Mexico legislators propose bill creating two-year ‘test marriages’

Legislators in Mexico recently proposed a bill that would allow couples to “test” their marriages for a minimum of two years before deciding to split up or stay together.

The agreement would be made prior to the marriage, taking into account alimony and child support, and reduce the number of divorce cases family judges would see.

According to the BBC, half of all marriages in Mexico end in divorce. U.S. statistics are similar: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, there were 6.8 people married per 1,000, but 3.4 per 1,000 filed for divorce.

Statistics for Milwaukee County show that in 2010 there were 4,228 marriages and 2,341 divorces — the highest rate for both marriage and divorce in Wisconsin.

Although such statistics seem justifiable for the proposed bill, there are critics of the proposition in both Mexico and in Milwaukee.

Jill Turcott-Nielsen, a psychotherapist who has counseled couples in marriage and sex for more than 30 years, said this is no different than a ‘trial’ marriage and is very similar to couples living together prior to marriage.

She also said that such marriage contracts make the concept of marriage disposable.

“It’s like building a foundation on sand instead of cement,” Turcott-Nielsen said. “You can always step out when you stop being happy and it’s not a commitment to get through the rough patches … ‘til death do us part’ has been replaced by ‘as long as I’m happy.’”

Turcott-Nielsen speculates, however, that the legislators who proposed the bill, including primary spokesperson for the bill Leonel Luna, have ulterior motives, mainly to increase their political following with younger demographics.

“This politician is looking for votes and to be popular,” Turcott-Nielsen said. “No question it goes with the times, with all of the debates on abortion and gay marriages. You can expect he’s going to get a lot of votes and he probably will.”

Turcott-Nielsen also cited a University of Wisconsin-Madison study that found couples who engaged in trial marriages and cohabited before marriage had higher rates for alcoholism, depression, violence against women and poor communication problems.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph J. Czarnezski said no such law in Wisconsin allows for a ‘trial’ marriage.

“As far as I know, nothing in Wisconsin legislature would allow a marriage to expire except annulment, divorce or death,” Czarnezski said.

He said he is not sure what the difference between the proposed trial marriage and a prenuptial agreement is, but that such a proposal could harm marriages in that it could make it easier for people to get divorces.

Czarnezski also said that the number of marriage licenses being issued in Milwaukee is lower than in the past, meaning less people are getting married.

Marquette students do not take too kindly to the bill, either. Some think that such an agreement would cast a cloud over the idea of marriage.

Jannie Boulanger, a freshman in the College of Communication, questioned why one would plan on getting a divorce after two years of being married.

“That’s one of the things you don’t want to happen,” she said.

Still, some think the bill is reasonable considering today’s society.

“It sounds realistic because a lot of marriages don’t last long, but you want to go into a marriage thinking it’s going to last forever,” said Joanna Kelley, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences.