What is it that keeps two people together for life? Love, you may say, but love brings two people together….it doesn’t ensure the happily ever after. Habit…getting used to being around somebody? To some extent, yes, but that, at the same time, starts the entire “stuck in the rut” concept. Dependence? Not any more…we all believe in being totally self-dependent these days. Then what is it that makes those awesome couples who celebrate their tenth, twentieth, thirtieth anniversaries? At least one thing I’m sure of now…it definitely isn’t marriage.
Have been mulling this thought inside my head for quite some time now and each time I get stumped because I can’t come up with the answers, I stop thinking about it, and let the idea brew some more. And finally yesterday, after talking to this amazing person I know, who’s always made me see things for what they really are, I found if not the key, at least the door which leads to the perfect relationship. Correction…there’s nothing called perfect.
So this Jiju of mine asked me why I thought my parents were happily married for so long. I told him maybe that’s because they have made their compromises and adjustments over the period of time. And he told me the only reason they are happy is because they have very low expectations from each other. I thought about it, and had to admit I do agree to some extent, but isn’t it true that over the years, across the generations, the idea of expectations have kind of changed? Isn’t it true that those days the concept of “before marriage-after marriage” didn’t even arise? I mean, I know for a fact that more people marry for love these days than they did those days, and it is also true that the very expression of love has changed over time. So how relevant is the concept of having low expectations today, when there will remain an unceasing comparison of the before and the after? Or maybe I am the only one thinking this way.
But then again, I think of this lovely couple I have known for years, who’d been living together for a year and a half and been married now for the same time. And I find that nothing actually has changed. And that’s where I found the key…the fact that absolutely nothing has changed. Except that now they don’t have to hide the fact that they are living together from their families. Maybe things will change once they have kids, and their world would comprise of an individual other than just the two of them. But right now, I think the reason they are so happy and contented is because even for them the before and after don’t exist.
Hence my theory that marriage has got nothing to do with two people being together forever. Its been some time now that I have started believing in the fact that if anything, marriage complicates things. I remember reading this novel long time back where the protagonists don’t get married just because they think that marriage is nothing but a violation of trust between two people. It is an agreement, a contract which says “I don’t trust you enough that you will remain with me for the rest of my life, so let’s get married so you are compelled to do so.” I believe things should be simpler. If things aren’t meant to work out between two people, they won’t. Marriage, or no marriage. If they mean to go their own ways, marriage might postpone the imminent, but that would only bring more misery to the people involved. A break up is ugly, but a divorce is uglier. And I find it ironic that the society looks down upon a divorce more than it does on a break-up. Imagine…..two people who got married because that’s what society wanted them to do, and then separated, would have fallen lesser in “their” eyes if only they’d have remained unmarried and broken up! So which is the lesser devil? An unmarried couple living together or a divorced couple? We again let society decide for us.
But what does the society comprise of? People from different generations, a huge set of “rules” and “protocols” and a culture which is anyways evolving as the years roll by? We’ve got out wisdom from the previous generation about the do’s and don’ts, and yet, we have changed quite a few things about the way society runs. We have made living together legal, and we’ve even made allowances for same-sex relationships. Then how relevant is being married these days? Is progeny the only remaining reason for a couple to get married? Then how long is it before we make allowances for a child “born out of wedlock”?
I think things should be simple. If two people want to be together, they should. Married, or not married. If they decide things are not going to work, they should be able to walk away without leaving a mess behind. Because if things are meant to work between them, they will anyways. If the woman wants to mother a baby, she should be able to do so without obliging the father to marry. I mean, times are a-changing. Single parents are no longer uncommon. Then why bring marriage into the picture in the first place? And the best part? If a couple is not ready to become parents, like ever, they are not obliged to, (again, by society) if they are not married.
Coming back to the conversation I was having with my Jiju, there’s something he said that actually made me stop and rethink a few things. I mean, it was a “how could I not have seen this before?” moment. It was simple….nothing lasts forever. Everything passes. I, with all my ideas and theories of a twenty three year old, was going on and on about how I feel it is about finding the person of your own level, and that’s when Jiju mentioned that even if two people do manage to find the common level, which is rare in itself, its even rarer for them to remain in that level for long. And then I realized that maybe eventually its about finding the correct frequency…its like fine tuning the radio to find that perfectly clear sounding station. And even then, its difficult to maintain that for long. The slightest twitch and the frequency is lost. Until next time, that is. Lucky are those who find themselves in the same frequency always.
But then, marriage is a compromise. And that’s the reason a whole lot of people have accepted the fact that since nothing is perfect anyways, they might as well get married, for love or otherwise, if only for the sake of ensuring that they are not alone for the rest of their lives. My only question is does marriage really ensure that? Would I really rather be with a person I can’t stand the sight of (if, god forbid, things don’t work out) than alone? Maybe that is something only time can answer. Until then, I will maintain that there ought to be some more changes so that marriage is no longer a compulsion, but an option.
Its funny to be seeing things this way because I had myself been always the “mujhe bachpan se hi shaadi ka bara craze hain, by god” types. You may say I’m being a pessimist. I am taking it for granted that there could be chances of a marriage going wrong. But if I have learnt anything from my experiences, it is that you should always consider all eventualities. The right will take care of itself; it’s the wrong that needs handling. Its some feat to be able to think about things going bad without getting scared of it while still keeping the hope of things going right alive in your heart. And I just want to be one of those who have found the way of being happy by being balanced between extremes of both optimism and pessimism.