Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
Our reasons to get married are often all wrong, and often dictated by social norms. Shouldn’t we think and decide what works best for us?
Marriage is arguably one of the most important milestone in an individual’s life. However, I feel that our society considers marriage (or bearing children) as the biggest achievements in a woman’s life. So much so, that without these achievements, an Indian woman is not considered ‘complete’ or ‘settled’.
Times are surely changing and I believe so is the mindset of society, but we surely need a long way to go before a woman’s identity is defined solely by virtue of herself and her achievements, and not because she’s someone’s wife or mother or daughter-in-law. This kind of emphasis on marriage sometimes play tricks on our minds and we decide to get married for reasons which might not be right!
This article is not a rant against marriage but to make you aware that we need to really think deeply before deciding for or against taking the plunge. Below I list a few reasons for which many women decide to get married. However, I feel they might not be strong enough arguments for deciding to marry.
If you think that you’ve not yet found your life’s calling and marriage will give you a purpose, you’re mistaken. By life’s purpose, I mean what you want to do with your life. What are your dreams and aspirations? I’m not saying that your future husband and children should not feature in this picture but you need a reason solely for yourself.
You need an identity. Even if you want to be a homemaker, you need to think about what drives you. Do you love preparing yummy dishes, or is it music or art that gets you going? In other words, you need something to hold on to, something that gives meaning to your life instead of just being defined by a husband or children.
If you’ve been drifting through life not particularly interested in anything and just following the herd per se, trust me, marriage will not get you out of your boredom. Well, initially you might find it exciting. But we humans have a great tendency to get adapted to our surroundings. Once you’re well settled into married life, you’ll sadly discover that you still find no meaning in this day to day existence.
Please don’t treat marriage as a means to escape studying further or doing a job. I’ve known people who refused to study further post their marriage even after they got the opportunity or still others who refused to do a job.
All this would be okay, if their ever increasing demands from their husbands didn’t prove that they only wanted to marry to get things they desired without working for it. Please don’t take it the other way. There are lots of couples I know who’ve taken the mutual decision where the wife stays back to look after the house or children while the husband works.
However, what I’m talking about is not quite that. I’ve also known people where the wife forces the husband to work harder to fulfill her demands for expensive things or foreign trips. Sometimes these demands are way beyond what the husband can afford. Remember, you’re marrying a human being and not Aladdin’s Genie that you’ll have all your wishes fulfilled by twisting his metaphorical arm. If you really want to buy things that he cannot afford, then you should also be prepared to work for it.
This is one of the most important reason why you should not marry. Please don’t tie the knot because your grandmother or your cousin’s aunt tells you to do so! Marriage as a process should be undertaken only when you’re ready for it. How will you know? You just do. It’s something like any other big decision in life. If your heart truly doesn’t want to get married, please do not do so out of family pressure.
Always remember that it is your life and only you yourself will have to live with the consequences of your life choices. So, please be prudent.
Marriage is not a fashion trend like crop tops or palazzo pants that you buy a pair for yourself just because your friends are doing so. As mentioned in the previous point, no one else will have to bear the aftermath of your choice of getting married, except you.
This one is tricky especially for a society like ours. A lot of Indian women still want to remain a virgin till marriage because we’ve been taught that that’s the definition of a ‘good Indian girl’. Please don’t marry to get a ticket to lose your virginity. Yes, by all means wait until marriage if that’s what you want, but don’t marry just for the sex!
As uncomfortable as this might make you, we women also have sexual desires like our male counterparts. We too get horny! But marrying for sex? The silliest idea ever! Marriage should take place between two compatible individuals who will support each other in life’s journey. If you feel you are happy being single, then please satisfy your sexual needs through some other means than getting a husband solely for that reason.
This is something you need to think about. Marriage will not cure you out of your loneliness. I agree that having a companion is fun and fulfilling but not always.
Consider this. You are back from a long day at work and just want to relax with some wine and books. Instead, you have to think about what to make for the evening’s dinner (or at least what to ask the cook to make). Then, you might have to be a sympathetic listener while your husband shares the nitty gritties of his day. If you have children, you have to think about their homework or other needs. Sometimes during weekends you might want to sleep till noon but your husband might want to go for a run at the crack of dawn! Even if you have similar likes and dislikes then too you have got to make small compromises for each other in a marriage.
Besides, married women also feel lonely because a cure for loneliness is not just a house filled with people. Many people, irrespective of their marital status, go through their lives without being truly understood at the deepest level by anyone. I’ve known couples who rarely have a deep, meaningful conversations. They’ve simply resigned to the fact that they have nothing interesting to talk about. Marriage is not a guarantee that you’ll always be understood by your partner.
A lot of spiritual teachers emphasize how true happiness lies within us and though we might hate to admit it, that is the basic fact.
I’m sure most of us have experienced how no amount of shopping or eating out or indulging in sex ever makes us truly happy. These are fleeting moments of pleasure which we keep acquiring to gain that evasive thing called ‘happiness’ when all along it was lying within us, waiting to be discovered. You are either happy with your life or you aren’t. A change in marital status may change your state of mind temporarily but you’ll be back to your original state soon unless you make an honest effort from within.
Nothing external can bring you eternal joy. Not even marriage. And yes, it is also possible that instead of things changing for the better, they might actually turn worse post marriage. Our childhood perceptions about marriage might be a ‘happily ever after’ being fed with a good dose of fairy tales and romantic comedies but with age we sadly come to terms with reality. Just like we tend to find faults in some of those misogynistic fairy tales, we also tend to realize that a ‘happily ever after‘ requires honest efforts from both the parties. And sometimes that blissful state might be achieved through other means as well, like going for a solo trip across the globe!
Again this one is similar to the point about sex. Don’t marry solely because you want children. If you really crave for motherhood then there are other ways to satisfy that. Adopt a child. Give an unfortunate kid, a chance to a better life. Procreation is just one of the aspects of marriage and should never be considered as the sole aspect.
Published here earlier.
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I read like a maniac, like my life depends on it. I also write and
Thanks a lot, Naseem. 🙂
Very well written post with pertinent points that must be considered by every individual contemplating this big step. Long long ago man as an animal species figured out that for survival, living in a group has certain definite and distinct advantages. This is why marriage, family and some form of “community or group living” originally became established. So marriage has a certain functionality one cannot deny and has been proven through research as well. However, what type of marriage one is in, is more important in determining one’s happiness than the act of marrying itself. This is especially so, when one is in a monogamous marriage with largely nuclear family ties. The extent of inter-dependence and even interaction with a much smaller group greatly magnifies one’s risks more than advantages. Thus the decision of “who” to marry is even more critical. Marriage is a very big step in one’s life and one that needs considerable deliberation by both partners entering into this bond. It is absolutely essential that partners agree upon the basics of “why” they want to be “married” versus just remaining “good friends”. Marriage is a little about romance but more factually it is about caring and being cared for, companionship and support. It is also largely about rights, responsibilities, commitment. It can make you whole and fulfilled if spouses are compatible and you both are constantly communicating in a way that helps you move together in the same direction. It can just as easily break you down and tear you apart if partners are incompatible individuals or not communicative and irresponsible or uncaring or not moving or willing to move in the same direction or if both are just incompatible individuals.
As usual, you’ve captured it perfectly in your comment, Sonia. I also feel that marriage, in today’s age, should not be mandatory for every individual to plunge into if they are not absolutely sure within that they want to get into such a commitment. I’ve observed so many people get into it for all the wrong reasons and then regret later. While no one can guarantee the success of a relationship, at least the intent should be clear in one’s mind before opting for something as significant as marriage. That’s what made me write this.
it’s all fine and dandy but … just *what* do I marry for then? You seem to have ruled out all possible reasons 🙂
Mere companionship, though holy in itself, does not require marriage. I say, let’s have an article that lists the reasons to be married too!!
Hi Mahelem, What I meant was that one should not get married solely on the basis of just one of those reasons. Some of these reasons can of course be combined and used along with considerations such as compatibility etc to take the plunge. Of course, my intention was not to say that these reasons are not valid at all, what I meant was NONE of those reasons alone should suffice as the ONLY justification to get married. 🙂
Mahelem, I’d like to answer that on behalf of Kasturi. What about a love that is reciprocated? Not the kind of love that you see in popular movies etc. That is not really love. The kind of love that is based on mutual affection, a deep respect for each other, and a willingness to make each other’s life good? A love that sees the couple united against anything the world might throw at them? A love that says, “yes, I shall always be here for you, I choose to be with you, not because of something I can get from you (that includes children) but because you make me feel good about myself, about us being together!” The kind of love that does not end in a mere ‘happily ever after’ of fairy tales, but makes a choice to stand by you through thick and thin. Our wedding rituals might be often outdated, and some like the Kanyadaan or even the Christian ‘giving away of the bride’ might be insulting to us. For after all, we are not things to be given away or donated. But the promise that is made between spouses at a wedding – that is really well thought out, and makes perfect sense.
These things might seem too Utopian, but why not aim for the stars? That’ll get us somewhere good. The lower you aim, the lower you’ll hit.
And before you say anything, let me tell you, that I am a woman in my 50s, who married for all the wrong reasons, as Kasturi has enumerated here, and I pray that others don’t do it. And this is my dream regardless – if not for myself, for everyone out there, who are looking ahead to their lives!
You’ve replied so beautifully, S. That was exactly my point that these are not reason enough (I didn’t imply they were totally invalid but of course those are not sufficient!). I too feel that a much deeper bond between two individuals just the way you’ve described should be the true reason to get married. And yes, why shouldn’t we dream for the stars, after all? One life, why compromise? 🙂
I , completely agree to your article and thanks for sharing . Must say at one point in my life I did feel guilty of not getting married and seeing my friends , elders / cousins sisters getting married . And in this peer pressure I did get engaged but it turned out to be a suffocating relation . Well I thank my stars / luck / God 😀 on ending this dilemma. And now ” ME ” happy being 35 age single and independent .
Well done, Anjana. I wish more women took bold steps like you instead of remaining back in suffocating relationships. I’m so glad to know that you took the decision that ultimately makes you happy. 🙂 This is one of the greatest incentive for me to write as well, it feels so nice to hear from readers that they could resonate with my words. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
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