Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Thought on Marriage and Divorce

As I have been going through the long and pain-in-the-ass process that is getting a divorce, I often wondered why getting a divorce wasn't more like getting a marriage.

I mean, getting married was EASY!

Sure, some people over-complicate the matter with throwing an overly elaborate party wedding, but the bare bones part of technically getting yourself legally hitched is remarkably quick, easy, and cheap.

Well, so long as you're not gay.......... sorry gay people, I know I shouldn't whine too much about how hard it is to get divorced when it's way harder for many of you just to get married in the first place.

(BTW- assuming you managed to get married in a semi-standard fashion in the first place, does the divorce process work the exact same way? Can a same-sex couple file for a legal divorce in a state that doesn't authorize same-sex marriages? How about the process in Canada?) 

The never ending forms to fill out, finances to wrangle, negotiations to make... divorce not a fun thing to deal with!

Why couldn't it be the same way as getting married? Show up with your family lawyer, say your "I don'ts", sign a piece of paper, eat some cake, and you're good to go.

But then, as I went through the divorcing process more, I realized I had it backwards.

Getting married should be more like getting divorced.

Getting married should force you to sit down together with your finances and REALLY look at them. All of them. Debts, assets, property, investments, income, bills, taxes. How are you combining them? Keeping them separate? What do you want them to look like in a year? In 5 years? 20? What do you have to do to make that happen? Do you agree on savings/retirement/spending? Daily family budget? Big purchases? Who spends more on a daily basis? Who brings in more income? Who will be responsible for paying the phone bill every month?

Getting married should force you to talk about children and about so much more than whether they're a yes/no vote. When are you going to have them? What if you can't? Who is going to be the primary care giver? What duties will be shared? Is there going to be outside the home childcare wanted? Needed? Have you budgeted for it? Are you in agreement to what their schooling should be? Diet? Immunizations? How will you potty train? Will insurance cover speech therapy if it's needed? When do you need to start a college savings fund? Who decides when and how prevention is implemented when you don't want any more adorable buckets of drooling showing up? What happens when you get a "surprise" in 10 years?

Getting married should force you to plan out the year. Whose family will be visited at Christmas? Do we travel during the summer? How much time do we need to plan vacations? Do we make every effort to attend family functions? What will we do for the kids' birthdays? Father's day? Chinese New Year??

Getting married should force you to work together as a couple. Who is the one that takes care of the paperwork? Who is the one keeping track of all the follow up details? Who procrastinates? Who nags? Are you ok knowing that you will each fall into these roles with each other on everything for the rest of your lives? Can you have reasonable conversations about stressful things? When stressed? Do priorities match?

Getting married should force you to defend yourself to the world. Why are you doing this? Is it a good decision? Have you thought things through? Really through?? How will this impact your life? How will this impact other people's lives? Are you absolutely positively sure it's what you want? Why?

And then you're not allowed to actually get married until you're in agreement on EVERYTHING.


  1. Duly noted. I'll update my premarital questionnaire. ;)

    What do you think your response to such detailed questions would have been at the time?

    1. So I kept trying to reply to your question, and finally gave up and just wrote you a whole blog post for it ;-)

  2. If you're same-sex married in a state where it's legal you can only get divorced in a state where it's legal. If you've moved away it's hella complicated. Fortunately, as I'm doing the divorce fun with my ex/wife we're both still in MA. If you ever want to commiserate about the whole fun let me know.

    1. I was wondering about that, actually, with your lack of pictures on facebook and such, but didn't want to just send you an email out of the blue being like, yo dawg, u ex-ing?? But yes, commiseration would be fun, especially if it involves liquor.

      Also, best of luck with yours. It sucks monkey ass, as I'm sure we both know far to well.

  3. Replies
    1. This made me smile, as I can just envision you starting up cheesy gospel singing...

  4. Marty,

    This is remarkably to the point, and well written. :)

  5. bravo! with all the recent hollywood divorces reflecting society's view on marriage lately, i agree that getting married should be WAY more thought out than it is. and those are all excellent pre-nup points.

    1. Yes, nothing like People Magazine being a go-to guide for how NOT to do marriage. Ah, America....

  6. This is a great post, Marty!

    I like the Ferengi concept of marriage: it's a legally binding business agreement with an end date, after which you can renew the contract, amend it or dissolve it. Of course, the Ferengi are sexist (and imaginary) and don't let women wear clothes -- but I think with some tweaking the concept has merit.

    The same-sex divorce issue in Canada has been in the news recently so I can kind of answer this point. To be granted a divorce in Canada, a couple must have resided in Canada for one year. This applies for all marriages. However a recent case (involving a woman from England & a Floridian woman who married in Canada on a holiday) has raised the issue of whether same-sex couples who married in Canada are legally married in any jurisdiction OTHER than Canada. Because if England and Florida don't recognize the legality of same-sex marriages, they can't recognize same-sex divorce & Canada won't let them divorce until they've lived here for a year. The Canadian government was willing to accept this "only in Canada" argument, but public outcry has convinced them that the laws needs to be fixed.

    1. Very interesting loophole with Canadian laws! Thank you for sharing it. I also really like your Ferengi analysis, I think it could definitely help the current institution to have some (imaginary) reform.

      ps- your "the Ferengi are sexist(and imaginary)" part made me burst out laughing, it was just so awesome. Thank you!