Marriage – One word in the English dictionary that has such a profound significance for the human race.
An institution that has significantly helped human society stay disciplined, dignified and cultured.
Like all other institutions, when reason and justice did not guide its principles, it also wrecked millions of lives, both male and female over the ages.
In half the world, at least, this beautiful institution is fast becoming outdated. With the liberalization of views, and the ‘live–for–today-who–gives–damn–for tomorrow,’ and the ‘its–my-life’ culture, the very existence and significance of marriage is threatened today.
In the early 1990’s… or in my days, when we were your age, by and large, even in a somewhat liberated place like a medical college where the cream of students were studying, and specially in a place like Mangalore, where one cannot even sneeze without the world knowing and commenting about it, even looking at a handsome ,attractive ,boy or girl in class, with the normal human attraction that youngsters feel for the opposite sex, would trigger off an avalanche of whispers and rumors. These would never be forgotten by those involved or those who heard it – even years later. Talking openly to our parents about boys, or crushes was absolutely taboo.
As a gynecologist, it amazes me how pre-marital affairs have become the norm, and unwed pregnancies are accepted so casually these days. Are there no rules left at all? Is nothing sacred, anymore?
With growing teenage children of my own, like most of my friends who are in the same boat, I ask myself repeatedly… how do I best convey to the children and make them understand the significance that should be given to ‘crushes’ – so that they don’t waste more of their time and effort and emotions and set themselves up for a lifetime of pain. I mean, why suffer at all over something that does not matter in the long run… something that is so temporary, like the drops of water that evaporate the minute they touch a hot pan.
Open and honest communication, and a very strong parent-child bond is so crucial in these years. As teenagers, our children are in the phase of molding and forming an identity of their own… it’s very difficult, in an age and day, where limitations are not even accepted, and impossible demands made, and success is by and large the mantra for acceptance everywhere, even in families… for those bewildered young teens to make sense of it all. Add to that the raging hormones in their youthful bodies and you have a potential volcano waiting to burst. And the media does not make things easier.
What is this ‘love’ that seems to be the focus of every teens life – well, most teen’s life, anyway – during those important impressionable years? Honestly, it seems to me that in most cases, it’s only a case of brief, intense, physical attraction, mostly sexual (even if almost all deny it), for the opposite sex. And that dies out equally fast… in 99% of cases. One simply cannot sustain that level of intensity in any relationship. We live life and that has so many components… the world has a way of bursting the bubbles all too harshly and early.
Repeated reinforcement of this truth, to all teenage children, I feel, is key to preventing a lot of heartache and disaster in most cases. Marriage is for life – a silly, teenage crush cannot fulfill the need for something of so much importance. I tell my children repeatedly, to the extent that both tease me with an ‘Amma, we know your lecture by heart,” or a ‘Don’t worry, Amma, we’ll be fine.”
At the end of the day… I still worry.
In most of the Eastern countries, when a girl marries, she marries into a family. On the face of it, she is the boy’s wife, but in truth, she marries his whole family as well. Ask every one of your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins… or best still, watch for yourselves. Even the most liberated, educated, and independent women by and large, have to bow down and ADJUST, when it comes to their married lives. No exceptions. And the ADJUSTING continues for a life time. Add to that the responsibility of bringing up children and taking care of your spouse and earning for your family… where does a stupid crush have the depth or strength to power one to carry out these responsibilities till the end of your life?
Crushes are normal. Human. Natural. And that’s all they are. Crushes. Period.
It is when one tries to make more of something that is nothing, that one digs one’s grave.
Honestly, how many people in the age group of 16 to 25 have the wisdom, insight and maturity to know what they want from life, first, and to know what gives them happiness, secondly, and the best way to work towards it?
And when their knowledge is so woefully inadequate about themselves, just how good will they be at knowing and assessing others… especially people they want to be their significant other?
Maturity is the key word here. A person who is mentally and emotionally mature is safe – unlikely to gamble away with their lives with rash decisions.
For the majority of us, who are still immature even in our mid-twenties, the safety guards provided by societal rules are still the best. Please remember… no one condones radicalism and extremism in any way. I speak of the golden mean, that seems to have worked well for generations in this world.
Two important things need to be remembered – at the end of the day, happiness lies within you. This is a lesson most have learnt the hard way. No matter how bad your circumstances are, if you choose to be happy, your mental and emotional suffering can be reduced to a great extent, no matter what. Your physical circumstances will take time to change. But change they will.
Even the most responsible, loving spouse cannot give you eternal, unshakable happiness. That comes from deep within you. Entering a relationship expecting undying and unalloyed happiness from it is foolish… your spouse changes… and so do you.
Which is why age-old ‘conservatism’ of Indian culture seems to protect best. I am not supporting draconian behavior… please let me make it clear. But the simple principles of giving importance to education, holding steadfast to our culture, and obeying one’s elders during the turbulent teenage years had one and only important goal… it helps curb and restrain the restless mind and emotions till the person is strong enough to overcome them.
Marriage, whether, arranged or love, is a gamble. Centuries stand testimony to it. And it is not an institution to be entered lightly.
At the end of the day, every one of us wants to be happy. Having a crush on that handsome eligible boy or that beautiful, demure girl? You won’t be able to help yourself most of the time, and will go ahead anyway.
Remember and recognize it for what it is. Just a crush. Nothing more, nothing less.
Love yourselves too… don’t waste the affection and love in your hearts over anything that is not going to prove worthy in the long run. If you trust life, most times, it will give you more than you need.
There is no virtue or wisdom in being reckless in life, under the guise of spontaneity. Lies just don’t work here.
For most of us, it’s far better to follow the golden mean.
About the Author: The writer wishes to remain anonymous. She is an alumnus of Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore and belongs to the 1993 batch.