Marriage contracts for the insane

Not many Singaporeans would think of marriage as a contract but it is.

I think a marriage contract is the vaguest contract that sane people would ever sign! The termination clause isn't even in the contract but in a separate document: the Woman's Charter. When people talk about marriage, it's always as though that word means the same thing to every couple. But what is marriage?

In business contracts, both parties would understand or attempt to under what is expected before it is signed. The relationship is not determined by the content of the contract but by mutual understanding and agreement of the term which they set out for themselves. But when it comes to marriage, it would be most strange to ask, "What do you expect to get from marriage?"

Should anyone dare to ask that weird question, the answer is supposed to be something along the lines of "I don't expect anything. I just want to offer my love and care. I want us to be together forever." Damned be the person who says, "I expect my spouse to contribute to our household income (and to appreciate my contribution), to accept me as I am, to forgive me when I make mistakes, to listen to my chatter and complaints, help take care of my parents when they are old, take care of me when I'm ill and when I get old, not to have affairs, not to get fat, to want as much or as little sex as I want, to want or not want children as I wish. And if my spouse cannot fulfill these, I would be disappointed and may consider getting divorced."

Pre-nuptials are not recognised here so there is never a need to state what we expect on paper.

How do people sign this contract when they are not even supposed to express what they expect from each other? Cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Any business person would agree that signing a contract with no clear understanding of the expectations and exit clauses is insane. Ironically, the bride and groom are to be of sound state of mind for the marriage contract to be valid. Then it's no wonder that couples who get married are said to be madly in love.


Anonymous said...

Hi Yu Kym,

a marriage contract as u said is really just a social contract. its purpose is to help country management keep track of relations. marriage since time memorial serves both social and (only in recent human history) emotional needs.

it doesn't make any sense to have someone seal in contract his/her commitments in the marriage partnership. these are only by choice and willingness.

we choose who we marry, and if ensuring more money and being taken care of is what you want, a husband is not the best solution. he will be as old as you when you're old and may die earlier than you.

life, love, marriage are not things that could be defined easily. i've married and divorced, got into 1 relationship after, and now in another relationship heading to marriage and i'm 28. i've don't take words on a piece of paper as a lover's promises to me. a real lover makes promises because he wants to. not because the girl hold him at knife's length. it doesn't work.