A staggering number of millennials these days express an aversion to marriage, calling the institution out dated and binding. The general perception that both unmarried and married people have these days is that the grass is greener on the side of singlehood. That marriage is just a gateway that ushers you into family life, meaning you must tune down your lifestyle and concentrate on birthing and parenting children, buying a house, a car and planning investments for your children’s education and your retirement. Would any married person follow the same path if they were to be single? Would a woman or man invest in a house, fuss over education policies, grocery and electricity bills, EMIs etc. if they weren’t married?

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • A lot of people these days see marriage as a constraint.
  • While marriage does bring responsibilities, does it always take away our liberties?
  • Marriage still functions on basis of set social norms in India.
  • So it isn’t marriage, it is norms plastered to it which may feel like a constraint to many.

Firstly, it is a myth that all single people live a carefree life. Every adult must pay bills and manage their money responsibly, sooner or later. It is not as if single people don’t like to maintain a pretty house, buy a car or their own house or have to foot expenses like electricity etc.

It isn’t as black and white as we make it out to be. Marriage does come with its set of constraints, but that is because matrimony still largely remains an institution which functions on social norms. It is rarely a customised experience where the couple gets to decide how they want to live their marital life. Once you are married, you are expected to lead your life a certain way and that is what often what makes marriage feel like a boundation, once the initial fervour wears off. Your priorities move from buying video games and binge shopping to running a fully functional household and following a course in life, which will appease everyone from your uncles and aunties to parents and even your friends. Where is freedom in that?

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But what if marriage all about our individual perception of how the relationship should be, and how much it is in sync with that of our partner. A lot of couples don’t have kids after marriage. They choose to save money not to buy a car, but travel the world, they binge watch shows on weekends, rather than putting in labour to keep their house in order. Marriage shouldn’t leave you feeling tied to this other person, whose choices and decisions you must endure till death do you part. If your thoughts are in sync with that of your partner, you have found yourself a friend and companion with whom you can live your life on your terms, and not that of the society.

So basically it isn’t marriages, but the norms on which they run which make it feel like a constraint.

Also, a lot of women I know in fact found liberation in matrimony. Coming from orthodox families, where they didn’t even have the permission to look into the eyes of their patriarchs, marriage became their escape in the liberal world. Some of them work, while others are happy stay at home wives, who do not have to worry about covering their heads, or wear certain kind of clothes out of compulsion. For a lot of urban women these little things may seem trivial, but ask women who spent their adolescent years being scolded, because their dupatta wasn’t pinned properly, at home nonetheless, and you’ll know what I am talking about.

So it seems a bit misplaced to out rightly label marriage as a constraint. Just like no two people are alike, the similar is true for marriages. You have your shares of ups and downs and even boundaries and responsibilities. But it shouldn’t essentially be restrictive, and for that to happen couples must reclaim this institution from the set of social norms which we do not identify with anymore. Again, this journey is unique for every husband and wife. So yes, marriage can be liberating too, if that is what you and you partner seek from it.

Picture Credit: India TV

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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