Opinion » Columns » Vijay Nagaswami

Updated: November 13, 2011 12:04 IST

The Shrinking Universe: How convenient is your marriage?

Vijay Nagaswami
Comment (67)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

If a lot of the old marriages are stable, it is because they lack emotional investment, prioritising convenience and mutual tolerance over companionship.

I am not any more surprised when young urban Indians tell me that they don't think of marriage as an absolute necessity in their lives, and that they'd much rather stay single than be trapped in a loveless marriage. For, marriage has moved from being a ‘stage of life' phenomenon to a commitment that requires more forethought, application and responsible mutuality. But I'm always pleasantly surprised when older people who've been through all the tribulations that marriage has laid at their doorsteps, also seem to increasingly express the same opinion. They hasten, of course, to clarify that they have no regrets about being married, but don't seem overly perturbed when their grandchildren of ‘marriageable age' express this sentiment.

Admittedly they are still a small tribe, even if a growing one. Admittedly, the large majority of Indians are still obsessed, not just about mileage, but also about marriage and start planning for their children's weddings, about a week or so after they are born. Admittedly also, most older Indians still believe that their younger counterparts place too much of premium on the mystical emotion of love rather than approaching their marriages with responsible stolidity as generations of their forefathers have done. After all, weren't marriages more stable in those days, is their argument clincher.

Reasons for stability

However, what I find promising is that over the last decade or so, more people are beginning to realise that an important reason for this apparent stability is that large numbers of couples settled into ‘marriages of convenience', wherein, regardless of the lack of connectedness between each other, they didn't want to break away from each other. Equally, they were not prepared to make the effort to get their marriage to a more companionable platform. They led their own independent and parallel lives, neither questioning what the other did, neither making any demands of the other, and neither evincing any great interest in the life of the other. They were pretty much like roommates who have learned to give each other a wide berth (take it from me, this is not giving each other ‘space').

Such marriages of convenience are not necessarily an ‘olden days' phenomenon. Just look around you and you'll realise that they are in abundance today too. More often than not, there is very little bitterness, hostility or acrimony in such marriages. There may have been in the past, but not any more, since couples in marriages of convenience have chosen not to have any real emotional expectations of each other. They have worked out how to have their basic needs taken care of. Their conversations are limited to practical realities of day-to-day living. They come together around the children and do engage in some joint socialisation. However, they have their own individual lives which the other is not privy to, and is in fact, not even interested in. If there are any peccadilloes, neither wants to know about this. Discretion is the primary requirement of each other.

I'm not for a moment suggesting that all stable marriages of yesteryears or today are based on convenience. I am perfectly aware that millions of couples have had, and continue to have, loving and companionable relationships after having worked through whatever issues bedevilled the early days of their married lives. But, it simply cannot be ignored that a significantly large number of marriages last the long haul because both partners prioritise convenience over companionship and may come together only to discharge the responsibilities of marriage, in an almost fiduciary manner.

Complex phenomenon

You might well ask me how convenient such marriages are and why people stay in them. The reasons are pretty complex. For starters, such people subscribe to a basic belief that whatever happens, one must hang in there, and divorce can never be a serious option and often use the ‘known devil' explanation to rationalise their marriages. Sometimes, the reasons are economic. Put simply, neither partner can really ‘afford a divorce', so they plod on together, doing the minimum required for each other to ensure that the marriage still chugs along. Oftentimes, couples feel that they have to live with each other for the sake of the children which, as I have argued ad nauseam in this column, is arguably the worst thing they can do for the kids. But the more important reason is the vague sense of security we feel with something or someone familiar that counterbalances the fear of the unknown.

You might also well ask, what's wrong with a marriage of convenience? After all, there is no hostility or resentment. Both partners seem to be sufficiently satisfied and everybody seems okay. If this is the question that springs to your mind, you obviously believe that marriage is just one of the many responsibilities that are placed in our paths as we struggle through our lives — just one more role we have to play in our lives. However, if you believe, like many younger, and some older Indians do, that marriage has a greater purpose than mere responsible procreation, then you'd probably like to get more out of your marriage by creating a platform of mutual companionship and harmony, rather than settling for mutual tolerance and lack of disharmony. If this is the case, you'd probably feel that close up, a marriage of convenience isn't really as convenient as it may appear from a distance.

Email the writer:

I totally agree with the author. It is better to remain unmarried than live with somebody with whom you can not share your emotional feelings.

from:  vrao
Posted on: Nov 12, 2011 at 21:30 IST

Once Indians had only Ambassadors and Premier Padminis to choose from.Also,the money that had to be invested in them was available only with a limited few.Convenience had limited dimensions. But now,people have more choices and ability and knowhow to choose from the thousands of options.While figuring out the best car in the market,we even look at the way the headlights of a car look before we pick it,(however satisfied we were with the mileage and other details of the car)!! Isn't this how we deal with marriages now and then ?
While one's Ambassador over years become almost a family member(however inanimate it is),today we change Honda cities and Skodas every 6 months without much emotional connectedness to the first car,second car or whatever it happen to be.But the point to be noted is ,even among the new generation sedan owners,there are ones who can't switch to a latest model,while there must've been Ambassador owners who left them out of some sheer discomfort !!

from:  Rinu
Posted on: Nov 12, 2011 at 00:29 IST

102 crore and adding 2 crore every decade, India is housefull. And lot of marraiges are falling apart, but many(not all) ladies are given little choice because of nosy parents. Sometimes this huge population burden is because of nosy parents. But other way around in US, many of them are divorced eventhough they chose their partners. So the authors whole argument hasn't helped the marraige. But the population is low in US. So everybody is different, some might be good with love and some with arranged and also it is ok to stay single and parents should also try to agree on that.

from:  Marudah
Posted on: Nov 11, 2011 at 23:49 IST

The author has made an argument in the form of an article like each one of us here has done in the form of comment - what is wrong in expressing one's views - if one likes to align, good and if you don't, move on - staying here and commenting that the author is wrong does not make the argument any healthy.

In my view, the author has made sense ... and am in the 40's. And there is nothing wrong in the convenience factor either - compromise, adjustment are normally the words associated to a marriage - adding a couple more doesn't hurt.

from:  AKP
Posted on: Nov 4, 2011 at 16:55 IST

The strength of Indian marriages and the importance of family is our great, indeed principal, strength. Our great sages realized that placing dharma above individual selfish desire is the best foundation for secure families and societies. Having witnessed the problems concomitant to the decay of the institution of marriage in the West, I would like to remind young Indians of the following: The (wealthy) Western State plays substitute provider and caretaker for children, the sick and the elderly so that the lack of family support is not nearly as harsh as it would otherwise be.Despite this, divorce, single-parenthood, "free love", promiscuity and other unspeakable lifestyles exact a heavy social and economic toll which wealthy nations are finding increasingly unaffordable; it is beyond contemplation for a poor nation with existing social problems like India. Aspects of marriage as it exists today in India certainly need reform, but the reformers would do well to be cautious.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Nov 4, 2011 at 03:47 IST

the author has viewed the matter practically.each one's perception is as unique as the persom and the times we are in. Gone are the days when the girl was sought for procreation;that too male progeny. or else the boy would be married again.These days the boy earns enough to pay for a cook,a caretaker for old people, servant,driver etc. today's girl more than matches in every aspect.The institution of marriage has undergone a sea of change; it is more about togetherness and bonding. That it should devolve around sex alone has landed us with our BILLIONS bursting at the seams. atleast now let the new and prospective couples be allowed to look and plan their own future and live their lives in the real sense.

from:  Revathi sankar
Posted on: Nov 1, 2011 at 15:27 IST

Interesting approach to today's life. But the author has forgotten that he is only speaking for a small portion of population who call themselves Indians, but keep learning foreign culture. Today's youngsters are exposed a lot of different cultures. Its important for them to decide what is the right way for living life. It only happens if their parents set an example. Kids will never learn to adapt, share and forgive if their parents do not show how. And its never late to change.

from:  Muthuselvan
Posted on: Nov 1, 2011 at 12:11 IST

At age 61, I can firmly tell you that except for the "lucky ones" millions of couples are living (inlcuding me)in a jail bonded together by an invisible chain. Finally hundreds of voices are heard, after publication of the article in The Hindu newspaper, analyzing threadbare the institution of marriage. First of all, women will be the beneficiary after we "put to test these marriages" in our discussions because invariably women are the silent sufferers in this bondage. (To give an example, several decades ago it was common for the rich middle-aged men to marry young girls in second marriage). May be the outcome of these open discussions will bring a lot of metamorphosis in society and both men and women would be able to realize the true companionship and enjoy life together.

from:  chandrasekar
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 20:37 IST

In the good old days, women were very practical and knew exactly what it is to run a house. The budgeting and house management was the role of the lady. There was no argument about what was required or not required for the husband,child.

Today with both the lady and man working there are more quarells about money and spending than when people had less disposable income in their hands.

The lady feels entitled to benefits,comforts and luxuries as she is working !! Nothing wrong with the idea as long as the lady does take care of the husband , child and house ?

Does she take care ?
This can turn into a worldwide debate !

from:  Gopal
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 19:38 IST

Marriage was a part of life in olden days but now , in this fast moving world seems to be a commitment for lot...... understanding each other makes the marriage life a heaven with due respect to each other..... all rests in the hands of the couple...Without love,intimacy,frankness marriage means nothing to those who strive for their indivuality

from:  Mahalaskhmi
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 19:26 IST

Relation, a very big word and it is build on trust. If you are not having trust, every thing becomes a non-sense and critical. you are not considered the trust in your article which is important for marriage.

Start looking at positive for the incidents instead of looking at critical/negative. Marriage never be a Compulsion? Compassion ?? Convenience ???. Marriage is a sweet memory which can be feel whatever the disputes you have.

For better understanding, study those who are depart from their partner for silly reasons or egoist reasons.

from:  A Venkataramana
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 17:56 IST

The author takes a very narrow point of view. Marriages, nowadays are the ones where man and woman love each other?....that is certainly a joke. People must learn to adjust. A child will not understand when his father refuses him a chocolate. People should stop behaving like children when it comes to marriage.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 17:23 IST

What is wrong in a marriage of convenience? You face the world as two, experience the joys of raising children and building your own family. There are no free lunches. What is the problem in putting in efforts-staying committed and making adjustments and brushing aside occasional ego clashes? Tended thus, love can only grow.
It is rare that both partners have the same interests and so give the other that much space.
Early in life one does not realise how lonely one can be in later years and how valuable companionship is.

from:  Sampat
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 17:00 IST

Hats off to an eye opening article..for those who have been living in a dark cocoon,this article shows the lighted pathway..nice article.

from:  Varshini Vishwanath
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:15 IST

first, why the institution of marriage came to existence? it was because man wanted to pass on the wealth earned by him in his life time to his legitimate son/ daughter. for this, he brought in the institution of marriage and perfected it. the concept of love ( is there anything as love?), etc were introduced later so as to add strength to marriage as an institution. as time passed on, marriage became a must for every one, irrespective of whether he had wealth to pass on to their children, or not. this created a situation where, one person earned and many were fed. this frustrated many. but by this time, marriage as an institution grew so strong that man found it impossible to find a route out of it. marriage is burden. the tradition that children to take care of their parents is slowly becoming out-dated. now the time has come, since women are also earning, to review the marriage as an institution. in my opinion, marriage is a luxury, which all can not afford. so,many avoid it now.

from:  av
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:02 IST

Love/companionship/relationship/comfort/convenience(comfort) are completely different items. Each individual decides based on what they understand, they think they like/dislike, and according to them is right/wrong. Throw in the culture/upbringing/value system into this you get an lovely avial. Alas!! the author seems to have highly simplified this complexity of living!! Marriage is coming together of two individuals with certain agreement on what they would do together. My answer to why many young adults think about marriage or delay it more when compared to yester years is truly scientific in nature. We evolved from information age to social networking age. The scientific permutation and combinations of data and information an individual gets to process is a lot more than the generation 2 decades ago. More information, more informed decisions, more choices and they take time. People no more feel compelled to oblige to societal asks. Today Networking has redefined what society is!

from:  Sundar
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 14:39 IST

This view was articulated long ago by a famous telugu writer CHALAM which is considered cynical by many. Actually marriage is as an institution is for convenience ,but love and attachment grows is for the individual to decide whether to marry or not but the needs satisfied by other means is a far worse alternative than a 'loveless marriage'.

from:  V.V.R.SARMA
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 14:21 IST

Marriage always is a matter of convenience! The romantic phase dies off by 18 months to 3 years maximum. What remains is the 'companionte' love that took roots during that time. The healthy relationship one is sitting on has four legs- mutual care, mutual respect,mutual intimacy and mutual trust. If any one of the legs is shaky, fix it before the others give out. Oh! There is coat of varnish called mutual admiration- an added bonus! The article is a thought provoking one as much as it may be intimidating to many who may be enraged and defensive. Yet, seeds are sown for new thoughts to take root in the fertile minds! Congratulation to the author!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 14:12 IST

We have to attach divinity to the institution of marriage at every stage. There will be ups and downs in life, and the couple show commitment to 'swim or sink together'. If the couple Proceeds with this attitude, there will be success. The modern way of life, has brought about a change in this attitude, and even in India, the couples are facing multifarious issues. By comparing the life style of others in the community. Near relatives also on many occasions add ' fuel to the fire'. If the couple can strengthen the bonds at all costs, they Succeed. If that strength of purpose is not there, the marriages fail. The elders should be role models to the young for the society's health.

from:  C.p.Chandra das
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 14:00 IST

This is what we lost..!!! We don't know the actual definitions of so many things. People started thinking/liking what majority do/happens. We don't know what's good and bad. We make our own definitions of these and follow and support ourselves and don't know where we are leading to...!!!???

from:  sri
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 12:30 IST

Current generation ignores ancient truths. People in the ancient days were relatively more healthy, long lived, free of stress and tension, even with great achievements. Today technology has increased, but mental peace is gone for many people, Even small children start suffering from stress and tension, Good facilities material wise have increased but this is what ((tension and stress) technology has ultimately achieved. Coming to marriage, it is a sacred relationship and needs to be understood in proper way. It is given to man kind by nature not only for generating future heirs in ethical way but also for support for another. The author will realise when he will be suddenly bed ridden (destiny forbid it) for some days and he will see how many people will help him and serve him for days together. It is only the loving spouse who can take care with understanding and motherly love in such situations without any selfishness, to say the truth. The author needs to realise.

from:  Vasu
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 11:24 IST

Nice insight by the author. A marriage should always be for true companionship and love rather than for convenience or economic needs.... The point is that any one of the partner should step out of the way and wait for it being reciprocated.

from:  Dannie
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 07:32 IST

Very well said. Your article very lucidly expresses every single emotion, thought and feeling experienced by people in this situation. Many many marriages "look" fine. It is a role play for the rest of the life. Your choice of words "fiduciary" is most remarkable and apt. I could not find a more suitable word myself. Today due to increasing number of Indian women being professionally educated, financially capable and the slowly liberating cultural attitude (all good -positive developments), young people are waiting for the 'right one' and if they are stuck with a "wrong one" they are much bolder to end it. With children however it is very complex. The single child is the most affected by a divorce. 2+ childs actually take on parent's divorce much better as they have each other. I don't have any words for people who think that 'this article' is defaming the 'centuries old Indian culture and marriage stability'. This has nothing to do with any culture. It is about human relationship.

from:  Arjun
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 23:59 IST

Until this day, I thought that human anatomy is the most complicated one to deal with, but you guys proved that marriage is more complicated than that. I had seen some comments criticizing the author and some had commented this article for the sake of commenting it and some have no idea what they are talking about. For me, this type of article is meant for you to self analyze yourself and deploy the appropriate methods to set a correct course with your partner and teach the younger generations about the complexity involved with today's relationships. Those you haven't self analyzed yourself still, then now is the right time.

from:  yuvaraj
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 23:21 IST

"There may have been in the past, but not any more, since couples in marriages of convenience have chosen not to have any real emotional expectations of each other. They have worked out how to have their basic needs taken care of. Their conversations are limited to practical realities of day-to-day living. They come together around the children and do engage in some joint socialisation. However, they have their own individual lives which the other is not privy to, and is in fact, not even interested in. If there are any peccadilloes, neither wants to know about this. Discretion is the primary requirement of each other." Seriously , where did you get that ?

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 21:52 IST

Surprised that this kind of subtle message is being carried by Hindu paper, The author's views are based on generalization of our stable traditional marriage without an in depth analysis.. Just a myopic opinion with lots of reader comments more than the size of the article proves that it's such vast topic needs more valid basis and analysis, not just genralizations.

from:  Latha
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 20:19 IST

I fully agree with the Author's insightful views. These days lifestyles have changed and everyone is career oriented, there is no time for love and relationships. Given the freedom one can enjoy when not in a marriage bond and control over expenses, it is better to stay single for life. This way life will be more meaningful and enjoyable

from:  Jai
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 19:10 IST

Traditional marriages are successful, stable is pure legend women are economically not independent so they kept marriage as it is helplessly. Modern women are educated economically independent she is marrying in mature age so she rebel when marriage not running smoothly. This changes are happening only because circumstances are changed completely.I think this is natural process.

from:  Ramesh Raghuvanshi
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 17:14 IST

those interested can look up or find online, the dialogue between Yajnavalkyar and his wife Maitreyi from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad to get better perspective on the subject.

from:  sg
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 14:31 IST

highly opinionated article. Conclusions are already drawn and rationalized backwards. will lead to existential crisis and mental depression after sometime.

from:  s.baskaran
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 13:05 IST

Although i agree with the subject of the article, but i want to make one comment. Consider this. When a child is caught smoking his parent doesn't say that now its becoming a popular culture to smoke so we don't mind. Instead, you try and discourage him. Similarly, we all realize how the definitions of various relationships are evolving. Is that evolution for the good? Think deep and answer. And if your answer is no and you don't support this evolution which is only making everyone selfish then please don't write such articles which promote the new 'i, me, myself' relationships.

from:  Rohit Jain
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 12:54 IST

Has the author never seen older couples that had developed mutual love and bond after marriage ? I have seen many!. Of course, you do have couples who have settled into marriages. But that does not mean the majority of them did so. But it is illogical and insulting to say stability is due to convenience in 'large' number of older couples. It would have been right to say that the percentage of couples settling into marriages is much less these days.

from:  Manu
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 12:44 IST

I agree strongly with a point. What you want out of your marriage. A
convenient partner to spend time, or a soul mate with whom you share

from:  shiva
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 12:35 IST

Its not the contempt-ion or the satisfaction what was leading to so called 'stable' marriage, i believe, it was the social obligation which led couples to remain tied through out the life despite of all domestic discomforts and exploitations. The mock idealistic philosophy of 'Family status' made people adhere the arrangement instead resisting them out. Today the society offers sufficient space to the married-unmarried singles, which in turn allow people to take a more self centric and bold decision of spending a single content life. Though the growing number of marriage failure may be seen a threat to out idealistic typical culture, but alike anything here also coins has two sides, this fact also depicts that the society is now becoming more liberal to people who do have the jest to resist the unfortunate emotion less 'live in' relationship.

from:  Amit Kumar
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 11:45 IST

When dowry, caste, social status, even the complexion of the girl/boy's parents and siblings and many other factors are given more importance than 'the love between the girl and the boy' itself, how could we say Indian marriages are not 'relationship of convenience'. Those who disagree must have got married because they loved each other which becomes more of a joke everywhere these days.....

from:  berwin
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 11:42 IST

It has nothing to do with society, old generation and new generation. It has been scientifically proven that there are 3 types of marriages: volatile, validating, and conflict-avoidant. The author is lavishly touching upon the conflict-avoidant type of marriage, with a glimpse of the volatile. It is not yet proven whether these types quantitatively vary with generations or demographically.

from:  Aparna CS
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 11:39 IST

Even if 0.0001% of people think in this way, we are making a good article out of it and want to follow other majority on this path. I feel indians still have strong bond with their spouse compared to whole world. Let us not make India like EU or USA. Pl put such articles where we can value our tradition and young generation should follow the right path.

from:  Amir
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 11:03 IST

There are a lot of points here that are undeniably true. Everyone is entitled to their own view of marriage but we cannot run away from the fact that in this modern day & age that a lot of marriages have degenerated into a relationship that has very little emotional bonding. the child is the uniting factor but the mother & father are just strangers living under the same roof. Perhaps we will one day abandon the institution of marriage and procreation will by our duty, with the children being take care of by the society or government. Then we'll all have our own spaces and freedom ;-)

from:  Rajesh Radhakrishnan
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 09:58 IST

Marriage is an institution which has social sanction. Yes, it is a 'Stage of life phenomenon' which life stage everyone reaches. The society, including the elders in the family look for an opportunity to help the individual settle down with an officially sanctioned partner. This institution of marriage will be supported fully by the society. What an individual finds in the marriage is something he/ she will determine depending on their emotional capabilities. The socio- legal structure will extend every help to preserve the sanctity of the marriage. If the author feels that life is about staying in hostels, eating in restaurants and similarly satisfying your sexual urges wherever one feels like, then the author is wrong. People learn to live with and accomodate the partners in the marriage.

from:  Sundar
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 08:38 IST

Life is a game of survival - the dynamic principle of existence is survival. No matter what one does ... thoughts-words-actions ... all are directed towards prolonging or enhancing one's own survival. Pleasure is pro-survival & Pain is contra-survival. Hence the naturally chosen direction of motion by all is - Away from Pain & Towards Pleasure. Here is the complex catch! 1)You never know what you get, till you got it 2)The perceptions of pain & pleasure keep changing with time 3)Pain gets recognized as an immediate investment for future pleasure and vice versa 4)All well wishers contribute more to this confusion than clarity 5)You end up at total inability/incompetence to clearly differentiate between pain and pleasure. What is the solution? The highest state of 'existence' is seeking, assuming and discharging the highest quantum of 'responsibility'. Once you understand and agree with this - confusion disappears - clarity dawns - all problems of marriage get resolved permanently!

from:  MSR Ayyangar
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 08:35 IST

I applaud the author on the crisp and bold analysis of marriage in Indian society. People in the past married because it was considered a 'necessary evil'. This was especially true in the case of women, and parents were more interested in children 'getting settled'than see marriage happen for other reasons. Many couples have stayed married, going through a loveless marriage, procreating for the sake of 'lineage', and nothing more. I agree when the author says that 'younger counterparts place too much of premium on the mystical emotion of love'. Personally for me, I find it difficult to reconcile to how someone can sustain a relationship without mutual love, where mutual convenience is the common bond. Hopefully someday, we can say that marriages in India are built on the pillars of love, mutual trust, understanding and respect.

from:  Seshadri
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 08:04 IST

this is very true particularly in Indian society. No doubt that there are millions of married couple are living like this.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 08:04 IST

Author is spot on! Very insightful. I hope all the rebuttals above are from people that are actually truly blissful from their marriages rather than an intent to sweep issues under the rug. We tend to hide and de-emphasize serious problems in this country with the hope that they will go away or for the fear of being ostracized/ridiculed. Unless we identify, isolate and attempt a solution for every problem -- including that of a marriage of convenience, we will not have full filled our lives. We tend to scorn at divorce but one should realize that some joy while being alone coupled with hope is way better than a marriage with bitter fight every day.

from:  SP
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 07:52 IST

I feel the author has not done enough research before putting forth his Theory. It is baseless. What happened to him or few of his friends (as it seems)does not become the benchmark in categorizing marriages. I have not found a single case the way he describes marriages of convenience among my very large circle of friends, colleagues and relatives. The reason for the young not wanting marriages are entirely different. They do not want to take on the responsibility and the complexities of life after marriage. Our society has come to such a phase. If couples are not compatible, they prefer to divorce and restart all over again. Please recheck your facts, Mr. Vijay.

from:  Sajan
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 07:33 IST

Love is a verb. This can be only felt when one serves the other person without expecting anything back. Marriage is an opportunity for two individuals to come together and cultivate Love, which will in turn create 'the connectedness' that the author thinks is lacking in some relationships.If the individuals in a marital relationship or any other relationship(parent-child, friends ,etc), are always concerned about what they need from others, rather than what others need from them, it will be a relationship on paper only.

from:  Vishnu
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 06:24 IST

Also, many couples (mainly males counterparts) have difficulties in accepting the emotional investment they have made. It is only a problem of acceptance and not realization. The tamil culture, or for that matter the Indian culture revolves under suppressing our emotions to portray a strong exterior although we have more elaborate mechanisms to vent out these emotions ritually. This is in stark disagreement with the Western way of life where superficial emotions are easily expressed publicly but do not find a channel when these emotions take a bigger and deeper form. I request the author (with all due respect) to re-look at his understanding. Thank you.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 06:22 IST

"If a lot of the old marriages are stable, it is because they lack emotional investment, prioritising convenience and mutual tolerance over companionship" - as a psychologist, I do not think this understanding is based on a right analysis. Deep down these 'conveniences' there are complex emotional investments. Often these emotional investments are repressed and shut because of external factors. Although there are several couples who might fall under the category described by Dr.Vijay sir, I humbly present the fact that marriages are very different for different segments of the Indian society - Villages, towns and cities. Often these emotional investments portray themselves when one of the couple undergoes a difficulty - physical or psychological. I personally feel that Dr.Vijay has based his understanding on a very minuscule representation of the Indian society. True, but minuscule. And lacking depth.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 06:16 IST

The author's comments can't be brushed aside. Some in the current generation reject arranged weddings. For them, love must exist before they tie their knots. Perhaps for this reason, nowadays, once the marriage is fixed, the parents let the boy and the girl to go on 'dating'. For a few in the older generation, there is indeed a disconnect between the couple. Having been together for some decades, they would rather get along with life without upsetting the apple cart. They put up with this facade either for their children's sake or for fear of social disgrace.

As years roll by, the couple reconcile that they could not have had a better spouse - they got what they deserved! Yet another reason might be this. In our society, the wife thinks that her world begins and ends with husband and kids, whereas for a husband, they are just one part of his life, though an important one. A man lives in a wide canvas of life with varied interests. A wife rejects this notion.

from:  D. Chadnramouli
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 05:39 IST

Hi, The author's views seemed to have been arrived without objective analysis or substantiation of the statements or claims. Even for the best case of finding the love of ones life, do those couples have the same spark or intimacy throughout the life? All of them? I think it is natural for someone to take a relation for granted for entire life and that does not mean that love has been replaced by relationship of convenience. The only way to find what the author and so-called non-committed to the relationship of convenience advocate for is to have a life long live-in relationship. One should be free to pursue that, but why comment of the average marriage as a settlement?

from:  Satish
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 05:25 IST

The author is cynical and is pushing his ideas as the norm. They are not, and these loveless marriages are not new - they have always existed. Maybe he has just found this out, and thinks its the truth. But true loving marriages are very important. As a gay man I think there is much to learn from gay marriage. We pair for shared interests and think that physical intimacy has nothing to do with marriage. We have open relationships and still find value in our marriages. Its sad that a straight person (I assume the author is straight), has lost sight of the value of a stable and loving life partnership. Its a shame. Maybe he needs to know what is means to be denied the ability of a formal marriage, to learn its true value.

from:  Aditya Advani
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 02:21 IST

Since no information is provided about the author's professional credentials (marriage counselor, compulsive freelance columnist?), one is forced to rely solely on the manner he argues and upon what information he bases his assertions. The handling of the subject matter is seriously unprofessional and unscholarly. No citation, no mention of statistics or data gathering. Lots of loose sentences, eg: "But, it simply cannot be ignored that a significantly large number ..." So how much does he think is a 'significantly' large number? 10, 100, 1000? Does he go about asking people "Hey, do you people *love* each other, or are you simply married for convenience?" - and expect an honest answer? For that matter, isn't the very dichotomy naive: 'companionship or companionship, which one is it now?'. The best one can say that every marriage is a varying mix of BOTH, + plus many other things beyond. Didn't now they published this level of stuff in The Hindu

from:  K S Ven
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 01:03 IST

My opinion: Old Marriages: Were initiated out of respect of elders (Where ever parents decided, had to marry usually at very young age) and continued/sustained for children welfare/security. Generally woman were very tolerative (depended on husband for income + society pressure) and society was more Family Oriented. New marriages: Initiated out of self choice/necessity at later age (usually society pressure). Woman are not tolerative (Works and are not dependent on husband for income). Ego clash . Husband and Wife thinks they can take care of children all by themselves.People are self centric/nuclear in today's world. This is leading to frequent break up of marriages nowadays. Which in turn gives new generation an impression that marriage is not feasible in today's world.

from:  Manjinder
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 00:53 IST

I have not seen a single marriage, either among my family or friends where it is just based out of convenience. Couples may have lot of disagreements or differences, but they will resolve those and move forward. The type of marriage where husband and wife are like roommates is absolutely new to me.

from:  JV Ram
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 23:45 IST

I see that many of the comments go against the author, but I doubt many of them are from the youth. I'm 21, in a relationship, and I perfectly agree with the author on most points, if not all. Marriage is much more important of an issue to the current generation, than it was for the preceding one. And this rise in importance is what the author perfectly explains and elaborates.

from:  Gaurav Somwanshi
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 23:16 IST

I agree with the author; Marriages are getting delayed, people more choosy and look for something more than just 'convenience' and society. A marriage is a great bond and some couples end up getting this as they are looking for more.

from:  Deepthi
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 22:35 IST

Most readers will wrongly view this article as an assault on the institution of marriage. It is precisely this attitude that prevents us from looking at the problems with this institution in the Indian context. As the author rightly points out, love and companionship in most Indian marriages is an afterthought. Indeed, many people are lucky to end up with the right companion through arranged marriages, but there are many other who do not. The society offers few alternatives for the latter group, especially women. I, for one, am glad to note that we are beginning to look at this institution a little more critically.

from:  Bala
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 22:30 IST

I think the author lacks a coherent world view. He has disconnected the concept of marriage from the satate of affairs in today's world. 10 years back we did not have Facebook, IPL, iPhone, Fastfood/Frozen food was rare, Super markets in India etc etc. 10 years back, the average income of a middleclass Indian family lower compared to what it is today (thanks for IT). These factors contribute to marriages and how people think about marriages.

One needs to factor in these in their argument.

from:  Vijay E
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 22:06 IST

As a young adult who's had the opportunity to observe marriages in 3 generations - mine, the next and the previous - I'd tend to agree with the author's views. Most people of my generation and and the next are unwilling to get into a marriage if it doesn't hold a promise of love and some shared interest - and as they are discovering to their benefit (and joy!), this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Is love and shared interest more important to a marriage than being married? Or is marriage just a responsibility that one must fulfill? This is where values will clash, as is evident from the previous comments.

from:  Balika
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 21:48 IST

Enjoyed the article. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us, Love is nothing but satisfaction of wants, either material, physical, social or intellectual. So intellectual / physical satisfaction and or companionship may also be termed as a soft of convenience. Such satisfaction masquerades as love for most of us and deceives us into thinking that we are actually in Love. Take them away and see if you can still be happy. If you can, then you are a true lover and will be so irrespective of the object.

from:  Raghuram
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 21:37 IST

I think you are very correct in your assessment of some of the current day marriages. I'm not exactly certain that the needs of the spouses are met, leading to betrayal. My personal opinion is that communication is the key to a healthy marriage. When you turn to an individual other than your spouse to share meaningful stuff, or even talk about your spouse you are violating the sanctity of the institution. I would question even seemingly small violations. I think emotional intimacy is of greater concern than even physical intimacy. Very often a third person would be blamed for the breakup of a marriage. I believe that a breakup happens when the two partners weaken their resolve of having a strong marriage.

from:  Amrita
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 21:03 IST

Like every issue there are two sides to this point of view. The author has just expressed his opinion with clarity and it is for the reader to analyse his/her own married life and arrive at a conclusion and with that understanding plan as to what should be done next to change the status if it is not what he/she wanted/desired.

from:  chandrasekar
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 20:10 IST

The author has made basic and biased assumption that relationships outside the marriage are either more loving, compassionate and devoted. They are not. I have been married for 22 years, have two great kids, and yes, surprise, I am in love with my wife. Call it the Hollywood/Bollywood effect that too many are looking for 'pot of gold' that does not exist. Further, the author fails to explore the economic and emotional consequences of other forms of relationships. Marriage may not be for all, but to attempt to deride an institution that requires all components (love, compassion, sacrifice and care) is shameful. I presume that the alternative (live-ins) is better for family and kids. What is the evidence? To me, this is just another form of utter selfishness and a cop-out. Worst, the author derives 'pleasure' in support of his biased position. Vijay should pursue more meaningful subjects. My family for one is happy that we are together. Yep, we are the dinosaurs in SS movies!

from:  MS
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 20:07 IST

For arguments sake anyone may or may not agree with everything said in the article but certain truths contained are logical. Each marriage is different because all of us think differently.

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 20:04 IST

The author is confused as to how to peddle his "understanding" of marriage. The overall theme appears to be to deride the deep meanings and sanctity of the institution of marriage.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 19:15 IST

Utterly pure tripe! I request the author to give the following information: 1. How did you come to the premise that "marriage has moved from being a 'stage of life' phenomenon to a commitment that requires more forethought, application and responsible mutuality." Are you sure that couples entering in wedlock always think of the above 2 as mutually exclusive? 2. How many couples have you met who told you its a marriage of convenience! Want to know your sample size to let me know how you came to this "great revelation/conclusion" that majority of marriages since ancient times are just for convenience. 3. How many "marriage of convenience" people have given access to you to see them up-close that you can justify your arguments! 4. On your independent and parallel lives, wonder how did the women subsist when husband was the prime earner!

from:  M Ikariam
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 19:06 IST

i fully agree with the views of vijay.nagaswami

from:  nageshvasudevan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 18:23 IST

A refreshing breath of truth!! Very very insightful.
Where do we go from here? Work for the perfect marriage? Make sure you
have that perfect partner before you make the marriage commitment? We
all know one thing - you can only change yourself. Do not even try to
change others. It never works and only brings in bitterness and
unhappiness. So, what we need for that perfect marriage is two
individuals who are highly enlightened, highly attracted to each other
for the long haul. How many marriages like this does one see????

from:  viswes
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 17:37 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Columnists Listing