To Marry Or Not To Marry, That Is The Question

Recently a friend explained why he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage. He can’t stand the political dynamics that are natural to any family, the complication of multiple opinions and agendas and the excessive rituals. I can’t say I agree. I know there is a common notion (further popularized by pop culture) that women are programmed to love the idea of marriage, due to the paraphernalia of weddings. But those aren’t my reasons for believing in marriage.

First of all, I distinguish the wedding from the marriage. The wedding is the formalization, the ceremony that symbolizes that two people are henceforth bound together, socially and legally. Customs may vary but this is the fundamental purpose of every single wedding ceremony conducted over the world. It is a ritual and like all other rituals, it only has as much significance as the people carrying it out, attach to it. It is true that no paper or custom can ensure or create a fulfilling union between two people. That has to be built by the two people in question, bit by agonizing, confusing, wearying bit.

Let’s look at marriage itself, beyond the rituals, beyond the superficialities of sindoor and rings. It is the meeting and combining of two people’s lives. It is the merging of assets, of tangible ones like money & possessions and of intangibles like career, eating habits, lifestyle choices etc.

Take the most basic human action of eating. Everyone does it. It’s difficult enough to decide on one meal to be shared by two people (eating place, seating, cuisine, taste, spice, vegetarian/non-vegetarian etc). How much more complicated it would be to repeat this for the rest of the two people’s lives? Multiply that several thousandfold for every other aspect of life above food.

This alone tells me that the only sensible way to start is to do it in an organized manner. Marriage signifies just that, with several of the supposedly meaningless rituals providing a framework for two people to undertake this arduous venture. I’d say that’s a template at best and can (and should) be customized to the couple’s requirements.

Considering what a massive undertaking this is, it’s only prudent to account for issues and breakdowns. I think it’s a fool’s errand to go starry-eyed into something as big as a lifelong relationship and assume blithely that everything will work out in a ‘happily ever after’ way. Marriages are not always happy. Unions are not guaranteed to work. Compatibility may not last. While a relationship should only be undertaken with the hopes of it working, the possibility that it may not should also be borne in mind.

What then of two lives that were joint together (or at least attempted to)? The division of those aforementioned assets is yet another complicated exercise, one that often consumes the people involved, completely and leaves everyone dissatisfied. There’s no easy way to unite or to end emotional involvement; that bit is always going to be bloody. It seems wise to at least sort of the relatively easier things like possessions and even that’s not easy. A formal ritual strikes me as the process that can be closed most cleanly. If at this juncture, the law must be brought in as an impartial third party, it is only fair to have it be a party to the union right at the start, which is the legal wedding ritual.

Personally, I may have the temerity to go against society and the strength to survive a messy breakdown, outside the structure of marriage. However, I cannot guarantee the same for my children. It doesn’t feel fair for me to thrust my life’s choices and their consequences onto my children, even before they choose it for themselves. Society still isn’t easy on the children of a single parent, especially an unmarried one, never mind an unmarried mother. Whether I ever have children or not is immaterial. This is far too important for me to overlook what might be even a remote possibility.

I won’t (and haven’t) run around desperately in search of a partner to sucker him into the grand party of a wedding. I’ve lived a reasonably happy single life for many years. However, if I decide to build a lifelong relationship with a man, marriage is the only way I’d consider going about it.


A version of this article is posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

14 thoughts on “To Marry Or Not To Marry, That Is The Question

  1. I think there won’t be weddings/marriages in another 20 years..

    false dowry accusation cases
    wife trying to separate husband from his parents
    and ofcourse all the divine aspects like nagging, demanding, etc etc

    It needs to be thought that women need marriage and a partner commit (as a form of social security) a lot more than men.. men look younger for more years and they don’t have to bear children.. women have to reform or they are the loosers..

    1. @somebody: “Men look younger for more years”. You’re kidding, right? As for needing marriage for social validation, look around. We’re in 2011, not the 1800s.

  2. @Somebody: You make it sound like marriage is a cakewalk for women. Let me tell you some of what they have to face:
    Domestic Abuse
    Marital Rape
    Giving up career for family because that’s what ‘good’ women do
    Be apologetic for any kind of success

    In today’s world, a woman can achieve so much more if she doesn’t get married. And as for men looking younger for more years, even if that were true, the average indian man is so ugly that it makes no difference. And just to clarify, I am an Indian man.

    1. Ashwini – U r stupid. In today’s world – here is what a womans thinks – a woman has identity ONLY if she can step out of the 4 walls of the house and be a working member of the family. This is the ROOT cause of all evils. Women in workforce leade to all that you have listed above. So do you think a stay at home MOM has no identity just becuse she does not slip into sleezy outfits and zip through city streets content that she is workig., We should ALL roll back the the single wage earner days when everyone was happy – Have you EVER seen a dual working couple HAPPY – they hardly see each other – where is the damn time to be happy. In their lust for satisfying their own needs – they unknowingly ignore their own children. See a single income famliy and you will see how contended they are – with what they have.
      It is not what you have that matters – It is what you make out of what you have that matters.

      1. @Krish Rao: I’ll let Ashwini speak for himself. But for my part (and since this is my blog), “We should ALL roll back the the single wage earner days when everyone was happy ” – do you think women were all happy being stuck to conventional roles in the kitchen and bedroom? Or do you really believe that a woman has no mind of her own, no ambition, no dreams and no potential other than to be a daughter, sister, wife and mother? It intrigues me that your school of thought still flourishes at a time when most of us believe that women are indeed, an equal sex.

  3. @Krish Rao: Nothing elevates the standard of an intellectual debate like a statement that goes “U r stupid”. Thank you. And secondly these evils existed for years before women became a part of the workplace. I do not think a stay at home mom has no identity. But I also do not think a working woman has any less of an identity. They are both individuals who have made their own choices and should be respected for the same.

    As for single wage couples and double earning couples, i think it depends on the maturity of the man and woman in question. Having a unique professional identity is not the cause for unhappiness. And having a wife as a home-maker is no sure recipe for happiness either. It depends on each case and the maturity of the people involved.

    Your attitude hints you are resentful of successful women. Maybe you should think about that. Having a vagina should not exclude a person from having professional ambitions. Especially in a culture like ours where we elevate women to godesses.

    1. Yeah ! @Krish Rao A women is a human female. That doesnt mean she is fundamentally different from a man. Women can lead their own lives. Why do u think someone else should decide what is good for them.Even now i feel bad for my mom who has a Masters degree and a specialization yet shes a house wife. U dont decide for others ,remember its their life not urs.

      1. @Pruthvi krishna: I think the fact that there are people like you who are sensitive to this having seen women in their own lives sacrifice their potential, spells hope for the rest of us in this generation.

    2. @Krishna Rao. I’ve heard words similar to these spoke else where. I think it was a Taliban spiritual leader.

  4. And in other news, I think people should get married only if they feel like it – I’m being forced by my folks to get married purely cos “I’m gettin too old” or “All the ‘nice’ gals in our community will be taken ” n other such lame excuses… somehow nobody seem to b able to accept that I can say ‘Not’ to the ‘Knot’ just cos I don’t feel like it 🙂

    Again, I guess in the age of the other commenters here, it may b juvenile/simplistic for me to say tht both the genders simply complete each other n tht marriage shud b seen merely as two ppl just decidin 2 b thr fr each other as long as they’re happy with it…sure kids cn complicate a separation ..but I guess, at the end of the day, personal happiness shud b the drivin force.

    Me gt a buddy who’s folks lived separately ever since he ws a kid n refused to divorce ‘fr the sake of the kids’..nw, bout 15 years later, he still tells me tht he wishes they hd separated rather thn livin seperately n bitchin bout each other whnvr the kids visit ..they were nvr be thr fr the kids yet fight like mad whnvr they wr together wid the kids… sad really..

    Thought provoking read, IdeaSmith 🙂

    1. @R-A-J: I am sorry to hear about your friend. A number of people I know who have experienced troubled marriages (as children or as the spouses) say the same thing. But it isn’t an easy decision either way and you never know for certain if it was the right one. Thank you for visiting XX Factor and commenting. I hope to see you again on this space!

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