Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crazy Idea #2: Quasi-Marriage

Home > Philosophy > Ethics and Morality

I call this crazy idea #2 due to a previous blog entry where I came up with an arguably crazy solution for the controversy over whether we should legalize same-sex marriage. The crazy idea of this blog entry is “quasi-marriage.” This idea is a solution (and arguably a crazy one) to the following problem. In a large percentage of marriages, the “for better or for worse” marriage vow is kind of a lie, because when the worst reveals its ugly head people often get divorced. If you really don’t mean the “better or for worse” part of your vow you shouldn’t say it. So here’s my crazy idea: quasi-marriage. Quasi-marriage is similar to a regular marriage except that the “for better or for worse” is replaced with “for better but not necessarily for worse” and is designed so that when the worse happens the divorce process is for the most part legally painless, e.g. the government says “you’re no longer married” and that’s that. If you’re thinking, “this is a terrible idea; nobody should enter into a quasi-marriage!” I agree, but if I’m right about this making more sense than making the marriage vows meaningless, I think this exposes the problem of how we don’t treat marriage sufficiently morally or even rationally. A world where vows are easily and routinely broken with social acceptance is not only ethically objectionable it also just doesn’t make sense; it renders vows meaningless and pointless. So give me quasi-marriage, or give me a world where marriage vows make moral and rational sense.


  1. I think you're on to something Wade! If you can't mean what you say, than find something to say and commit to that you actually mean!

  2. 'For better or for worse' is not part of the contract of marriage. You are married when you sign the marriage contract and have it witnessed. Permanency is not part of marriage. If you have a religion where it aught to be something different, then that's just your religion's understanding of it. If you believe any other contract should last forever no matter what, that's your deal.

    1. 'For better or for worse' is not part of the contract of marriage. You are married when you sign the marriage contract and have it witnessed. Permanency is not part of marriage.

      If you’re married I wouldn’t recommend telling that to your wife. ;-)

      Seriously though, the “till death do you part” and “for better or for worse” stuff is part of standard marriage vows, whether in the legal contract or not. If you don’t mean the vows you shouldn’t make them. Of course, another solution is to have a slightly more unconventional marriage where such vows are not made. For example, you could replace this:

      To have and to hold from this day forward,
      for better or for worse,
      for richer or for poorer,
      in sickness or in health,
      to love and to cherish,
      'till death do us part.

      With this:

      To have and to hold temporarily,
      for better but not necessarily for worse,
      for as long as it isn’t too financially stressful,
      in sufficiently acceptable levels of health,
      to love and to cherish the tax benefits,
      ‘till it becomes inconvenient.

      By lights though, the latter version isn’t quite as romantic.

    2. I honestly don't see what having a wedding in a particular church adds to the marriage. The religious ceremony is symbolic at most. I will give you credit for defending marriage by going after divorce instead of outlawing marriage.

    3. Don't see what having a wedding in a church adds to the marriage? Here are some reasons for me to have my wedding (if I ever get married) in a church.

      1) Tradition
      2) It's romantic
      3) I'd never hear the end of it from my parents if I didn't have it in a church.
      4) I'm a devout semi-conservative Christian
      5) Romance!
      6) Repeat steps 1 through 5
      7) Repeat steps 1 through 7
      8) Respect recursion ;-)

  3. Marriage is not in style anyway. More than 50% of children born to women under 30 are outside of marriage.

  4. In what regard would these vows be quasi-marriage? The state says your married, end of story. A church says you're not married... big whoop, they're wrong. It's like living in the medieval days, churches don't have power over people anymore. A church can say whatever they want and it makes no difference.

    1. I called it a “quasi-marriage” because the normal marriage vow is replaced by something that’s more or less antithetical with the normal conception of marriage (note my satirical alternate set of vows I described earlier) and the legal painlessness of dissolving the contract (as opposed to e.g. lengthy court proceedings).