Love contracts vs Marriage

A few months ago, Diddy revealed to the world that he did not intend to get married anytime soon, and that he would rather opt for the conclusion of a ‘love contract’ instead of swapping marital vows.

His actual words were:

I don’t know (if I’ll ever get married). It’s the whole thing of; I think you have to be ready for it because it’s somebody else’s heart involved. That’s just a lot of responsibility and I don’t want to be going to court and having somebody interfere in my relationship. So I’d rather do the ‘Goldie Hawn’. But I will give a contract, a love contract.

I’m talking where there is money involved too if there are any problems. You have to have an agreement. You can’t just love someone, take them and y’all just part.

No honestly, I just don’t think I’m ready right now, but I’m a great boyfriend.

This probably got the attention of many people, and it certainly made me want to investigate what a love contract is. At first I thought, well marriage is a contract too, so why not just get married. But a love contract could not be more different to a marriage. A love contract is essentially a written agreement between those in a relationship, which details multiple aspects of their relationship and lifestyles. Typically this includes: infidelity consequences, financial implications, holiday schedules, frequency of sexual activity and even weight control expectations. Sounds similar to a marriage contract – except that it is not. And in my opinion, it is a laughable as the friendship contract Cynthia Bailey gave to Nene Leakes.

I say it is laughable for a number of reasons. Firstly, this contract, is not legally binding. So even if either party to the contract failed to uphold their side of the contract, there is no legal recourse for it. No one would be able to go to court and claim for damages or compensation or get a court order that forces compliance. Secondly, drawing on the first point, the fact that the contract is not legally binding means that the expectations of either party to uphold their part of the contract, are literally that: normal expectations. The contract is simply a written down bevy of expectations and promises in a relationship. If one party forfeits and refuses to follow through with any penalties detailed in the contract, what remains are broken promises and expectations, with no recourse. This is pretty much what occurs at the conclusion of a normal boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. So with the presence of a love contract, the relationship becomes a glorified boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. All the contract does is give the illusion of heightened commitment, but in actuality it’s all just words and promises that would normally emanate from a regular relationship.

I must applaud Diddy for bringing up the possibility of a love contract. What a smart way of curbing any tangible commitment to Cassie. Diddy is a 45 year old man, who is unlikely to get married at this point onwards. Cassie is a 28 year old woman, who probably hopes for the traditional marriage and children life eventually. I think it is quite brilliant of Diddy to gloss over the possibility of a love contract – and its false suggestions of elevated and stronger commitment – as a way to give a woman who probably wants marriage, false hope of a real commitment. He does not overtly say that he simply wants to play house and remain boyfriend-girlfriend, so he brings in the concept of a love contract to create the illusion of a heightened relationship. Which of course it is not. Nothing is stopping either Cassie or Diddy from defaulting on any clause in their contract, if they were to actually finalize one. Even smarter was for him to bring up courts and outside interference in their relationship. It’s much less hassle to have a virtually ineffective agreement, that has no way of probing parties to commit to what is in the contract – other than trust that your partner will abide by what has been contracted – than to have an effective agreement that has legal implications that may probe parties into doing what they have formally agreed to do. Fact remains, Diddy doesn’t want a marriage. He said that clearly and I respect him for that. However, he should have just left it at that. I think it is quite insulting that he would believe that a love contract is an adequate ‘substitution’ for a marriage. Rather just state that marriage is not in the works, probably will never be, and that cohabitating as boyfriend-girlfriend, is what is ideal.

Rather lackadaisically, Diddy said ‘you can’t just love someone, take them and y’all just part’. But we are human beings, and circumstances change. The dynamic of a relationship may change in 10 years and one may decide that the relationship is not for them, then refuse to honour the contract, because guess what, the non-legally binding document creates an avenue where you can do so! And you can do it penalty free! But in a marriage, if the marriage disintegrates and ends in a non-amicable way, there is still that legal recourse that will force both parties to relatively abide to what they had contracted to, if they had a prenuptial agreement. So sorry Diddy, you actually can love someone, take them and part. Especially if you have a ‘love contract’.

Before I get overly cynical of love contracts, I will admit that it has seemed to work for Goldie Hawn who has been with her partner for over 30 years. But I will categorize it as an anomaly. I can see how a love contract could strengthen a marriage. It could be an effective blueprint of helping a couple achieve their goals or maintain expectations. But that’s because it would simply be an augmentation of the legal marriage contract. Without that legal element, I truly believe that the prospects of such a contract are just up in the air and inconsequential.

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