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Twice In but only Once Out



When you get in, you have two, but when you get out, you only have one. What happened to the other one? Its just not cricket, the English would say.

It is all very confusing to me.

When couples get married (and I’m talking about a regular normal Western / Christian marriage) you actually commit to two contracts. The first one is the small little piece of white paper they quickly put in front of you in the Church (alone in theĀ konsistorie or far up in the front with only one or two witnesses – very secretive!) to sign before they rush you off to take pictures of your pretty new dress. It is a Government issued Marriage Certificate and basically says that your marriage complies with the country’s laws. Whatever. You are legal and you can have sex without feeling guilty. You don’t need anybody’s permission to enter this contract if you are over 21. The entire procedure takes 2 minutes, anybody can do it, you can do it in any office, and nobody actually reads that piece of paper again. Ever. The next time you see it is when you make a copy for your divorce filings. You definitely don’t frame pictures of the happy piece of paper on your wall. And, quite interestingly, this piece of paper only has one date on it – the date of the marriage. It is silent on the issue of termination dates or any other terms and conditions while you are married so you have an opt-out.

The second contract takes a lot more time and preparation and it is performed a lot more publicly and openly. First you start by asking permission. (Can you imagine – you ask somebody else’s permission to sleep with this person!). Then weeks before the time you go for counseling to the Church Elders to make sure you won’t make the same mistakes as they did and you will be a good spouse (Ed. or church member?). Finally you choose an open weekend so you have lots of time to recover from the after-party, and you invite all your friends and family to witness the conclusion of this Big Contract Two.

Usually just before the celebration party you gather all the said uncles and aunts and granny’s (even the ones you never see or hardly know) and you go into a Church. You listen to a long list of do’s and don’ts and rules about faithfulness and in sickness and health (Note Contract One did NOT require you to be faithful – even Jacob Zuma got away with it). To wrap it up you get asked a few questions to which you HAVE to answer “Yes” in the presence of God and loud enough for everybody present to hear you say Yes. As a symbol of your true intent you even exchange rings (the symbol of eternity) committing to the expiry date of your contract – never. Yes, this is a serious contract, this contract is forever. So far so good.

Now, fast forward a few years. Usually 7 to 15 years in South Africa. You now decide you want out of this contract, you’ve had enough.

And here is where it gets interesting. To break Contract One – which originally cost you next-to-nothing – is going to be expensive. It is going to be emotionally humiliating. And the children (given to us by God under Contract Two) are usually drawn into this fight to be used as objects to hurt the other partner because it gives you that teensy weensy extra leverage to get more money. And as they say in the classics (sorry, I’m cynical) when you run out of money the lawyers declare you divorced. Contract One cancelled by the authorities and you get a piece of paper to confirm that. The Banks usually ask you for a copy when you apply for credit.

But what about Contract Two? Do you go back and cancel it as well? Hmmmm … let me see. It DID cost a lot of money originally, does it have any value now? Cut your losses you say? OK. What about the list of witnesses you so carefully counted and invited? Oh well, they don’t have time to come to the party you say? OK, so there is not going to be a farewell party either. No problem. Money is tight and we don’t want to spend money on unnecessary things like we did in the beginning, right? The Contract is mos over?

So there is just this one tiny problem remaining: What about the Other Party to your Contract Two? Did you notify Him that you are now finish-en-klaar? Yup, it was a 3-way deal that included God: you are finished with it and your spouse is by now convinced that you are p*****d off with him/her, so there is only this one more Person to notify. What is the best way to do it? Why don’t we go back to basics: When you were horny and couldn’t wait to get into each other’s broekies on honeymoon, it was OK to rush past God and invite Him (and of course the friends and family) in passing to a quick ceremony.

How about we organise another ceremony to symbolise the end of Contract Two? Again we invite all our friends and family and the Dominee back into the House of God (I’m sure under the circumstances they will not charge you any money). This time, we will declare, solemnly like we did when we entered into Contract Two, in the presence of God and our friends and family, that we messed up. We cannot handle it any longer, we are out.

And, with Contract Two now terminated, all three of us can now go our separate ways. Unfortunately, God cannot be divided up like the children and just stay with one of us, so He either stays with both of us – or neither of us.

We do celebrate the passing of a loved one by holding a funeral ceremony in the Church. I wonder if a symbolic funeral of a broken marriage – in the Church and in His presence – won’t go a long way towards accelerating the healing process. It is not only the relationship with your spouse that was damaged, your relationship with God is also tarnished. He promised you that if you kept Him involved He will never leave you, and now you take the initiative and you are leaving. That fine, His forgiveness is infinite.

But lets just be honest with Him and make it formal.

4 Responses to “Twice In but only Once Out”

  1. Is Marriage About money « Leon's Random Ramblings Says:

    […] wrote about similar subjects in my previous posts (here and here and here and here) and it simply confirms what I’ve said before: When you go into […]

  2. I Un-Do « Leon's Random Ramblings Says:

    […] knew it! It just HAD to happen! I wrote about this in a previous post, completely unaware of this ritual in Japan where divorcing couples have an official ceremony to […]

  3. Waldo Says:

    Thank you

  4. pleszew siodla Says:

    Awesome write-up, bookmarked, will likely be back again later. []


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