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Marriage: another point of view

Posted: March 21, 2011

My comment on R s Mom s post on whether marriage is an over rated institution has evoked strong responses from several young readers as I had expected. Several young women seem to think that marriage is an over rated concept and that a woman/man need not marry unless the need for matrimony is strongly felt. They are not wrong in saying so. We have several young men and women postponing marriage for the simple reason that they don t want to marry unless they find the right partner. Some do not wish to compromise on their careers and even those who do not have a good job and earn a small amount by taking tuitions or marketing home made snacks are seen to postpone marriage saying that if they marry a man with a modest income and a large family of parents, unwed sisters and unemployed brothers to support, they would have to continue earning their pocket money as before and cater to the whims of in-laws who would treat them more as a domestic help than a daughter-in-law. To add to their misery they would be expected to produce a child (read son) within a year after marriage with no means to give him/her good attention let alone education. I cannot say much against this line of thought and I do agree that this happens in several families even today and girls are better off leading their lives as singles rather than marry a man who cannot take care of their needs.

I agree that my comment was based purely on personal experience. 40 years back I did have teething troubles and finally I did win hearts. Today I enjoy a good rapport with my acquired family and I don t differentiate between them and my own. This was possible only because there was a willingness from all concerned including myself to accommodate the others in the set up. I won t go into the reasons since they have no meaning now but it was possible only because of certain compulsions that were acutely felt both by me and my husband s family.

These compulsions seem to have disappeared from people s lives and society has changed a lot since the time I came to Jamshedpur as a new bride. I hope I am not wrong in saying that a marriage works only if there is mutual respect in the relationship. However, I do admit to feeling a little scared at the attitude that society seems to be acquiring towards marriage. The present scenario of a monogamous relationship with one s spouse took years to evolve. I would suggest that one fights for mutual respect and dignity within marriage rather than claim that it is not indispensible. I had written about my friend Prema in an earlier post. There were times when I too had felt that she was better off without marriage. Today she is handicapped and with no children to support her and it is the husband who takes care of her. She had a promising career but she had to opt for medical separation after her stroke and while her colleagues earn 5 digit salaries she is stuck with 75% of her last drawn salary which is just around Rs.4000/- per month. Her husband s siblings allow her to stay in the house built by their father only because she takes care of a mentally retarded sister in law and no one else wants to share the burden. Twenty years back Prema had dreams of raising children and having a successful career. Today she has only her marriage to fall back on and she is quite happy about it. She has no resentment towards anyone including her brothers and sisters in law.

People talk of shifting to old age homes post retirement. Prema cannot even afford the cheapest of such homes. Her own brother and sisters are all older than her and welcome her only on occasional visits. They have their health problems and are themselves dependent on their children. Prema has no one to turn to except her husband and their marriage works on mutual respect alone. Today I feel at least for people like her, marriage is an important part of their existence and what befell Prema can happen to anybody.

A final word. Desigirl of GGTS had responded to my comment by saying that we humans are social animals and rules that apply to wild animals need not be applicable to us. Several wild animals and plants have been domesticated and the wheat that we consume is one such example as are the cattle we rear. Their wild ancestors have been traced and several back crosses are done in order to bring desired qualities in them disease resistance being one of them. Marriage is a tried and tested institution and one should strive towards improving it rather than giving up at the first challenge one faces.

The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its

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  1. Dear Hip Grandma,

    I am not a great follower of blogs just because my work does not leave me enough time to keep a track of all the comments and new posts. However I came across your comments on “whether marriage is an over rated institution”I do agree with a lot of what you have expressed but not entirely.I agree that there needs to be some sacrifice and compromises in order to make the marriage work. Yes we have to make the marriage work! but what I’m trying to emphasize is that should be mutual and equal.
    I read Prema’s story.Deeply touching and inspiring but presented in a wrong light. Just because we may fear of illness and solitude ..We should get married? Those times were different when there were no medicle benefits and insurances to keep you protected. Now I guess every sensible and educated person is trying to get themselves insured atleast for medicle benefits.You have presented her as an epitome of sacrifice and yet she is happy with no resentment towards anyone but does she have a choice? Had she not married then…atleast she would not have to take care of ailing MIL and mentally retarted siter-in-law inspite of her own medicle condition. And what does that husband of her adding in her life? Is he even able to give her financial security? What is there in her marriage that she can fall back on? Even the acquired family is “Allowing” her to stay in family home just because she is taking care of a member that no body else wants in their life.
    Just imagine how her life could have been had she not married and still gone through all the misfortunes in her life. She would atleast have Rs 4000/- just for herself.

  2. Neha:By narrating Prema’s story I meant to emphasize that it is the mutual affection that the couple have for each other that sustains them. Under the given circumstances she could have indulged in self pity and made life hell for others. I agree that she is a rare human being but her husband’s role in making her feel wanted cannot be denied. The underlining factor in any successful relationship including marriage is mutual respect and love. peripheral do not matter if such is the case.

  3. Dear Hip Grandma
    First of all it is so nice to read your blogs, as they bring the colours of your experience from different layers of your life. What many mothers or wives today in their twenties or thirties are going through and are pouring out in internet are seen by you many years ago, and you might have shared them only with your best friend or never shared with any one. I like the way you used the term ‘mutual’ many times. Yes marriage is an institution if it is mutually looked after and benefitted. Earlier men were proud to take care of their wives/children mainly economically and wives were happy to look after the family, but now all these definitions are blurred both are doing everything. So ours is the generation who are questioning a lot. In western world they have over come the rating of marriage or being a parent, now they go for it only if they desire and not just because it is a norm in the society. Society is therefore changing accordingly, better options for single old aged people are available there. Community life is coming up as joint families are long gone there. In India we are learning. With time I am sure this new ‘me’ concept will go away and life will be more sorted out.

  4. Chandrima:i liked your analysis of the present situation in our society. However much a person like me worries, very soon words like adjustments and accommodation are going to be viewed in a mutual context and marriage is going to become an optional arrangement.I can see it happening. all this raving and ranting was mainly to get to know different perspectives. i sometimes feel like researching the subject from the sociological angle. We have discussions of this kind among friends but since we belong to the same age group our views are sometimes one sided.

  5. A balanced article. Otherwise females like R’s are spreading a poison in society by their sheer frustration of failed marriage. These are the so called modern educated independent women who misuse of laws set up for protection of women like 498a, DV etc. rampantly, just because they feel that their so called freedom requires control after marriage.

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