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Could a marriage contract be the answer to spousal abuse?

Could a marriage contract be the answer to spousal abuse?

by: Morwesi Ndlovu - 5 June 2015

Not since the Oscar Pistorius trial has the country’s collective attention been captivated by the deaths of young women at the hands of their partners. Port Elizabeth teacher, Jayde Panayiotou, was allegedly murdered by her husband Christopher Panayiotou who has since claimed in court, that his wife was too expensive to maintain.

In addition to that, earlier this year, it was reported that a Limpopo businessman, Rameez Patel, allegedly killed his wife at their home before disappearing from the scene.

All these cases have me asking whether there are massive problems with the way South African men want to solve their relationship problems or if there are deeper societal issues at play, especially in a violent country like ours and whether something can be done to curb these issues.

There are many reasons why a relationship could fail. These include partners who are all talk and no action; dishonesty about their feelings; being too comfortable; not giving each other enough space; being too demanding and constantly trying to make their partner jealous. But surely, this cannot be a reason to kill your partner, I think if you are tired of your partner, you should just leave the relationship rather than kill them.  However, if you would like to remain in the relationship, you could follow the example set by Mexicans where couples sign marriage contracts.

A marriage contract is a binding agreement between newly-weds where they have two years to decide if they want to continue with their marriage. Once you have reached two years within the contract, a decision of either renewing the contract or ending it.


I think our country could benefit from marriage contracts because it eliminates the pressure of couples thinking that they have to be together forever and it curbs the expense of getting a divorce – which a lot of people fear because it sometimes means losing half your wealth.

Instead of signing a marriage certificate that stipulates that you are tied to your partner for life, it can have an expiry date, with options stating whether you want to terminate your marriage on the day of expiry or you want to renew your marriage contract.

It can also have categories. For instance, three options can be provided by home affairs; marriage contract for 12 months; three years and five years. I wouldn’t mind having contracts. I mean think of it this way, I won’t have to call myself a divorcee or have to use the term ex-husband when I’m being asked about my relationship history.

At the end of the day, this is just a suggestion. Since we have been reading a lot of stories about issues in relationships leading to one partner being murdered, maybe considering a marriage contract would be a better option than picking up you phone and hiring someone to kill the one that you allegedly love.

Would you opt for a contract or still use the standard procedure of getting a divorce?

Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter @Morwesi_Ndlovu

Amazing graphics by @BizaniMeyiwa