Friday, February 5, 2010

Marriage - my thoughts

A majority of indian populace is under the age of 35 and a big chunk of it, if not the major one is of those who are in the so called "marriageable" age.In the indian context, this age starts,in the middle class context, as soon as one is finished with consuming the traditional dosage of education if i may call it that in place of "passing almost 100 exams", which is 10+2+3/4 years of graduation.Now that an increasing number of youngsters are expected to graduate in the next 10-15 years, marriage, to me becomes a matter of immense national importance as it is expected to influence the lives of so many youngsters.On the other hand it will also convert majority of the indians into really good dancers as everyone shall be dancing their way to glory in the "Shaadi of their Bhai-Bhateejas/friends" for the next one or may be two decades at least.

Leaving the dancing part aside i intend to keep myself focussed on presenting a few thoughts of mine on the essence of marriage in life.I have been floating past the conventional marriageable age for the past 6 years now.And even after so many years of soul searching i have not been able to point at one single answer as to "why is marriage necessary at all given it is assumed for the sake of a convenient discussion that it is in fact a necessity". Or i should say "what is that which we as human beings intend to add/delete to/from our lives through the mechanism called marriage". At this point it is important to define "marriage" I think. To me marriage is a socially recognised relationship between a male and a female, with an intention of raising a family together.This with an added condition that heterogeneous sexual relationships is what i have in mind when i am presenting my thoughts.To my mind "the intention to raise a family" is a very important thought underlying the above defintion as a male and female could come together even outside marriage with a romantic intention and may not even consider raising a family. An example of this could be the oft-quoted "Live in" relationships. I have had a lot of discussions on this with different people and the reasons that emerge in my mind right now, as the main reasons of marriages, are as follows.

One reason finds its basis in the Ancient indian text which specify 4 aashrams of life. Brahmacharya till 25-26, Grahastha (married life) after that, followed by Vaanprastha leading to the final aashram Sanyasa.So the reason could be that as it is prescribed by the ancient wisdom and everyone would love to save on the time of re-inventing the wheel, getting married, as soon as the stipulated time for brahmacharya ends, is the best thing to do.

Another reason is "Companionship".I am made to understand that we become increasingly lonely as we grow older due to one, the younger next generation pushing elders out of the centerstage and the friendships of the yore get reduced to only a bunch of fellow elders busy with thier own bits and peices,and second, deteriorating health.So having a companion here in this stage of life really helps as both can take care of each other when noone else is interested in their well being apart from their children who given the present state of affairs might reside outside the country of their parents. Definitely the "taking care of each other" and "sharing happiness/sorrow with each other" also marks a companionship in the young age but it obtains huge proportions during the old age, is all i mean to say.But suppose there is a family of 2-3 brothers/sisters/a mix of them who decide to remain unmarried for life spending their lives together as companions (completely excluding the possibility of incest as anyway i have not assumed sex as a necessary component under the purview of companionship) then, where does the need for marriage stand if a similar companionship could be found elsewhere.Just that, the situation assumed above could be a very rare one as it includes a similar decision taken with a similar mindset and understanding by more than one person.Also a situation where a one of the companions passes away well before the onset of the old age could also be presented as a case not so much in the favour of the companionship argument.

One other reason is the "desire for settling down in life" which is not very clear in my mind as regards the exact meaning of the term. I at times think that it may mean that once a person is done with education and is reasonably well settled in a job, it is advisable to marry him/her so as to keep the mind occupied rather than allowing it to become empty and therefore acting as a devil's workshop.Or may be settling down is indicative of a phase where one has a 'home' to go back after working hours where his/her spouse is expected to be waiting under normal conditions.But this situation might also arise with a caring room-partner of the same/opposite sex. Here again the relationship with the room-partner is assumed to be of the platonic nature only.

This brings me to the next and a very important reason for marriage which is sex.This i believe is the concurrent theme in all the above reasons discussed which is actually making a marriage different from the alternatives i tried to explore on a very superficial level.Given that the onset of puberty happens in the early teens and the conventional marriageable age arrives almost 10 years after it, it is not very hard to believe that "sex" is an urge which might make people go for marriages as our society still does not attach respect to 'sex' that happens outside marriage.And sex being a natural urge, can not be ignored/eliminated, mental training for keeping the urge under control appears very well possible though.But this reason for marriage also starts to loose its meaning if we consider "sex that could be bought" from the market place.Definitely a marriage can provide sex even in penury and without the fear of transmission of diseases. But this still does not look like a "the reason" for marriage.

Raising a family could be a very strong reason for entering into marriages i believe, given the female urge of motherhood and the male urge of leaving as many seeds behind as possible making themselves immortal through the process.But what if the family raising becomes a bitter experience with constantly quarrelling couple making the children mentally skewed/unstable in the process.Then would this new scheme of things justify "marriage for family raising" as the right thing.

I proceed to a reason which no body has ever mentioned to me as "the very reason" for marriage and to that i can only react with astonishment.The reason is LOVE. Love to me is the most important theme in all the reasons discussed above.It is implicit in all the concepts right from "companionship" to " Sex" to "Raising a family" or even in the ancient wisdom.Absence of love could turn a marriage into a meaningless painful duty which is the worst that could happen to such a relationship. Caring also is a an indicative of love at some level or the other. I think i can say that love to me is the reason why people should enter a marriage. That is, a couple should get married when love is already there for each other or when it happens with a strong resolve to love each other. The latter comes into picture in arranged marriages which could not be eliminated as falling in/out of love are random natural events at best and could not be guarenteed even in presence of extraordinary efforts by human beings. Also, the love in the present context is the unconditional love that one experiences towards the other person irrespective of his/her strengths/weaknesses.

May be i have left a few more reasons but I feel like concluding, having said whatever crossed my mind, that if love is the foundation of all the marriages that this country, or for that matter this world,is going to see, we shall be a happy bunch of guys with smiling faces all around.And to the question "what is a marriage for - happiness? stability? satisfaction?...or simply love?" we shall all answer in unison"love".