Monday, October 09, 2006

To plunge or not to plunge...

This post is a distillation of some thoughts that have been whirling around in my head for many, many years.

I was wondering….Does a woman need a man as her “lawfully wedded husband” only because she feels insecure about her place in the world and her ability to look after herself? In an ideal world, where women are sure of themselves and their capability to look after themselves economically, emotionally, and physically, would marriage-on-paper be a necessity? Wouldn’t it be a thing of the past? There would be no need for a paper or a ring or a chain around the neck to announce to the world that you are with someone or that somebody is yours. In an ideal world, that is. Because you would be so sure of yourself, both the man and the woman, that you would live together in total trust and security. The security that comes from within, not the security that society provides.

I think marriage was more of a safety measure for women and for the kids they would have in the future (more so for children), a safety measure that was invented and maintained by a society that had only their welfare at heart, at a time when women were economically dependent on the man and would not have been able to fend for herself and the kids without a man to protect her. So in today’s world, when more and more women are coming out of the shadows of their households and holding jobs and building up their self confidence and their capability to look after themselves has increased multifold, is marriage still relevant? In such a scenario, if it is not relevant, what if the man you’ve lived with and had children with suddenly left you for another woman or for any other reason (even for another man?!!). Of course, the reverse could also happen. The woman could be the one to leave, for her own reasons. Then what happens to the children? So you see, when you break it down, it finally comes down to the welfare of the child. The whole institution of marriage revolves around the welfare of children, who are the future backbone of society, the future generation. So, does marriage mean that children have it good from then on? That they will be looked after by both the parents lifelong? No, as we can see. Even with marriage, in the cases of divorce or with the death of a spouse, the children are left with just one parent. So what if the parents were not married in the first place? The same thing would happen. Either one parent would take up the child’s responsibility. So if the whole point of marriage was to safeguard the interests of the future unborn children, would a couple who have no interest in having children need to get married? Of course not. But they still do. We see so many couples, the so-called DINK couples-Double Income No Kids, getting married. Why do they get married to each other then? Is it the age old, primeval attraction that humans have for rituals? The beauty, the mystery, the magic of rituals that somehow has still managed to survive intact even in this age of sophistication and technology?

I feel, marriage or no marriage, what has to happen is that women (and men) have to choose to stay together and start a life together for the right reasons, and if they choose to start it off with the ritual of marriage rites, then its their choice (and that’s something I personally find meaningful and beautiful), but they should not have to do it compulsorily. As for the right reasons for getting married, I mean a reason that has nothing to do with loneliness or insecurity or emotional neediness or economic insufficiency or status or even societal or parental pressures. To get married instead from a standpoint of inner strength and because you have a lot of love to give and a beautiful life to share.

You have to understand that you don’t need anyone to survive. That you have every resource within you, God given, to survive in this world, and survive with style, and to have a companion on the journey that is life should be an added bonus, not a prerequisite. What I mean is to mould yourself and your life in such a way that it would be a joy to share with someone else, someone who would be undoubtedly blessed to have a companion like you and who is equally strong and independent and wonderful to have around, so that you feel blessed too! The right reasons may or may not include the kind of love that makes your heart beat faster and your knees go weaker because such emotions do not stand the test of time anyway (can you imagine going about your life in a state of permanent tachycardia and weak knees? Not only is it a biological impossibility but also detrimental to long-term health!). Rather, a strong sense of peace, empowerment, understanding, and companionship, and passion, a feeling that you’ve found a kindred spirit, that would be much more likely to last in the long run. Are common interests and hobbies also important? To a lesser degree, yes. After all, if you decide to have children, will you have the time to indulge in reading poetry to each other or traveling across the world or playing the guitar when the kids are young? And even when the kids are older and have left home, or if you don’t have any, isn’t it wonderful to have a partner who can broaden your mind and knowledge with their different interests and passions and vice versa than having a carbon copy of yourself? For this reason, I think having common values is more important as that would help to build a foundation for a future which is stronger than most.

Why do I put self-reliance and self-development high on the list? Because a person who mistakes need for love is going to have a tough time keeping that love. The majority of people make this mistake and get into relationships or marriages. “I need you” seems to be a very romantic thing to say and hear, but I beg to disagree. This kind of neediness is what gives rise to possessiveness, jealousy, and insecurities, ultimately suffocating love and snuffing the life out of relationships. I think real love is one that does not need, one that just gives and expects nothing in return because its only reason for being is to give and that is in itself a pure joy, and if any love is given in return, that’s a bonus. But this kind of love is really out of the capability for most of us, because most human beings are so used to having their basic needs for love met from other people even when they are adults (its okay as long as you are a child). How is it possible for a needy person to love? And how is it possible for anyone to live up to the responsibility of being needed or loved by such a person? Because, ultimately, humans are not perfect, so if you build up your whole life to revolve around a single human being or a couple of human beings (as parents do around their kids) you are bound to be disappointed one day, and this disappointment leads to devastating pain that someone they lived for could let them down, for whatever reason. Keep in mind that the more the expectation and dependency, the greater the possibility that even the smallest mistake leads to disappointment! Plus of course, being needed and “loved” like that only makes the beloved (whether friend, spouse, parent, or child) feel trapped rather than empowered.

So, what’s the solution? Before you get into a relationship, spend time alone with yourself. Find out what’s important to you, your own values, your passions, your life goals. Separate them from what’s been imposed on you by others. Get to know the real you. Befriend yourself. Be your own best friend. Love yourself, no matter what the world says. Spend time strengthening yourself, empowering yourself. Become confident and be compassionate. Only a person who loves and respects herself can give the same love and respect to others. Take steps to make yourself economically strong too. And yes, definitely spend time nurturing your connection to the Divine, by whatever name you call it. Deepening your awareness of this energy field around you is the surefire way to ending loneliness forever, weeding out any dependent, needy tendencies from the roots! Once your heart and your senses are open to the real world around you, the real energies at play, to the world of the spiritual or the supernatural (whichever way you look at it), it becomes impossible to feel you are a stranger, even among strangers. Wherever you go, there’s only a feeling of deep belonging. It’s impossible to feel insecure, inadequate, or feel that you need someone to complete you (the classic supposedly romantic line comes from this feeling-“You complete me”-or “I am empty without you”!). Once your primary source of energy is God, and not human relationships, then there is an incredible freedom in your being that sets you free to live and love without fear, without binding, without the ego. And that is when the greatest love can come to you, unasked. For who can resist such a lover! And then, if you still want to, you can take the plunge into marriage, as two complete human beings, and not as two jigsaw puzzle pieces desperately looking for wholeness!

Ultimately, the test of true love is if you can love someone with all your heart and yet be capable of living without them, as a complete human being.


Pradeep said...

Another good post! Well, I see marriage as an institutionalisation of friendship. Good relationship is all about good friendship. Matrimony is taking it a step further into formalising it in a legal manner.

Separations and divorces are getting more common because one factor that held unlikely relationships together -- economic insecurity of women -- is gone.

With women -- as you say -- coming out of the shadows of household and scripting their own lives, they are also sensibly making choices.

I personally have no problem with divorces; because if there is a choice made to come together there's also a choice made to go apart.

But only that the second part is far more difficult and challenging than the first! And, there in lies the problem.

But where I do have a major problem is RANCOUR, BITTERNESS, TENSION and FIGHT.

Spouses needn't have divorced, but the effect is FAR WORSE if they fight within marriage. Such spouses are far worse than those who have agreed to part decently, with understanding and honour.

PEACE. That's what is important, whether the two are together or apart. And it is this peace that is the biggest, the strongest NURTURING factor for a child -- be it for one of normal parantage or single parentage.

We have seen that separations and divorces can't be wiped off the world. But definitely there can be more civilised way of separating and divorcing... esp when the coming together was very civil.

And, the biggest beneficiary of this civility in relationships is the CHILD, who gets a healthy view of this world.

More important than getting into relationships is knowing how to handle relationships. This is where we need lot more counselling and guidance -- be it spiritual or scientific.

Emy said...

Hats off to u .... dear ... One of the best blogs posted by you... And it makes us think ,,analyse ourselves....

According to me...

Marriage – Is it a … custom .. ? .. ..necessity ? ,,,an old habit that dies hard,… a new phase of life…? Mystery…?

Whatever it is … Its something that’s considered an essential part of life.. like the basic needs, food, clothing and shelter… At one point of time , people around us expect us to get married whether we want to or not to….

But if u ask me the qn ,"Is marriage a necessity … ? "

My answer is no …. It depends.. if u feel u want to be married.. ,,, go grab it… If ur answer is No .. …once u have taken such a decision ( which is mostly considered weird in an Indian society ) ,, , be strong enough to express ur views in this matter…and ne’er once regret it… n’er once luk back … !

I feel nowadays most women are able to fend for themselves economically… It’s when the emotional ,security and so-called-society matters come into picture ... they are not sure of themselves, and they are forced to marry / force themselves to be married… …

But if I have to lead the rest of my life with a man/woman whom I don’t know properly and yet if you ask me to live with him/her for the rest of my life…. Do you call that marriage? …That’s not real marriage… But unfortunately that’s whats happening today…

The married relationship has some very important significance,…. its not a give-and –take policy,,, …. Its somethng in which u shld show ur unconditional luv to ur life-partner..… .

Last but not the least ,,, plunge ,, or not to plunge ,,, it all depends on the decisions u make … But do people really take such strong decisions …in life… ? ( A big qn mark ..)

Tina said...

hey kary...this post has me wondering as I am weeks away from getting such an ideal form of self-perfection possible? i believe what sustains a relationship is the negativity surrounding it and how two ppl tide over that. dont u think dependency is a necessary condition for any relationship to grow?