marriage and its need

Marriage – does it feel like a double-edged sword?

An oft asked question in our millennial world by thriving Gen Z and a few others from earlier generations is, ‘Why should someone get married?’ or ‘what is the need for marriage?’

Well historically, there may have been very different reasons and needs to get married like having an arrangement that gave a somewhat secure raising ground to the cave women for their new borns, then to establish settled social communities and later as strategic alliances between tribes and empires for strength and support.  At our age, these reasons are obsolete but the societal construct of marriage over these centuries has come to set itself in almost concrete. So, when I was 25, I didn’t ask any questions because getting married was the next scheduled thing to do. And my unquestioned marriage has fared very well so far.

But naturally, just as the traditions get laid in concrete over time, they also start disintegrating with time. So, the millennials are quite right to question the efficacy and need of this so-called ‘sacred institution’. And they will find enough detractors of it with their very logical and valid rationale. Most common allegation being that marriage mars the love between people by trying to own them once married. I shall not dispute it but I shall also not endorse to it because it is not by rule that marriages blemish love or relationships.

However, the problem facing the millennials is bigger and trickier. When they raise a question about the need for marriage; their parents, relatives even friends like me belonging to the old school of thought give them enough reasons for it like emotional security, companionship, mental support – basically a person to share your life with. And my still romanticised idea of ‘being with somebody’ quite goes with marriage. To which they argue that all of it is easily accomplishable in a relationship without the stamp of marriage. So why bother? Fair enough.

However, my millennial friends my sympathies are with you. Because I do understand that you are surrounded by a parental generation who truly believe that marriage brings with it a certain worth and commitment to the relationship. And me being me, with a less millennial mindset find it agreeable. But of course, you have your own evolved concepts and ideas about relationships and who are we to discredit them? Yet the truth remains, that there is a whole generation of youngsters mobbed by family and societal pressure to get married while they themselves do not see the tradition as such an endearing requisite.

The outcome of this tug of war is that today’s youth are neither excited by the institution of marriage nor do they oppose it. Rather, they approach it with morbid scepticism. Doubt rubbed with fear is the worst combination to start anything new and here we are talking about a relationship which is expected to survive a lifetime. I was sort of keen to know the typical fears or reservations against marriage that plaque the mind of a 30 something individual. And so, a litany emerged when I got talking to some. “Is he/she the right one for me?”, “Does being together make me any better than what I already am?”, “Will the spark last until we grow senile?”, “What if after committing, I find myself getting attracted to another?” There can be more variants to these universal concerns, but in essence they would be the same.

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to these doubts except that some answers can give you motivation to think more realistically. First up, can any person ever make me better or worse? No, it is my sole responsibility. Yes, someone’s company in the process of togetherness can lend me support in creating a better version of myself or pulling myself out from a pit but in marriage you aren’t looking for a life coach, rather a life partner. Have we ever made friends contemplating if they’ll add worth to our being?  

Is he/she the one for me? You will never know unless you give it a fair chance. Any professional venture that you undertake after every feasibility study can still only predict, not guarantee, its success or failure. How do you think the future of a personal relationship with many more volatile and dynamic variables can be known with certainty? When you have sufficiently known the person, take that rational risk with unclouded zeal rather than cynicism.

As for the longevity of this deal, love each other with passion and patience from moment to moment, for every today until tomorrow and then again for every today. That’s the only way. You don’t plan love or a relationship for the next 30 years. And if at all you are inclined to look at it like long term capital gains; you still revisit your portfolio every now and then and adjust to market forces. So also, you will have to revisit your marriage every few months or years to keep it profitable. I have learnt it well in my years that every marriage needs work to last. And when you put that thought into a marriage, the chemistry will outlive your biology.

Now the million-dollar dilemma, what if you find yourself being attracted to somebody else after marriage? Well, there is no if here. You will in all likelihood find yourself being attracted to more than one. So, what do you do? You simply acknowledge and accept it, not necessarily roll and indulge in it (atleast not every time). As you walk down Champs-Elysees, you are bound to be dazzled by the snazziness of things. But it doesn’t mean you go fulfilling every whim of yours. It also doesn’t mean you deny your desire for those things. Neither does it mean that because you liked a Louis Vuitton beckoning in the boutique, you start disliking or un-wanting your Salvatore Ferragamo tucked in at home. It is highly important that you and your partner both understand and accept this human phenomenon.

The questions that whirr today’s generation aren’t new or exclusive to them. The same questions were relevant for every generation and couple that ever got married. The difference is that maybe the previous ones were more reticent and obedient about customs and traditions including marriage, which is not always good. But what was good is that they went ahead with it with more conviction and readiness to take up the challenge of marriage.

In gist, a marriage does bring a cart load of expectations with it but it also brings a certainty to a larger extent of someone who chooses to stay by your side in every high and low of your life. It brings someone who chooses to care for you through every sleepless night, and bears to listen through every rant when your friends will be busy sorting their own.

When you dissect a marriage with your mind, you get a fragment of it. And no matter how logical, a fragment is not the whole. It is incomplete. When you see it only through your heart, it is still only a part and a distorted one. When you bring both and give it a shot, marriage has a tendency to last.

~Radhika Mimani

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