I'm not too sure of the statistics, but it seems to me that more and more young people are getting married these days. That's the good news. The bad news is that more and more of them are breaking up.

Ordinarily this would be their own business except for the fact that many of us have thousands of dollars tied up in wedding presents we bought for the couples at the time of the ceremony.

With the price of silver, crystal and china going sky-high, there has to be some way of protecting the innocent when a marriage goes awry.

A group of us were discussing this the other evening.

Melissa said, "Did you hear the Warbuck kids have split?"

"There goes 200 bucks worth of Waterford glass," Joe said. "I told Edwina not to go crazy just because the wedding reception was held at the Pierre."

"Well," said Edwina, "the Warbucks gave our kids a six-place setting of Spode last year."

How are your kids doing?" someone asked.

"My daughter moved out of the apartment three months ago. She decided he wasn't for her."

"But they were only married last June! I know because we still have the bill for the silver chafing dish we bought them."

Edwina got defensive. "I don't know why you should complain. We gave your son and daughter-in-law a Tiffany lampshade, and I understand she's now living with a rock star."

"If you think that's sad," Dinah said, "we gave the Benedict kids a Cuisinart three months ago and their marriage was just annulled. It didn't last as long as the warranty."

Ted said, "There has to be a better way of dealing with modern marriages. We can't just keep buying wedding presents for young people these days and seeing them go down the drain."

"What do you suggest?" I asked.

"Well, this may sound a little crazy, but why couldn't we give the gift to them on lease? As long as they remained married they could use the present, but if they broke up the gifts would revert back to us."

"It's a wild idea but it does have merit," Joe said. "We sure could use the Swedish steak knives we gave the Talberts."

Melissa said, "There's something tacky about giving a wedding present to a young couple and telling them it really isn't theirs. There should be an incentive for them to stay married. Suppose we told them that if they remained married for five years they would get title to the gift?"

Joe said, "That seems like a good bet. I don't know too many young couples who have stayed together that long."

I also liked the notion, but I said, "How do we do it legally?"

Eddie, the lawyer in the group, said, "We can draw up a lease contract which they can sign on their wedding day. We'll hold the parents responsible if they refuse to give the gift back. If the idea catches on we could get sheriff's deputies to actually pick the stuff up. They do it with automobiles; they can certainly do it for wedding presents."

"What I like about the idea," said Edwina, "is that is will impress on the young people that marriage is a very serious business, and if two people don't work at it, they have a good chance of losing their Corningware."