Mexico's 'temporary' marriages: till death – or two years – do us part
Mexico City is studying a plan to introduce 'temporary' marriage licenses – letting couples choose after two years to split or renew the license for life – in an effort to mitigate the effects of divorce.
(Page 2 of 2)
But the Catholic Church has denounced the new proposal as an attack on marriage.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Wacky weddings
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
This is not the first time the church has butted heads with the capital, which critics say is liberalizing its conception of family much faster than the rest of the country. Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to legalize gay marriage in 2009. Under the leadership of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, himself married three times, the city also legalized abortion.
Claudia de la Peña, cousin of the bride, has mixed feelings about it. She herself has opted for a legal union instead of marriage, but she says she worries that it could undermine customs. “It’s almost like playing a game. I think you should think well before you get married and make a commitment,” she says. “If you want to leave, you will leave, whether you are married or not.”
And many see the initiative as unnecessary, especially because "express divorces" have been implemented in Mexico already, in 2008, expediting the procedure. Nationwide some 70 percent of dissolutions end up in separations, not divorce, anyway, says Ms. Ojeda. And the number of "consensual unions," a kind of unofficial marriage dating back to colonial Spain, is also significant and increasing.
"I don’t think a two-year contract will increase the marital stability of the Mexican family,” she says.
So-called temporary marriages have a long history though. References to “handfasting,” or a temporary betrothal period , appear as far back as the Middle Ages, and the Incas of South America practiced “trial marriages.” These arrangements were not always good for women, easily abandoned as single mothers.
But bride Ortiz sees a flip side for her gender, especially those in abusive households. “When they are getting hit, it is very hard for them to leave, the man never wants to,” she explains. The two-year license proposal in her city could make women’s lives easier in such scenarios.
But, she doesn’t regret that the proposal is not yet law for her wedding day. She and her husband, together for three years, chose not to live together first, and they both see their vows as the beginning of an entire lifetime, not a test run. “I feel that if you get married,” she says, “it should be forever.”