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I have been successfully married to the same person for about 52 years, and observed the lives of so many married people. My strong views have been developed over time: folks are free to agree or disagree with me.
I used to think that arranged marriages were superior to love marriages – maybe because most people in my generation had arranged marriages – till I was about 50 years old. The divorce rate of arranged marriages is usually much lower than that of love marriages. But I changed my views subsequently after witnessing so many unhappy arranged marriages.
Lack Of Chemistry
I suspect that arranged marriages may last longer than love marriages because of family and societal pressures. But the likelihood of lack of chemistry between the married couple is much higher in the case of arranged marriages. This can have a direct impact on the quality of the marriage. Love marriages have a greater potential for marital happiness than arranged marriages. Therefore, I always encouraged my children to find their own marriage partners.
Too much money is spent on weddings and too many unnecessary guests are invited to participate in them. They are shows of wealth, peer pressure, “keeping up with the Joneses,” and blindly following family tradition.
Doing Away With The Big Fat Indian Wedding
In this day and age when divorces have become so common, it doesn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding that may not even last. Only immediate family members, close relatives, and close friends, who are most likely to be genuinely happy to witness the wedding, need to be invited. Too many people expect to be invited to weddings because of social reasons. It is a status symbol to be invited to a lot of weddings.
It’s more important to marry the right person to minimize the likelihood of a divorce later on than to have a “big fat wedding.” Good chemistry that enhances compatibility is the most important criterion for choosing one’s marriage partner.
The BBC Formula
One also needs to be clear minded regarding what one should look for in a marriage partner. I have a formula for that. It’s called BBC, which stands for Beauty, Brains, and Character, corresponding to body, mind, and soul, respectively. Of course, how much BBC one can find in a marriage partner would be a function of how much BBC one has oneself and how fortunate one is.
Because divorces have become so common, it doesn’t make sense for a couple getting married to make promises to God while going around the fire seven times. They may not be able to keep those promises. It makes more sense to have a court marriage to make the marriage legal and socially acceptable. If the marriage ends up being successful, the parents of the married couple or the married couples themselves can throw a party to celebrate this success.
Unnecessary Religious Event
If, in the final analysis, the marriage is treated as a legal contract, which is what it is for all practical purposes, then why make it a religious event just because there is a peer pressure or societal pressure or parental pressure?
I love, revere, and admire my religion, Hinduism, and try to take it seriously. That’s why I don’t like the idea of making a promise to God that one may be unable to keep.
All the money that one saves by opting for a court marriage instead of the traditional marriage can be given to the married couple, which they can use to pay for the down payment on a house or pay for new furniture or simply invest it or all of the above.
When Is The Right Time?
Conventional wisdom is that the best time to find a partner to marry is while attending college. However, very few college students are mature enough to manage their time so well that they can sustain a romantic relationship without neglecting their academic and extracurricular activities. With the advent of so many online resources, it may make more sense to date after getting a full time job.
I am dead against early marriages when people are emotionally, intellectually, or financially unready to get married. But I am not in favor of late marriages either, because the longer one waits to get married the less options one has about who to marry. Comes to mind a humorous axiom, “Dating is a lot like finding a parking space in a crowded parking lot. All the good ones are taken and the ones that are available are handicapped.”
Friends With Benefits
In general, marriage is good for a person. Besides tax benefits and health care benefits, married people have lower stress, are less likely to be depressed, are less likely to engage in risky behavior, have better outcomes after major surgery, are more likely to survive cancer, get better sleep, and live longer. But most importantly, marriage provides an opportunity for love and companionship.
While marriage is generally good for a person, not everyone wants to get married. The reasons may vary and may include: bad dating experiences, high expectations, looking for perfection, inability to commit to a relationship, indecisiveness, inflexibility, and the like.
The longer a person remains unmarried, the less that person finds a need to get married. After a while an unmarried person learns to enjoy one’s freedom and becomes so attached to that freedom that the person doesn’t want to lose it by getting married. Getting married or choosing to remain unmarried is a personal decision, however, and people definitely should not be nagged or forced to get married.
I hope folks would read my thoughts on marriage with an open mind and implement them only if they make sense to them.