LEVINSON at JURIS.LAW.NYU.EDU
Fri Oct 29 15:47:07 PDT 1999
Rick quotes the Louisiana "contract":
"We do solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for so long as they both may live, [HOW ABOUT ADDING, "WHATEVER THE COSTS TO EITHER OR BOTH OF US WITH REGARD TO OUR OWN HAPPINESS"}. We have chosen each other carefully [WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? CONSIDER HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS WHO FELL IN LOVE AT 16 AND SIGN A COVENANT MARRIAGE CONTRACT AT 18. IS IT CHOICE OR RAGING HORMONES (AND HOW DOES ANY OF US TELL THE DIFFERENCE)] and disclose to one another everything [EVERYTHING? WHAT IF IT LATER SHOWN THAT ONE OF THE PARTIES DID NOT IN FACT DISCLOSE "EVERYTHING," SUCH AS AN EARLY SEXUAL EXPERIENCE, TORTURING AN ANIMAL, CHEATING AT POKER, SHOPLIFTING A SWEATER FROM THE LOCAL DEPARTMENT STORE, ETC. WOULD THAT BE GROUNDS FOR CLAIMING THAT THE CONTRACT WAS ENTERED INTO FRAUDULENTLY AND THUS IS LEGITIMATELY VOIDABLE?} which could adversely affect the decision to enter into
this marriage. We have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage [HOW ABOUT THE PITFALLS OF MARRIAGE. WERE THE PARTIES FORCED, AS IN A DRIVE EDUCATION COURSE, TO WATCH SCENES OF BAD MARRIAGES AND TOLD "THIS COULD WELL HAPPEN TO YOU, AND, WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT, THIS VERY COUPLE CLAIMED TO BE AS MUCH IN LOVE, WHEN THEY WERE FIRST MARRIED, AS YOU DO TODAY"?]. We have read the Covenant Marriage Act, and we understand that a Covenant Marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO TAKE ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS [emphasis added by Levinson. WHAT IF "ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS" STILL LEAVE ONE OR BOTH OF THE PARTIES FEELING TRAPPED IN A LOVELESS (OR LIFELESS) MARRIAGE. I PRESUME THAT ADHERENTS OF ETERNAL MARRIAGE (WHICH, BY THE WAY, IS A DISTINCTLY CATHOLIC RATHER THAN PROTESTANT DOCTRINE, SEE, E.G., JOHN MILTON AND OTHER GREAT EARLY PROTESTANTS) WOULD FIND THIS IRRELEVANT.] to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.
With full knowledge of what this commitment means[THIS IS AN ENTIRELY FANICFUL CONCEPT. NOT A SINGLE HUMAN BEING AS "FULL KNOWLEDGE" EX ANTE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BECOME A SPOUSE OR A PARENT OR, FOR THAT MATTER, A LAW SCHOOL DEAN OR MEMBER OF THE ARMED FORCES DURING TIME OF WAR (NOT THAT THESE LATTER TWO ARE FULLY COMPARABLE :) ), we do hereby declare that our marriage will be bound by Louisiana law on Covenant Marriages and we promise to love, honor, and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives."
I would contineu to counsel anyone who asked me that it would be stupid in the extreme to sign such a ontract and that giving up a relationship with a control freak who insisted on one's doing so would be a cheap price to pay.
For what it is worth, incidentally, I tend to agree with what my colleague Doug Laycock wrote about marriage, including the premise that people *should* try to keep their marriages together and that it is also delusionary to believe that extricating oneself from a marriage, even if it is terrible beyond belief, does not bring with it significant (and severe) costs.
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