As our life expectancy continues to grow, the antiquated rule for marriage “until death do you part” sounds…old. Many of us got married as kids and had no idea how to grasp the commitment we were forced into making by our churches. That we were bound to a person we hardly knew for the next eighty or ninety years—no matter what—if we happened to live that long.
In rare cases, long-lasting marriages may work out. But for the vast majority, it is a death sentence. When I hear old married people say they have never had one argument—I can’t help but think three things. One, they are lying—to themselves and to me. Two, they are emotionally dead. Three, how incredibly boring.
Marriage should be a vibrant, passionate, and mutually enlarging relationship. But people change. They outgrow each other, grow away from one another, or fall out of love. It happens. It happened to me after 32 years of marriage. Yet so many Christians feel forced to obey the rules—some hapless and vengeful theologian made up who was probably single—and doom themselves to hell on earth.
Here’s a novel thought. At mid-life, somewhere around age forty to fifty, married couples should have the opportunity to renew the marriage—or not. If both feel strongly they want to spend the second half of life together then carry on. But if either party wants out, the marriage is dissolved.
And there is an agreement for both parties to remain amicable. To recognize they’ve simply grown apart. And that is fine—and normal. The money and assets are divided fairly through mediation. The children are brought into the conversation so they can understand the reasons for the decision and, most importantly, so that they know it has nothing to do with them. It’s simply life.
All members of the family should still have an ongoing relationship, and the awkwardness slowly worked out. No one is forced to cheat or “sin” to get out of the marriage. No one feels guilty for causing civilization to fail because they are weakening the family. It is deemed a rational and reasonable decision.
In today’s world, with our unprecedented longevity, it is possible to have two marriages or partnerships that last three decades each. That is remarkable. Even though we live longer, life is still way too short to endure a loveless, tired, or minimizing relationship.
Here’s to bragging at anniversary celebrations about frequent arguments, wild lovemaking, and passionate conflict. That sounds honest and exciting. And it sounds like true love.