You & I: Six Commandments for an ‘Equal’ Marriage


Marriage is a great institution. Not because of anything else, but because of the complexities involved. But what’s so great about it being complex? Imagine the number of people involved on both sides, the adjustment, sacrifices and compromises required, the bride shifting to a totally new set up, promises of unwavering love, domestic chores division, hygiene habits, space, individual behaviours, career decisions, family planning, moving out….phew!! Despite in the know of everything, people vie to get married one day…that’s why I truly believe marriage is a great institution!! 

Marriage has been there since the starting of evolution, with or without it being solemnised with rituals. However, when the society became civilized, and family system evolved, an average human being was supposed to complete the lifecycle by marrying, having and raising kids…. So, uncountable number of people have married, even though nothing concrete can be said, whether they lived happily ever after :)….Nothing unusual, eh?

However, in modern times, there is lot of effort being put to unearth the ‘secret code’ of successful marriage. Trying to go behind the questions like, what does it take to make it work? What should be the ‘roles and responsibilities’ of the individuals involved? Nguyen Vi Cao of Geneva School of Business believes his team has cracked the formula for a perfect wife….In my opinion, if you were to ask all the married people around you – What is the key to successful marriage?  I bet you will get all different responses. And why so; because, all of us are unique individuals. You can’t have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy…you got to look at each union on its own merits and demerits…

Quite moved by the phenomena of marriage, our national newspaper, The Times of India, has come out with a very ‘cool n hip’ matrimonial product – You & I – Equality Matrimonial, which is all about, would you believe – a democratic marriage!! So keeping in mind that in a democracy, the institutions woo the followers with a manifesto, You & I also proposes the following “Marriage Manifesto” (or shall I say commandments) which shall be abided by both the parties…:

 

There is a very interesting view on this matrimonial ad, you can read it here.

Indeed, I would completely praise the intent behind this concept, that both individuals have to be treated with equality. However, the idea of a manifesto seems ridiculous. Compartmentalising the concept of marriage in some bullet points, and fixing rules of the game – doesn’t work out that way in real life. There is much more to the story. Life is way too random and non linear to be bound in a certain rules and bulleted points. Having said all that, the very concept of this manifesto is against the ideals of marriage – it is never about ‘me’ or ‘I’ in a marriage. It is about ‘us’ or ‘we’.  All the clauses in this manifesto are just talking about what I want, rather than what we want and respecting what the other wants! In a marriage, the first thing you do is to respect other person’s viewpoint and then you sit together and chart out the kind of life you envisage…This manifesto looks like a merger contract between two parties. Sad part, however, is that 70% of mergers between companies fail…

The other thing this ad talks about is to see the married couple in isolation, which is not at all practical view as marriage in India is never between two individuals – but between two families. Yes, you can still talk these point out (not necessarily agree) if you have only two individuals getting married without any family involved in the whole process. The whole manifesto falls flat when you consider the family angle. That reminds me, if we were to do a survey and find out the number for people posting an ad in a matrimonial for their marriage and number of people delegating the ad posting to their parents (by choice or without it), there is no prizes for guessing which one would be more!!! You can’t really keep the parents and relatives out of marriage in India, at least not in the foreseeable future…

The ad does talk about the key issues responsible for failure of marriage, but leaves the subjectivity to the individuals. That’s hardly surprising, because even makers of the ad know that its better to let the individuals in a marriage to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for them. Even if you agree to abide by these commandments, you can always prove your need to be greater than the other person. And by the way, does anyone remember the vows they had taken while marrying? …:)..Basic premise of this ad is entrenched in subjectivity and complexity – the very characteristics making the marriage a code that is difficult, not impossible to crack!! I feel rather than featuring their profile in such ads, I feel people may better opt for live-in relationships.

Rather than setting the myriad contract clauses and safeguarding your own interests, one may better spend time listening, understanding and acting on views and wishes of one’s spouse. I still feel the old school approach of ‘doing small things for your spouse’, ‘sacrificing here and there’, and ‘becoming a helping hand’ among many other small nothings can do wonders for the relationship. The biggest change after marriage is the ‘intrusion of space’ –  how well you handle that is totally up to individual’s willingness to go that extra mile and help accommodate each other. For any marriage or relationship to work, the intent has to be there and effort has to come from both ends. Whether the effort put has to be equal? Ideally, it should be. However, in real life, its the woman who puts more efforts to make this whole thing work. Till the time there is a drastic change in the marriage process (like a guy going to a girl’s house), the woman will continue to put more effort into the marriage.

Bottom-line is,  Listen to every advice you get from various people on how to make marriage work, read all the ‘successful’ marriage formulas people come out with, appreciate the effort marriage related research scientists conduct world over, but when it comes to decide for what’s good for your marriage, along with your spouse, stand up and call the shots!!!

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