You heard that right, folks, the Millennials, our young Americans aged approximately 18 to 31 have gone and solved the problem we know of as MARRIAGE! Whoopie! Bravo! Why didn’t we think of these solutions or any one of a hundred generations before us?
Ready? Here’s the first one: The Beta or Renewable Marriage: The loving couple ties the knot…(a slip-knot I think) and for two years the couple lives in wedded bliss. Maybe they buy that house with a picket fence, have one or two munchkins, maybe even a dog or cat and then…voila! At the end of two years, the marriage just dissolves like a wad of cotton candy in your mouth. It’s officially over. No strings. What about the house, dog, cat…kid? Don’t confuse us with details. (Chris Marlink, Time Magazine http://marriagegeneration.org/
Now, if everything is going along just absolutely perfectly, the couple has the option of reupping for…another two years! This, of course, presupposes that neither one of them has gained a few pounds, gotten a zit on their face, or possibly needs an expensive crown put in or a new transmission for the Audi. When that happens, or perhaps someone has lost their job or their cherubic child turns out to be not-so-cherubic, then it can be a bit messy…particularly selling that house and fighting over child support. Well, maybe that idea needs a bit of work, but let’s try to be fair. How much marriage experience does anyone have at 18…20…25?
Okay, let’s move on to OPTION TWO: The PRESIDENTIAL MARRIAGE: (I’m not making this stuff up.) In the presidential marriage, as you can imagine, the couple buys off on not just two, but four years (much more equitable) at which point…refer to problems listed above under renewable marriage. Oh, and another cool option: The couple can renew for a “second term” of another four years…but after that, it’s definitely over. What if you love each other and actually want to stay married? Sorry. This is a Presidential Marriage. There are rules. I’m doing the math now. Pamela and I have been together since 1968…46 (pretty damned happy) years together. With the presidential marriage we would have been forced to split up after 8 years. …We were still wet-behind- the-ears newly-weds at eight years.
Real Estate Marriage: This is sort of a hybrid of Beta and Presidential. The loving couple signs on the dotted line for two, five, seven, ten, or thirty years….after which point the marriage dissolves if not successfully renegotiated. I’m trying to figure out those numbers… It jumps two years in the first increment, three in the second and then…twenty in the third (from ten years to thirty). Even if I liked the concept, which I really don’t, it seems like they might want to play with those time periods just a bit. And, of course, the questions arise: “You only want to commit for two years? I was thinking ten. I thought you loved me. What? You want a pre-nuptial on that two year as well? GFY.”
A footnote to any of the three marriage options above: Let’s say you just don’t agree at all with any of the observations above. You opt for, say, the four-year Presidential Marriage…nice conservative choice. You even find your dream home, tucked away on a quiet street. You go to the real estate agent to see what you qualify for, and realize that with the infirmity of your marriage you don’t qualify for double-wide trailer, much less a house.
Since we’re throwing out utterly radical concepts, I have one of my own. (Oh you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) I’m going to coin a new term here…gonna call it DATING. It’s short and has a nice ring to it. What is dating? Got a pencil? One person asks another out on…a date. The rules for dating are simple if not archaic.
Archaic Rule Number One : To ask a person for a date, you have to call them up and actually speak to them. Texting, sexting, e-mailing doesn’t count. “Why?” …It just doesn’t. If you can’t be bothered or work up the energy to dial 10 digits with your index finger, you aren’t datable material.
Archaic Rule Number Two: You have to actually go and pick up your date, at their house, apartment, etc. at a prearranged time and…you have to be dressed somewhat presentably, clean, gargled, hair combed, deodorant used, etc.
Archaic Rule Number Three: During your date, you must leave your cell phone, i-Pad, and any electronic form of communication…home. Does this sound like absurdly cruel, illogical, and inhuman punishment? Just not realistic at all? Then, you’re not ready to date, much less get married. A date presupposes that the two of you can actually survive talking to each other, holding hands and having a beer or wine for an hour or so. If you don’t think you can handle that, it’s best to stay where you are…alone.
Footnote: Dating is NOT Cohabitating. When you date, you may accidentally “sleep over” once in awhile, but eventually go home. Why? Think about it. The whole concept of dating is to determine whether (or not) you are a whole lot happier with a mate than without. Once you move in, the impetus to commit or get married drops off exponentially.
Hooking Up: What could be wrong with this? C’mon the world has changed. What’s the big deal about going to a bar, introducing yourself and then getting a bj fifteen minutes later? Nothing at all…except for that possibility of an STD from the large number of casual exposures. Are there any long-term drawbacks? Well…let me think a moment. What happens when you eventually do meet that guy or gal who fulfills all your dreams? This is a guy you can trust, the guy you might be willing to spend your whole life with, have children, actually buy that house in the clearing. And he asks you seriously, how many partners have you been with? Your sincere reply to your dream guy is, “Are you talking about tonight? this week? this month? Are we counting bjs???” People get corny when they begin planning for…forever. The answer to that question is an important one.
The hook-up generation ain’t gonna work for the long haul…not even the short haul. You might think that having casual multiple partners is the best possible solution. Truth is, in studies they have determined conclusively that one person- one partner is the best. Period…no asterisks.
Starter Husbands/Starter Wives: There’s an ad for Nine West this week. It’s a pair of animal print spike-heels designed to catch your Starter Husband! Both terms are odious. It denigrates both you, your mate, and the concept of love all in one easy term. Would you seriously consider a long-term relationship with someone who considered you their starter mate?
Long-term Marriages: Every generation has to accumulate wisdom on their own. Unlike knowledge, wisdom is something that can’t be passed on. Marriages are very much like a long-term odyssey. You sail into exciting places, hit totally unexpected squalls, you get leaks in your hull, you get seasick.
But, you also grow together and you get closer. You learn to cover for each other…yeah, in sickness and in health. That’s part of the deal. And if you choose to go it alone? You hit all those same squalls, leaks, sicknesses…you just handle them…all by yourself. With 45 years of experience, I suggest that having a mate on this voyage is a WHOLE LOT more fun!