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The institution of marriage and love often share a bittersweet relationship, and we need to factor in the fact that women will no longer give in to patriarchal expectations quietly.
“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.” — Victor Hugo
People say, love is the language of the heart. It can happen to anyone at any time. Hence, love is blind. It can’t see the man made barriers of caste, religion, nationality, colour, and gender. But then comes the head, our practical self, that spoils everything. Thus, we hear of heart aches, break ups, dowry deaths, honour killings, domestic violence or divorce.
The world has become more materialistic. Our priorities while choosing a life partner have also seen drastic changes. Social class of the prospective man/ woman has become the most important deciding factor.
People still talk of tragic stories of Romeo-Julient, Salim-Anarkali, Laila-Majnu. These figures continue to inspire budding lovers to fight for their love. Interestingly, if external factors and people separated the lovers in the past, a lot of today’s lovers break up due to their own compatibility issues.
Quite strikingly, we find many couples after years of intense romantic love take oaths of marriage. But, they might end up in divorce. Though divorce rate is comparatively low in India, studies show that nearly 50% of first marriages end up in divorce in America.
In Indian context, external constraints play a great role in hushing up compatibility issues. We are fine with unhappy marriages. We don’t think about moving on positively through amicable divorces.
In this context, it is important to explore the reason behind such separation. Why can’t love bind lovers through the ups and downs of married life? Is physical attraction enough to live together? Do they require similar aspirations? Has empowerment of women changed the concept of love?
The concept of love has become more realistic and practical today. But, there is a problem here. This concept of an ‘ideal lover’ is smartly crafted by the media and the corporate world. Good looking men and women often appear flaunting their accessories. The idea of life that’s so tempting is the hassle-free life shown in various media.
Many people escape the prying eyes of elders, and the scrutiny of matching horoscopes. But, they get stuck in a mismanaged life together based on unrealistic expectations. It eventually brings the lack of compatibility to the surface, leading to separation.
Today’s youth need to consider beyond the surface level factors of love. They need to think about the responsibilities of beginning a life together, and be prepared for it accordingly. They require a reliable support system that can help them in times of distress.
Several studies show that common interests and aspirations cement relationships better among modern couples. As girls are getting education at par with their male counterparts, men are able to treat them as mates for intellectual discussions. Such deliberations were missing among couples earlier, as men would rather engage such activities with their male friends.
With women being equal partners, the idea of family goes much beyond living together and rearing children. Couples can start joint ventures based on their common aspirations, and support each other.
However, ‘women empowerment’ is often blamed for the increasing rates of divorces. But the fact is that women are in a position to make their own decisions, to move away from toxic relationships, and lead a life of independence today.
Thus, we need to welcome healthy break ups too. After spending years together, there is no need to break apart in bitterness, rather move on wishing each other good luck.
The idea of marriage, today, is open to debates and reconceptualization. There is often the question – can love survive without being suffocated by the bondage of marriage?
We see plenty of couples who continue to remain in loveless marriages due to external constraints. If marriage is required only as a social obligation to breed the human race, then it is fine. But it is a question of individual freedom and happiness too.
Moreover, if love is real, why is there an apprehension of losing each other without marriage? Here we can look at a noteworthy example of a famous modern couple – philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and feminist Simone de Beauvoir.
They lived together for 51 years in an open but committed relationship. Needless to say, not many were able to understand their relationship based on intellectual intimacy.
They defined their relationship as ‘authentic love’ which included mutual respect for each other’s opinions and intelligence. Their constant intellectual conversations, ideas and books kept them moving forward together.
Sartre remained the first reader to all her works. She edited his works too. Beauvoir declared that among all her achievements, the intellectual companionship that she carried with Sartre was the best.
It is believed that love has the power to conquer all. Freeing it from the clutches of social norms might help us be in love longer.
In today’s context, if two equal minds fall in love beyond mere physical attraction, there would be better understanding, purpose, and compatibility to move forward together in the journey of life.
Image source: a still from the film Thappad
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Dr. Jyothi, Assistant Professor of English, Tumkur University. Has been a teacher of English and
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