07 January 2009

Marriage contract with an expiry date

Roughly four years ago, two Filipino essayists suggested a marriage contract that expires every two years. They reasoned that the feeling of love lasts only till that time so it would be impractical to stretch oneself out.

Today, party-list 1-Ako Babaeng Astig Aasenso (1-ABAA) brought the issue to the Congress and proposed a 10-year expiration period to marriage contracts.

A marriage contract is just like a passport or a driver’s license, after all. Married Filipinos should be given a choice to renew theirs if ever.

“Under prevailing laws, a marriage license really has a validity period of only 120 days from issuance, thus, it really has an expiration period like any other license,” explained Margie Tajon, president of the women party-list 1-ABBA.

Unsurprisingly, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) resented the idea. Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan, Chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of CBCP, even maintained that ‘marriage is for keeps and it has no expiry date.’

The Family Code of the Philippines defined marriage license as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life only valid for a period of one hundred twenty days from the date of issue.” Neither could it be automatically canceled nor remodeled upon.

'Till death do us part’

Carmela Lapena of GMANews.TV wrote that it is ‘more like the dread of red tape and the lack of funds that helps [married couples] stick to their vow.’ “When you think about it, what the group wants isn’t really that outrageous… It’s 2010, but when it comes to matters of the heart, most Pinoys still seem to be stuck in the 1950s… It’s more like the dread of red tape and the lack of funds that helps them stick to their “till death do us part" vow—even if they want to kill each other.”

Marck Ronald Rimorin., Head of Social Media at NetBooster Asia, agreed with her. “Married couples that don’t feel the love anymore should have the benefit of counseled divorce or guided annulment to emerge from the failed relationship as better people. Properties should be divided, kids should be taken care of, and obligations fulfilled.”

Soon-to-be-married Kevin Arriola also doesn’t regard 1-ABBA’s proposal ‘a bad idea.’ His fiancée though, Tina Zuñiga, still believes that ‘marriage is a sacred lifelong commitment.’ “It’s not just a trial-and-error process,” she added.

Daniel Barretto, on the other hand, was more concerned of the ‘hassle’ when a person would have to renew a nuptial vow. “Hindi ba parang mawawala yung pagiging ‘big thing’ ng pagpapakasal pag ganun kadali na p’wedeng pabayaan na lang? Parang hindi magandang mag-expire yung kasal dahil hindi mo na talaga maaasikaso [ang renewal ng contract] kung malapit nang mamatay.”

Just find ways to make marriages work properly, suggested Cecille Jabier who had been married for 21 years. Better yet, make provisions for children of dissolved unions. “A marriage contract, if it were only based on money or ‘business' should be able to expire. But a marriage should be more than that. Its currency is in people’s lives and the lives of all those around them. Such relationships do not expire. They are meant to be nurtured.”

Several of the country’s lawmakers have also disapproved of the plan. Speaker Prospero Nograles insisted on his Catholic faith. Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson of Nueva Ecija had favored annulment. Pastor Bienvenido Abante complained about the state of Philippine values.

Solons Rufino Biazon of Muntinlupa and Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina dissented comparing a marriage contract to other kinds of contract. That ‘will endanger the integrity of the ties that bind Philippine Society’ for marriage ‘should not be treated as merely a contract that has an expiry date.’

“It is possible that the batterer will suddenly shift from violent stage to honeymoon stage when the 10-year expiration nears and the cycle of violence will just continue," reasoned Liza Maza of Gabriela party-list who came up with House Bill 4016 instead to give couples an option for divorce.

In Germany, politician Gabriele Pauli suggested marriage contacts to expire every seven years. She is a twice-divorcee at 50.

Though 1-ABAA has a good reason for proposing expiry dates to marriage contracts, Pilipina Ako doesn’t think this has to be so. Unless it would feel natural hearing the following, Pilipina Ako would do what she can to defend the sanctity of marriage.

“I wanna hold you till I die. Till we both break down and cry.
I wanna hold you, till our license expires.”

“It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s not that I don’t love you anymore;
it’s just that our license to love expired.”

“Sayang… expired na pala lisensya mo… kaya tayo magkakalayo…
bakit kaya minsan sadyang kay damot ng tadhana…”

“Ikaw pa rin ang laman ng puso ko. Pero, hindi na ikaw ang laman ng wallet ko.”

“Hindi sa hindi kita kayang mahalin.
Darling, sadyang kay haba lang ng pila sa simbahan.”

If it's any consolation, the proposal doesn't include Muslim weddings.


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