Marriage is the culmination of nearly every love story. It begins as the end credits of any romantic movie roll; when the promise to spend your entire future with your soulmate is made, in front of friends and family.
As a relationship progresses from dates to deeper commitments, marriage has always been portrayed as the end goal of it all – the right answer to the question – ‘Where is our relationship headed?’ But is it really that simple? Does marriage indicate an end to your love story or a beginning?
Nandita, 28, from Delhi has been living with her boyfriend of four years. “Initially it was odd. For us and those around. But we have been living in for two years now and are quite settled. Our families and landlord know. Honestly, I’m so comfortable that marriage seems more of an added headache. Pointless till we have kids.”
Her boyfriend Anurag, also 28, differs, “I don’t feel marriage is only for when we have kids. Practically, it will tie our finances and give our relationship social acceptability. And we already know we want to spend our lives together. Why not get married?”
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At 33, Palash from Delhi considers himself an expert on dating, with the slew of women who have entered and exited his life. “There was a time when I considered marriage archaic and boring. But over the years I have realised its beauty and necessity. My last serious relationship was with a divorcee who did not see herself going down the same path again.”
“It was what attracted me to her initially. As the relationship progressed however, I began to wish for different things. I looked at friends and their spouses, with marriage providing their relationship a legitimacy mine would never have. In the end, it was just about the promise, made in front of the world. A promise to stand together. A paper or rings are just symbols. But, they tell everyone you are one team, willing to face all challenges together. I told her I wanted that in my life. She left me for being a rosy-eyed romantic.”
Romanticism of the singles aside, it was time to consider those already on the other side. Aathira and Anwesh from Kerala tied the knot a year ago after dating for two years. Anwesh says, “I knew she was the one. And that’s all a guy needs to know really. Then marriage is just the cherry on the cake. You find the girl of your dreams and make her yours for life. Of course, that wasn’t easy for an inter-caste couple like us. So it makes me cherish it even more.”
He goes on to explain, “And I am willing to spend the rest of my life proving to the world that we were meant to be. There will be issues. But I know if we have managed to get this far, we will manage those as well. We could’ve not been married and avoided the families for longer, stuck in limbo. Eventually, we would need to face the world and I would consider myself responsible for any aspersions cast on her.”
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Kalpana married her college boyfriend two years after graduating in what was a fairytale romance. But her fairytale began unravelling soon after honeymoon. “It started with occasional bouts of jealousy and angry behaviour. But soon it was as if I had married a completely different person. From a loving boyfriend he had become an abusive husband. I was in shock the first few months, till my family came to my support and said enough is enough. The divorce proceedings have been tough but I have hope that it will be over soon. I can’t even think of marrying anybody now.”
She explains what has ticked her off matrimony: “The ‘taken for granted’ attitude that a wife has to deal with everyday shows the real person behind the boyfriend who was always there. What is the point of announcing your love to the world when marriage takes away all romance? If he had just been my boyfriend, I would’ve gotten out unscathed. Now I have the ‘divorcee’ tag to bear for all my life.”
She has a word of caution: “My advice to anyone on the precipice of marriage would be, do not hurry into it to fulfill social goals; know what you are getting into because it is very difficult to get out. Take your time and know the person instead of focussing on a dream wedding. And know that marriage isn’t everything. A relationship should withstand not being tied together.”
Is marriage for the romantic or the pragmatist? For the emancipated woman or the modern man? Perhaps these questions don’t need a panacea but an individual introspection. For the couple and the two people in it. Instead of being an assumed conclusion, it can be a joint decision. One that shows that both people are on the same page.