By Abhinita Mohanty:
The word ‘marriage’ conjures up different images in people’s minds and those images are heterogeneous. It does not always form the ‘image’ of a ‘happy ever after’ couple with an almost perfect relation and rosy kisses. For many; marriage can be a dread, many see it as desirable and for many others, it’s also about confusion on the issue. The way images are formed are often structured, constructed and constrained by a larger society. Since every society traditionally sees marriages as a ‘compulsive and normal’ way of life, hence it makes us see the institution in an ‘extremely’ positive light. But the truth is, like any other institution, its perfection and validity can be questioned in certain contextual perspectives.
Many marry due to financial stability, to get certain benefits, enjoy parental bliss and also just because it is tradition. Then the question is; is marriage after all a ‘sacred’ relationship? Can one not enjoy all these without being married? Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie are happier without being married. But since Indian society looks down upon ‘live in’ relationship, people need to marry to give a name to their love and their family. The reasons for why people marry are numerous and it would not be wrong to say that other than love (as it is in India), any other reason to marry makes marriage lose its validity in people’s everyday lives. Arranged marriages do lead to love but in case it does not, individuals should have the social freedom to walk out of it. Here, I emphasize that marriage should not be viewed as an ‘unbreakable’ bond.
But another question that needs to be addressed is, do Indians or Asians marry only when they are in love? It is seldom the case. Even in many love marriages, people tend to see aspects like money, status, physical appearance, religion, etc. So, is marriage actually important? The answer will vary from person to person but somewhere it can be agreed upon that if we detach this institution from ‘tradition, morality and religion’, it loses all its validity. If sex, love, family and kids are important to a person, then they can have it even outside this institution. As statistics indicate, the ‘unbreakable and monogamous’ marriages in Asian countries actually lead to greater transgression of marital norms and loyalty. Psychology says that which is forbidden becomes more alluring. Shobhaa De had indicated in her writings that marriage should not be seen as a ‘compulsion’. To accept an institution should always be voluntary, never coerced by ‘social rules’.
Another problem is that ‘marriage’ and the nuances involved in it are rarely discussed in the Indian society. The needs of partners, importance of sexual life or how to choose the partner are rarely said. This is because it is seen as something very natural in person. But if we look around, we can actually find young people both confused and disillusioned about marriage. The silence and secrecy has only led to question this institution of hypocrisy. The choice of individuals whether to go for this or not is solely personal. Societies should neither advice nor ‘abnormalise’ the individual in this decision. It would rather do well if we would talk frankly about what marriage brings with it and what sacrifices or benefits one will have in it and the rest solely lies with the individual.