationship as existing outside of that box. This is how Clause 4: We do not promise to stay together for any specified period of time. and Clause 7: We do not agree to treat the other differently just because we're married. came to be. They have stood the test of time.

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