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Marriage commentary: Cool the ardor, focus on practicalities

Most Georgia residents and people elsewhere across the country are well accustomed to perusing, negotiating and executing agreements across a wide spectrum of matters.

Indeed, many of us expect and insist upon it, not wanting to be shortchanged down the road or encounter unforeseen circumstances that lack a resolution process. We have agreements with providers of cable TV, with cellphone companies and with various retailers. As noted by a Huffington Post contributor, “We start a relationship with our mortgage holder with at least a 30-page document.”

That same writer, though, notes that we essentially fly blind into what is potentially for many people the longest-tenured relationship of their life.

That is of course marriage, which most people enter into without a thought of cementing understandings and expectations -- and, as writer Lara Lillibridge states, “deal breakers” -- into a written compact focused on assumptions and practicalities.

Yes, some couples have a prenuptial agreement or postmarital contract, but Lillibridge is referring to something far beyond that. She is essentially asking her audience to consider marriage in the manner that businesses are run, that is, with clearly spelled out expectations regarding all important aspects of it.

Such things might normally encompass division of labor, management of assets, parameters concerning the raising of the kids and the spending of time with friends and family members.

And as for those deal breakers, Lillibridge mentions the potential invocation of an “unless, to wit: I will continue to stay with you unless you physically or emotionally abuse me, unless you gamble away our savings, unless you don’t pay attention to the children … and so forth.

Much of what Lillibridge writes seems firmly tongue-in-cheek, although there is no mistaking her seriousness on this point: Spending a bit more time than is usually the case before marriage thinking “a little bit more about practicalities and less about abstract love” might go far toward retaining some marital magic down the road.

Source: Huffington Post, "What if we treated marriage more like the contract it is?" Lara Lillibridge, Nov. 27, 2013

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