Just a few years back, I was one of those people who always made fun of married people. I didn’t have a lot of faith in the institution of marriage. I was not at all excited about changing my whole life for one person. Especially in India, where the concept of an arranged marriage is so big! I have never and I never will understand how people muster the courage to spend their entire life with someone they have met just a few times.
Fast forward to today and as a partner in a happy marriage, I’m honestly surprised by how easy it was for me to transition. In fact, it feels damn good!
My journey to being married and happy though was very rocky. Like every other woman in her twenties, there was a lot of pressure from my parents and family to get married. They would constantly ask me if I have someone in mind or if they should start looking for someone. Every birthday I would feel extremely sad as if with every passing year my life, as I knew it, was nearing the end.
And then something magical happened.
The right person changed everything for me!All the fears that dwelled within me regarding the idea of marriage just disappeared within a matter of months. He was, and still is, my best friend – we have similar worldviews, values and visions for the future. For the first time, marriage seemed like an exciting new beginning instead of ‘the end’. In fact, for us, marriage was only a license we had to procure to live together. When I say the idea of marriage seemed exciting, what I actually mean is the idea of living with someone I love seemed exciting.
But, I still don’t believe that it is essential to marry (or get society’s approval) someone you love or that marriage is the ultimate path to a lifetime of happiness and/or success.
For everyone out there living through similar situations, do not panic. Make sure you –
- Do it when you feel it’s right. There is no perfect age to get married.
Despite the fact that everyone on your Social media circle seems to be either engaged or already married with a ton of kids, there really isn’t a right age to get married. Maybe you’re just not ready yet, or maybe marriage just isn’t a priority for you at the moment or something you don’t ever want to do. Whatever your reasons for not tying the knot just yet, you’ve got to stop worrying that you’re behind. Finding the right person is a tough road. Be patient. Life is not a race. We’re all different, and everyone’s life has a different way and pace of working things out.
2. Do not do it under pressure from anyone! Not even your own parents or your current partner.
Pressure from parents – Family pressure to get married is backed up by the heavy weight of culture prevalent in the societies we live in. It is this societal pressure that in turn leads us to pressuring ourselves, which leads to making mistakes. And this one mistake often ends up messing up many lives. At such times the only thing to do is to be calm. Stay focused on what you want in life and your priorities. Work towards achieving those. Don’t organize your life in such a way that making other people happy is the most important aspect of it.
Pressure from Partner – The tenure of your relationship not only makes you aware of what you want, but also about what you don’t want, in your significant other. It’s okay if you think that all the time you spent with a person cannot result in marriage. Committing to someone by getting married amplifies all facets of your relationship. Be it either love and respect or be it your problems with each other. If you’re bad at communicating in your relationship, miscommunications will only get worse in your marriage. If you don’t have respect for one another, you won’t gain it by getting married. You’ll probably lose it even more. Basically, when you get married, things can get even better if they’re already good, but they only get worse if they’re already bad. It’s alright to not know why you don’t want to marry him or her either. Don’t be in the pity dating game, where you’re just there to not break a person’s heart.
3. Do not do it because you are scared to be alone.
Yes, being alone can really suck. But what sucks even more is marrying someone you are not sure about without thinking it through simply because you’re tired of being alone and then they turn out to be terrible for you. Develop yourself into who you want to be first. Become financially independent. Get serious about your career. Eventually you will find someone who you love, are excited to be with and who loves you back.
4. Do a trial run, move in together.
If possible, try living with the person you love for sometime before tying the knot. Marriage is all about dealing with the most irritating habits of your partner, all day, everyday. You will also get a better idea of how home responsibilities will be shared. Because let’s just face it, finding out that you’re expected to do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry wouldn’t be cool. And its good to have a trial run. It will give both of you a lot of confidence and make the entire process of marriage much easier. This might sound horrifying for most Indian parents but it is very common in rest of the world, and India is slowly catching up.
Marriage is a gamble
What is a marriage? Marriage is just a socially sanctioned relation where man and woman live together, have sexual relations and produce children.But this definition completely overlooks the fact that you can not generalize relationships and emotions. Just like every person is different, every relationship is different and so are the good’s and bad’s in a relationship. Marriage should be an equal and willing union between two people in love, not something to fulfill one’s sense of identity or self-worth, or for validation.
Whether it is an arranged marriage or a love marriage – marriage is a gamble. It might turn out to be really good for some, horrible for others and average for the majority of the people. It is an institution that makes you make an, often, impulsive decision at a very young moment in your life, about a person you have to spend the rest of your life with. But moments pass. Continuing to feel the same the next moment isn’t promised. Few things in life are. Sometimes, you just grow out of love. It does not mean what you had wasn’t real. Sometimes you just realize you have entered into a relationship with a toxic/abusive person. Isn’t it better to realize and understand things, rather than let the other person be with someone you know does not love them? And at such times, don’t be afraid to come out of a relationship. The institution of marriage today entitles men with a lot of power. For example: In our country, men are legally allowed to rape their wives without fear of any consequences and taking undue advantage of the fact that their spouses are dependent on them financially. People should have a right to walk away from bad relationships whenever they want without any societal pressure or stigma. Why does the system and society make it so difficult for people, especially women, to divorce their spouses?
Shasvathi Siva, 28, who runs Cowvathi, a vegan business that provides alternatives to dairy products, went through a divorce that was finalized last year. It was a tiresome 15 month long process for her.
“Divorce isn’t easy. I’d say it isn’t easy regardless of gender, but it is infinitely harder on the women – as most things are. Many reasons for this, finances/ support/ children/ stigma/ dependency/ fear of the unknown future etc all stops women from seeking out a new life beyond the marriage they’re in. Divorce rate in India is at 1%, which is heavily disappointing. It reflects on how unhealthy we are as a society. We put undue pressure on women to ‘keep the household’ together. Despite all this, even if the woman is out of the marriage, she is looked down upon and judged for her choices. Getting remarried is a whole other task in itself. This is why setting up safe spaces where people can interact and find support is very crucial – because nobody deserves to be in a relationship that they don’t want to be in.”Shasvathi Siva
She threw a party once her divorce got finalized and now celebrates her Divorce-sary (just like anniversary) every year. She also runs a support group for people struggling with divorce. She said her own experiences during and after the divorce gave her the idea of trying to create a non judgmental safe space for such people. Kudos to people like her who are trying their best to develop a community and be there for each other.
India is known for its low divorce rates. But that doesn’t indicate that we have very few unhappy marriages. It just shows that most people (mainly women) in India are living a compromised life as they are afraid of the social stigma and/or they are financially dependent on their spouses. It isn’t a metric, we as a country should be proud of. A true metric would be something like a ‘Happiness index’ for married couples which might give us a clearer picture of how successful the marriages we see around us are.
Besides stigma, financial dependence is an important reason because of which women compromise themselves their whole lives. They don’t want to be a burden on their parents and they don’t know how else to take care of themselves and their kids. But all that is changing now. Most women today are financially independent and capable of taking care of themselves and their children if needed.
Also, most cultures see marriage as the foundation to family life and raising children, and they are bound to place more pressure on those around them to get married and more importantly stay married. This is one of the main arguments in favor of marriage. It refrains most women from taking a divorce. But as Andrew Cherlin argues in The Marriage-Go-Round, what matters for children is “not simply the kind of family they live in but how stable that family is.” That stability may take the form of a two-parent family, or, as Cherlin points out, it might be the extended-family structures that are common in many communities. If stability is what matters for kids, then stability, not marriage, should be the primary goal. And the work of this care falls disproportionately to women. Without marriage, this care and support could be redistributed across networks of extended family, neighbors, and friends.
To conclude this rant, I would just like to say marriage is complex and a choice. People should have the freedom to opt for it or not, if they do opt for it then they should be able to do it whenever they want, however they want and if the need to break out from it arises they should have the freedom to do that as well, without having to worry about the society judging them.