Legal Disclaimer. This is not legal advice. This document is a public DRAFT and is not final. Consult a lawyer before taking any action because lawyers have monopolies on your ability to take legal action.
Hell, dear reader. This is Walter, Counselor of Laws, licensed in Montana and New York. This is my first post about marriage, divorce, and the philosophy of religion.
And the birth of something new: narriage.
This story begins with the first narriage, between myself and my love, Kamila, Journalist of the West. The story ends with you avoiding the emotional and financial expense of divorce. Of having less costly relationship problems. Again, emotionally and financially. I can guarantee this with easy to enter and exit mediated micro-contracts (1yr - 24yrs). And by talking with me. These mediated micro-contracts can build a lifetime of partnership with another human. You can help me prove that narriage can do a better job than marriage of ensuring healthier and happier children.
If you enjoy the story, the idea, or my face, please share and consider donating. Really. Even a $1 a month is a big deal.
How might one define marriage? Wikipedia believes that marriage “is a culturally recognized union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.”
I live in Montana. And, Montana law believes that: “Marriage is a personal relationship between a man and a woman arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of the parties is essential.” Montana law also criminalizes homosexual conduct with a fine of up to $50,000 and 10 years behind bars.
But. Big surprise. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court believes that Montana’s rigid laws are illegal – a marriage is not merely a contract between a man and a woman – the contract can exist between peoples of the same sex. Or amongst two people on any spectrum of gender.
To me, marriage is both likely to fail, and likely to be a costly failure (emotionally and financially). Like, throw half of your net worth away betting red or black on a roulette wheel in a condemned Atlantic City casino. Actually, it might be worse than a 50/50 bet, because the costs and benefits of marriage can be asymmetric. The entry fees are minimal. Find a friend with an online Church certification, or show up at a courthouse clothed. The exit fees, however, can be quite steep. So many stay trapped in marriages – sometimes at the hands of an abusive spouse.
Enter common law marriage, which exists in our home state, Montana. Common law marriage makes the marriage/divorce asymmetry even more stark. You do not even need the friend with an online church certification. You just need to cohabitate and co-mingle finances (among a wonderfully opaque multi-factor test), they are arguably married. One party can hire a slimy divorce attorney and cost the other party needless trauma via litigation that can stretch out for years. Thus, two idiots (or exceptionally smart people) can bind themselves to a myriad mystery of laws they have never read, largely without even knowing they have done so. It is absurd. And, in contrast, the process of divorce is painful, difficult, and costly.
I posit this imbalance exists in part because the marriage contract was designed for people who lived for <30 years. 1,000 years ago, spending a lifetime with someone was acceptable – most died after <7 years of marriage in war & childbirth. Today, marriages are often tested for 50+ years. When formed, divorce was rare and stigmatized. Today divorce is common (over half of marriages end in divorce), more socially acceptable, but brutal on our children. The high costs that helped make divorce rare 1,000 years ago remain. This is a problem. Perhaps, too, the post-enlightenment media has overplayed the statistical likelihood of "soulmates" - especially because of increasing lifespans.
At a minimum, we are very terrible at finding soulmates. We know this because around half of all marriages do, in fact, end in divorce. And often, divorce is a costly, nasty, and inefficient process that only benefits one breed: Lawyers. They are the worst. I should know – I am a lawyer. And I have a history of handling divorces.
Long before deciding to attend law school, I grew up wondering about these words—“marriage” and “divorce”. That’s because life happens. My parents divorced when I was in first grade. To begin the cleaving process, my mother moved us from El Campo, Texas to Sant Savion, France – in part to test the split with my father. This was my first time to leave Texas. It was a surprise that has left a mark on my soul. In the stark contrast between rural Texas tent revival churches and France’s topless beaches, I found a slightly different cultural relationship to this social contract called marriage then hidden from my mind.
After returning from France, I was obliged to bear witness to a battle between my mother and father. Not a battle to spend more time with me. But the simpler battle over the other thing. Money. It was nasty. My father – also a lawyer – got his way because he knew the system. Or at least that is what my Mom would whisper in her whimpers.
Mothers’ crying on children’s shoulders is the product of many things. But it need not be the result of an antiquated marriage contract that allows any idiot to opt into language, statutes, and obligations they could hardly anticipate – and are not asked, let alone required, to read.
Fast forward to today. My personal story, mapped onto the data underlying divorce, and a law degree from Georgetown University led me to a new word. Narried. Which was first defined in union with the woman I love, Kamila B. Kudelska.
Here begins her story. I grew up in Manhattan to immigrant parents from Poland. A catholic country where marriage is one of the most important things a child will do in his or her life. But before marriage, Catholicism calls for other commitments. Commitments to God. I was Baptized as a baby. I had no say in that. But when I was about to turn nine, I started going to bible classes where I was meant to learn the way of the church and eventually be confirmed.
I sat through those classes once a week and about two weeks before I was supposed to be confirmed, I told my parents I didn’t want to be confirmed in the Catholic faith. I simply didn’t believe in what I was supposed to commit to. I said I would get confirmed when I could say I could faithfully commit. Two weeks later I was confirmed against my will.
Being forced into committing myself to a religion made me unwilling to commit myself to anything…really. That includes marriage. But luckily, I found a guy with some ideas of something we could both agree to commit to. That means the world to us both. We want to share this joy we found in a world too filled with pain. So we are revealing these all too personal stories with you. And our narriage.
Our narriage is not narriage. But it is nearly marriage. She is my nife (pronounced knife). And he is my nusband. We are the first of our kind.
Like our dog, Wes. Who is one special wookiee (technically, an Akbash mixed with Labradoodle) and an excellent interlude.
Anyhow. We were discussing narriage. A word we invented. Narriage is a term contract, meaning that it’s default is not “until death do we part.” Rather, a narriage typically lasts for one, three, four, seven, eighteen, or twenty-four years. By way of example, our Narriage is set to last three years - so will expire or renew (with same of different terms) in January 2023. The reason we selected a three year term is because that is when Kamila will be 30 and we will need to decide whether or not we want babies. If we decide we do want to create (miracuously) mini versions of ourselves, we will be looking at an extension to 18 or 24 years (24 being the age that the actual mental maturity.)
So, for you, dear reader. At the end of each period of a narriage, the spousal arrangement is reviewed, updated, or concluded. The narriage does all of this while providing the same or similar rights and responsibilities as a marriage (except for some potentially important tax regulations - that while potentially unconstitutional, remain in effect.)
But, state laws are not set up to allow an abomination such as a temporal marriage contract! Why, that is slander against GOD! Or, more soberly, Religion, and the male ownership of their baby making counterparts. So we have to work around, or hack, the legal system to give you a narriage.
Thus, we are developing templates for similar couples looking for an alternative to marriage So what are the details?
The first answer is, it depends on what state you live in. Texas and New York will be our first markets served. But, generally – For the average couple, it takes three or four documents: a vow document; a mirrored durable financial and healthcare power of attorney; a mirrored will; and a child rearing constitution.
Each of these documents is designed to give you all or most of the governmental benefits available to one’s spouse. The right to be present in their hospital room. The right to determine how their remains are treated. The right to benefit jointly. They can also give you more rights – like the right to sign for one another in contract – and to control one’s business in sickness. These few documents are all you need to have a healthy, trusting relationship with a person you are potentially going to have a baby, or a house with.
But how do you get out!!!??? It is true. Some of us will not last a lifetime – or even seven years. For those who must terminate at the end of the contract, or even mid contract – the solution is the same. It’s called mediation. There will be those documents mentioned above you can void with the stroke of your pen. But issues of child rearing and financial separation will need to be addressed. The pre-selected mediator will help guide you to a fair solution for you, and more importantly, for your kids. And with far less headache than hiring lawyers or a judge (possibly nearly free if you find the right mediator). The mediator would be selected at the time of contract. A mediator can be a lawyer, a judge, a mutual friend, a family member, a priest or really whoever you would like. Their decision is non-binding. But should be heavily influential. Finding the right mediator may be the most important challenge that any new Narriage must confront. So start thinking early about who you can both trust 100%. It is not an easy answer. But any answer is better than the judges - and lawyers/guardians ad litems - you will have no power to select.
Back to the four necessary documents. You get to see our first - the vow document - now. It is free from us to you. Just plug in your email below and you we will send you a copy.
Until next post, we'll conclude with our proposed Wikipedia belief: "narriage is a culturally recognized union, for a specified time, between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws."
Good luck, Friends.