Second marriage? Love and a contract

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Second marriage? Love and a contract


Statistics Korea released the 2000-10 Marital Status and Life Report for the first time this year, which forecast that one in five boys born in 2010, or 20.9 percent, would never marry, compared to 15.1 percent of girls born in the same year who would stay single for life. One in four boys and girls will get divorced, according to the report.

Those born in 2010 are not special. The numbers were calculated based on past and present trends, and they illustrate the direction of our society.

A matchmaking company is offering an interesting service: contract remarriage for those who had previously been married. While people get married for love, they get divorced for all kinds of different reasons, so the divorcees want to make sure they are clear of those obstacles in any future marriage.

That’s where the service comes in. After dating for a certain period of time, a professional marriage manager would consult both parties to draft a contract laying out the specifics of finances, sharing of household duties, family relationships, lifestyles, sex life and personal maintenance, as well as how long they would live together for a trial union, and the conditions of parting. Then the two would live together to see how the marriage works out. The company’s CEO, 48-year-old Lee Woong-jin, expects some criticism, but he thinks couples have a better chance of a successful marriage when they agree to clear contractual conditions. In 10 days he has received 60 applications - 32 from men and 28 from women, mostly in their 40s.

While singles are becoming more common, not everyone will remain unmarried for life. Instead, the types of union are going to diversify. French President Francois Hollande has four children with his longtime partner, and more Koreans are questioning whether marriage is necessary. I know a single father who has a relationship with a single mother. They maintain their own families while being faithful to each other, just like a married couple.

While the formats of unions and families change gradually, the legal and systematic preparation is not even being discussed. The issue is sensitive culturally, religiously and socially. Politicians may think that being vocal about the issue will not help getting votes.

However, introduction of a system like France’s civil solidarity pact (PACS) or Germany’s registered partnership, should someday be discussed, to consider the legal status of couples in nontraditional unions and the rights of their parents. We have to deal with it at least before those born in 2010 reach the age ready for marriage.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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