Commitment and marriage are often used correlated in our society, but is that accurate? Some commitments don’t lead to marriage while some marriages are devoid of commitment. Although marriage is still considered to be a life-long commitment by society, many women today are seeking commitment in relationships instead, that do not fall back on promises made over saat pheras for longevity. But what is the reason behind this? Why are women avoiding marriages?
According to a survey conducted by Andwemet, a matchmaking service, 80 percent of its subscribers want to be in a committed and unlabeled relationship rather than being bound by marriage. Most of the subscribers believed that marriage is just a label and it is more important to have a committed and healthy relationship. Respondents who believe in this are mostly women.
After reading the survey, I could totally relate to what respondents believed in. Marriage in our society is rarely about commitment and mostly about customs and duties. A couple mostly ties the know not because they love each other but because they belong to the same caste, culture and religion- which claims to ensure compatibility. Moreover, it cannot be ignored that after marriage, many changes happen in relationships in terms of adjustments and compromises.
In our society, women are the ones who are expected to make changes in their life after they get married. These adjustments can range from having to quit your job, changing surname, adjusting to the norms of a new household, devoting your time to care for your husband and in-laws, and performing household and parenting duties singlehandedly. They are expected to make plans in their life according to the wishes of the marital family. Even family planning is done as per the requirements of the marital family- which could lead to unwanted pregnancies or abortions- either of which could be carried out via coercion and not willful consent.
Despite all the changes that women go through, there is no surety that the marriage would be a happy one. There is still a chance that it could turn toxic and fail the test of time because of the burden of adjustments falls only on one of the parties involved. The stigma around divorce makes it difficult for women to walk away from dysfunctional marriages, an option that remains open in a commitment.
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It is going to take a lot more time for society to change the terms and norms on which Indian marriages function. Equality and well-being in a marriage are still not a priority for many and as a result of this mindset women and men are opting for alternative options like live-in relationships, companionships and domestic partnerships.
Many people in society will condemn the propagation of such ‘western’ and ‘corrupted’ culture. Especially when it comes to women, any such companionship out of wedlock with the opposite gender is deemed blasphemous and a marker of “bad” character. But for their information, domestic partnerships or companionships are legal in India. Two consenting adults can subscribe to domestic partnerships by living together without marriage throughout their life. Even if they marry, it will happen at least after the relationship has passed the test of time. A committed relationship is more important than a long-lasting marriage that is devoid of love and is just full of adjustments and inequalities. Furthermore, it is easier to walk out of a committed relationship without any paperwork or shaming and blaming.
So dear society, stop condemning women for seeking commitments rather than customs in relationships. A relationship is strong not because it went through certain rituals but because it involves equality, mutual understanding and commitment. Until marriage becomes a bond of healthy commitment and not toxic adjustments, let women be free to choose how they want to live with their partners.
Views expressed are the author’s own.