Yes and No of Marriage

For some the very thought of marriage is nothing short of confusion - nay dilemma. Why?

CoupleSex and marriage are two of the most sensitive aspects of human life; they are closely related to each other. Sex is instinctive. It is a powerful energy. What's more, our entire life is born out of sex.

This shows its tremendous potential. At the same time, it is extremely "unpredictable." It is, therefore, difficult to predict how a person would behave when he is driven by sex. It goes without saying that sex-energy cannot be let loose to manifest and express itself recklessly. It needs to be channelised and disciplined. Our ancestors found no other way to do this, but create the "Institution of Marriage."

Marriage is an arrangement that we have created to discipline our sexual behaviour. In our society, sex before marriage is regarded as wrong and immoral. Even after marriage, sex only with one's married partner is considered as moral and legal.

He says "Yes..."

  1. Strong sexual drive. In a man-woman relationship, invariably it is the man who is eager and impatient about "sex." His sexuality is body-oriented. The moment he is in love, he wants to have a sexual relationship.
  2. Social obligation. In many communities and families, the moment a boy and a girl are in love with each other, it is regarded as "incorrect" to stay unmarried. They are expected to either get married or at least formally engaged. Because, moving in society with an "unnamed" relationship is a big no.
  3. Family responsibility. Very often, the son is expected to fulfil a "necessary" family obligation by marrying and bringing a daughter-in-law home for his aging parents. The parents look forward to the daughter-in-law taking over domestic responsibilities. This leads the son to rush into marriage.
  4. Insecurity. Fear of losing the girl friend to someone else is one of the common fears men suffer from, whenever they are emotionally involved with someone. Thus, the need to marry soon arises in them in order to "secure" the relationship.

...She says "No"

  1. Responsibilities for parents. For a working girl, her old, ailing and single parent becomes a major hurdle in the way of getting married to a boy staying in a joint-family. It is a situation where she is expected to [or, may even be wanting to] get married and become the "bahu" of a happy joint-family. There seems no flaw in her future in-laws. They may also be quite eager to have her in their household. But, the thought of leaving the lone old parent unsupported back home fills many girls with tremendous guilt. This compels them to stay unmarried. Sometimes, the girl has a flawed belief that she has no right to live her own life in this situation.
  2. Family obligations. Many working girls, particularly when they are the only earning members of the family, cannot think of marriage when there are unmarried elder sisters and/or unsettled brothers at home. This makes them delay tying the knot; very often, such girls remain unmarried forever.
  3. When the choice is wider. Girls from well-to-do families, with good looks and even great careers, are often aware of their "assets" and keep delaying the decision of getting married for want of "the best" proposal. Most often, their expectations are unrealistic, and they keep jumping from one relationship to other.
  4. Distrust in marriage. Lalna, a middle-class bank employee stayed unmarried even though she had a steady boyfriend for four years. She had seen two of her elder sisters [who had love marriages] going through the torture of bad and violent marriages. She started associating "marriage" with pain, agony and betrayal. Living examples of her two sisters, and other marriages around her, made her lose trust in marriage.
  5. New "spiritual" understanding. Shilpa associated herself with a certain spiritual group. Her lover Mohit had no inkling of the extent of the impact that this would have on Shilpa, his beloved for over two years. Shilpa's new "so-called" spiritual understanding had no place for "marriage." She loved Mohit, but the ritual of marriage became a big "No" for her. She wanted to remain a friend and did not want to become Mrs Mohit ever.

It needs to be said that very often under the garb of so-called spiritual understanding or otherwise, many women and men keep avoiding "commitment" — in other words, marriage. The whole process frightens them. Such people shy away from intense relationships. They are undoubtedly escapists, because whenever their closeness is threatened, they get uncomfortable and escape to another relationship, which is often superficial. Such escapists avoid marriage!

Of Love & Marriage

"He wants to marry, but she doesn't want to" is a situation that arises only among lovers. Those lovers who are in such a situation need to understand the true meaning of love and marriage.

The salvation of man is through love and in love. Love demands that "I learn to focus my attention on the needs of the person I love." At times, love will insist that, "I postpone my own gratification to meet the needs of the one I love." Love will make me "vulnerable." It will open me to the honest reaction of the other whom I have allowed to penetrate my defences. If I have built protective walls around my vulnerable places, love will tear them down.

Love does not ask the question, "What am I getting out of this?" as the criterion of fulfilment. Love understands by direct experience that, "It is in giving that we receive" - in other words, satisfaction and fulfilment are the by-products of true love.

Marriage as a willingly given "sacred commitment" is a beautiful phenomenon. It can never create problems. Difficulties will be there, but when they are seen healthily, they can be used as challenging "growth opportunities." Remember, the old saying? "Where there is a will, there is a way" If only couples decide to focus on the "We," there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome in a healthy, beautiful relationship.

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Minnu Bhonsle
Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.
Rajan Bhonsle
Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a consultant in sexual medicine and counsellor. Along with his wife Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, who is a consulting psychotherapist and counsellor, he runs a unique therapy centre

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