Betting on Marriage(s)

So, there’s this: “This startup bets up to $10,000 that your marriage will end badly

At one level, this is an interesting idea. I like the idea of there being some financial incentive to stay married — or not to get married if you’re not supremely confident the marriage will last. I’d rather see rewards for hitting milestones than punishments for failure, but I like there being some incentive to make couples ask, “Are you sure you need to break up?”

I say this, of course, as someone whose first marriage ended in divorce.

The questions quickly pile up, though.

  • Who’s putting up the capital for the initial pay-outs?
  • Given that financial problems are a common cause of marital strain, how will they collect if a divorce is caused by financial problems?
  • Would they ever sue an unhappy couple for “fraudulently” failing to divorce to end a bad marriage?
  • What if someone fakes their own… never mind, even that one is too far-fetched.
  • Are employees of the company bonded against behavior that might destabilize or destroy the marriage of a couple who made a bet?
  • Does their “abuse” clause cover emotional abuse or just physical abuse? What’s the level of proof needed to prove the abuse?
  • How quickly does the payment comes due after a marriage ends?

I was also amused by some of the statistics in the story. I assumed second marriages and older couples had better odds, since people may have learned from their earlier marriages and have had more time to figure out what they like, but maybe there’s an element for some of thinking that going through a divorce wasn’t as bad as expected, or maybe the second time they “hedge their bets” to make a divorce easier if it comes to that, such as keeping property separate? That’s not the case for us, but I’ve heard of it happening.

And, of course, all of this presumes that long-lasting marriages are best for everyone. Sometimes, people will agree that a divorce is best for all involved, that the marriage was a mistake, but a divorce would be the wiser course at some point. “We can’t get divorced; we’d have to pay off that contract!” isn’t something someone should have to think about when agonizing over such a choice.

Here’s a thought: what if a bride or groom doesn’t want take the money and place a bet on the marriage? “Don’t you believe in us? What are you trying to tell me?” Does the company give low interest rates to people they think are better suited for each other, or do such people get high rates on the grounds that they’ll never have to pay it off?

I’d say that after twenty years, I’d have been screwed, but maybe my income and wealth rose much more quickly than any interest would have piled up. Then again, in the late ’80s, what was normal for interest rates was much higher than what we take for normal now, so maybe the interest may have kept racing even as inflation and interest rates dropped sharply.

I wonder who makes these bets, and for how much? People who can afford to pay them back if they have to, or people who think they need the money and can’t manage money well enough to pay it off if it comes to that?

Apparently they figured out a business model that got them funded, and I presume they studied lots of research and data I haven’t heard of, but I can’t see how it works.

Says me….

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