I have written previously about personal inquiry as a method of personal development. I believe, if you want to understand and experience truth, it is essential that you question everything you have come to accept. I do this all the time, I have questioned ideas I once was very certain about. Often, I come out with a totally different view than I had before.
In this post, I am sharing what I feel when I question an institution that is considered sacred and divine in almost all major religions in the world – the institution of marriage.
A statement before I begin…
Before I begin, I want to state a few things – First, my reflections here are purely in the spirit of personal inquiry and a search for truth. I hope you will read this article in the same spirit. Truths, I feel, are not comfortable all the time. But they are truths never-the-less. Second, the search for truths is a work in progress. I don’t think I can, at any point, say that I know the absolute truth(until I attain Enlightenment!). My insights and understanding change with time. This article can appeal to only those with an interest in truth itself, and not those who try to find a set of comfortable rules that they can live their lives by. Third, the search for truth is a personal journey. Where I stand today may be a different place from where you stand. If that is so, I wish you well on your journey. Hope my stand point can give you some useful insights and vice versa.
My journey into marriage
For some time now, I have had an increasingly negative view of marriages. This may sound contradictory, since I am married myself. When I got married I had a strong urge to be with a companion. My wife Jyoti, who was my girl friend then, was in India and I was in the US. To arrange for her to join me in the US, the only immediate option I saw was to marry her and bring her along on a dependent visa. I cannot deny there were other, what I consider, ‘regular’ reasons as well. I felt insecure about an open relationship – What if my partner left me? What if I repented in old age for never having settled down? Marriage seemed like a ‘safer’, more permanent solution to loneliness(which I was experiencing in America). Looking back, these thoughts bring out my fears and weakness at that time. These are some uncomfortable truths for me but, as I mentioned above, they are truths just the same.
One of the first things I questioned about marriages was the way they start – with a big ceremony. They are very elaborate and long drawn out affairs in my parts. A sense of family honor is also associated with them. Those who are hosting, want others to feel they visited a grand wedding where everything was carried out perfectly. I have often found these ceremonies to be expensive, extravagant and, surprisingly, stressful. Immediately after the ceremonies are over, instead of feeling satisfied with this period of fun, often the hosts just heave a sigh of relief, now that they are past it.
The way I see it, an occasion of happiness should be received and celebrated in the same spirit, with happiness. The focus should be on getting together and enjoying. When I see the majority shifting this focus to traditions, show and conformity, I feel sad for them. It must be a very difficult thing for them. Marriage, for them, is probably no less than a night mare.
What does the married couple needs most? To me, it seems as clear as the sky that all the money spent in the show may as well be given to the new couple. It will find infinitely better and prolonged use with them than with the wedding planner.
If you are about to get married and want to have a gala wedding, I think asking yourself a few questions can help – What exactly are your reasons to get married? What are you excited more about? – Being with the person you will be happy with, or having a one-time gala affair? What is of utmost importance here, is to find the right mate for yourself. All else is utterly unimportant in comparison.
So many gala weddings seem to end in unhappy marriages and divorces. The biggest shows seem to happen during the weddings of celebrities. They have the grandest sets, biggest parties. It all looks like it is in the movies. Only one thing differs, what happens after the wedding. It seems the highest rate of marital discord and divorces happens among these very celebrities. Some times I wonder whether more show during marriage is equivalent to less happiness later. If you are looking to have a great show in your marriage, ask yourself whether you are trying to hide yourself from a deeper, bigger void.
When I have asked people why big ceremonies are important to them, I have heard the following 3 responses :
1. Long drawn out marriages act as a deterrent for people from taking it lightly. Married couples are less likely to think of separation. This is a strongly fear based idea. In fact, I find it funny. Instead of a focus on creating a strong bond of love, the focus here is on creating a prison people can’t come out of. What would you want your relationships to be based on – love or fear?
There is another idea at play here – When people get married, they are usually not ready for what they are getting into.
If you don’t believe that two people can lovingly and willingly stay together, why even get married yourself? Why torment yourself by getting bonded to a person when you don’t believe there can be lasting love between you two?
2. It is a means for families and friends getting together and having fun. It promotes social bonding. Again I find this funny. I am sure if some people want to have fun, they can just decide to come together and have it. Go ahead and party! I don’t see why we need to create elaborate pretences for that.
Lets not tie up two people together for the rest of their lives, just to find an excuse for one time fun. There is no Law against partying just for the sake of fun. We don’t need excuses.
3. For social acceptance. I don’t see why social acceptance should be so hard to come by for a man-woman relationships. I will discuss more on that in the next post. For now, I will say that even if a socially accepted way of formulating a marriage is needed, why not make it simple? How about court marriages? They are simple, they are easy, and they involve less hassle.
To be continued…