In the previous post, I questioned the role of elaborate ceremonies in marriages. In this post, I will go a step further and question the need for marriage itself.
When I think of marriage, a question that prominently comes to mind is, Why?… Why do we need it? If we don’t need an institution or a social stamp for a life long friendship, why for a man-woman relationship? As much as marriage is sanctified in all major religions as the ultimate, divine union of man and woman, the opposite – relation between a man and a woman outside of marriage, is considered sinful and deplored. Depending on the geographical location, such a relation may be mildly discouraged, severely opposed or punished.
Should relationships be obligatory or should they be allowed to take their own course? I have a feeling that loving relationships do best when left to take their own course. Two people when left to decide on their own, will find the best route for themselves. Look around yourself at how friendships flourish. No one forces people to become friends or to stay friends.
Whenever we put restrictions on a relationship, whenever we make it obligatory, the relationship stands to loose it’s vigor. No two people are alike and the same solution(in this case, marriage with the same set of rules) cannot work for everybody.
How will the society run without marriages? Deep seated in the arguments in favor of marriages, is a tendency people have to hold on to something they have grown comfortable with. Since people are used to marriages this way, and it doesn’t seem like the world is coming to it’s end because of it, a lot of them feel why try something else? What if we don’t like the alternative? What if it causes utter chaos, unhappiness and repentance? I think this is just people letting their fears play out on them. It is, what I have call a psychological fear in this article :
Changes are never easy in the beginning and there will always be some discomfort. But that should not deter us from leaving what seems uncomfortable and useless and try something that holds the promise of a better life for all of us.
When I was a Software Developer, the majority of the developers around me shared an idea – ‘If something is not breaking the code, don’t change it.’ I think this is a short sighted idea. Codes left this way are stiff, they cannot be easily modified or added on to. These are usually inefficient, incomprehensible pieces that, after a while, no body can fix, since nobody has changed it in a long while. I think it helps to re-visit at regular intervals, whatever you have created/setup and question it in every which way you can. And this applies to everything in life. I think this not only promotes improvement, it also prevents what people fear with change – things becoming unmanageable.
Do our cultural values stand for nothing? I have said before in other posts, and will say it again here – We are an intelligent animal. We have been given brains, perhaps for a reason. Instead of following what we are told, or what was once written down, we can inquire, we can question, we can test, and we can decide what is best for ourselves. If what has been followed for ages, doesn’t seem to help now, we can exercise our mental powers to find a new way.
Our forefathers, who gave us our cultural baggage, were not Gods. These were humans, and humans make mistakes. There is a possibility that what they have left us with, may not be all useful. It stands to reason that we should question everything and decide what is best, instead of blindly continuing to follow what has always been followed.
If you believe cultural values and religious rules should be above scrutiny, here is some food for thought :
5. But it doesn’t seem to do much good in the western world!’ People in the Eastern world take pride in the fact that their marriages hold more than in the Western world. There are fewer divorces here in the East. We like to believe that our strong emphasis on culture makes us superior, the West is in a dire state as far as relationships and spirituality are concerned.
I have stayed in US and I have experienced the Western world from close for about three years. I think the society there has developed in a different way. They have a different set of problems than in the East. I can’t say either is superior to the other. It does seem that both are individually good at certain things that the other is not so good at. Even then, I am not so sure marriage is something the East is better at. While there are a lot less divorces in India, it can not directly be interpreted as a success of the institution of marriage. Divorces are looked down upon and have a lot of social stigma attached to them. Couples, even though they may not be happy together, are highly unlikely to come out asking for a divorce. I am guessing we have big numbers of couples in India who are unhappy with their marriage but are still continuing with it.
6. Good for bringing up kids. Human kids take a long time to grow up and become independent. During this time, they need regular care and guidance. The institution of marriage provides that safety for kids to grow up well and ensures the continuation of our race.
To me, this seems to be the strongest point in favor of marriage. I still am not very satisfied with it though. Here are my reasons:
We are assuming here that a married couple, whether they are happy or not, are the best option for rearing a kid. I think there are other systems, like the Commune(community based rearing of kids), that may offer an alternative and should be considered.
We are also ignoring a fact that, parents have a natural tendency to love and care for their kids. They probably don’t need to be forced to stay in an uncomfortable setup for that.
On the other hand, if they don’t want to rear their kids, I am not sure it will help to force them into rearing the kids. How good will that be for the kid? Isn’t there a high probability of bad to very bad parenting here?
With my current understanding of things, I see marriage as an unnecessary tradition. There are a lot of happy married couples, but I don’t think marriage is the cause. It comes more from a focus on creating a bond that involves sharing, mutual growth and, above anything, Love.. and these things don’t require marriage to flourish.