Sunday, June 03, 2007

The institution of marriage

Marriage...there are a lot of things that come to my mind when I think of this one word. This post is meant mainly as response to what someone asked on my previous post. Why do people get married? Is it really needed if you really love the person you are living with? Why do we seek social sanction through the institution of marriage? These questions merit more attention that as a simply response to a comment on a blogpost. So, I decided to write it as a whole new post.

Marriage to me is an affirmation of love, commitment and loyalty. It is my way of telling the man I love that I am exclusively his. That there will never be anyone else in this world for me. It is a declaration that I am making a conscious decision to stay with him all my life. Even more than that, it is my way of telling him that he will have to take care of me. Yes, you read that right. He has to take care of me. I am an adult, I know. But I am also a woman. I am not ashamed to admit that I want my husband to take care of me. I want to be able to relax and forget the world in his presence, because I know he is there to look out for me. To me, marriage is not simply social approval of sex and procreation. It is a symbol of love.

Studies show that 43% of all marriages in France end in divorce. The details can be accessed here. The site gives no statistics for India, but one wonders why it is so difficult for people to stay in a marriage. Before addressing that question, is the issue of why people actually get married. While it is true that marriage evolved largely through social roles and had very little to do with love, I would like to point out that we, as human beings have evolved.

In modern, industrialised societies like France, it is no longer important to be married. You can live for years with a person without getting married. But, my question is, if you really love the person so much that you are sure you want to spend the rest of your life with him, what is the problem in converting it to a marriage? Why do we always look for ways out when even a small thing goes wrong with the relationship? I don't believe religion has very much to do with marriage.

True, the issue is social, but it is also highly personal. My opinion may have no statistical, sociological or empirical basis, but I think that somewhere in our subconscious, we are conditioned to associate marriage with commitment, loyalty, love and passion. It may not be true with many marriages. But,I know that it's what I am looking for in my marriage. I want my husband to be committed to me, loyal and loving. That is why I want to get married to the man I love. To me, marriage is a simple extension of the love we share. Sure, we will love each other outside of the institution anyway, but deep inside, I am still conservative. I still believe in making my relationship with Anand "official" by getting married to him. And, a lot of other people feel the same way.

Tax benefits and the like are a huge bonus. That's not why I want to get married. India gives no benefits to those who get married and have kids. And, getting married for that is the worst decision one can take in life. The problem with too rational an approach to marriage is that we are left with no "fair reason" to take that step. Sometimes, it is good to think with the heart and not the mind. Sometimes, it's good to be romantic and propose to your girlfriend under the moonlight over glasses of champagne. Sometimes, it is good to walk up to the altar, tie yellow thread around her neck or exchange rings, or whatever it is that you want to do. It is even good to walk into the office where they register marriages and sign a register declaring her your lawfully wedded wife. Sometimes, it is good to throw reason and logic out of the window and listen to your heart...

But, oh well, I am a romantic...people are free to disagree...

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