Marriage can be defined in many ways. In sociological terms, marriage is a social institution and it is practiced all over the world, in all cultures. In religious terms, marriage is a holy sacrament in which man and woman unite in a bond of eternal love. As little children growing up, we heard stories of princesses living happily ever after with their handsome prince. Now as adults, we know that life is a far cry from what fairy tales portray it to be. This is not to say true love doesn’t exist. It’s just that everyone’s not that lucky. There are even cases when marriages have ended in bitter divorce. It works for some and for the others it doesn’t. Besides, times have changed and these days, women have become more independent. Gender roles are gradually changing in the society and women are no longer looked down upon as the weaker sex, at least in the educated and liberal world. Gone are the days when women were confined to do the household chores and only men were the breadwinners of the family. Therefore I decided to ask some unmarried ladies what they think about marriage and this is what they had to say:
Evelyn Moktan (Age 28) : “Sometimes I feel marriage is necessary and sometimes I don’t. It’s important for giving continuity to your family lineage. However, in my opinion, after marriage, I won’t have much freedom to live life my way. For me, divorce will never be an option (due to religious beliefs) and it’s very hard to find a guy who I can spend the rest of my life with. This very thought makes me frightened when I think of marriage.”
Karishma Chand Thakuri (Age 26): “For me, marriage is not that important. I feel that in our modern age, it’s not like the olden times and we daughters don’t get married off for the sake of survival, and by survival I mean, we don’t have to live under the shadow of our husbands. We can earn and work ourselves and take care of our parents. If I want to spend my life serving my parents, that’s my choice, rather than serving my husband’s family. I feel marriage is mostly for procreation – to be able to have a child legitimately – that’s what the society accepts.”
Pratibha Yonzone (Age 26): “I haven’t thought of marriage as such but for me, marriage is a social institution in which, if you meet the right person, your life blossoms like the flowers in spring. The ebb and flow of life becomes simpler.”
Rabina Tamang (Age 19): “I’m too young to think about marriage at this point in my life. However, I think 25 or 26 would be the right age to settle down. Studies are very important. I want to complete my studies, get a good job and earn some money to be financially independent before I think of settling down.”
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and what the ladies that I talked to expressed does not necessarily represent the opinions of the unmarried female population of Nepal as a whole. We cannot generalize as everybody thinks differently. Anyway, now I want to give my opinion regarding this issue.
From what I have seen and understand, in our culture, marriage is a family affair and not just an individual’s personal affair. The whole family gets involved in it and it’s not just up to the guy and the girl to decide when it comes to the ceremony and rituals and stuff like that. However, there is more freedom these days when it comes to choosing one’s life partner and “love marriages” have become quite common, unlike the past when parents or matchmakers would intervene. However, what bothers me is girls being compelled to get married just because they’ve reached a certain age. I think it’s unfair that there’s no such age limit imposed upon the guys, while for the girls age is a matter of great concern when it comes to marriage. What I feel is, the family and society shouldn’t make a big deal out of it if a girl does not want to get married. There are some who prefer married life while there are some who don’t and I think we should respect each person’s opinions.
I feel, marriage should be for the sake of love and when you feel you are completely ready for it. There should be no ulterior motives and it should be simply because you feel happy being with the person and feel like you can live with the person for the rest of your life, someone who understands you, respects you and someone who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I’m no expert on this topic anyway, there’s this really beautiful poem, that defines marriage perfectly and I think this is how an ideal marriage should be. So here I am, concluding this topic with this lovely poem written by the Lebanese – American writer Kahlil Gibran.
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
You shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.