Americans are trying new things when it comes to marriage.
There’s the beta marriage, for example, which is basically a two-year trial marriage that 43 percent of millennials would be in support of, according to Time magazine. Although not all critics are sold on the idea — and there are some benefits that traditional marriage has over a two-year style, too.
But the latest thing that some people are considering is a marriage contract. Quartz’s Danielle Teller, a physician and researcher, explained that it may make sense for couples to put together a marriage contract before tying the knot. She argues, it may be better than saying vows during the wedding ceremony, since everyone wants a happy life after marriage.
“Perhaps, then, everyone should have a prenuptial agreement, not to address division of assets, but to delineate the circumstances under which each party believes the marriage could or should be dissolved, and to set out behavioral expectations for that unfortunate circumstance,” Teller wrote.
But what would a marriage contract look like?
Here are a few things people are searching for in marriage, with a sample contract at the end:
Americans want love
What do Americans want the most when getting married? Love — the indefinable, consciousness altering state that people find themselves in with others. According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of Americans list love as a very important reason for getting married — more than any other option for the survey, including a lifelong commitment, companionship and having kids.
One crucial part of marriage is safety, according to Psychology Today. Using research and psychological studies, expert Susan Pease Gadoua said a big part of married life is providing security for the person you’re with. Couples feeling safe around each other tend to have a better marriage, especially because it creates an abuse-free environment.
“To feel safe with each other, you take care of and provide comfort to one another, create a home, have financial security, mutual trust, mutual honesty, protect one another physically, mentally and emotionally, and create an abuse-free environment within the marriage,” Gadoua wrote.
Talk it out
Having open communication and feeling comfortable with speaking about feelings, issues and worries is an important part of marriage for many Americans. BeliefNet listed “open communication” as the first necessity for married couples.
“Marriage is sometimes difficult — don't compound it by keeping secrets. Tell each other everything and your relationship will show the results,” according to BeliefNet.
This isn’t something out of the ordinary, either. A study by the American Psychological Association found that divorce rates were cut in half when couples talk things out.
A good relationship with the in-laws
What’s the secret to a longer marriage? It may be a good relationship with the in-laws. A 26-year study by Terry Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, found that when husbands have a better relationship with their spouse’s family, the marriage lasts long. In fact, the study showed it’ll lower the risk of divorce by 20 percent. So a good relationship with the in-laws couldn’t hurt, right?
Stop the lying
Dr. Pepper Schwartz of the AARP wrote in 2012 that lying has big consequences in marriage. Sure, white lies are commonplace and bound to happen to avoid confrontation, he said. But little lies can grow to ferocious fibs, causing despondence and a void in the heart of the marriage, Schwartz wrote. His solution is to just stop the lying.
“The end result will be much more open communication and negotiation,” he wrote. “Instead of dodging the issues, dealing with them head on usually leaves both partners feeling that they have a strong, resilient bond.”
Caring about the career
Americans are marrying later in life than ever before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that women are getting married at an average of 25.1 years old, with men getting married at 26.8 years old, according to ABC News. And a part of that is because Americans, especially women, want to flesh out their career path and build a better future.
"I wanted to be financially secure," said Jennifer Ragland, an unmarried 31-year-old who spoke to ABC News. "I would never want to depend on anybody."
Psychology Today reported that 2 million out of the 22 million people who moved for jobs last year were husbands, showing it’s something that Americans will do.
“Either way, a battle will ensue: first an internal war with culturally prescribed roles, then an external dash with those who strike against people who break the rules,” wrote Anne Hendershott for Psychology Today. “It will no doubt be a painful process that will get easier only as more couples take the challenge.
Financial responsibility and caring about the career isn’t a major issue for most Americans, according to the Pew study. But it did rank as the top somewhat important reason for getting married, showing a care for people when it comes to career.
According to Statistic Brain, a research and resource website, 41 percent of married Americans admitted to infidelity — whether it’s physical or emotional. And that’s a big problem for Americans, who see infidelity as a massive moral issue. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Americans found sexual infidelity as an immoral issue — up 10 percent from 2011.
Based on these needs and wants of marriage, what would a marriage contract in today’s society look like? Here’s one take:
I, ___________, hereby agree to follow the outlined provisions below as a way to secure my marriage to _________. By failing to meet the provisions listed below, this marriage is subject to termination.
The provisions of which I have agreed to are as follows:
1. I shall always love ________. Having reached this point where we are engaged and on the precipice of marriage, I have already declared my love for ____ and must keep that love.
2. I will always protect ____ in terms of physical safety and financial stability, nor will I ever make ___ feel as though they are unsafe in the home.
3. I vow to always talk out my issues with _____. This doesn't necessarily pertain to the issues we directly share with each other, but issues overall to help us both relieve stress and hash out the problems we face daily.
*4. No matter how difficult or sitcom-like my relationship will get with _____’s family members, I will do my best to make things work with them. *
5. I acknowledge that ____’s career is as important as mine, and that we both have equal right to talk about what we’re doing in the workforce. If either of us look to move for a new opportunity, both I and ____ will talk it out, as expressed in provision 3.
*6. I vow above all else not to commit adultery or infidelity during my marriage to _____. *
By signing below, I, ________, agree to the aforementioned provisions and to marry _____, giving my whole heart everyday for the rest of my life.
PRINT: _______________ SIGNED _______________