Saturdays With Shivani- Finding Mojo in Marriage

A few years ago, my daughter (then nine) came running to me and asked if she HAD to marry someone when she became older. I can never forget her eyes that were brimming with innocence and unshed tears. I told her it wasn’t a compulsion and, in any case, we were still two decades away from that situation so why clutter one’s mind. I was rewarded with a bone crusher (that’s our version of a super tight hug) and I could feel her muscles relax as I hugged her back.

            The question was repeated a few times in the coming months, often instigated by a wedding scene in reel or real life. Reassurances were sought till she was able to spew the wisdom confidently to her friends. She never gave a satisfactory answer to why she had asked that question in the first place and then I let it pass.

            Marriage has always been an important item in the checklist of Indian parenting. We have children, then we have to put them in a good school so they can get themselves a ‘respectable’ career. Once they have it, the next query is when are they getting married? The operative word being when, never mind ‘who’ it is. Marry someone, anyone and pop comes the next one, when do they plan to have children and the process gets rebooted to restart. We spend our entire lives jumping these hoops that society goads us into. No one asks, are you happy?

            I have figured out why no one bothers. For them it’s a given- you are married, ergo you are happy and we have believed in this notion with all our might. Why else would girls of ‘marriageable’ age shirk weddings and family functions or avoid the gaze of well- meaning neighbours? Why education and career are not enough to feed our self-esteem? Why is the seal of marriage still considered superior to any other accomplishment for that matter?

            The intentions behind the institution of marriage may have been noble but this one social more is a cesspool of so many evils that our society is plagued with. In the name of flexibility and adjustment, women have tolerated enough physical mental abuse. The fixation of having a male child, marital rape, illiteracy in women, dowry, women’s health, body shaming; the list is endless and they can all be traced back to our insistence on getting our girls married off.

            I have never been against marriage rather I am all for it provided it is a marriage of equals which even in 2020 is often too much to ask for. Equality should be a given not a pre-condition in fact. When shall we stop putting so much premium on marriage and focus on our girls’ achievements that takes them a step forward to self-sustenance? What’s the fun in running after ‘eligible’ grooms and their families that ends up objectifying our daughters?

            The latest cringe fest on a popular OTT platform is a mirror shown to us. We may or may not watch it but we can’t deny that it seeks to glorify the rot that has eaten our society from inside. Let’s stop seeking mojo in marriage, let’s kill the hype around a tradition that has done so much harm and let’s tell our daughters they don’t HAVE to get married if they don’t want to. I ask of you, how tough is that?

Dr. Shivani Salil

2 Comments

  • Maneet Gulati

    Being happy is somehow synonymous with being married. Funny correlation though…there are many who would be better off without being married.
    Instilling confidence in our children that they can be happy no matter what is what we should aim at. Marriage is a part of life’s journey and not the only means for one’s happiness.

    Reply
  • Agree, fully! The fact that this is indeed a much-talked about topic, yet it looks like it may take ages for people to change the mindset.
    I think the people of current generation too, are to be blamed. The ones who’ve had a good marriage feel that others should also go for it. And those who’ve accepted marriage with its shortcomings, consider it necessary to be socially acceptable. Very few have the courage to go against this set norm.

    Reply

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