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September 06, 2017

Does Our Generation’s ‘Happily Ever After’ Last Only Six Months?

Text by By Shivani Tibrewala

We look at a world that ditches the concept of ‘forever’ entirely and jumps into a marriage that comes with an expiry date

It’s not easy to delude yourself into believing that you are a princess entitled to a fairytale ending when nobody is walking around with a glass slipper anymore (thank goodness, never the most comfortable footwear anyway). The diamond industry burning and crashing seems to augur a dark future for happily-ever-after aspirants rushing to tie the knot. At a time when divorce rates are soaring higher than real estate prices, how do you make sure that the ring being slipped onto your finger stays there? Does a fairy-tale wedding guarantee you a fairy-tale marriage?

As you can possibly tell, marriage is edging away from its rustic, idyllic hearth-home-family-crowded-around-a-Christmas-tree image and teetering on the brink of a slightly Grimm-er fairy tale. We live in a time of jaded Cinderellas and cynical Prince Charmings. It’s going to take a lot more than a ring to get today’s couples to say ‘I do’ to an idea that has become more of an expensive annual event than an institution (thank goodness – I mean, seriously, who wants to be institutionalised?). Wedding planners have actually managed to create off-beat weddings for the renegade lovers who dare to tread down this beaten-into-pulp path, but jazzing up the marriage itself might be more the order of the day. Given that life expectancy has soared alarmingly thanks to all the advances in medical science, forever really does take forever to unfold. Whereas earlier you could expect to spend maybe 15 to 20 years at most with your partner, today you could be looking at as many as (gasp!) 70 to 80 years together, depending on how early you bite the dust. In times when your iPhone model becomes obsolete by the time you’ve caught up with the latest meme, isn’t it a lot to ask of people that they not outgrow each other or drift apart in seven decades? How do you arrive at the ‘happily ever after’?

So as a public interest initiative, I have come up with a solution.  Marriage – but with an expiry date. Yes, you heard me right. Marry away, all you want – but know that you have to say goodbye in six months. Put it in the prenup. I promise to love you, honour you….for the next six months. Put it in writing. The idea, of course, is that you quit while you’re both ahead. Love (or at least lust) is likely to last (hopefully) during the honeymoon period. Before it sours, quit. Move on while you are both still pining after each other, to the next partner. Play musical beds. This way you don’t even have to deal with the complications of polyamory, adultery, swinging, and such others. You get to call yourself loyal, faithful and other loaded-with-positivity epithets. And this way if the love sours even before you hit six months, well at least you know there is light at the end of a very short tunnel. You will make it through. The only caveat is, of course, you might think you have found The One. In which case the good news is Fiona gets to have six glorious months with Shrek after which they get to dump each other and pine for each other forever, keeping love intact.

Since you know you have only six months, you are on a deadline. You go out of your way to please your partner, to be the best they have ever had because that’s how you want to be remembered. You’re going to make them wish they never made you sign that prenup. (Incidentally, this is their strategy too.) So you both go out of your way to make the other one feel on top of the world. Yeah, I can see how that would be a really bad thing. Not!

Economically, this is fantastic for the world. Look at the number of additional jobs it would create in the wedding planning industry alone.  Plus the number of banquet rooms we would need, the fashion designers required, the bands that would be hired to play at these weddings, the talent it would nurture…you would actually be responsible for bringing about a gigantic revolution in the world of art. Really, when you think about it, this six-month marriage thing is just your foray into philanthropy.

What about our families, you ask? What about them? Since it’s just for six months, your partner will go out of his/her way to get along with them, for the five minutes that you choose to share your partner with your family. When your mother asks your husband to have lunch with her, chances are he won’t say no – you will.

As for kids – you have to outgrow your own thinking patterns. If you can be bohemian enough to embrace this lifestyle, why underestimate your child? For all you know, they will be relieved that they don’t have to hear Hansel and Gretel read in exactly the same inflection night after night. They might actually be happy to hear a rendition of this terrifying story (I refuse to call it a fairy tale). We have been conditioned to believe that kids like routine and consistency. Kids over 12 should get to decide which parent they’d like to live with at the end of six months.  Eventually, kids may end up with a set of parents who are not even their original biological ones. But that’s okay. Maybe it’s time the village raised our kids again since we don’t exactly seem to be getting it right. Look at what we have done to our world.

So come on Rapunzels, let down your hair. It’s time to detangle. Just think, if another bloke with more sense and compassion had tried his luck with Rapunzel after six months, she might have gotten out of that tower sooner instead of ending up giving birth to twins in a desert. And the prince might not have ended up blind. Just saying!

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