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Bonds of Matrimony Too Tight

July 22, 1987|SHIRLEY MARLOW

There are a lot of ways to cope with in-laws. But a judge in London, England, thinks that schoolmaster Stephen Staerck's approach to the matter was excessive. The judge was told that Staerck, 37, drew up a marriage contract that, among other things, forbade his wife, Janet, from mentioning the names of her parents, brother and sister-in-law in the house; allowed her to visit her parents only three times a month, provided she was home in time to prepare his meals, and allowed her parents to visit their house once a month and only while he was out. Mrs. Staerck, a 31-year-old teacher, told the court that her husband permitted her only two pounds (about $3.25) a week of spending money and barred her from buying presents for her parents from the family housekeeping money. Senior British appeal judge John Donaldson branded the restrictions as "one of the most unreasonable documents I have ever seen." London's High Court rejected Staerck's appeal of a divorce decree granted to his wife. Staerck complained to the judge: "I have been publicly pilloried. I do not think I was an unreasonable person to live with."

--Meanwhile, in Cameroon, the prospect of acquiring new in-laws hasn't dampened Mongo Faya's enthusiasm for marriage. The 35-year-old singer, who already lives with 36 wives, has married six more, the official Cameroon Tribune newspaper reported. He married all six at a civil ceremony in the port city of Douala, the African nation's economic capital. Faya's wives, ages 20 to 24, live harmoniously under the same roof, the paper added. The singer has 28 children ranging in age from 3 months to 9 years, the paper said.

--A 30-year-old California woman is hoping to dive into the chilly waters of Soviet-American relations. Lynne Cox of Los Alamitos is in Alaska preparing to swim the 2.7 miles across the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island, U.S. soil, to Big Diomede Island, Soviet territory, in water barely above freezing while a small boatload of medical researchers follows. "It's a gesture of good will, of friendship, sort of the open door or glasnost from the American side," Cox said. She said she wants to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union in the only place where that is possible and to swim from today to tomorrow across the international date line. Cox has written Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to ask permission to enter Soviet waters but has had no response. Cox swam the English Channel in record time in 1972 and 1973. She has also crossed from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island and swam around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope.

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