This is an odd question for me to pose, I know. Let me preface:
I read a short story a few years ago about a near-future America where the divorce rate has climbed up to 80%. Infidelity is seen as a major cause for the collapse of the marital institution. As a drastic measure, the government mandates that everyone must cheat once every few years (correct me if I’m misremembering this). The idea is that since everyone has to sleep with someone else every few years, they get it out of their system and are able to focus on their marriage for the majority of the time. The risque nature of an affair is gone. It becomes something on par with filling out your taxes.
Anyway, I was reading the comments on my post on Monday about my wandering eye, and someone mentioned the scientific insight that the hormonal rush that gives us the feeling of being “in love” disappears after about 2 years. This got me thinking about the institution of marriage, the premise of making a choice to mate for life. And thus, in the vein of the short story I outlined above:
What if the government mandated that all marriages lasted exactly 5 years? No more, no less.
I want to preface what follows with the fact that I view the institution of marriage in the highest regard. My parents have been married for nearly 32 years, and I’d say their marriage is stronger than ever. I’ve had the honor of seeing their love change and grow and adapt. It’s a wonderful thing.
But put that aside for a minute (if you can). Let’s just assume this happens. Congress passes the bill tomorrow, and that’s just the way it is. All current marriages are given 5 years starting tomorrow. (Why 5 years? That’s just the number I chose.) How do you feel? Whether you’re single or engaged or newly married or long-time married, how do you feel?
Is any part of you–dare I say–relieved? I mean, you no longer have to keep this going for the rest of your life. You get 5 good years. You know the limits, and so you cherish the time you have. You get to chase someone new every 5 years if you want, so maybe you spend more time appreciating what you have instead of wondering if there’s someone better out there. And if you make a mistake and realize that you married the wrong person, it’s okay. You have a get-out-of-jail-free card in a few years.
As a single person, would this make you less likely or more likely to get married? Remember, the choice to stay married after 5 years is not yours. It is illegal. It becomes the societal norm.
I do see this being a problem with child rearing. I’m not sure that growing up in that type of world would be healthy for children. That’s no slight against single mothers and fathers. It’s more about the constant change that would occur. So many different parental figures for a child to juggle and comprehend. Would it feel like the proverbial village or like a loud, crowded room?
I’m really curious what you all think about this. Put yourself in that place. The bill is passed tomorrow. You have 5 years. How do you feel? What do you do? I have no problem with anonymous comments today if that’s safer for you.