Yes, it may sound awkward, but after having settled quite some divorces for younger couples in the past weeks, I would like to share some thoughts with you, because I think for some people it's about time to see marriage in a different perspective.
I often receive a lot of critical reactions about the fact we make it too easy to divorce, a point I actually disagree with, because at DivorceHotel we try to make divorces more positive and so avoid terrible long lasting divorces that end in fights and huge costs. But I think we should try to make people more aware of what marriage looks like, what it entails and give perspective to the words "I do," because it's a commitment meant to last a lifetime, and that takes a lot of grit and determination, something you may not have acquired enough of when you're young and, perhaps, somewhat impulsive! Not to mention learning the skills of communication and authentic listening, which are one of the other reasons marriage tend to fail.
So let's perhaps make it a bit more complicated to marry. It is not a coincidence that marrying at early age is one of the most common reasons why marriage fails.
Recently, I spoke to a Dutch notary who wrote a cohabitation agreement for a couple. When reading these papers out together with the couple the first irritations did arise. They both had other perspectives based on the agreement, and the session was confrontational, especially for the girl. They were not able to agree on specific subjects, and the papers would not be signed that specific day. After not more than one week, the notary received a phone call that they both decided it was a better idea to go further and live as singles at the moment.
You know, things go fast these days, including the decision to get married. If you ask me, it wouldn't be a bad idea to create a bit more awareness in the minds of younger couples when it concerns marriage. This not only starts at home, but it could also be wise to have, let's say, "pre-marriage counseling sessions" as well. Of course, marriage is an exciting and very romantic journey that starts after you've said: "Yes I do," but on the other hand, you also start a financial/business-like commitment with each other with a lot of rules and obligations. This is something they may have never really thought of when they just put the rings on each other's fingers.
So if we would include a few marriage "how to" sessions a few weeks or months prior to the marriage procedures, this could be a very useful thing. I'm talking in specific about a session or two for youngsters, and separate ones for older couples. Again, just to create some awareness about marriage (financially, legally and emotionally) and thus try to prevent them from entering trouble in the future.
During the session for youngsters, we explain what marriage means and what the consequences are for both their personal and financial situation. Just like the notary reading out his cohabitation agreement for the couple I mentioned earlier. In this stage we talk about marriage as a deal between two people, to create awareness, to prevent them from making wrong decisions, legally, financially and hopefully, emotionally. For older couples that are going to marry, I would like to focus on a different session, which could be an additional session for youngsters as well. In this specific session we make agreements in case marriage would go wrong in the future. We can, for example, agree on the fact they will choose for mediation, we can pre agree on possessions. It is even possible to agree on penalty clauses in case one of the partners will misbehave in a future divorce. It's all about taking care of the future in case situations change and do not end up in total chaos -- a fighting divorce. Sometimes people find these ideas a bit strange, but why? You also have insurances for your house, why not for your marriage and love life?!
Maybe to some this all sounds a bit extreme and farfetched, but I really expect that in the future these kinds of sessions will happen more and more often. If anything, you could save you and your partner some trouble if you think about some questions previous to your marriage and a possible future divorce. I am talking about financial agreements in case of a divorce, visitation agreements regarding kids and for example alimony. These agreements do not have to be worked out very specific, but at least a vision, which is created during a period were husband and wife were still happy together, is more than welcome in case of trouble. At this moment it is rare people think about their conditions of marriage and it is very rare people think about the conditions of their possible divorce. Because of that reason, I decided to share my thoughts with you and, of course, I'm very curious about how you think about these issues as well. So let's make the very important decision when you say: "Yes I do," to be a bit more conscious and deliberate!