So alarming are the Pew results that the Society For the Preservation of Marriage has launched a campaign to bring marriage into better repute. Last Thursday, the S.F.P.M., headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, released a seven-point plan aimed at reviving marriage. Dr. Harold W. Cardigan, the silver-haired president of the S.F.P.M, introduced the plan after regaling the assembled media with several Henny Youngman jokes, among them, “Take my wife, please.” The S.F.P.M.’s seven-point plan was widely circulated, but we reprint it here for the reader’s convenience:
1. Image. We at the S.F.P.M. believe the American people, as well as foreigners around the world, have too long been subjected to a cartoon version of marriage, propagated principally in television commercials, sitcoms, Hollywood movies and Internet jokes. Marriage is portrayed as a grim business, with doofus husbands, ditzy wives and cute kids. We now have in production a reality show, tentatively entitled Happy All the Time, which depicts marriage in an honest, straightforward manner.
2. Sex. No wonder kids don’t want to get married. If you get your ideas of marriage from TV, the only time you get sex is when you accidentally brush up against one another while you are raking leaves, and then hurry off to sit outside in adjoining tubs. Our research shows that married couples have sex at least twice a day, usually right after flossing.
3. Love. According to the Pew Research survey, 93 percent of Americans (as opposed to 16 percent of Norwegians) say the main reason they got married was because they fell in love. (Most Norwegians say they got married so they wouldn’t have to share their saunas with perfect strangers.) Our numbers at the S.F.P.M. indicate that 23 percent of Americans get married out of love, with the vast majority (92 percent) tying the knot so they could post their wedding pictures on Facebook.
4. Innovation. The Society For the Preservation of Marriage recognizes that we have to think outside the box. Accordingly, we are proposing some innovative solutions to the marriage problem. For instance, one of our board members, Ms. Arabella Moon, has submitted a white paper arguing for instituting short-term marriage contracts, of either the renewable or terminal variety. Ms. Moon was a backup singer on the popular 1964 hit, “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” sung by the lovely Gale Garnett. Fans will remember such verses as, “I will never love you/ The cost of love’s too dear/ But though I’ll never love you/ I’ll stay with you one year.”
5. Differentiation. We at S.F.P.M. have come to the conclusion that, blissful and satisfying as traditional marriage is, we should consider opening up the institution to different approaches. Thus, we could have a work marriage, a golf marriage, a travel marriage, a shopping marriage, or even a hanging-out marriage. And though it is well-documented that marriage totally meets the demands of libidinal urges, it might be worth creating a category of marriage that is dedicated to libidinal urges alone. The ancient Hittites practiced such a dedicated marriage, known as summa hotta.
6. Families. Propagating the species has always been put forward as the rationale for marriage. But new methods of procreation, such as sperm banks, in vitro fertilization and spontaneous combustion have obviated the need for marriage. We therefore propose that the concept of marriage, and hence family, be expanded beyond the dyadic male/female unit. The Caingang people of Brazil, for example, practiced a form of group marriage, as did the Mormon people of the Great Basin.
7. Random Assignment. Chance already plays a crucial role in human life, but we think chance could play an even larger role in marriage. The pool of potential marriage partners in the digital age may seem to have increased, but in reality it has diminished, as people have become foolishly overspecific in their criteria for marriage partners. We think marriage could be spiced up considerably if men and women were assigned partners at random, much as dancing partners were assigned in grade school dances. Various systems could be devised, whether by throwing dice, drawing straws or pinning the tail on the donkey.