Singlestalk: Obligation and contract

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Michelle: A pastor asked my opinion about a law that will put an expiry date on marriage. The pastor suggested that we write about it. I have to say that I’m really grateful for his suggestion because I didn’t want to write about Valentine’s Day.

A women’s party-list group said that marriage licenses should have an expiration period of at least 10 years. If former president FVR (Fidel V. Ramos) said “six years is a long time for a bad president,” what then is a long time for a bad spouse or a bad marriage?

DJ: Sounds like a great continuation of last Sunday’s Valentine do’s and don’ts. This one’s really saying, “Don’t.” Okay, almost.


Someone once said that marriage is the “mourning after the knot before.” If that’s the case, put a cap on it and give a couple the option to renew the contract or not 10 years after. Seriously, such possibility will only further complicate things. Another FB status: “Expiring.”

We live in a rapidly changing world. Uncertainty is certain. We go through highs and lows. People come and go. Nothing stays the same. And no one is sure to stay. Our family is the closest we can have to having a constant. They’re imperfect but at least they’re more likely to be there in good times and even through the bad times.

It’s a pity if a family goes through membership changes and stress over uncertainty too. It’ll be hard for kids to potentially have to deal with a changing set of parents.

M: Proponents of the marriage with an expiry date say that it would spare couples trapped in a bad marriage from lengthy and costly proceedings to annul their union.

I think the proponents failed to consider that marriage is not just an ordinary contract. In law school we were taught that marriage contracts are different from ordinary contracts; that marriage, according to the Family Code, is a “special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life” and is the “foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution.”

There are people though who think that considering the realities of modern day marriage life, the 10 year cap on marriage is a good idea.

DJ: There was a story of a man seen running after the garbage truck yelling, “Am I too late for the garbage?” Following him down the street his wife yelled, “No, jump in!” This guy definitely knows the cost to get married. He’s still paying for it. Of course I was just kidding. Marriage is a commitment. And like almost all things in life, we stay not only because we promised. We stay because love makes it possible for us to get through the hurt till it hurts no more.

M: I believe that marriage vows shouldn’t be taken lightly. Morality should not be conveniently set aside because of legalities.

Someone vehemently against the expiration dates for marriages said that it will destroy families and will have a psychological effect on the children knowing that their parents’ union can end.

Those in favor of marriage with expiry dates say that it could encourage a regular review of the state of the marriage, which could strengthen commitment and be reaffirmed with a renewal of the vows. If they think of it that way, their treatment of marriage is similar to that of a fixed term employment.

I never thought that marriage can fall in the realm of labor law! Imagine the tension near the 10th year or renewal date. It’s like being on your last day of work.

I met a friend who is still single. She told me “may pa ka kay minyo na ka.” I had to tell her not to disparage her single state of life. Marriage is not a bed of roses. Nothing ever comes easy. The road to success is always under construction.

DJ: That’s why a woman shouldn’t marry a man, expecting that he will change. He won’t. And a man should not marry a woman expecting that she won’t change. She will. More than just a contract, marriage is love. And love believes, hopes and endures all things.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 16, 2014.


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