How Important Is Marriage To Urban Educated India?

In an age where women earn their own bread, buy their own homes, pay their own bills, are emotionally cared for by their girlfriends, and prefer sex with a battery-operated toy that doesn’t even resemble a penis, the purpose of having men around is being debated.

Namrata Zakaria
Mar 23, 2023 04:25 IST
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I SPENT an evening earlier this week indulging in my favourite pastime. Telling a couple of cis het men how absolutely irrelevant they were.

“That’s nonsense”, they echoed, murmuring something about how long their marriages had lasted and how happy their wives were. Since their wives were not at the table with us, I didn’t let them speak for the ladies. Besides, almost every single married girlfriend of mine admits, most to their spouses too, that their vibrator was better than their husband.

My last comment had one of the gentlemen get up to leave the table. Except he sat down almost as soon as he realised no one was stopping him from going.

I don’t feel bad for these two, they are well into their 50s and have had their share of good years of marriage. Their wives were submissive long enough to realise they didn’t want to be submissive anymore. The men had had their children, successful careers, and dad bods, and had resigned to the fact that as long as their wives stayed, everything was ok.



Marriage for urban women

It’s the younger men I worry about. Most men under the age of 40 I know are struggling to find wives. The girls they are dating are not interested in getting married at all.


Why has marriage made itself unattractive, irrelevant even, to urban Indian women?

A 2022 report issued by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation found some worrying data regarding Indian marriages: the number of youths getting married was on the decline.

At my previous newspaper job, I was fortuitous to find myself in a room full of young autonomous women. One of them had just turned 30, and was being pressured by her relatives to ‘settle down’. Someone had introduced her to a suitable boy she began chatting with on Facebook. When he saw her photo, his first response was that she looked like an “angel”, making her cringe at the cheesy opening line.


Within a week, he had sent her a cake and some orchids to the office. She blocked him immediately, she said he didn’t have her permission to send flowers to her workplace, and had compromised her privacy in her office.

I was amazed, even envious, of her tenacity. Here was a girl – raised in Uttar Pradesh with English as her second language – feeling so fulfilled in her newsroom, she didn’t feel she had room for a silly half-grown romance.

Another reporter, 33, and also not educated in English, had just returned from her first international trip where she was invited for a fellowship. She had moved to Mumbai from her village and purchased a little studio apartment forself in the distant suburbs. She was happy with the too-long commute to work just because she could own her home. She had just started dating a medical student a little younger than her. She loved him visiting every Saturday night, but couldn’t wait for Sunday morning when he would leave. “He messes up my house, and leaves his wet towel on the bed,” she reasoned rather matter-of-factly.


An increasing number of modern women are being disillusioned with the idea of men as long-term partners. In an age where they earn their own bread, buy their own homes, pay their own bills, are emotionally cared for by their girlfriends, and prefer sex with a battery-operated toy that doesn’t even resemble a penis, the purpose of having men around is being debated.

What exactly do men bring to the table? They aren’t the hunter-gatherers or providers and protectors of yore. While women continue to be caregivers and nurturers (for their parents/ girlfriends/ cats/ children they are raising solo), the man’s traditional role is diminishing.

I’m often reminded by a male friend’s assessment of the popular reality show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’. He loathed the Kardashian-Jenners, he said, because all of them had had babies with the men they dated or married, only to dump them after the children came. It’s almost as if the men, according to him, were just baby-making machines to be disposed of soon after. Men seem to despise women who don’t “need” them.


Marriage has that uncanny habit of making the woman subordinate. Few women – whether financially independent or not – can bear playing a wide-eyed plaything to chauvinist egos for long.

Things are hard for women in careers: they are constantly battling patriarchal expectations of running a kitchen and raising kids while holding on to demanding jobs. Things are hard for those without careers too: even though Indian laws recognise ">marriage as an ‘economic partnership’, the bitsy maintenance or alimony amounts granted to them if they opt out ensures they stay in, regardless of the bitterness.

Marriage is stifling for working girls or stay-at-home girls.


So, women are evolving into their new social-cultural roles. If education and employment are encouraging them to be independent, opinionated, self-reliant and multi-tasking, they are stepping up. Whereas where are the new socio-cultural roles for men that allow them to be independent beings, to evolve into creatures that can live and thrive without women?

Views expressed by the author are their own

Suggested Reading: Deepika Padukone’s Professional Highs Need To Be Discussed, Not Her Marriage To Ranveer Singh


#Urban women #Marriages