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And we thought the U.S. government was obsessed with marriage! October 17, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Look What Google Barfed Up.
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Felicia Strehmel, "Open Mind"

The U.S. government gives married couples over one thousand rights that singles don’t receive. I used to think this was matrimaniacal (perpetuating the misguided notion that marriage is unequivocably beneficial for individuals and society). But now I see that matrimania is all relative.

The Malaysian government is giving away free honeymoons to encourage troubled couples to stay together and avoid divorce, which according to Malaysian government official Ashaari Idris has “serious implications on society.” Idris works for the northeastern state of Terengganu, a tourist beach mecca with many island resorts. Couples can apply for a two-night stay at one of these resorts; the process includes an interview in which, I imagine, the pair details their relationship difficulties and how a weekend on the beach would help them:

“If I could just walk with him hand and hand along the sunny strand, I wouldn’t care that he doesn’t listen to me.”

“I’m sure that after we come back from the seaside, she’ll want to have my mother over for dinner more often.”

If I were a single Malaysian, I’d be standing at the desk of some Terengganu official, trying hard as hell to capitalize on this offer too:

“My relationship with myself hasn’t been great lately. I think I need to wade in the surf and reconnect with my core being.”


“As a single person, I naturally have very low self-esteem, which has serious implications on society. If I could only go sit in the sun and soak up a sense of self-worth, I won’t end up shooting from a belltower and in fact I might even start having goods-consuming babies.”

And just when I was thinking Malaysia was pretty matrimaniacal, look what Google barfed up: the Saudi government is giving away free wives to rehabilitated terrorists. Historian and writer Robert Lacey visited a terrorist rehabilitation center in Riyadh where he learned that the Ministry of the Interior will buy wives for (supposedly) reformed terrorists, at the cost of sixty thousand Riyals (around US$18,000) each.  That’s how much faith the Saudi government has in the power of marriage to make people better!

Discussion questions: Copious Readership, can a weekend on the beach repair a fraying relationship? Can having a wife keep a terrorist from going out at night with the boys to blow things up? Is there merit to these efforts at all?

Additional discussion question (non-rhetorical, per Rachel’s comment below):  Does anyone have other examples of matrimania in different countries? Does the matrimania of countries other than the U.S. make the US’ matrimania look less bad, or does it make the U.S. look even worse? Regarding the latter, I think that for the U.S. to offer over 1,000 legal rights to married people at the expense of singles is almost *more* insidiously matrimaniacal than the Saudi government’s wife-selling ideas, because at least the Saudis don’t pretend to have a culture of sexual equality and freedom for all.


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