This one word “marriage” has baffled me a lot. It has taken me a decade in transitioning from an ardent follower of the institution to a rebel. Rather, when I first fell in love at the age of ten, I couldn’t think of anything else but marriage. Any other thought, including physical intimacy, was a sacrilege. Thanks goodness ninety other boys had also fallen in love with the same girl, so I was saved from child “marriage” — btw, child “marriage” is a perfectly valid “marriage” in India. I don’t know who eventually married her or did she even marry at all? Then, I seriously fell in love with a girl, but again it was in adolescence. When other guys of my age were thinking of girls in 36-24-36, I was thinking of her in a bridal dress. Then, somebody told me she was not a virgin (a prerequisite of a marriage-worthy girl at that time), and I lost my love, thankfully “marriage” too. Then, I was third time lucky because this time I was saved of “marriage” even after proposing (not for “marriage”, but for love). This time I found an apparently mature girl, who knew these proposals should not be made at the tender age of twenty. Nevertheless, I think, she thought it was a “marriage” proposal though I know for a fact it was not because, by that time, I had started rebelling. By the way, it seems she married some time back.
Now comes the golden question: Is “marriage” a necessity or is it just an option?
Well, I think, it is nothing more than an option. “Marriage” is a concept which is generally understood as an institution for providing legitimacy to sexual intercourse and the children born thereof with an externality of providing maintenace to the wife.
The modern view of “marriage” has also recognized the benefits of association. However, they have made a big error while doing so.
The modern view, which is influenced by universal values like liberty, equality, justice, individualism, etc, has made a conceptual mistake. The idea of affinity for the benefits of association, which should naturally reflect the above mentioned values, can’t be tethered into the formal bounder of an institution called “marriage”. Each has to find his or her own affinities within or without “marriage”, irrespective of sexual intercourse. It may be true that sexual intimacy leads to better affinity, but it is definitely not necessary, else there would never be any affinity between siblings. Thus, the modern view of “marriage” is faulty, and it is just an exercise into compromising new understanding with old notions without being a rebel.
The traditional views like provision of legitimacy to children, legitimacy to sexual intercourse, and maintenance of women are anti-modern and anti-humanistic.
A thought of providing legitimacy to children is abhorrent. Even if certain kind of sexual intercourse has to be considered anti-social and undesirable, its repercussion shouldn’t fall on the child produced out of the act. A child of a prostitute is no different from the child of an institution called “marriage”. No child can be condemned as a “bastard” just because his/her parentage is not recognized by those authorities that are themselves so rotten as to identify and differentiate between children on the question of their legitimacy. Providing legitimacy to sexual intercourse through “marriage” is a confused outcome of the misunderstood notion of sex. Sex, very much like violence, has been considered as an object of negative fulfillment by religion and society, and, probably, there is also some truth in it, but it’s not validated, and it is definitely not sacrosanct enough to curb the natural instinct of gaining carnal pleasure. Men and women are naturally complementary to each other and, among other things, achieve the much necessary carnal pleasure in the most natural way. Rather, in all probability, it’s extremely important to fulfill the so very natural desire. The youth no more thinks of sex as a bad notion and is not ready for societal approvals in the form of marriage for enjoying the so very natural joy. Therefore, the role of marriage to provide legitimacy to sexual intercourse is almost irrelevant in the present times. However, should one indulge in sex outside “marriage” after getting married is still a contentious issue. I think, ideally, one shouldn’t, especially if there is a strong affinity between the partners and such a trust exist. However, if the partners are in agreement on this issue and/or affinity doesn’t exist, sex outside “marriage” is not really bad. After all, one has to understand that sex per se is not bad: it is good or bad only contextually. However, this issue requires deliberation especially because the sex can very well hasten the process of affinity, and a good sex outside “marriage” may thus lead to complications and breach of trust on other issues leading to an eventual breakdown of “marriage” and, more importantly, the affinity.
The maintenance of wife through “marriage” is against the idea of equality and is the cause for weakness of the woman against the man. The Idea is probably practical on taking a micro view, but it is highly unjustifiable on taking a macro view. The provision of alimony, for which women fight arduously in courts, is actually an extension of male chauvinism, very much like chivalry is. Thus, this idea of providing maintenance to a legally married wife, which law also protects, is definitely not in the overall interest of women.
However, there is another relevant issue related to “marriage”; that is, the issue of providing care and protection, not just maintenance, to children. It is definitely an extremely important issue, and here is where I fail to rebel against the institution. A combination of mother and father, supported by elders & benefited by the association of relatives and friends in a society, is, I think, the best nurturing ground for a child. Single mothers and single fathers can equally well take care of their children, but then it has to be based on some empirical study and its finding. I am not sure whether such a study is important and even necessary. The bounder imposed by “marriage” on the family to take care of the children is extremely relevant — and it should be the most important criterion in deciding divorce cases. If not “marriage”, the bearing of children might require some other bounder, which can be imposed by law too. Such bounder should necessarily check that bearing of child is not brought about against the accepted principles of childcare. Existence of conditions similar to “marriage” (“live-in” relationship) or the proof of extra-care may qualify. Once such a bounder is put in place, then whether to enjoy the feeling of fatherhood/motherhood is through “marriage” or without “marriage” is just an option. Even without the bounder, it is still an option: after all, law can’t really command the actions of individuals; it can only direct through appropriate means.
Thus, “marriage” is very much an option, not a necessity, closely linked to the individual needs of bearing children. An option with put & call, i.e. to give and ask for divorce, till the time the birth of a child becomes a positive certainty, and a strict liability thereafter till the time the children/child gain/s majority.
©2007 Ankur Mutreja