Lawyers Should Not Write Romance Novels

Written by Erin Lyon

Truly. Because we do cruel and terrible things to commitment and everlasting love. Things like, say, replacing marriage with seven-year contracts so that relationships can be managed via contract law. And putting an expiration date on that contract so that couples get to decide whether or not to continue the relationship every seven years. Tragic, really. Psh. Lawyers.

Or (hear me out), maybe it’s actually an awesome idea. I’m pretty sure I would have had Elizabeth Taylor’s full support on this. She was married eight (8) times – two of which were to the same man. Tell me that wasn’t a woman whose life would have been vastly simplified if each time she fell in love she had only been committing to seven years!

Even in the literary world, so many relationships would have benefitted from my proposal. Case in point:

Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a poor nobody so Catherine marries boring old Linton. Then Heathcliff comes back all rich and sexy but Cathy’s already hitched. In my world, a few years after Heathcliff came home, Cathy and Linton’s contract would have expired, leaving Catherine free to choose Heathcliff (like she should have done from the beginning, obviously). She would then have opted to not re-up with Linton and, voila, no one is dying of a broken heart or plotting generations of revenge. (Seriously, Heathcliff – find a hobby that doesn’t involve torturing your enemies and their descendants over a 20-year period. That might be going a tad overboard.)

Romeo and Juliet. This one is too easy. Warring families, a secret marriage, dual suicide. Yikes. Under my idea? Everyone knows that minors can’t legally enter into contracts and Juliet is only 13! Ergo, no contract is ever (legally) signed. Romeo and Juliet grow up a little bit and Juliet realizes she wants to be a writer (which Romeo doesn’t support) and Romeo ends up hooking up with the girl from the Verona market. Everyone parts ways without all that unnecessary suicide stuff.

Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Scandal ensues when Mr. Rochester falls in love with his daughter’s plain-Jane governess, Jane Eyre, and he marries her. Spoiler alert! He was still married to his first wife! In his defense, Wife #1 had gone completely mad years before so he locked her up in the tower (probably prudent for the safety of all involved given that she did slip past her nurse one night and do her best to flambé Mr. Rochester while he slept). Ah, but the simplicity of contracts. Mr. Rochester’s contract would have had an incapacity provision so that once his first wife’s elevator stopped going to the top floor, so to speak, the contract would have been null and void and poor Jane would never have been publicly humiliated by accidentally marrying a married man.

Mrs. de Winter and Maxim in Rebecca. Maxim de Winter is married to the cheating, narcissistic Rebecca – at least until she dies under mysterious circumstances. Then Maxim meets our mousy-but-delightful, never-to-be-named heroine and marries her (allowing us to simply call her Mrs. de Winter). Sure, we find out later that Rebecca was a manipulative bitch who sparked Maxim into a rage and he actually shot her and dumped her body. (Perhaps a bit of an overreaction.) Anyway, point being, the night Maxim killed Rebecca, she had been rudely confessing to being pregnant with another man’s baby and claimed that she would raise the child as Maxim’s and there was nothing he could do to stop her! (If you’re anything like me, you’re oddly at peace with Maxim getting away with murder in this book.) But! Under contract law, Maxim would have sued her for breach of contract, taken her for everything she was worth, and sent her lying ass to go live with her baby-daddy. (Yes, yes. I am well aware she wasn’t actually pregnant, but she still admitted to the infidelity which would be sufficient for breach as long as you have a good lawyer.)

So, to conclude, lawyers probably should write romance novels. Just think of the second chances at love we’d be providing! (Not to mention all the literary lives we’d be saving.) I rest my case.

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