I read a line in paper that got me thinking. It said about a certain celebrity couple-‘They were together for a year, that’s quite long by LA standards’. We are all addicted to the highs of love and when that fades in a year we move to the next. And so end up in a string of relationships. Man is a pleasure seeker and society knows that decisions taken under the whims of pleasure are self destructive. What when old age happens? You are left with nobody.
'Do not ignore the wisdom of long experience….'
Our ancestors found it necessary to bind man in marriage and religious laws, to stop him from destroying his future by marriage hopping. They knew that marriage was also important to protect the naïve trusting woman from being merely used; to pressure the self seeking man to discover his loyalties or become a creature of habit; to allow the child to have a secure future.
Society is changing again. Now sex before marriage is seen as practical unlike a few decades ago where it was unthinkable. So I was surprised when, after the legal age for sex was raised to 18 (after the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill was cleared on 26th April, 2012), a news paper article revealed that there were still some guys who considered sex as sacred and preferred sex after marriage! What was shocking to me though was that, the interviewers ‘gave the guys a reality check’ saying that guys can’t wait that long! To put ideas in the last of a breed! Isn’t that quite like saying life is all about sex?
Brahmacharya(Chastity) up till 25 years was not really an 'unscientific' useless idea. It helps in bringing interest in all aspects of life that may take a backseat when one becomes sexually active. It helps to focus on the learning, personality development and career building aspect of life, where sex can be more of a distraction if given into. It helps to get interested in all the other wonders of the world, art, nature, adventure; before being swept into anything which can be all consuming. In the teenage if one manages to have self control, it is an asset for life. But once a person gets into a string of relationships, it is easier to break up than to settle down with one, when the Grihastha(House holder) phase comes.
But yeah I would say there can never be a hard and fast. There can only be ideals and then there can be exceptions; but society is supposed to focus on ideals, whereas life may often lead some to be the exceptions. When in the past the doors were closed to multiple options, one had to focus and work at the relationship at hand and eventually succeed in making it work or learn the arts of adjustment and compromise. The toughest things to handle in a marriage were handled by religion. Religion, rules, laws were all for our own good. It brings order; as once chaos is chosen it is difficult to bring the pleasure seeking man back to the “order” that is better for his soul, his peace, his health and his future.
Institutions that have evolved need to be respected. Cohabitation is a trap which gives an easy escape once boredom sets in. Love dies, friendships fade but companionship held together by a legal act is the only thing that can last though many upheavals. I read of a couple breaking up because according to them being together was just habit and love had died. Of course the heady love dies and actually habit is not a bad thing. We can't always live in awe of the Sun! Everything we do like waking up, the food we eat, even the rain, everything revolves around the sun. Being habituated to seeing it does not mean we don’t need it; because we see it daily, doesnt mean there is no wonder to it. The truth is we cant even exist without the sun.
In the same way we get used to the people around us but that doesn’t mean they are not important to us, they have not meant anything to us. Eventually with togetherness (in a marriage), familial love is born, which may not have the heady gush of a new love but it signifies acceptance, adaptation and assurance. Moreover ‘family is not just about love, but its about being there, about watching out for another... -Where are you?, how are you faring? In the long run we realize someone asking these questions is more important than momentary uncommitted pleasure relationships. These are questions a lover would not ask, but a family would.’ What matters eventually is protection security affection and a looking out for the other.
I heard from some friends settled in US about how the US became a free society- War deaths, led to single parents, who had no means of marrying off their kids, leading them to allow their kids to find their own mates. It led to the culture that was not really intended, and hence not really to be emulated. A culture evolved out of crisis is a compromise, not a culture.
Lets not be afraid of the Marriage Habit then, and trust that all that our ancestors have arranged for us is for our good and so work at it, holding on to this trust.