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Should I Get Married

Should I Get Married – ETHOS HEALTH CARE

I never knew what real happiness was until I got married.  And by then it was too late.  ~Max Kauffman

Think of this or think of the conversation between a girl and her parents (that was overheard in a restaurant). The girl in early twenties was being told by parents that they are searching for a ‘suitable boy’ for her. The girl was quick and firm to say that she is happy with her life and want no one to disturb her. As expected, parents were surprised and quick to convey this to their daughter. The argument turned heated. For parents it was difficult even to believe what their daughter was talking. And when their daughter asked them ‘Why should I get married’ the first response was – ‘Everyone does so’.  Is that a good enough reason to get married ???

This question, which probably was not frequently asked a few years ago but it is becoming more and more relevant with the socio economic and cultural changes we are going through. Of course the reason – ‘Everyone gets  married’ will not motivate everybody now and in future more and more people will weigh – ‘what will I get If  I get married and what will I lose if I do not get married’ This can be asked in the reverse order too. And yes people today are aware enough that there is more to quality of life than just money.  The younger generation has examples of singles living their lives happily and independently. On the other hand they have witnessed difficulties of marriage from very close. Any discord between parents can raise a question mark about marriage. So, be sure, this question is going to become the most important decision of life. “Should I get married or not, will I be happier with it or without it.’

The difficulty lies in the fact that there can be no comparison between two married couple or families. The factors which contribute to success or happiness in a married life are so diverse. Just like finger prints, married lives may look similar but all have distinguished points which make them unique. So children of two happily married couples can not be sure that their marriage too will be a happy one. Same goes the other way round too.

The argument that goes for staying single is privacy and independence. I have my own world, I have my own ways. I do what and when I want to do. I don’t want anybody to restrict me and dictate, to uncover my private self and even my wardrobe. I have my own habits and I can’t change my entire living ways. I have my career and my social life and I am too busy for day to day responsibilities of spouse and children. I am healthy and strong, can take care of myself and why worry about old age, even married people suffer then. And If I have money, everything will be taken care of. I have seen many couples, how they fight with each other. I think I am better and happier alone.

But wait, is marriage all about fighting with each other, loss of freedom and responsibilities or it has something to offer. Marriage can cause change at three levels. A person’s reaction to these will depend on the relative priority of his or her psychological needs. If the needs are fulfilled in the order of priority, one feels happiness.

At the individual level marriage can be taken as a step forward in the journey of life. It symbolizes growth. It indicates that the person is ready to play the role of an adult and is ready for responsibilities. It improves persons self worth and self respect in addition to more respect and acceptance in society as an individual maturing from background family. It has been found that those who do not get married, later in life feels left out of mainstream in society. The loneliness thus generated becomes the major cause of stress and depression.

At the level of couple, marriage can be said to be the most complex relationship i.e. the relationship between a man and a woman. When single people give priority to privacy and independence, they tend to overlook the fact another face of lack of privacy and independence is intimacy. The kind of intimacy, oneness and togetherness marriage offer is very hard to have in any other relationship. One can say that this is possible even in friendship. But one should remember that the extent to which marriage offers commonness of purpose of living is not possible in other relationships. A married couple has basic goals of life in common. It’s like a team work.  The kind of sharing a couple can have, can make bigger goals more achievable. A man and woman in married life  compliments each other and gives a feeling of completeness. It helps in broadening of vision where one is able to understand oneself and another human being. In any other relationship the interaction is more likely to be made up whereas in marriage it is more likely to be spontaneous and natural. It helps in making one’s understanding of human behavior better. Also it helps in giving the most coveted human desire of being understood and cared. In marriage one can be a real self and still feel understood and cared. A lot of stress is relieved and it gives lots of mental comfort that there is someone who understands and accept you as you are that too without any selfish motive.

Psychological studies also prove this point.  Emotional help seems to reduce the incidence of depression and mental illness (Ross et al 1990), and may provide an important buffer against stress (Kessler and Essex 1982, Berkman 1988). Marriage can also enhance feelings of attachment and belonging, which are thought to affect mental health (House et al 1988). Married individuals act differently from single people. They tend to engage less in risky activities and more in healthy ones – perhaps for the sake of their partner (Umberson 1987, Ross et al 1990, Power et al 1999).

Here it is difficult to leave the role of love and sex. It is not necessary to say how love and sex play a major role in one’s life. One can argue that both are there outside marriage also and marriage makes it rather monotonous. Well yes it happens in many marriages but that happens when a particular couple fails to relate to each other and there is no honest attempt to develop a relationship by understanding each other. Ego has spoiled many a marriages. Strange thing is that to master every other thing one makes many attempts but in love and sex one want it happen automatically. One has to invest to reap dividends and human relation is no exception. Those who are wise enough to understand this and make an honest and patient attempt are rewarded by a bond which is one of the strongest and can prove to be the axis and anchor of one’s life. The pleasure and contentment given by physical and emotional intimacy in such a bond can not be matched by hundreds of casual relationships which are based on more of ‘what I get’ rather than ‘what you want’.

Families are said to be the building blocks of society. Think of the society where there are no families, no relatives just strangers. What bonds will people have in such a society? The patience and affection with which parents nurture their children, will it be possible if there were no families. Anywhere if a group of people develops rapport and bonding, they say that we are like a family. It gives a ‘We’ feeling where one feels to belong. It helps one to have self identity.  It is another form of one’s ‘Richness’. It adds to one’s wealth which many times prove more useful than the bank balance. The kind of security and support it provides when one thinks about present and future, old age, critical need like illness or setbacks of life is difficult if not impossible in other relations. Even those who decide to stay single in case of need looks upon relatives which is also part of extended family. And not only one gets support from family, it also gives a purpose to live, to fight through the struggle and stresses of life. And not to forget is the stress bursting capacity of the family. What else can give a better healing after a day full of stress than a warm hug of a loved one. And when one is going through the setbacks and failures of life, it is the family which helps one to keep going. Sadness vanishes and happiness doubles when shared. And it is the family which shares the smallest of sadness and happiness of a person. The moments thus shared become the treasure of a person’s life which helps to keep him or her happy down till last day of life. Those days of old age when the faculties are slow, these memories give a sense of contentment with life. One also relives life through the young ones which one identifies with oneself. Have you ever noticed the happiness and pride on one’s face when his or her grandchild is getting married or going on job. It gives a sense of continuity of life which helps one to be better prepared for the transition which people call ‘death’.

To get married or not is one’s choice. But before you make that choice, be sure.

Dr. S. K. Sharma.