July 1, 2008

The problem with getting hitched!

Marriages are made in heaven, they say. It's better if it stays there, I think.

I do not have a problem with people getting married or the concept of marriage per se. My problem is with the way it is construed as. Marriage has acquired the nature of being 'universally applicable', i.e., every one must getting married, the society thinks. At least, the society that I have seen and am a part of. I do not convince people to not get married. But I will appreciate if some one is not forced to get married either. It’s like my religious practices. I do not try and stop people I know from going to temples. But why are eyebrows raised when I tell people that I do not believe in temples? Worse, people think I am an atheist. So much from an educated set of people!

I have had umpteen number of discussions with friends and relatives, who have asked me to get ‘settled down’ in life. GOD knows what settling down means. If settling down means getting married, then why is it a function of age and not financial standing? Mallu guys are supposed to get married at about 28 years, irrespective of at what juncture of life they are at. How strange! The family of a 25+ unmarried girl is surely in a state of panic most of the times. Sad, sulky moods will characterize the girl’s parents’. Surely, in at least 80 out of 100 cases. I have personally seen quite a few.

To my mind, marriage is an over-hyped concept. Probably the most over-hyped. So over-hyped that people are literally obsessed when a person reaches ‘marriageable’ age. All discussions in that household surrounds around alliances. That is, assuming it’s a case of arranged marriage. The entire world seems so concerned when someone is not able to get a proper alliance. At social functions, the conversations are overshadowed by networking details of eligible prospects. The stares and questions of the society become so difficult to handle that the person in case even stops attending social functions in few cases. I can go on with the ordeals faced by such ‘victims’. Victims, in my eyes that is.

Let me now go one step ahead. Thinking and hyper-active minds (and believe me, they are rare) should not get married at all for their own sake and more importantly, for others’ sake. Marriage surely ties one down to a large extent. Married people deny this always, but do they have a choice? The worst argument I get is – you got to get married to talk about it. My left foot...

Why can’t marriage be treated as a choice? Like which stream of education/career we take. Like which organization we join. Like which trouser we buy. Like which car we drive. So, either I get married or do not get married. A simple choice! But so difficult to ‘survive’ if the choice is the latter. There are more choices if one needs – live-ins, flings, etc etc.

I like asking married people few questions. It has been one of my favorite rituals over the last couple of years. I ask every married person whether they are happy to be married. I have asked this to friends, professors, relatives, bosses, colleagues. Some had married just recently and some for more than 25 years. To be fair, the consensus answer has been YES. I smile, as I am doing now. My second question has always been – when and why did you decide that you had to get married? On getting a surprised face, I clarify. Why did you join this organization where you are working? I get a detailed answer. Similarly, why did you get married? Hmm.. uhhh.. well.... what an irrelevant question it is, I hear. I smile again. On insisting for an answer, the conversation broadly runs like this:

Need for a companion, you know. You mean, suddenly at the age of 27/28 you needed a companion? Out of the blue? Who were your companions till then? What happened to them? All of them went out of your lives? At the same time?

No you don’t understand. Need for a life partner. To share every thing with some one. To feel cared. To care for some one. When I come home after a hard day’s job, I need some one to care about me. I keep staring at them, smiling all the way. Typically, at 27/28 one must have got settled, after years of real struggle and slogging. At the most volatile times, one did not need a ‘companion’, suddenly out of thin air where does the need arise from? At a time, when your life is relatively steady. Can someone please educate me on this point?

Exactly. One needs to move onto the next level of life. After being steady, you need to take on social responsibilities, you know. Good point. Very valid point. Social responsibilities – and how do you take care of it? By getting married! By closing out your life from the larger responsibilities? By being more inward looking?

But who says you cannot help the society after marriage? True. But not more than if you were single, if time and money is what we are talking about here.

Things get heated up by now. This is ridiculous yaar. You can’t force your views on me. Agreed. I am just asking about the feelings that led you to marriage and how it helped you in being happy.

Well, I did not want to bring this point up. But since you are pushing me to the wall, I have to. Physical satisfaction is also important for human beings, you see. I am sure you understand what I mean. I do. You need a legitimate way of having sex. The most socially acceptable way. This is absurd. What a narrow minded and dirty view. Uh? What did I say! Was adding to your argument.

Any ways... The point is, if marriage is about companionship and/or physical pleasure, then the logical time to get married is when you are in your teens, when both these needs and urges are at the peak. Not when you are entering your mid-life.

This is your age talking. Let’s see when your time of getting married comes. I will ask about all of this on that day. Ha ha ha...
What a stupid way of running off a discussion.

I have seen a lot of married couples moving out from their parents’ homes. They then meet their parents very infrequently. Priorities change after marriage, they say. Parents need their children most when they are getting old. And we are out to seek happiness in marriage. How superficial!

The biggest irony in all this is parents are the most thrilled in getting their son/daughter married. And the same parents later whine and crib that their children do not take care of them or spend enough time with them. Wasn’t that supposed to happen? The ideal case is an exception.

I have not even started to talk about love and arranged marriages! Some other time, may be.

Just a question to end this with – In how many cases out of 100 do parents sit down with the son/daughter to discuss whether he/she wants to get married and related issues? 30, at best 40. For others, it is supposed to 'just happen' at an age. At 3, you go to play-school. At 16, join college. At 25, start earning. And at 28, get married. Simple... unfortunately.


Diviya said...

I used to feel this way when I was 25! I absolutely agree that the way marriage is treated in our society is absurd. It is a matter of personal choice, and age shouldn't really matter. I think most people get into the rut out of sheer laziness - its quite an effort to find the right person on your own, so why bother with anything other than what your parents can find you?

Veena Panicker said...

You are right upto some extent. It's true that marriages are treated absurdly in the society, but it is not the bore thing happening in one's life. Ok let it be, it's your personal view point. But my advice for you is to get married at whatever age, because if you get a good wife , you'll be happy and if not you will become a good philosopher. Just kidding.

U No Hoo said...

Diviya, you are one of the most eligible people to talk about this. You endorsed my views, still is happily married. Ironical? Or co-incidence? :)

Good one Veena. I guess I'm on the right path to become a philosopher :)) Thanks.

Arunkiyer said...

Agreed that people wont disappear from your life all of a sudden...but they will eventually...as u grow older...at that age the urge to have someone around you will be even more...

raj said...

Hi there.. First let me appreciate the fact that you raised up this issue in such an intellectual manner. Whatever you have described is completely true…but dude don’t u think u are missing out what the real problem of our society is.. Let me try to explain my viewpoint to you.. Agreed that the marriage funda is completely absurd specially in India…but no one ever tries to think why this is happening..
The fact is.. it is very difficult for we Indians to express ourselves…it is not we have deficient communication skills.. or we have less command over the language..or we are devoid of emotions.. but reality is that we fail to speak our heart.. it takes almost 25 years for a person to say.. ’Hey dear I really like you’.. and another 3 years to say ‘Darling I love you’.. what things stop us are many- to name a few religion, caste, age, height, weight, bank balance, job profile and why all these things become barriers because since birth we are taught to equate love with marriage, whereas two are completely different aspects of life, when love is given an attachment called marriage.. it simply loses its meaning and the when we fail to understand what love actually is.. how can we have a meaningful marriage.. Still at the age of 22 years, I feel shy to tell my parents that I am going on a date.. coz I know when I tell them either there will be a lot of questions or a suspicious eye. On the other hand, my girlfriend has to give so called bahana of classes to come and meet me. Dating has to be kept secret from parents and also from police who can literally beat you till death for your PDA…unlike west where you are not allowed to piss on roads but at least you are not beaten if you kiss.So with all these meaningless Indian Walls..how can one find an ideal mate??
The problem with us is that we are all taught to be scared.. scared from our parents, from our teachers, from the society, from the religion and from our own dark side.. No doubt we are literally selfish...on the other hand we give a lot of importance to how others perceive us.. this works as a double-edged sword.
U mentioned that we are free to choose our career.. i don’t know why do you feel dat.. our society will accept an engineer, doctor or a ca but not a wild life photographer..or a trend spotter..the reality is we Indians knowingly or unknowingly love to draw the lines..for ourselves and to some extent even for others.. would you some day will be able to bear that your own child is smoking or drinking full on…I know you wont… n there u go n draw a line..
Which simply means not just the alliance.. but even our career, our clothes, our words, our thinking is driven by our society..
We are still in this small cocoon called ‘Indian culture’.. few people like u have guts to raise questions.. but still not yet able to find people who are ready to break the walls…and just OPEN UP!!!

U No Hoo said...

True Arun, I get your point. But by that yardstick, one must get married at 50 and not 30.

U No Hoo said...

Thanks Raj for dropping in and spending so much time to express your thoughts. I completely agree with you that the ways of society are not always progressive. And that is exactly what I have tried to bring out in the post. I find it quite unacceptable to force a concept down on every one without thinking about its implications.

anu said...

I think either u are maried or happy, u cant be both.There may be some exception though, what u say harry?

U No Hoo said...

Hey, who is this? Not many refer to me by that name, hence wondering. Kindly enlighten me about your identity :)

Arunkiyer said...

But then do you really think you can get into a relationship at 50? What are the odds?

U No Hoo said...

The odds are definitely less but still does not justify you get married so early (relatively), thinking about what happens when we are old.

Karthik said...

Once in a train journey from Kolkata to Mumbai, I met a woman who was in her late thirties. She worked for the All India Radio, Eastern Branch ( I don’t remember her post). On conversations with her I came to know that she was unmarried. As it was a one & a half day long journey, I got close to her & finally I dared to ask her the reason for not marrying in life. She replied that neither her parents nor any of her relatives forced her to get married, nor she ever felt the need for it.
One probable reason she said was that it was for her mother who was old & had no one around to look after.
But according to her, not getting married helped her in one way. Once, she met a girl about 10 years old who came to her for some house hold job. She was a Bangladeshi by origin. This lady took all the needs of the girl & now today that girl is a student of IIT.
The conclusion she could make is that if she would have been married, she would never have been able to do what she did for that girl.
As far as guys are concerned, I think not getting married will always help them to listen to their heart. As far as my case is concerned, I feel is that not getting married will help me to achieve what I really wish to……..

U No Hoo said...

Thanks Karthik for adding more juice to my views.

And to everyone - these are my personal views. I am not trying to force it upon anyone. Please do get married if you feel like and do invite me for the celebrations :)

hariharan said...

There r many proiblems which people find awkward to share with parents.Durin college times people share their problems with frds.With passage of time it becomes difficult to ping our frds with problems bcos they also have responsibilities like job.So a need for companion arises to share our problems,happiness,etc

As we grow young parents grow old.So eventually we will be alone and hence the need for companion

I feel friendships r phased ones.The interactions gettin lesser day by day.Evryone requires a shoulder to weep.

Aashita said...

Don’t you feel instead of cribbing so much about the marriage stuff.. You should consider yourself really lucky that you are not born in rural India.. and forced into the vicious circle of child marriages.. where children are compelled to marry.. even if they don’t know what marriage is all about... So hey lucky u all this happens only in India!!!

U No Hoo said...

Hari, nice point but I have a theory on that as well. I will write a piece about it soon. Tk cr..

U No Hoo said...

Aashita, never cribbed about it. Raising a point against the social norm, if construed as cribbing, would be unfortunate. I completely that we are better off relative to children in villages being forced to marry during their childhood/adolescence. But does it mean that hence we should get happily married just because we have to? Did not get the link between the two at all. I thought it is like suggesting to choose a smaller 'evil' just because we have to. Not fair na on poor people like us :)

priyanka said...

a logic to how d concept of marriage wud hav evolved :
as u mentioned everybody has d desire for a physical relation...d result of which is a "new life" who is d responsibility of both d individuals...hence they need to be togethere...
in dis overly populated world v can think of adoption, but wat if it was otherwise...how cud hav d world progressed???

U No Hoo said...

Priyanka - Makes sense for why marriages would have evolved. But not necessarily now! So please spare me, my world, from thinking about the progress of the world :)

priyanka said...

on a lighter side...
i m glad dat u wer not ADAM...

U No Hoo said...

hehe.. really good one :))

mandar.deodhar said...

Well, it depends ...

What if you get someone who expects following :

'I am not looking for only a beautiful, slim and an intelligent girl.......They are all clichés. The ones that matter are:

The first prerequisite I expect of my wife --- no it isn't the ability to understand me, that's the second---- the first one's a sense of humor for me and all my nonsense

She must sleep in my lap and allow me into hers. She must run her hand into my hair and fight me with pillows as often as she can.

She must allow me to disturb her, Which I will, ---no matter how busy and serious she is and I am--- , while she goes about our household chores.

She must sit with me shoulder in shoulder when we watch the late night movie together and must oblige to have a midnight walk anytime in the night..

When she is downright tired she must flirt with me to win a cup of tea or a glass of cold water. She must be ready to blow a kiss any time any day and any place.

She should call me nicknames and how innovative she coins out new ones the better and must be prepared to confront some deadly ones in return.

She got every right to beat me up when I annoy her while she watches those serials. She can also extract what she wants of me on Women's Day. And I am also ready to share her premarital crushes and secrets.

On those rare occasions when we might fight and then go on a mourning spree, it can continue for the night. The next morning must again be normal.

I am not promising her a paradise but yes she will always get more of my love than our children.

And finally, she must have a higher life expectancy than me. I may not be able to live without her.....'

-- received in mail .. sharing it here & I completely agree with it ;)

Amit Karambelkar said...

Perfectly agree with what u say!!!!!

but the problem is we have questions ------

not answers!!

I donno---- r u married?

Nilima said...

Thats really true, donno why parents don't understand these feelings, you just ask them why marriage is necessary & they'll tell you to stop asking stupid questions :( , than to find the relevant answer for your queries.
Especially girls have to bear this pain once you cross 20 or 21, let it be an important stage of your carrier or anything, parents start searching a good companion for you as if the next year you will suddenly turn 80 or something and can't marry after that. You tell them that you are not interested now in such things & they'll tell u all those emotional dialogues, which will make you feel sick. More than your parents your relatives will be more concerned about your marriage. Your married cousin's will give all the photos & biodata of eligible persons in their inlaws family. I wonder they might be jelous of you saying that we are suffering then how can you be releaved.
I am not completely against marriages but as you said its just that we should be given this freedom to choose when we want to get married.
Thanks for putting forward this issue.
Eagerly waiting for a debating issue of "love marriage or arrange marriage" which is the best amongst the two.

Someone, u no ;) said...

Witty answers to a stupid question
Q. When are you getting married?
- When my boyfriend is released from jail.
- When my divorce comes through.
- When you write me a cheque for the wedding.
- Before the baby is born...for sure ;)
- Why?Do you want to marry me? You just have to ask.
- Now, why would want to know something so personal?
- How much money do you have in the bank?
- 30th, of February ( the safest)
- We're not. But if we had a rupee or every time people asked us that question, we'd have enough to throw you a party at the Taj.( if they have the courage to come to Taj after those attacks)
ha ha ha...