Rethinking How We Do Marriage

Shocking: a human woman and a Neanderrthal man | Image from Bob Jones

Our whole marriage/civil union thing is archaic and needs to be restructured.

Why is the state “licensing” any of this anyway? There may have been some legitimate public health concerns – preventing close-relative procreation – but we can’t prevent two first cousins from having sex and babies anyway, so that fails the test of effective regulation.

We traditionally wanted to make coupling a formal ceremony to lend it weight as an “until death do us part” relationship. But that went out the window as more than half of married couples eventually divorced.

Religious people like the sanctity of the marriage vows, but an increasing percentage of the under-40 population has minimal or no religious affiliation.

There’s a societal evolution going on and we’re reluctant to recognize it. It frightens us.

The eventual meeting in Europe between homo sapiens and Neanderthal about 40,000 years ago probably frightened those two societies also, but they got on with it. Neanderthals would fade away – most likely as the species was unable to make changes to compete and survive.

We should be able to muster the courage to accept changes in our mating rituals.

My suggestion is that any “coupling” decision by people should be a simple matter of registration of a contract of partnership held in state records. Why even that? It would be to establish the partners’ legal and property rights, just as business partnerships and corporations do that same paperwork. Then, the partners may do a religious ceremony or go down Kalakaua Avenue riding on the necks of Indian elephants. Whatever turns them on.

I’d do away with divorce courts. The partners simply file a notice for state records of an ending of the partnership. Issues of property division should go to arbitration or mediation. If that fails, a normal civil suit, much as any dissolving business partnership, can pursue.

I’d preserve a family court to handle the matter of custody of children. Society has an overriding interest in child welfare.

Could more than two people partner up? I can’t see a good reason why not. We already have some communal family experiments, and those fundamental Mormons were doing fine until they stepped over the line with child brides.

Obviously a person and an animal could not partner because the animal is legally incapable of entering into the partnership. Neither could a minor partner with an adult, for the same reason.

There are already some steps in this direction. In France, couples wanting to marry must first do so in a strictly civil appearance at a government office to register their partnership. Only then can they proceed with a church ceremony.

My approach makes sense for the time we live in. It probably runs counter to the traditions many of you hold dear and believe to be necessary to preserve the family values you grew up with.

But new challenges require new societal thinking in order to survive. We don’t want to be the Neanderthals.