Wherever you stand on the marriage/civil union debate, and whether you choose to remain single, I think we can all agree that marriage is a good thing. Marriage gives children two parents who are committed to each other and can help with childcare and finances. Marriage offers emotional support. Marriage promotes strong social and community bonds.
So how can we protect marriage — without spending a lot of money on tax credits or incentives?
* Make marriage licenses more expensive. Yes, it seems like a paradox, but we want to promote marriages based on love, respect, and commitment – not impulse.
* Encourage newlyweds. Couples marrying each other for the first time could receive a “welcome” box (like new mothers receive in the hospital) with coupons (for moving, storage, furniture, and restaurants) and booklets (about how to manage your money, buy a home, and household tips).
* Recognize Crystal, Silver, Gold, and Diamond wedding anniversaries. Couples celebrating 15, 25, 50, and 75 years of marriage could be invited to a Mayor’s Anniversary Ball or Governor’s Anniversary Gala, with help from the wedding industry. The media could interview people and find out how they make their marriages work.
* Add a divorce penalty for couples who are married less than two years. Unless there’s abuse or infidelity, we could encourage couples to stay married for at least two years by adding an additional fee to the divorce petition.
* Make no-fault divorces more expensive, especially if there are children. If a no-fault divorce petition is more expensive, maybe couples will try a little harder, or take a little more time before giving up on their relationship.
Marriage is worth celebrating. What else can we do to encourage marriage?