Thursday, 7 August 2008

A resurrecting institution or a crumbling pillar?

Human relationships do not survive on rationale, they thrive on emotions; and binding emotions are the foundations of the most basic human relationship - friendship. The knowledge of unconditional acceptance, existence of mutual respect and trust and the presence of genuine affection. It is hard to imagine that with these ingredients in place, there would be fragility in any relationship (occasional feeling of vulnerability maybe) let alone friendship. If this foundation forms the basis of a marriage, strengthens with time and the individuals grow in tandem, why should that marriage be deemed fragile?

For one, marriage can be viewed as limiting and curtailing individual freedom. Logic nevertheless insinuates that where there is mutual respect there is space for both partners to achieve their ambitions. Unconditional acceptance on the other hand results in complementing a partner’s perceived weaknesses by lending support. Affection facilitates compromises which call for a slight challenge, parking the so called ego on the roadside while traveling on life’s journeys.

A second reason is external interference - the perception of our society on what married life should be. It could range from what the role of a man and woman in a marriage should be to how the couple appear in public to what constitutes a “family”. External interference becomes a concern when it bothers either of the two stakeholders of marriage who makes an “issue” out of this external noise. Once again, a simple view I have is that mutual respect and trust lend confidence to adopt honest sharing and aid in devising a solution that works for the couple.

Intolerance and impatience are a combined third culprit which could potentially weaken the foundation of marriage. Acknowledging that not a single one of us is perfect should ward away intolerance. Even Gandhi was not perfect! And the fact that time takes it own course should help us deal with impatience.

In the Indian context, a fourth very important factor is “arranged” marriage. In the true sense of the word, the marriage is arranged by elders of the family. Little or no choice is given to the two people expected to commit for life, on how they feel about the alliance. No argument can support that a relationship created thus is susceptible to significant weakness. This was the only route available to older Indian generations. It did lead to several unhappy marriages which continued to ferment in their sorrows due to societal pressures. However, with the current generation having a choice to pick who they want to spend their life and grow old with; with increased levels of awareness and understanding, why should the institution be deemed fragile. It should only become stronger or so I would “rationally” conclude.

I could be looking at things simplistically; however, life is what we make out of it. It is as simple as we keep it or as complicated as we weave it to become. Marriage has been the pillar of modern society for a long time, and if it has stood the test of time there must be some merit in the institution. The perception is ours and the decision to challenge our views and beliefs is solely ours. While marriage is not fragile it is not tamper proof either. But then life itself is not invincible, is it?

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