Nov 9, 2008

About Marriage...

There was a time I used to blog frequently about relationships, love and marriage. In fact, this post was (and probably still is) considered by some (strong female skew) to be the best on this blog. Even though I don't personally consider it my best work, it was the only post that made somebody cry, and some strangers reach out to me for advice! A lot of water has passed under the bridge, and it's about time I returned to the subject, with a new perspective!

The post linked above, was about relationships, heartbreak and moving on. It was relevant two years back. Now, I'm at an age where most people get married. So, I'm gonna take up the complex subject of marriage for dissection in this post! Here goes...

Question 1. Why?

Any life worth living, is tough at times.  If you really wanna make your years count, so that you can look back down memory lane some 40 years later, and smile with pride - you probably would've had your moments of pure joy, as well as some gut-wrenching moments of failuire in the face of tough challenges, and if not failures - at least some really difficult times. Can you get through all of that alone? Maybe. But it'd definitely be much better to have a partner-in-crime - who shared your moments of joy, who stood by you in times that were most trying, and could put an arm around you and smile with you 40 years later! A life worth living - is much easier and happier with a companion.

Secondly, while it is good to cater to your own whims&fancies, dreams&desires, plans&problems, it is somehow a whole lot more satisfying if you can make another person happy. Such is human nature. This is where your 'better half' comes in.

And you need to always grow as a person. Till a point, you can do it alone. Beyond that point, you need someone who can challenge you - intellectually, emotionally, financially (wink) and physically (wink wink). But someone who really cares about you - so that they challenge you in a way you can grow, and offer a helping hand when you stumble. Not someone who sets impossible targets and dispassionately watches you break down (you boss can do this!)

Finally, you need a family. A home. Kids. A pet. 2 cars. A budget. A large refrigerator. And a romantic holiday in Paris once in a while. People you want to go back to, once you've done whatever you need to do in office (or suchlike). People who make you happy, and define a purpose for your life.

If you go it alone, sooner or later, you will end up with that hollow feeling of no purpose, and nothing to really look forward to, and nothing really that you're gonna leave behind.

Me? I look forward to all of the above, plus:
  • A memorable wedding + reception ceremony
  • A Eurpoean (Paris+Rome+Benelux) honeymoon
  • Joining a dance class (Salsa or Hip-hop or whatever). And being 'the cute couple that did an awesome dance item at so-and-so's wedding' :)
  • Hosting parties where my friends' wives DON'T feel left out
  • Developing patience for - maybe even genuine interest in - shopping
  • a 5th or 10th anniversary celebration at Bora Bora (whenever we can afford it!)

Question 2. When?

I see several people struggling with this one. I personally believe life is a journey of sorts, and you should make the most of each stretch. And once you've done whatever you had to do in a particular phase, you ought to move on to the next one.

Specifically, most of us finish college education and get our first jobs in early-20s. This phase is marked by seperation from parents, never-before freedom, and more cash-in-the-pocket than ever before. Better still, there are usualy lotsa friends going through the same. This is the best time to realize all your dreams, and also do things you'd never dreamt of!

On the other hand, this phase is also marked by challenges of a new city, demands of a new job, and general volatility. You have so much going on in your life, there really isn't enough time or space to accommodate another person.

Some people get married right after finishing college. I don't think this is a great idea, as they end up missing an important 'bachelorhood' phase, where they could've done some things they wanted to, learnt a lot, and become better, stronger persons.

However, this phase should really last 2-3 years. Beyond that, the novelty - of the new-found freedom and means - begins to wear off. 2-3 years is enough time to do whatever you had on your bachelorhood wishlist. Also, after 2-3 years - you will inevitably find most of your best friends already married and 'not quite at the same place' as you. On the job, you'd probably have demonstrated your worth, and settled into a role where you can deliver what's expected of you - without killing yourself. This, according to me, is the time people should get married. The best of the 'bachelorhood' phase is already gone, and you're ready for new challenges, new responsibilities, and also need new, more meaningful sources of joy.

By this time, you'd - hopefully - have found the right person for you to spend the rest of your life with, and spent enough time together to be certain of this. More about 'the right person' later.

One other phenomenon I've noticed - some people are not profesionally settled even 2-3 years after they start working. This, to me, is silly. I believe these people aren't completely clear in the head about what they want to do, what they're good at. It's not very difficult to find such a niche if you do some hard soul-searching, ask the right questions, and face realities. If you are one such person - connect with me offline, and I'll help you!

Another thing I've noticed - people who don't get married between age 24-28 (maybe a little less for women) - end up staying single much longer than they'd like to/should have. This is probably because they get so deeply entrenched in their comfort zones, or so deeply engrossed in their challenges - in the 'bachelorhood' phase -  that they can't imagine letting another person into their own lives. Again, I don't quite agree with this. I feel they're missing the big picture, and they should have a 'better half' enriching their lives. They'll either end up living a life with little purpose, or settling down late with someone who isn't quite the best they might've had.

Me? Well, I've ticked off nearly the whole 'bachelor whislist', and am well settled into my job. I'm already looking forward to marriage. I've not found a partner yet, and hopefully that'll work out in the next few months. I don't wanna rush it (that'd be stupid and risky), but I sure would like to get married before I turn 29 (I turn 27 in Feb :) ).

Question 3. Who?

This is the toughest of all the questions, because it is very individual-dependant, and therefore,  personal. I'll try anyway.

Let's reconsider 'why' and 'when'. You need someone who fits in your life, who understand and appreciates you for who you are, who will stick by your side through your lows, and enjoy your highs as passionately as you do. At the same time, relationships are about growth. So, you don't need a mirror-image of yourself, you need someone to complement and supplement you as a person. This means, along with all the great things listed earlier - someone who can challenge you emotionally, intellectually, financially and physically - so that you grow and become the best person you can be.

More actionably, this means:
  • someone with a family background similar to yours - so that they understand your value system, and fit in easily with your extended clan.
  • I said similar, not identical. Identical backgrounds would mean you've both had the same exposures and experiences, and don't have much to learn from each other
  • same funda applies to education and occupation. A Doctor and an IT professional aren't a great combination - because they wouldn't understand each others' professional lives well enough. At the same, there needs to be some little difference - so that they offer each other something to learn!
  • i quoted an example for professions above. Similar logic is applicable to schools and colleges you attended. Because those were your formative years, and defined your basic disposition and behavior patterns. Places you attended should've been similar, but not identical
  • physical attraction is a must. Mother nature designed us to feel attracted to the opposite sex. If you're not attracted to your better half, or not 'satisfied' - there's a recipe for disaster
  • common interests. Shared dreams. Similar plans and priorities. So that both of you can live together and move in the same direction. Without this, there'd be a lot of friction and frequent quarrel. With this, you can be happy together
  • similar lifestyles. Imagine constanly fighting over time, effort and money spent on jewellery, clothes, travel, food, drinks, temple visits, family visits, pub trips, dance classes... that doesn't make a happy couple
  • temperament/wavelength match. Marriage means spending an awfully helluva-lot-of time with each other. You must enjoy each others company and be able to talk about anything, anytime, anywhere. Some friends of mine suggested two rules-of-thumb: your spouse must be your best friend - the one person you can discuss anything with, and prefer being with over anyone and everyone else. The second rule - would you be OK waking up next to the same person every day - for decades? Without these two criteria being met, you're up against an endless mountain to climb
Me? I've been close to finding 'the who' a couple of times, but it wasn't perfect either time (may have had to do with the timing also - both were too early - but I prefer to believe time wouldn't have changed the end-result in either case).
Right now, there's Ritegal - everything about her seems good - but I've never really met her, and am FAR from sure, 'coz I don't know her nearly as well as I'd need, to get married. Nor does she know me. Let's see. 
What I do know, for sure, is that whoever I get married to - would be someone I can't live without, as opposed to someone I can live with (subtle, yet all-important difference). And we will live happily ever after!


  1. Answers will depend on personal beliefs and experience. But my answers to the above
    You don't want to live life on the sidelines. Life is more intense and eventful if you live not just your own but others lives whom you care about very much. Also you get partial answers to the the question of what am I doing in life?
    Earlier rather than later. My early (relatively) marriage ensured we shared closely each others personal and professional journey and growth. I can look back fondly to how differently our thoughts have evolved. you understand the term joy from simple pleasure so much better. Kullu Manali may not be exotic as Paris but it is still a lovely place for honeymoon.
    Here you got to be lucky and decisive - you have got to take the plunge and hope for the best.