Sometimes, and for some people, leasing makes better sense than buying. For instance, if you like to drive a new car every few years, leasing allows you to drive an updated one for less money and enjoy the "new car smell" more often.
Likewise, renting rather than owning your home makes it easier to move if circumstances or even wanderlust makes it necessary.
Well, if a certain Florida lawyer has his way, there's something else you'll be able to lease every few years along with your new car and your new digs: a new spouse. I'm not kidding.
Paul Rampell is a Palm Beach attorney specializing in estate planning. In a recent Washington Post article, he told readers "We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce . . ." And that's true enough.
According to Rampell, the problem isn't that people no longer believe in marriage. On the contrary, he notes that many Americans want to expand the institution to include same-sex couples.
The problem, he opines, is the institution's failure to "adapt." He asks "why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?"
At this point, some of us would interject that the last effort to "improve the legal structure of marriage" – that is, "no-fault" divorce – led to an explosion in the divorce rate which has only recently leveled off; but don't mind us.
According to Rampell, the whole "till death do us part" thing ignores the fact that many of us like the way new cars and freshly painted apartments smell.
Okay, he didn't put it in exactly those words, but close enough. Just as people have the option of leasing a home or a car, they should have the option to "lease" a spouse, according to him.
And what he has in mind is something like this: "Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years - one year, five years, ten years, whatever term suits them." (And of course, I want to add, "or 60,000 miles"). If at the end of the term they want to remain "married," they can re-up for an additional term. If not, they can go their separate ways.
Thus, according to him, "the messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit." So instead of "wedlock," you have "wedlease." Those are his words.
But what about the children? Well, "there could be an option to have the lease automatically continue until the child reaches the age of majority." An option?
I'm thinking Mr. Rampell is serious about his suggestion. But his proposal does nothing about the number of failing marriages - it only re-labels them. Whether it's called a "divorce" or "termination of a lease," the result is the same, and it's a lot messier than vacating a rental unit or turning in the Volkswagen.
Rampell's proposal would also make the idea of men trading in their wives for a younger model more than an expression.
As absurd and ridiculous as this proposal is, it does reflect contemporary thinking about marriage, which treats the institution as a purely private agreement between two parties that can be dissolved when either party wants out.
As I've said in the past, Christians aren't immune from this kind of thinking. Too many of us have forgotten the truth and beauty of God's plan for marriage: a lifelong union between a man and a woman for their mutual joy and the procreation of children; a relationship that incarnates Christ's love for His Church.
No trade-ins, and no re-ups necessary.