Often times, people ask me (specially in Africa) what is so special in Indian marriages and how and why they stick? Is there any magic wand or an invisible whip which keeps the wife and husband away from divorces ? What keeps two unknown people (most of the times until they get married) together for a life time? What happens if they don’t like each other after the marriage?
The following are some clarifications.
1. Marriage is neither a contract nor a memorandum of understanding : For Us, most of the Indians, marriage is neither a contract which enforces its terms and agreements, nor a memorandum of understanding with a force majeure and termination clauses. For us, it is a relationship. Its a godly arrangement for people to live together until the death. Man is treated as God and Woman is treated as nature in most of the Hindu Epics. So, marriage is a relationship between nature and God. Nothing less than that. There is a hell lot of literature available on how to keep a marriage clean and how to treat it and we all are told about it in our teen age.
2. Marriage is a social system : Most of the times marriage is celebrated like a festival. Lot of Euphoria built around the a marriage. Marriage brings lots of relatives together. An environment is built around the marriage such that, the relationship gain a huge respect around it. Lot of Orientation is being given to both bride and bridegroom about the marriage. There is lot of mental preparation given before the marriage to stay together. There is a whole lot of post marriage mechanisms available to sort out post marriage conflicts. Parents and Elders from both the sides try their maximum to rescue a marriage before it collapses. Even the judicial system gives lot of respect to the marriage and in rare cases, before granting a divorce, courts also ask the couple to stay together for at-least one year to sort of any in-differences.
3. Marriage is a not a liability : For most of us, marriage is not a liability but its a responsibility. It brings such an awareness that, the boy starts feeling like a man and the girls starts feeling like an woman. It is not a burden but it surely brings maturity. Most of the play boys and naughty girls with marriage gain mental maturity. The euphoria instills such a discipline among the couple.
4. Marriage create curiosity : Yes, most of us do not know each other often times until they get married. But, there is still a lot of curiosity left to know and understand each other. In dating (often times goes from one year to three years), most of the couples know each other very well before the marriage, so I feel there is not much left to know about each other which brings a kind of boredom among the both may be after 3/4 years so, they feel there is nothing left in it. But, the advantage of starting to know each other after the marriage is that, there is a lot to know about each other after the event and by the time they start actual living together it would take almost 6/7 years. During the mean time, a lot would happen such that, you don’t want to leave others quickly. Even in India dating happens but mostly in the Page 3 world. Post marital life is an evolution but not an event.
5. Children are not a burden but mutual responsibility : Again, Indian marriage system never treats children as a burden but they become the bonding factor among the couple. Immediately after the first born, many a time, couple tend to put aside the in-differences (if i say they are not there, i am lying) to up-bring the children. It is such a wonderful experience.
6. Finally, marriage is not for sex : It has to be understood very well that, most of us never treat marriage as a legal licence for sex. It is way beyond mere sexual pleasure or joy. Parenthood is the utmost important life stage in every single individual as per Hindu traditions. So sex is treated as the way to attain that level than just a mere physical satisfaction.
There are so many other elements in a marriage, which keeps it going for a life time. Marriage is built such a way that, it meets every stage of Maslow’s need hierarchy theory (thousands of years before even it was proposed). But I feel, the above explains thoroughly.