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 Blooming Stars

Marriage or Bondage

            With divorce rate, separation, and unfaithfulness in marriage soaring, marriage, the most sacred institution in the world that is the corner stone of society, has been in serious trouble for a long time. It is also important to be aware of yesterday’s news reports that while the Supreme Court of India criminalizes homosexual relationships, the United Kingdom has passed a law that makes marriage among homosexuals possible and legal from March of 2014. While ever increasing mindless assaults on marriage are taking place in the US, often for capricious and selfish reasons, many irreconcilable and dead marriages drag on India in spite of gross human rights violations. Interestingly, in Christianity marriage is a sacrament that is an efficacious sign of grace whereby divine life is dispensed. In Hinduism the wife is considered to be a pativrata (the chaste, devoted, and loyal wife) vowed to her husband. A Hindu wife is thought to consider her husband to be her living god. With such lofty idealism in two most important religions it is important to briefly glance at what is happening to marriage.

            In the US, mistaking injured narcissism and selfish interests, often unconscious, with respect and liberation, the so-called aggrieved party in the marriage makes unilateral and impulsive decisions to physically or legally separate or to pull out of marriage altogether through divorce. This aggrieved party has minimum required financial resources besides some, often unhealthy, outside emotional support. In the US where I treated many couples in marital therapy over a span of 25 years, as a licensed clinical psychologist, I was able to save through painful but effective psychological intervention many couples from the brink of divorce. This of course meant that these couples had a minimum amount of hope, good will, and commitment to persevere through months of painstaking therapy sessions to repair the marriage. In India there is very little effective psychological intervention which is still thought of as a taboo. Divorce that is a last resort is veritably a torturous procedure with ineffective, out-dated, endless, bureaucratic, socio-legal maneuverings. In the US, one of the spouses is too quick to get out of a marriage often with vicious lawyers who are ill-equipped psychologically for a humane outcome. In India, a spouse, often the woman helplessly suffers the ill-treatment in marriage.

            Is then marriage that is supposed to be the most loving, beautiful, enjoyable, complementary, and mutually beneficial commitment bondage rather than the most precious blessing and comfort? We pay very little attention to preparation for marriage, the most deeply enjoyable human relationship, from which future citizens of the Kingdom of God are born. In the US an intense liking or infatuation can lead to a marriage. In India, especially in Kerala, the state where I live in, a marriage is often a commercial match-making or enterprise rather than a spiritual experience or event, dominated by men who tend to keep women in subjugation. Women in India tend to be passive, and live under learned and programmed helplessness. Some women in the US with the new consciousness of their rights coming chiefly from women’s studies and liberation movements tend to be aggressive. Are these women, perhaps, overcompensating for years of oppression they or their mothers suffered?

            I would like to keep the word marriage for a committed union between a man and a woman. I would like to call legal unions or contracts among, say, gays or lesbians, where permitted, civil unions with the same rights as those of marriage. An unequal marriage is a sure trap and bondage for both. For a healthy, wholesome marriage to work, essentially there needs to be equality and a will to love and commitment. A will to love and commitment is primarily cognitive that is then driven and motivated by affect. The cognitive component gives direction and control to the affective potential. It, for instance, works as reins for a pair of horses eager to take off. For the will to love and commitment to work and thrive, a generous amount of empathic relating, healthy compromise, discerning tolerance, conscious acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation, and, above all, freedom for each spouse to be who she or he needs to be in this planet are a must.


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