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The marriage contract: It's about commitment


Date published: 12/13/2012

I read Donnie Johnston's Nov. 30 column ["Should marriage be forever?"] with great interest. Especially interesting was his proposal for an initial five-year contract.

As I recall, this idea was proposed in the Maryland legislature back in the early '70s. I remember because I was married in 1969: My husband and I used to talk about what we were going to put into our next five-year hypothetical contract, and at times (especially in the heat of argument) joked about whether to renew. Except for the complications that children would certainly pose and the spiritual dimension of marriage (the "til death do us part" promise, largely ignored today), the renewable contract may have some advantages.

I would guess that people might step up their efforts to please their partners in the fourth year of a contract if they wanted to preserve the relationship. It would also force people to consider, in advance, what would be involved in dissolving a relationship. I was advised by a business professor years ago that business partnerships should always be formed with provisions for the dissolution of the partnership. Perhaps prenuptial agreements should be part of wedding planning.

Having been married now for nearly 43 years, I will say that I believe in marriage and feel blessed to have found my soul mate so many years ago. I know that I can totally depend on his commitment to me. It is probably the rough spots that have made our relationship so strong.

People are too quick to dispose of things today, including relationships. I'm reminded of a Pennsylvania Dutch plaque I saw many years ago: "Marriage is the art of falling in love many times--but always with the same person."

Donna Newberry Creasy

Ruther Glen

Ms. Creasy is a licensed marriage and family therapist.