Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Labyrinthine Marriage Bureaucracy

The most practical way to reduce the rate of divorce.
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"Marry in haste, repent at leisure", goes the saying of old. However, this saying is no longer appropriate. The relative ease with which a divorce can be obtained and the gradual erosion of the social stigma attached with divorce has, among other factors, driven the divorce rate up. Unfortunately, divorce has many negative consequences for those involved and those around those involved - financial hardship, the cementing of enmity, the loss of sufficient access to a parent, etc.

It was in ruminating on this that a man wiser than myself said, "The government shouldn't be trying to make it easier to get divorced, they should be making it harder to get married." Fewer, stronger marriages, he reasoned, would result in a lower rate of divorce. But how to achieve this? Compatibility tests are all too fallible. Financial tests are inherently unfair, as are physical and mental assessment.

What is needed is a test that any man and woman who are sure of their love for each other will be able to complete. The modern world needs dragons - no knight that slayed a dragon and rescued the princess ever lived anything less that happily ever after. But dragons died out in 1965, shot by the government in an attempt to eliminate rabies. Their carcasses were burnt, leaving no dragon DNA that could be conveniently used. So the dragon will have to be metaphorical. We require a hazard that is strong, scary, powerful, intractable and inscrutable. This hazard shall be bureaucracy.

Under the system of Labyrinthine Marriage Bureaucracy, each couple will need - as before - a marriage license. To obtain a marriage license, the couple must travel 300 miles on public transport (a stern test for anybody) to their least-local Marriage License Bureau. The MLBs will be styled by H.R. Geiger and located on windswept moors. It will be a tall, black building - 20 storeys, perhaps - with lifts that are always out of order. Pipes can be heard dripping and clanking. Muffled screams of frustration will echo down the long, dank, mildewy reception hall.

It is at the reception desk that the test begins. The pallid, sunken-eyed receptionist will stare balefully at the approaching couple before letting out a long, low, miserable sigh. Request for assistance will be met with a look almost blank enough to mask the simmering contempt in which the couple are held. After roughly twenty-five minute of roundly ignoring the betrothed, the desk clerk will reveal to the by now irate couple that they need to go to room 13.22. Upon arrival at this room, they must ask for form 762/PF.

So begins the couple’s arduous and dispiriting journey. In the MLB, there is no logical room numbering. Each room is staffed by misanthropic troglodytes. Each troglodyte will send the couple to another room to fill in another form. After the couple have visited each of the 667 rooms in the building, they will be told that they need fill in each of the forms they present for authentication a second time. And when they arrive with the forms in duplicate, after going through every room, facing every troglodyte, re-filling every form – in a completely different order, the couple will be told that each form needs to be filled in in triplicate (“For our records, you see.”).

Only once the forms have been filled in in triplicate will the license be granted. Thus, only those people who have together gone to the very edge of insanity at the sheer confusing intractability of the MLB – only those people capable of living with another person for the rest of their lives – will be allowed to marry.

calum, Sep 10 2002

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix http://us.imdb.com/Title?0072901
"The Place That Sends You Mad" inspired this idea. [See also "The Princess Bride"] [calum, Sep 10 2002]

Form Completion Requisition Form http://www.halfbake...0Requisition_20Form
The Magic Bullet for the MLB. [calum, Sep 10 2002, last modified Sep 12 2002]


       Calum, I smell me a double standard that comes not from this idea...   

       All in fun though, I accept (for a bit) my place as a peeon. Toast to the rigors of earning the privilege to be married.   

       (And you are one in touch with his imagination too!   

       Bottoms up.   

hollajam, Sep 11 2002

       I believe this is partially baked -- by the Catholic Church, no less. They call it "the Engaged Encounter Weekend".   

       I think the humble Church's nosy little program has been in place since Vatican II. But like all other attempts to fireproof marriage, it is doomed -- on the simple grounds that it fails to recognize the power of hope.   

       Personally, I think that marriage as we now define it was better suited to a human race that had a general life expectancy of forty years. But I also know that the love I feel for my fiance is deeper than the love I knew before, which was strong enough in itself to keep me alive for thirty years. And I do think that I will love him for the rest of my life.   

       As usual, I am of two minds about marriage. Fortunately for me, my two minds don't meet all that often ...
1percent, Sep 11 2002

       // And I do think that I will love him for the rest of my life. //   

       I have no doubt you will, %. And maybe that will be enough.   

       calum, lightheartedness acknowledged, but I must point out that this would remove any reason to marry that might remain in our time. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
waugsqueke, Sep 11 2002

       This sounds disturbingly like getting married in New Orleans, Louisiana.   

       Worked for me.
Brackforn2, Sep 11 2002

       When I got to the office, there was a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".
angel, Sep 11 2002

       Sorry, whose business is it if the divorce rate goes up?
General Washington, Sep 11 2002


       Good for business.
8th of 7, Sep 11 2002

       Hmm. I hate queing at the post office. This might have put me off getting married. Would have saved a lot of time, trouble & expense.   


       PS Maybe add a Survival/Assault course element, and a "Temple of Doom" big rolling stone ball ?
8th of 7, Sep 12 2002


       <Kafka>Before the Marriage stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Marriage...</Kafka>
Guy Fox, Sep 12 2002

       // Might teach them how to argue effectively too? // Most people manage that pretty well without any training .....   

       The point about learning to resolve how to approach problems properly i.e. do it the man's way, is a good one ....... <dives behind sandbags>
8th of 7, Sep 13 2002

       The skills (or rather, characteristics) needed to overcome this challenge are a calm head, gritty determination, a lot of patience and a stoical acceptance that some things in life will never be perfect. The challenge is not designed to teach the couple anything, it is designed to weed out from the "marriage pool" those who will bail out when the going gets tough.   

       In the MLB there needn't be any arguing - there is only one way to do it and it is laid down by the Power That Bees.
calum, Sep 13 2002

       // we have children being born in households with parents who aren't married //   

       Well, we kind of have that already.   

       What's worse - unmarried parents with kids, who may or may not separate, or married parents with kids who then divorce ?   

       This question is not rhetorical. Answers on a postcard, please.
8th of 7, Sep 13 2002

       fornicator, you said //...I assume that you are going to raise the cost of a marriage license to some astronomical figure ... // Well, cost schmost, I say. The license fee would be nominal. The beauty of the MLB is that it costs very little to run. Once the buildings have been erected, there's no maintainance to pay for (so as to encourage air of ill-health and inhospitability) and all the staff will be paid minimum wage (so as to engender the correct levels of apathy and disdain for applicants).   

       [Sums anyway:   

       salary of MLB employee (based on 10-4 four days a week - standard public office opening hours - at over 21 yrs Uk minimum wage [£4.10ph]): roughly £6000, taking account of public holidays etc.   

       number of employees: 668 (one per room, plus receptionist).   

       number of MLBs: 4.   

       Total yearly cost of staffing MLB: 6000 * 668 * 4 =   

       £16,032,000. I think the public purse could cover this.]   

       //what is to preclude people just saying @#%! it and deciding to live together instead// Well, that's the general idea. If there's no legal link between the parties, then they won't have to go to court/lawywers to extricate themselves ==> less lawyer-instigated breeding of enmity.
calum, Sep 13 2002

       you can always go to Las Vegas.   

       Can we put all this infrastructure to further use by requiring the same forms filled out by potential breeders? (I'm sure 8/7 will back me up on this, if not add Cat Ownership to the list)
rbl, Sep 13 2002

       Breeders? Wasn't that what we were talking about?
Guy Fox, Sep 13 2002

       I'll vote for this... Despite being single and all too niave, this Orwellian style ministry does not scare me. I lament the lack of modern day dragons for young chivalrous types to slay. Instead, we hold open doors and say 'after you'. Its about time we had the opportunity to excel.
Jinbish, Sep 15 2002

       Croissant. But only if they play Muzak over the tannoy in the MLBs. And wear togas.
salachair, Sep 18 2002

       Cat ownership? Oh no! If we're trying to reduce the chances of humans breeding, pet ownership should be encouraged at all costs.   

       I recommend that you hire naval architects to design the building. they will ensure that the maximum number of wires, pipes, and other tubing will lie exposed along the walls. They will also ensure the least user-friendly design of the lobby and rooms, and will insist on bizzare water tight doors that require several minutes each to open, and which force the user to duck down and highstep only to smack their head and bark their shins anyway.   

       The result will be far more horrifying, aggravating, ugly, and hopeless than anything H.R. Geiger choud hope to design. Also, if it is designed by naval Architects, it will float. The necessary deep keel for a structure of this height will require oceanic mooring, thus ensuring maximum distance away from any convenient location, and causing the whole to sway with the ocean, thus adding another layer of confusion.   

       You could also staff it with Naval personnel. Pretty much any reason for them to be away from home port will put them in a far worse state of mind than any minimum wage employee who has been able to retain their job.
ye_river_xiv, Mar 28 2007

       Oh, but we aren't trying to stop them breeding. We're just trying to stop them marrying.   

       Excellent design tips, though. Swaying and clanking. Strangled sonar pips and wails echoing far off in the distance. Gulls keening outside drafty windows. Damp.
calum, Mar 28 2007

       I'm to wed this weekend. My fiancé, Faye, and I also had to move house last week. Between us, we've spend something near 2 hours stuck in British Telecom's peculiarly unhelpful automated customer service system trying to switch our phone number from one house to the next. I think it may be a real-life equivalent.
Fishrat, Mar 28 2007


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