Of Marriages and Mortgages: Maybe a Marriage Should be More Like a Mortgage?

Perhaps the problem with marriage lies in our expectations: "Till death us do part." Forever. Without end. Anything less and it's total failure. Maybe this is the wrong attitude. What about treating a marriage like a mortgage?

By Michael Beninger
Updated: February 28, 2018
Of Marriages and Mortgages

I've always felt statistics were a lot like the Bible: keep looking long enough and you're going to find something that proves you're absolutely right. But no matter how skeptical you are about statistics, there is little doubt that divorce is on the rise.

Then again, so is marriage, which only makes sense, if you think about it. There's bound to be more marriages if everybody is doing it two or three times. Just look at what California alone does to the average.

Now, the most commonly quoted statistic is that half of all marriages end in divorce. They don't say how the other half end, but death is a good bet. In any event, if you have 10 married couples as friends, chances are that five of them are going to hit the skids sometime. Not a very comforting thought, to be sure. But perhaps the problem lies in our expectations: "Till death us do part." Forever. Without end. Anything less and it's total failure. Maybe this is the wrong attitude. What about treating a marriage like a mortgage?

You remember back 30 years or so? A mortgage was at 6% for 25 years. Simple. You locked in, and didn't get out until you were almost dead. Times were much simpler then, and so were mortgages.

Look at today. You may enter into a mortgage with a 25-year amortization, but there is a five-year term. At the end of the term, you sit down and negotiate the next period of time. If you can't reach an agreement, you switch institutions.

You start out fully intending to go the distance, but there are milestones that give both sides a chance to take a second look. At 27 years of age, you thought Royal Bank was the only bank for you. But now, at 32, the Toronto Dominion bank is looking rather fetching.

Using this sort of system, marriage failures would be greatly lessened. In order to succeed, you'd only have to make it to the first re-negotiation point. If it doesn't work out, you cut a new deal.

And just like the mortgage business, things may be a little different when re-negotiation time rolls around. In the mortgage business, the interest rates may be sky high, so you only go for a year to eighteen months. Well, maybe that's all she's willing to agree to, now that she's seen what you look like in the morning, or knows what happens after you eat cabbage rolls.

You see, marriage has been for forever for, well, forever. It hasn't adapted, hasn't moved with the times. Heck, cars used to last 20 years. You see any carmakers offering 20-year warranties these days? No siree! They've come to understand the temporary nature of today's society, and build their cars accordingly.

Under this new system of marriage, we wouldn't hear so much about rising rates of divorce. People would talk about a couple they know, and say, "They were a very successful couple. They re-negotiated three times, and finally got out of it with a lump sum payment."

Michael Beninger is a freelance writer living in Victoria, B.C. He has had two wives, one divorce, and numerous mortgages.

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May 01, 2006
Categories:  Coping with Divorce

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