Wedding Bells IV

Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.- Goethe

The gods gave man fire and he invented fire engines.  They gave him love and he invented marriage.- Anonymous

Insanity is considered a ground for divorce, though by the very same token it is the shortest detour to marriage.- Wilson Mizner

Marriage is for insecure people. (Chapati or Chips, by Nisha Minhas)

Marriage is just a way of getting out of an embarrassing pause in conversation. (Four Weddings and a Funeral)

What with Vishal’s wedding, and the wholehearted disappointment among Dubyaphiles that he wasn’t marrying the airportgirl, I have been pondering the whole concept of marriage.

Concerning the four people who got married while I was in Class X and XI- one marriage has already ended, another is in dire straits, and two are sailing along with no indication of trouble. That’s only a 50% success rate.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that marriages, and for that matter, all interpersonal relationships of all sorts fail due to mental laziness- not using your imagination enough.

To start with, most people I’ve seen- especially in Punjab- don’t give any thought to marriage. They just do it, without considering why they’re doing it. Practically everyone in my batch out here in Patiala plans to get married within five years of graduating. Why? Because it’s the expected thing. So far, so good. As long as you’re just doing the expected thing and conforming to stereotype, there aren’t many chances of things going wrong. But, alas, Murphy’s Law has to be factored in.

While getting married because that’s the way it’s always been done may have worked fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago, it won’t work any longer. The primary reason for this is cheap, ubiquitious and constant cable television, and the Internet.

A hundred years ago, the only way to stimulate your imagination was to read books. Fifty years ago, you could also go to the movies. But you can’t go to the movies everyday, and very few people take the time to read. But now there’s cable television- which, unlike both movies and books, pushes content right to you, and does it all the time. And after ten or fifteen years of low-grade mental stimulation, even the most unimaginative person is going to want adventure and excitement and really wild things from his or her life. And when he or she finds that he’s not getting it from his or her marriage, trouble will start brewing.

And the entire tragedy is that then thing which started problems- imagination- is also the only thing that can fix it. You need imagination to appreciate adventure and excitement and really wild things when they aren’t there, but- and here’s the important thing- you also need imagination to create adventure and excitement and really wild things. Once you’ve crossed the very important threshold of wanting to make your life wonderful and interesting, all you need is imagination and a little initiative to actually do so. But instead of taking the next step and coming up with a solution to the problems, people get scared. They’ve found that imagination has opened up a Pandora’s Box, so they don’t use it anymore. And that’s a bad thing, because then the problems just stay and simmer.

Every youth survey published in the past few years has stated that a majority of people claim that they want their parents or extended families to arrange their marriages for them because they’re so busy concentrating on their careers that they have no time for romance in their life. The inference- that they want romance, but they aren’t willing to go out and make it, but want it handed to them on a plate- is very scary. Even more so, when you consider that in India most people take the jobs and career paths they get- not the ones they’re most suited for or passionate about. If you’ve got- for lack of a better word- romance in your job, you’ll probably be able to create it in your marriage too. But if all you’ve got is a vacuum, something’s got to collapse inwards soon, and chances are it’ll be you or your marriage.

So, what do we have until now? Oh yes. First, people get married because getting married is a family tradition- everyone’s been doing it for thousands of years, so why rock the boat. But, due to excessive cable TV and other cultural stimulants, they think they’re doing it because they’re in love, or so that they can infuse their lives with romance and wonder and excitement. However, due to mental laziness, very few people actually use their imaginations and work towards the actual infusion. The net result is that they become disillusioned and the marriage enters dire straits. Then they become miserable, their kids become miserable, and everybody around them becomes miserable.

So you can remedy the situation in three ways. Firstly, don’t get married. More and more people are doing this, and more power to them. You don’t need marriage for companionship when you have your friends, it’s economic benefits are pretty irrelevant in this day and age, and as far as sex is concerned, hatheli zindabad! Marriage is one of the most unimaginative things you can do. It’ll lock any relationship you might have with a person into a set pattern, and prevent true innovation.

Alternately, lose any illusion that marriage is romantic. What it is, is an agrarian age economic institution designed to prevent wealth from leaking away. You can make it romantic if you want to, but you can make anything romantic if you want to. Witness the W-Fillets- they make a drab and dreary existence living among the Punjabis seem interesting. Get married if you feel societal pressure or familial pressure to do so, but don’t expect your marriage to provide you with adventure and excitement and really wild things. Those are totally dependent on you.

Or finally, use your illusion, and go all out and bring on the excitement and adventure and really wild things yourself. Since this is easier said than done- people can’t even do it with their day to day lives- I would not recommend this at all to most of the readers of these Fillets. Not unless you’re already passionate about life and whatever you do.

Everybody else, just don’t get married. Your marriage will just become a wall between you and everyone else. It’ll become a meaningless substitute for any genuine achievement you’re capable of accomplishing. Don’t go there. It’s not worth it.

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