I read with much interest the report in the Straits Times on the Registry of Marriage’s (ROM) thoughtful gesture in giving recognition to couples who have stayed committed to each other for 50 years with the presentation of a commemorative marriage certificate (Renew vows to mark 50 years of marriage, Sunday 3rd September 2017)

But why only give recognition to couples who are married for 50 years? I am sure we can do better than that so that more couples can benefit from a revised scheme to celebrate the joys of marriage. Cast the net wider, and if you read the whole article in the right context, you will discover that much benefits can be derived from this proposal.

Undoubtedly, couples who take responsibility in working hard to make the partnership grow and blossom will stay together in the marriage journey. In embarking on the marriage journey, both husband and wife must be aware that the trip may not be smooth sailing as there may be some pitfalls and bumps on the road along the way. Every marriage is unique because every marriage is made up of unique individuals.

We do not want couples to scream divorce after just a couple of months or years into the marriage.

Let us remember that great partnerships are not born overnight. It has to be developed – through the years.

Every idea can springboard to yet another idea. To this end, I propose that in motivating couples to stay committed through the passage of time, ROM should consider rewarding couples at different periods in their lives. They could have several levels of recognition: (a) Basic (b) Standard (c) Superior (d) Outstanding and ( e) Classic.

Couple who are married for ten years can be categorized at Basic Level or Bronze Award, Standard Level or Silver Award sees couples who stay together for 20 years. Then for 30 years of commitment, couples are grouped at Superior Level or Gold Award. Outstanding couples or Diamond Award are those who have celebrated blissful union for 40 years. A Classic or Platinum Award is presented to couples who are married for 50 years and above.

In addition, I propose that some prizes be given to the winners. It can be in the form of shopping or dining vouchers, weekend retreats at popular resorts or staycat stations with the top awards getting attractive holiday packages. These awards can be presented to the deserving couples as a reward for their dedication and commitment to one another. The longer the marriage last, the more attractive the rewards.

I have every confidence that sponsors will willingly step forward to support these worthy events. It will of course mean more work and resources, but I fervently believe that there is much to be gained through these extra efforts.

While getting rewards is not the only thing that will keep couples happily married through the years, it is one way to motivate husband and wife to value and cherish each other at every stage of their union as they can look forward to a special and memorable celebration every decade.

Moreover, given that it is not an easy task for the Government to get couples to marry and reproduce themselves, married couples who are successful in keeping their marriages intact for each decade and receive recognition from ROM can be invited to share their experiences to singles who are still skeptical about tying the knot.

Children are the biggest adventure on earth. If the couples are blessed with children, such happiness with kids can also be shared with singles– and you just might see a hike in the number of babies born.

These sharing sessions can be held in polytechnics, universities, community centres , community development councils, religious organisations and the civil service. If the couples are fairly well recognised through good rewards, I am pretty sure, they will be ever willing to partake in such talks. It is a definite win-win situation.

Raymond Anthony Fernando
A.S.S. Contributor

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