Beta marriage: Disposable vows with an expiration date
Time magazine reported this week that 43 percent of millennials (people born within the years 1981 to 2000) would support a “beta marriage,” or trial marriage in which you would evaluate after two years to decide whether to continue or annul the relationship.
In a society where cell phones are nearly disposable, new versions of electronics are released before the old versions get cold, and people change jobs like they change their underwear, I can’t say I’m that surprised.
I’m in the 57 percent of millennials who think the 43 percent are completely insane.
When did the institution of marriage become such a joke? If you don’t think your marriage is going to last after two years together, I’ve got a tip for you — how about not getting married at all? Why not just pack up all your shit, open a joint bank account and live together for two years? Why not buy a couple of cheap gold bands and go around telling people you are married without actually having a wedding?
I may be wrong, but I fail to see how my relationship with Awesome is going to change after we get married except for the fact that we will be legally married. We have lived together for more than 18 months now. We share a bank account, own a car, dog and cat together and are fully committed to our relationship. We are in it for the long haul, through children and weight gain and hair loss and sickness and health.
Being newly engaged, I may be a little more pro-marriage than usual. But in the small amount of research I’ve actually done on our own wedding, I read on theknot.com that the average cost of an American wedding in 2013 was $29,858.00. That’s thirty thousand dollars. Some people don’t even make that much money in a full year of working. Think of what you could do with that money. Buy a brand new car with full amenities. Put a down payment on a house. Take an amazing three-month vacation. Donate $1,000 to 30 charities.
Instead, people are going to spend it all on things like specially dyed napkins to match the exact hue of the bridesmaids dresses, or flying in a bunch of off-season flowers from Bali, or a big fat white dress that will go out of style almost as soon as you strip it off (after only wearing it for six hours, by the way). And you are going to spend $30,000 and only commit for two years? No thank you.
Placing an expiration date on your marriage is setting yourself up for failure. Let’s face it, you’re not really fully committed because you have already chosen the easy way out in case things get too difficult. And they will get difficult! Just because Awesome and I have what I think is a great relationship doesn’t mean we never want to kill each other. But it has never once crossed my mind to ask him for a two-year trial period, because I am committed to making it work for the long term.
A real marriage requires piles of paperwork and expensive lawyers for a legal divorce, so you might think twice about dissolving your partnership and put more effort into fixing the issues. How about putting all that effort into working on the relationship before getting blinded by the big diamond ring? How about asking the tough questions and actually answering them before running to the altar? If you get to know your spouse – and I mean, really get to know them – before saying yes to a proposal, then there is no need for a trial period.
This whole idea of a trial marriage is just another way for our disposable-loving society to beta-test one more concept. What’s going to be next, the beta baby? Test your kid out for two years and if they aren’t turning out the way you thought they would, giving it up for adoption? It’s time for millennials to grow up and start acting like adults instead of like entitled children who grow tired of one toy in favor of a better, newer one.
Emily Campbell is a perpetually single, 20-something girl-around-town who loves Shakespeare, old movies, Natty Boh, and of course, long walks on the beach. A sales manager by day and freelance writer by night, she was recently forced into a life of involuntary celibacy when her last relationship fizzled out over a text message. She’s tired of settling for second – or tenth – best, and she’s ready to find Mr. Right. Or, Mr. Nearly Right. No one’s perfect…which she has learned the hard (but hilarious) way.