Thursday 31 March 2011

Marriage: An Over-rated Institution?


A friend of mine shared an article called 'Marriage: An over-rated institution?' which was published on women's web. You can find the link here. The author Rs Mom basically wrote about an office washroom conversation of three married women. What I find interesting is the comments which were posted in response to this article. Some women were pro-marriage while others insisted that it is a highly over-rated institution and marriage and motherhood does not suit or fulfill every woman. Also some of my husband's school friends are having a discussion on romance in married life and most seem to think  that after 5 years or more of marriage you should be given a Nobel prize if you do not strangle your husband!


Not that I am an expert of any sort on this, being married a measly one and a half years. But so much discussion on marriage got my idle brain thinking and I realize that just by observing married people around me since childhood I have picked up a lot about human beings and this institution. Without going into the complicated observations, some of the lighter ones:

Each marriage is as unique as our finger prints--Hold on, I am not asking you to appear for a biometric test for a perfect marriage (urghhh my brain is running wild). All I am saying is not only are no two marriages same, even an individual has varying perceptions of marriage depending upon the partner and the circumstances. So if a marriage ends in heartbreaks or tears, does not in any way mean that person cannot have a happy and fulfilling marriage with another partner in another time. Generalizations do not really work in case of marriages. Each one of us approaches it differently and behaves in it differently. So if your marriage is not going the way you feel it should and your smugly married friends or busybody female relatives tell you how perfect their marriages are, do not be disheartened. Work at it the way you feel best. They do not live with your husband, you do dahling.

Marriages are not made in heaven-- Come on whom are we kidding or passing the praise buck too? Why bring in heaven in this very earthly endevour?  Max I can do is thank my guardian angels for introducing me to my husband err through a mutual friend, so she should also be thanked, right? And all the work, effort, adjustments, compromises that go into making a marriage work is ours, just ours-- ours and our partners. So pat each other backs. That might bring in some romance in life as well.

Marriage is unfortunately a 24/7/30/365/all your life thing-y--wish it was like our jobs, wish we could switch off after 8 hours. But the sad news is once we marry it permeates our whole life, a bit like the sand particles creeping into all those tiny, almost nonexistent nooks and crannies of your self and filling up them tightly. The freaking truth is that marriage is a combination of rocks, pebbles and sand. So if you are not careful, marriage will creep into your being and totally take over your identity and before you realize you have no other identity except for your married self. This is how most women approached marriage for centuries. Sadly some girls still do it like that. Be careful, do not let this happen, stop the sand particles from seeping into those nooks. Whoa those  are yours and yours only, guard them zealously.

Marriage is about the good and the bad-- okay first the good bits
*You have a permanent date for life-- for all the weekends, movie nights, Val Day etc-- gone are the days when you had to frantically search for someone to go watch a movie with you
* You do not have to do dutch every time you go out (complicated calculations of dividing 77 rupees among three people and some such-- all those laborious ticking on the mobile calculator)
*You can force your husband to listen to your girl-y woes, involve him in the excitement of reading a chick lit or watch a rom com and/or bitch about people (though be careful he will give you solutions to your problems much to your frustration, will get bored with the chick lit and point out the illogical bits in the movie just when it got really mushy or ask for the thousand-th time why girls think/behave like that and discourage bitching or worse still ask you to go and clear the air with person about whom you were bitching  or more horrible call you an emotional fool...okay we were discussing the positives, lets be + guys)
*Sometimes he will be the perfect sweetheart and pay you compliments, get you gifts or flowers or both (happy days), give you surprises, take you out to dinner, organize superb holidays or basically do something really nice and kind and sweet [before you get too excited-- like all married women know these are really occasional (read far apart) incidents *sigh*]
* Hopefully you have found a best friend for life...but hey you still need your girl friends same as ever
Now for the negative ones--
* The snores (they can turn you deaf or mad or both), taking up way too much space in the bed [forget all those romantic cuddles, at that point all you want to do is push him off the bed]
* The mess in the house--however much you clean up the house, he goes around messing it right back...I know, I know some men are not like this, but sadly ladies most men are...continuing in the same vein every time he cooks, the mess he makes in the kitchen is simply unimaginable and the funniest thing is he thinks he is really neat...poor dear
*The tendency to skip baths, wearing the same tee shirt for seven days in a row[God has deprived them of half a sense-- smell of their own sweat], same jeans for a year[Conversation: Wife: You know you need to wash your jeans, you have been wearing them non stop for months without even washing  once! Husband: Really? But I just bought it last year. I wore my last jeans for three years and then it got really tattered (with a surprise in his voice) I had to throw it out and buy this one. So do not worry this will last me for two more years. We men do not need to shop like you women do (with a snigger). Also you know what washing is not good for jeans. Ha Ha Ha! Okay have your laugh. Just for records we women smell much better than you men, thank God and yes jeans can be washed too]
*We all know the manly characteristic of being glued to the television set for matches, news and other boring stuff and addiction to most juvenile video games (yawn) won't do an in-depth on those...

Some marriages come with expiry tags-- Yes sad but true...some partners choose to finish it formally/legally and some emotionally while continuing to coexist.  I know this goes against all the Yash Raj/Meg Ryan/ Julia Roberts movies you saw or the M&Bs you read. What makes it harder to accept this is that marriages come with 'in life and death, in sickness and health' tag and not 'going to expire by so and so year' tag. And looking at the smiles on the faces of brides and grooms in their wedding photos you would not guess that they want to end it in sometime, maybe except for Rani Mukherjee's teary expression in that extra-marital movie of Karan Johar's. Best thing to do is enter a marriage with an open mind and give it your best shot without tearing your heart into bits and pieces and get out in case it is not working.

Marriages is one big package of romance +friendship+ companionship-- Okay, okay do not throw stones at me. It is merely an idea worth thinking about. I know you all married men and women do not agree. Do not take me wrong ladies, but 'some' of you almost take a perverse kind of pride in telling the world how inane your marriage has become. To be fair to the men, they actually do not publicly bad mouth their wives. Come on lets lavish compliments where it is due. Tell you what ladies this view of marriage as some kind of boxing match is rather passe. Lets move from this clichéd perception and create this evergreen image of marriage where you enjoy spending time with your partner, even if not so much as your dating days, there is still some romance in your lives and you are happy being with him. And before you start thinking that 'let this novice spend 5 more years with her husband and then we shall hear her talk'...I am talking on the basis of some couples who have been together for more than thirty years. There something to ruminate over.

The list can go on and on, but time I stopped.

P.S. All the images are taken from the ever ready supply of google image search.
Disclaimer: Husband dear I love you very much, really I do!

22 comments:

  1. Marriage should not be a 'mandatory' institution. Only those who can 'balance' himself/herself should go for it..

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    1. it should be because it is our fundamental need and if we dont get married , than we will go for other illegal means

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  2. Very true Sibi, this intense pressure that every Indian goes through by family and society at large to get married should be stopped...its a killer!

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  3. Nice post. I enjoyed this institution.

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  4. Fantastic!! I read all possible versions of this post title and it has been going around for quite some time. I wanted to pen down my thoughts on it too but then I was skeptical for various reasons. Yours has been the most balanced version ever. I totally agree with each point therein that you have carefully thought over and written so beautifully.
    Excellent....

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  5. Oh well Prateek good for you. Marriage is wonderful if you are married to the right partner, absolutely no doubts about that! :-)

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  6. Sliceofmylyfe thanks for your comment. I have also been reading several takes on this marriage thing and wanted to say my two bits on it. Glad to know you enjoyed it :-)

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  7. Enjoyed reading it!! reminds me of the age old saying in India- Shaadi ka ladoo jo khaye ........:)

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  8. Oh yes Purnima, the age old 'Shaadi ka ladoo...' is so true :-)

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  9. well said , very deservedly spicy saturday pic!!

    One thing about some women losing identity and selves to marriage. Personally, I hate it and would never do it. But I know a few women who actually like that you know...sad (for those who think like we do) but if they are happy being that way, why do we mind?

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  10. Thanks Varsha. Your comment took me back to the 'me' in early 20s :-) Oh well do not be so hard on those poor women. Initially I used to think just like you did, you know 'why do women give up their independence or why do they take violence?, why can't they develop some backbone or walk out?'...but years of working with vulnerable women have made me realize that it is very easy to judge and dismiss them if they do not confirm to our ideals/ideas. Life is not easy, neither white nor black...more shades of grey...the way I see it now is that being in a bad/abusive relationship/marriage is like living in a military dictatorship...to begin with you never know how much better life can be without the shackles...it actually takes ages for the realization to strike which is followed by hope that it would change, it sometimes takes ages to realize that it would never change (I am quoting a very dear friend of mine who was married to an abusive guy for five years)...in the meantime all we can do as third parties is to offer them friendship and support...

    Sorry for saying such serious stuff...

    On a lighter note, not all marriages are that bad...specially living abroad away from families, I hardly feel married nor do I behave or dress married...it is more like living with my best friend...:-)

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  11. nice post . marriage is a great institution if the partner is right . But at least in previous generation (people in their 50 s now ) i see so many women putting up with abusive husbands and living as "happily " married . This is a known psychologic phenomena called stockholm effect where the victim finally starts adoring the abuser .
    but im happy that many of my friends of this generation are truly happily married .. keep writing

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  12. Thanks Haroon for the comment and welcome to my blog. Without being biased I think for present 30s something couples marriages are much more equal in every sense than it were for our mothers. And that is what makes a happy marriage....

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  13. I hate long posts.... but this one was AWESOMELY interesting!! Could relate to most of it... I guess it's how you take it, Suchi.

    All's well when I'm in a good mood but try me when I'm irked and you've had it...lols... like my hubby is a stickler for his bad habits, I have my mood swings but don't we always love to pass the blame? :)

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  14. Thanks :-) True we keep trying to pass the blame on the other person, but it hardly works like that...

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  15. Beautiful post :) 'Every marriage is as unique as your finger prints' - That line just about describes marriage in its entirety and when people fail to see that is when they have problems with the marriage. We need ot stop comaring our marriages with others and finding faults with our spouses just by measuring them up against some other couple..Very well written..:)

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  16. Thanks again Natasha :-) Even if we stop, all the helpful aunties around us, won't, that is the problem...

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  17. i'm a guy and single.. n i think i am probably the only person representing that group. [NO 'm not gay.. not THAT group ;)]
    i'm workin in a small town for around the last 4 years, and the sheer incidence of extra marital affairs struck my idea of marriage as the iceberg struck titanic. oh hold on, it was the other way round, but umm nevermind.. moving on..
    its weird cuz the women are good looking married women in their 30s.. they arent exactly depraved, hormone-driven, impulsive beings. and the men are regular guys, not muscular greek gods with silky hair (basically not a filmi version of life)
    flirting is one thing.. frankly i believe its a charming and witty way of complimenting a colleague and keepin her happy.. but a full blown affair with escapades and the works strikes me as rather juvenile.. especially when its people who stay in the same small town and are gonna be working in the same place the rest of their life.
    so basically, yeah the concepts of universal marriage and fidelity are being radically redefined.
    and that bothers me.
    i agree its the right thing to step out of a marriage thats not really working. but somehow i also feel that this is a short term solution.
    cuz regardless of whom you get married to,
    theres gonna be 60% stuff about that person that you like/approve/adore.
    40% that you hate/despise/disapprove.
    and the marriages that work are usually the ones where the trade off is acceptable.
    needless to say, the 40% drawbacks are not always apparent. so even if you feel you know your partner, you dont.
    and marriage, like everything else in life, remains a GAMBLE.
    and lastly i believe that people who marry in their early 20s are too young to know themselves, nevermind knowing what they want.
    and when they ultimately grow up to their full potential, they realise they are no longer the person that had gotten married. and when the goals and expectations from life change, people sneak behind the back. cuz sneaking behind back is easy and temporary and tempting. divorce is scary and a big decision.
    sincerely,
    :)

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