In my last post, I wrote about the confidence I receive from learning to be independent.
It seemed to have raised doubts among my readers about how I view the institution of marriage — that’s right, with a dose of skepticism and lots of amusement. Growing up in a broken family, the failure of marriages in my small sample space was almost 100%. Now, anyone with a decent school education should ask me the question “How do you define failure?”
In the interest of not getting stuck in a philosophical loophole, let us quickly move on and for that, I will clarify that my skepticism of marriage does not stem from its failure rates.
At its inception, marriage was about the union of two families or about property arrangements. Now, I wonder how relevant it is to the broke millennial me who Whatsapp calls her mother about once a week.
There is a misconception that people who call out regressive practices in marriages and do not believe in monogamy do not want fruitful companionships or families. I am in-fact, quite on the opposite end of the spectrum.
I have been in a solid relationship with my partner for over two years now that involves a mixed family — my partner and his child from a previous marriage. In a truly modern sense, we are all civil and in an almost far-fetched sense, we might even like each other a little.
The first time I broke the news of my partner having a child from his previous marriage in a casual off-handed conversation with my mother(yes, I am great at breaking good news!) — my mother burst into tears and told me that during her times, only women without any social/economic capital would agree to become a “second-wife”.
I asked her if women without any social/economic capital used to become a “second-wife”, what kind of woman would become a “first-wife?” The answer was all kind of woman but thank god (for an atheist, I do say this a lot) that this is changing now.
It did not help that I followed this with “What if I never marry him ?”
“Would they stop counting and not put a label and a number on me?”
My mother was miffed that I used free-choice to sign up for a deal that was just not good enough in her opinion — but then again, what do I tell her? People all over this world use free choice for things like wearing a burqa, defending how Hinduism is indeed a way of life, or eating pineapple on pizza.
My problem with the institution of marriage is that — if I entered into this contract, this outdated institution either directly or indirectly labels me many things that I am not — a young second wife, a cruel stepmother, a homewrecker, and whatnot. Inside this institution, so many women are pitted against each other — the mother-in-law, the sister-in-law, the ex-wife — fighting for a common prize, the man (jumping to the end of the story, hint, no man is a prize).
I admit that marriage is no more a mere “happily-ever-after” — I have started evaluating marriage from lenses, 16-year old me did not even realize existed — do we pay lesser taxes? Is it patriarchal? What is the exit clause?
Even if someone is not in the situation I am in — marriage today has become something you need to carefully evaluate before jumping into. My thoughts towards marriage are similar towards my thoughts towards men — I am not saying I like it or that it is for me — I am saying that there might be some potential but well, I could be proven wrong. I am a good while away (my mother is currently typing — “How Long???” as she reads this sentence) from evaluating whether marriage is for me.
Having said that, all over the world, I see young couples navigate marriages happily by bending the rules of this very regressive institution. I see healthy young couples make this institution a more breathable and livable structure.
And then there are still some, who would furiously type to me after reading all this and say “Things are not the same anymore! My husband also washes the dishes”.