The Institutions of Marriage

Times Ascent | 9 May 2011 | Samadarshini

I guess it is very relevant to understand the birth and the evolution of this institution of marriage through history to be able to understand the impact of our present times on us and from that space of understanding to make decisions with clear thinking.

Millennia ago men and women (if you so choose to call them) roamed the earth like many other species did. Meeting, mating and caring for their young until their offspring could manage on their own. Gradually with the beginning of agriculture, tribes knit themselves into tighter and stronger group identities. Now, the tribe had to protect its landed property from other tribes. They needed as many helping hands on the farm as possible.
Thus, agriculture and dwindling animal life strengthened the tribal entities. In course of time as the agricultural age spread across the globe, tribes evolved into villages. Idea of individual property emerged. Around this time, family identity gained strength. The idea of ‘my’ children, my ‘lineage’ that could hold ‘my property’ became predominant obsessions of the day.

With the advent of industrial age, the economic gulf in societies world over widened. Captains of industries wanting their lives to continue with what they have created and lower income groups still seeing huge gains in having as many children who could rise up to work and keep the family financial engine going. Even towards the later stages of agricultural age and the beginning of industrial age, marriage as an institution had acquired tremendous sanctity. The middle class of the industrial age continued to uphold the centuries old values without too much difficulty.
Come information age, the world gets flattened out, the telecommunication revolution and the television revolution continuous to create big waves in world consciousness. However, the tsunami that continuous to sweep and swallow individuals in it wake is the Internet revolution.

Humanity is now waking up from its long slumber into the fantasy world of social networking, tweeting, skyping, messaging and … ing.

The very important factors are now precipitating a shift in our ideas of relationships, our marital relationship. The first of these is the ever-increasing access to new ideas, new concepts and new cultures. This exposure to world culture is making individuals enquire and question long accepted norms of society. The individual sense of self, having become more isolated and stronger than during any of the previous ages, more and more people value freedom over conformity. Whether this idea of total freedom to do anything, any time that one wants to do is sourced in wisdom or is a misguided concept, individual internal self-enquiry alone can reveal.

The second of these factors is the increasing amount of time we spend at work than at home. Naturally family bonds are becoming weaker and somewhat crazy, confused, pleasure and ambition driven bonds at work place are acquiring significance. Professionals working in corporate structures are the worst sufferers.

The third factor is the increasing variety bombarding the human senses and the human mind. Exposure to ever increasing variety of people, more attractive smarter and more capable people leaves the weak among us dissatisfied with the people we live with. The unwise among us compare what we ‘have’ with what we ‘could have’ and hanker for variety. We somehow assume a greater variety means greater thrill in life. We forget thrill is not the same as joy. Thrill by its very definition is short-lived. If thrill were the foundation of a relationship, boredom and loneliness would soon follow. However, joy that comes from lasting relationships is known only to the wise among us. Such a joy is known only to people who can navigate the waters of our current age with a good deal of self–awareness.

What will happen to the institution of marriage in the coming years, we cannot predict. Nevertheless, what you want to do with your marriage is a call you have to take in total awareness. Whether you compromise on lasting relationships or work to hold them is a choice you have to make.


Author :
Samadarshini
Senior Faculty, One World Academy

 

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