Matt Sweetwood

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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It's Time To Change the Way Marriage Works

It all started with a humorous Facebook post I made recently about my fear of marriage. I was taking my usual Saturday walk-about in Manhattan when I turned the corner on 42nd street, near Grand Central Terminal, and I came across a wedding photography shoot. I snapped selfies with the wedding parties.


This post initiated a significant discussion about whether marriage is a failing institution or not. In addition to the 75+ comments on the post, I received numerous private messages furthering the conversation.

So I decided to do a little more research.

The U.S. wedding industry is a $72 billion dollar industry according to an IBISWorld research report. The national average cost of a wedding, according to The Knot, is $35K across all demographics. We all know, in major metropolitan areas, you can spend $35K on just the banquet hall.

The average marriage lasts about 8 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We also see from this census that the divorce rate for first marriages is almost 50%, over 60% for second marriages, and a whopping 74% for third marriages. Not very good odds at all.

Since most marriages are ending in divorce, that means a contribution will likely be made to the $50 billion dollar a year divorce industry. And according to wevorce, the average divorce costs $100,000.

This begs the question: Is marriage a failed and money draining institution? My answer is that the way we engage (pun intended) in marriage now, it is a failure. But I have a unique fix to this problem that I gave for the first time publicly in my LIVE Sunday Night Show.

And the fix is simple: Marriage should have a 2-year expiration date with an automatic renewal, if both parties agree to continue, within 60 days of the end of the 2 years. And the marriage contract should be required to explicitly spell out in simple terms how all the assets and custody issues will be divided at the end of the 2 years. If you can’t agree on how things should be divided when you are getting married, then you shouldn't get married.

This fix addresses the fundamental issue with marriage: it is a lifetime contract that requires no performance. Imagine you hire someone to work for you and you tell them they are hired forever, will get paid forever and they don’t have to do anything, if they don’t want to (no government worker jokes please). How do you think that employee will perform in 10 years from now, even if they took the job with the best of intentions?

Making marriage a 2-year renewable deal will ensure that no one gets stuck in a bad place and will make both parties know that they must perform - be good spouses or the arrangement will end. And 2 years is enough time to see your spouse go through all the life-cycle events. And it’s not so long that you have wasted much of your life with the wrong person.

My marriage fix will virtually wipe-away the entire divorce industry, will eliminate much of the pain and suffering that happens with bad and failing marriages, will improve the performance of people within marriages, and will get more people to be willing to make the marriage commitment to each other.

So, let’s fix the awful life sentence that marriage can become and say, “I do” to a more sensible and likely successful, 2-year deal.


Want a BIG LIFE Hack? The Join my interactive (you can ask questions) LIVE SHOW every Sunday Night at 8pm ET on Relationships, Parenting, Divorce, Dating, Happiness and Health. You can watch LIVE on my Facebook page, catch the replay there, or the day after on my Youtube.

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Matt Sweetwood

3 years ago #42

Timothy, I am sorry to see you in so much pain and to see you so angry. As a minister you know that calling someone a name and trying to shame them in public is not proper. If all people follow God's will marriage would be great. But the fact is many people don;t and have, for their own personal gain, and at the incredible expense of others, used marriage in way that causes destruction. My article attempted to bring the discussion to the forefront, get people to think and react - which it did.

Matt Sweetwood

3 years ago #41

Well put. Thank you for your comment.

Matt Sweetwood

3 years ago #40


Matt Sweetwood

3 years ago #39

You ruined your religious argument for lifetime marriage with a personal attack. Which, predictably, you deliver from the safety of your own home. The purpose of my article is to start a much needed discussion - as you point out.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #38

I didn't comment the first time this post was around because this viewpoint is a product of a great life's disappointments. It is difficult to convince the author to the contrary opinion, knowing the story behind this post. People with positive marriage experience, like myself, will find this 2-year contract proposal odd, to put it mildly. But our viewpoints are shaped by our life experiences and what works for one doesn't work for someone else. Marriage is not for everyone.

Paul Walters

3 years ago #37

ouch !!! Timothy welch's post albeit tongue in cheek

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #36

Matt Sweetwood - I think that two years might be too short, a five year term would be better. Also both partners have to commit to pre-marriage counselling.

Matt Sweetwood

4 years ago #35

Not surprising since I took a shot at marriage :D

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #34

90 comments Matt \ud83d\udc1d Sweetwood. Not bad !

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #33

LOL. Don't worry about acting or not acting like who you are. Just be who you are and love yourself, anyway. Even if you end up in a straight jacket and on meds, they can't actually change WHO you are. Tell your ex, her efforts would be futile!
I read that 2017 is going to be a busy year for hurricanes. Not cool.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #31

ha, I can't imagine, considering how hot our tempers were back then. Our communication technique(s) have changed tremendously over time. We just ignore each other now and it works out great. I kid, but I must say, we have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn!
Good luck on your new endeavor. 🎬 BTW, Happy Father's Day! 🏆

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #29

Happy Father's Day, Gerald Hecht.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #28

As long as nobody is trying to "run" me, I'm happy. Love begins within oneself. If you genuinely love who you are, then you will never need anyone to give you some sense of completion. Looking for that in another will only lead to disappointment. Also, if your relationship with yourself is completely healthy, then your partner will always feel safe with you. With that comes, trust, security, etc., assuming both partners are equally emotionally balanced. If one partner is "off" so to speak, then the relationship will be challenged in ways that will undermine its success. That's my take on things, for whatever it is worth. :)

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #26

We had a rocky start because we were so young when we met. My husband was 15, I was 16. We married at age 21. Our first child was born when I was 22, almost 23 years old. Life was not easy and there were times I felt like walking away. I'm so glad I rode out the waves (and believe me, I'm not saying that's possible for everyone) but we are closer now than I would have ever imagined 20 years ago. I think in our case, hard times made both of us appreciate simpler times and much more. Is our life perfect, no... far from it but it's beautiful in ways that are hard to describe.

David Navarro López

4 years ago #25

In response to your buzz, I had to write this one Hope you like it

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #24

Of all the couples I know who have been together for 20 years or more, I only know one that seems to be genuinely happy together. Looks can be deceiving, however.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

4 years ago #23

is this for real or are you joking ?

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

4 years ago #22

Gerald HechtGeral 🤣🤣🤣🤣

Irene 🐝 Rodriesco

4 years ago #21

«but perhaps a provision should be considered for the parents to remain married until the kids reach a certain age of maturity. I believe that adversarial divorces -- which comprise the majority -- can have a devastating impact on children and teens which can leave permanent scars». Really? Included when there are indications of gender violence? I do not agree, because then waiting for the maturity of those sons and daughters the scars would be even more devastating. Thus creating possible abusers.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #20

It means something else where I come from, Gerald Hecht.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #19

LOL, Best line (not line.. real story) I read today Ian Weinberg!!! :))

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #18

haha! You poor bugger!

Ian Weinberg

4 years ago #17

My wife's a marriage counselor ... and she's now standing behind me as I type. So have a great day everyone!

John Prpich

4 years ago #16

Matt, what even makes those statistics more interesting is if we could take the percentage of people that are cheating on their spouse, yet somehow survive, it makes the 50% number look even worse. For those who are interested in a relationship later in life, you not only have to contend with meeting someone new, but have to consider how much baggage they are going to bring to the relationship and can you weather that storm. From what I've observed, the answer is no. Loribeth, those aren't just numbers, those are indicators of the odds of success, trust me I know, I've been at it for 43 years. It's a failing institution and has been for sometime.

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

4 years ago #15

Ah, lawful wedlock with loyal, loving hearts gives a ligament to perpetual bliss! :)

Katyan Roach

4 years ago #14

Thanks for the positive spin Lisa \ud83d\udc1d

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #13

Having done the marriage thing twice, I can comfortably say that I'm quite okay with the idea of never having a man live under the same roof as me. Now, if he wants to move next door for convenient access to mutually pleasurable company, then that may be worth considering. I shall not do his laundry, clean his house, mother his children, be his secretary/ personal assistant... you know the drill. I'm 53 and happy to be me!
"Relationships serve as a mirror for that which needs to be healed within ourselves." Wow, @Jennifer Heflin -- you got me with that, and I might not have seen it if Matt \ud83d\udc1d Sweetwood hadn't written this post and mentioned it. I don't know if a contract would work, Matt, especially with a first-time marriage of young people, but later? Oh yeah. I can see where it might. And Jennifer, you just socked me between the eyes because as I look back at my two husbands, each DID help me heal from some childhood pains . . . so for that sudden knowledge, I thank you (and them). I still like living on my own now, though.
Oh come on Matt \ud83d\udc1d Sweetwood Vaaaaaaaamooooooos!

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #10

What strikes me in this is that there is no mention of the word relationship , love mutual affection etc.... Marriage is not the issue the issue is people not getting on.... in all friendship allow me a cliché but this view of the world is very clinical and US centric :-) Not everything needs to become an industry or does it ? :-)

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #9

I've been married for 35 years so it's hard for me to grasp this concept. I was trying to imagine (God forbid) if I were suddenly single... would I find a renewable 2 yr. contract viable? I came to a personal conclusion that it would never work for me. Did anyone question the idea that one person may want to renew and the other person may want to nullify the contract after 2 years? How would that work? I also think it could add a lot of stress to a marriage, possibly with one or both people trying to over perform which could lead to resentment and increased arguing. Falling in love which can lead to marriage comes first. Weddings don't have to be expensive at all, it's a choice and I think there are too many people who spend way too much on their wedding/reception and possibly go into debt because of it. To me, simple is best. Marriage is work. I remember my mother always telling me that marriage takes a lot of patience, understanding, communication and work. She was right. It's a commitment that no one should take lightly. My brother just celebrated his 25th anniversary, my sister celebrated her 27th. There is hope!
I think of marriage as a commitment. You're either in it for the long term or you're not. IMO, marriage is not for everyone.
i do not think we should blame the instituion, because afterall the glass is half full as you told us to think and start to behave positive. In fact anything can fail because the world is divided into good people, bad people and those won't do a sh*** to make good things happen. Culture and social pressure lead all generation to get wed for the wrong reasons, or worse they will chnage life's project without being totally honest with the partner, therefore they will break their word, making them for ever again and again non reliable persons, you shouldn't trust. The snake will bite and the scorpion stings their prey. Laws of nature, no exception for humans the greatest predators earth carried.
I wonder if love is overrated? How about profound attachment? An agreement to be faithful? But the 2-year deal sounds great. People change. Sometimes one changes and the other doesn't. Marriage is compromise and compromise is difficult. Two people showing they can compromise from the outset sounds terrific.

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #5

Thanks for sharing your unique perspective and important insights, Matt. I commend you for being outspoken on this issue. You make some excellent points, as usual. Just a couple of additional factors for consideration: 1) I like your idea about a renewable deal, especially as someone who has been married twice. Renewing vows can help rekindle romance and reiterate to each party the positive reasons about why they got married in the first place. However, I would suggest extending the time period to 5-years. It's just my personal observation that after about five years some marriages tend to go on autopilot and that's when trouble could start -- assuming everything else has been going generally well. Then there's that so-called "7-year itch" which I think is gender neutral in the modern times. 2) Some sociologists and others argue that the traditional nuclear family is a critically important component to raising well adjusted children because they need the presence of two parents under one roof. I'm not citing an studies or empirical evidence on this, but perhaps a provision should be considered for the parents to remain married until the kids reach a certain age of maturity. I believe that adversarial divorces -- which comprise the majority -- can have a devastating impact on children and teens which can leave permanent scars. 3) My final point is that the institution of marriage has in fact changed -- for better or worse -- as same-sex couples now have legal protection to tie-the-knot. I'm not saying whether this is necessarily a good or bad thing, as this issue stokes major controversy. Thanks for considering these points, Matt. I would welcome any feedback. Lastly, I would note that your buzzing blog posts are always beneficial for personal growth, leadership and learning -- not to mention promoting discussions on important topics. Thus, as you would say, keep buzzing!

Martin Wright

4 years ago #4

i have heard this idea before. Not sure it would work. Can you imagine all those unemployed lawyers all over the place making the streets look untidy. The cockroaches complaining about the falling standards. Doesnt bear rhinking about.

Helena Jansen van Vuuren

4 years ago #3

That's a funny read to someone like me. Eight months I think into the 1st marriage - packed my bags and ran. Second lasted about 5 years - maybe some of us are just not built for 63 and have married friends mostly - they are just people who decided they could rub along or maybe they are of a breed (yes they still exist) that considers divorce a no no - the scandal etc. Am content with my life, happiness is a strange concept.....a bit like an orgasm - an awful lot of work for a few seconds reward...(sorry my nature is just to take the michael) - be kind, love yourself and care for others...not much wrong there!

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #2

Always appreciate hearing from you Matt \ud83d\udc1d Sweetwood. I do apologize that I am coming late into this discussion. Is it just me, or have any other of your readers or listeners had a problem with the whole incorporation (pun intended) of marriage into business? As a business it has failed and has enabled side industries to flourish. Coming from this business approach, your 2 year plan sounds like a potential alternative to what's currently happening. But what would happen if you put the human relationship factor back into the concept of marriage. Emotional and physical bonding are part of a healthy life cycle, generationally speaking. Even if there are no children involved. If you limit these needs to being met on a short term or immediate gratification basis, then just dispense of any contractual needs. Your 2 year plan then becomes an option for some but it doesn't have to be established as a new standard to an old institution.
No need to be afraid. If selections are based on characteristics of substance, marriages can work. Too many men automatically screen women out based on looks or shape. Attention needs to be paid to common values, shared interests, integrity, and loyalty.

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