Friday, March 6, 2015

Married or Single - Unbiased View

Marital Bliss

I agree I am putting my hands deliberately inside a hornet’s nest but then someone has to, especially someone like me who is totally unbiased, have equal number of married and single friends and I don’t really see one as better than the other in anyway whatsoever. It all comes down to individual choices after all. Some of us learn the hard way that we might have made a wrong choice while some just never learn or realize so they either stay single for their entire lives or they keep getting married again and again. No wonder human are fundamentally masochistic. This is a fun post so take it as one since life itself is fun with all the intended pun. I am not a marriage counsellor and certainly not a ‘single’ advocate. But I can tell you a lot about both the statehoods, since I observe keenly. And yes, for those who do not know me, I am very much single and intend to stay that way for the rest of my life; yes I haven’t learnt anything and yes I am masochistic as well.

Why this post? Well since I am have neutral point of views on almost everything on earth I am often called in to air my views on these two most debated topics, especially when someone is about to step into matrimony or one is contemplating giving up singlehood or when one is about to get into a messy divorce or just plain befuddled by society’s way of treating someone’s propensity to either get married or stay single. I am sure you all would agree that no  matter what your current state is, whenever you want to or think of changing it, some will oppose it some will support. You will never have a complete consensus one way or the other, which actually leads you to even more confusion as to the veracity of your intentions. Often thus confused you do not take the step towards salvation (either way). Whereas if you seek my opinion, I would simply say follow your heart my friend. After all you will find in this post that at the bottom of it all lies the heart.

Till I was in my late thirties, we had no quick source of information but today we have the ubiquitous Mr Google. So I started by asking him the following things. The main bullets are by him, the reflections are mine with all pun intended -

Ten Best Reasons to get married (in the order of priority)

Better person – apparently marriage makes you holistically a better person in every possible way as a whole. So you might still have your bad points individually but when taken as whole, once you are married, your average goodness outweighs your average badness. Perhaps the good karma of your partner nullifies your bad ones. My poor single friends, they remain as worst as ever; and where does that put me? I don’t think I personally agree with this one, though exceptions are everywhere.

Happier – seeing the smiling faces of all my married friends I am totally inclined to believe this one, though I am not sure if they fake their smiles at times or they are truly eternally cheerful since they got married! Or are they smiling their way through the biggest misfortune of their lives since that’s the best way to deal with something truly bad, as I always say when a crisis hits you, smile and take a deep breath.

Better sex – married people have better sex qualitatively so says Mr Google; I am not sure if Mrs Google agrees. Well what can I say, I have been told personally (since I do lot of marriage counselling) by both men and women that after the initial years the quality of sex most often reaches a plateau and stays there, especially after kids come along and even as they get more and more involved with their respective business and work. What they mostly lose out on is experimenting or taking the time out to experiment. Though there are exceptions, I know of married couples who have absolutely mind blowing time in bed nearly every night even after 10 years of marriage. So I guess this is true for individual cases.

More sex – this I totally agree. Barring my very active single friends, I am absolutely certain married couples have more night adventures than the singles since they have a partner right there with them most nights. Imagine living right next to a beautiful mountain spring, you have sweet fresh water to drink whenever you want, while if you are in the middle of a desert far from any water, there’s no way you will drink whenever you want to, and even if you find an oases you will ration how much you will drink since you do not know how long the water will be there.

Financially more beneficial (tax benefits, getting insurance benefit of spouse) – this again I do agree. Each can draw benefits from the other person’s resources and can jointly become financially more stable. Singles do not have that fallback option. It’s totally up to them to break it or make it.  

Makes you more attractive to the opposite sex – there is lot of truth in this, though I wouldn’t advise you to get married only for this reason. Marital status gives you a kind of aura, of mystery, of something that is forbidden and not available, which challenges and pulls certain types of men and women towards you. There are women who want to be with married men and men who want to be with married women. In our Bollywood we have many such instances, whereas single men and women are being neglected by the opposite sex.

You do not die alone – companionship in old age is perhaps the most oft sited reason to get married. More than 70% of my married friends said this that they do not wish to die alone. While this is a very selfish and noble reason for marriage it has some shortcomings, I mean how do you know that your partner will be there with you at the time you are dying, and even if they are there with you, how is it going to help? You will die for sure if you are destined to. When we die, we certainly die alone, no one else dies with us or for us. At the same time it is selfish to think that your partner will outlive you so you will die first leaving your spouse to die alone later; so what about that person’s desire not to die alone. I find this reason bit confusing.

Continuing your bloodline – many marry to have kids; so kids will take care of them when they get old plus the kids will carry forward their bloodline. Bloody hell, I can’t think of a more silly reason for marriage. How do you know that your kids will grow up to be responsible and caring enough to take care of you? Are kids like insurance policy for old age? How on earth does it matter if your bloodline continues or not? What is bloodline continuity anyway? And even if you want all these why do you need to marry for that. You can still be in a loving monogamous relationship to produce and raise a kid if you want. So marriage is not compulsory after all for having kids. I used to know someone long time back who would always ask anyone he met, ‘are you married?’ and irrespective of the answer would follow with, ‘so how many kids do you have?’ I think he was  wise. I have many friends who share my view that to have kids there’s no need to marry. But I do agree if you marry for the right reasons and then the kids come along then that is truly beautiful.

Earn more – this is so true, after all once married you will need more money to take care of your responsibilities so obviously you have to earn more. Take my case, I earn pittance but I have everything I need. So I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing about being married.

Longevity – married people live longer I agree. Since they have someone with them to love and cherish and care and also their willingness to live goes up since they want to see so many things being fulfilled, like seeing their grandkids grow up etc. I had also read somewhere that life need not be long but it should be large.

Ten Worst reasons to get married – I think this means that if these are your reasons to get married then please do not marry.

To have a dream wedding – your top reason for marriage is to have that dream wedding like you saw in some opera or movie, the perfect bride or groom, million dollar yacht, champagne and caviars, plush hotels, private limousines, thousands of guests, gems and glitters, etc. This really seems like a stupid reason to get married. I think if you only want this experience then just enact it through with hired actors and go through it as an entertainment.

To get presents – well if someone would present me with billion dollars may be I would consider this. Seriously this seems to be a popular (as per Mr Google) reason for many marriages. After all if your presents are good and long lasting they can sort out your life. I believe there are cases too where if one gets marriage one gets inheritances worth millions. So for practical reasons I have nothing against this reason.

Because you are lonely – marriage does get you a houseful of people but it may or may not sort out your loneliness if that’s what your problem is. In fact you stand a good chance of ruining someone else’s life if you marry to ward off loneliness. I know of married couples where they are acutely lonely and live in complete silence at home. But let them separate out, they can’t stop chattering to save their lives. Loneliness is different from solitude. If you are lonely, do not get married, first sort out your loneliness. Same goes for those getting married because they are bored and have nothing else to do.

You got pressured by family, society, friends, partners – remember you marry for yourself, it’s your life, so marry if you truly want to and then someone you truly care about. The society at large of course wants to pair you up since it has nothing better to do. And when someone you are seeing, a partner starts to threaten you or puts condition that either get married or let’s separate, then by all means separate. One of the most common reasons for marriages as I have seen.

Your friends are all getting married – this is direct peer pressure or the feeling of being left out. You could also be afraid of being a social outcast, once all your friends are married. Now suddenly they don’t call you for gatherings. Not a good reason to jump into the bandwagon I suppose.

Your ex is getting married – when your ex is getting married and invites you to the ceremony, should you go there and show him or her your wedding card! Then that would be more like an act of revenge or one-upmanship rather than anything else. Remember, your ex is someone you really loved and cared about and still do. Just because he or she is not with you anymore doesn’t mean that now they are bad people or someone you have to avenge. Join their ceremony, wish them the best and just walk away with dignity and love in your heart. I have attended many such ex’s ceremonies and have always blessed them with my deepest respect and love.

For sex – this is the most ridiculous and also a popular reason for marriage, especially in highly conservative societies where sex outside of marriage is a taboo and unthinkable. Obviously I do not advocate this.

Want kids – you can always have kids.

For wealth – every soap opera has at least one character that is marrying for money. Obviously such marriages never last.

Emotional blackmail by parents – I know of at least 5 couples who married for this reason. Imagine your mother lying on her death bed or at least pretending, and asks your promise to get married before she died. What will you do? You let her die or you fulfil her wish with the first available boy or girl (of course they have already been selected). This is very true in Indian society even today. I am not necessarily saying that this is a bad reason to get married but I have my reservations as to how far should we allow our parents to emotionally blackmail us.

Ten Best reasons not to get married (in the order of priority)

It might be forever – bloody hell, just the thought gives me the creeps. What if what they say is true and the marriage does turn out to be forever? I live in the moment and ‘forever’ is something totally out of my horizons.

End of taking risks – you have to give up doing risky stuff and this is absolutely true. Many of my climbing friends stopped climbing once they got married. So if you want to lead a risky life, stay single.

If often fails – yes sadly, marriages often fail, even if it doesn’t end in divorce, it fails in enacting the things that were promised or aspired for.

Boring and less sex – this is also true. Having sex with the same person can get boring and then eventually less frequent due so many other reasons. I am not saying this will happen but it does many times. Equally true is that not every single person has more and better sex life.

Constant compromise – marriage is certainly a series of compromises, not necessarily that you do not want to make them, but they are compromises. For singles too there are compromises, but I feel they are different and they have a bigger degree of freedom in their compromises.

End of spontaneity – you tend to become less spontaneous and less impulsive in your actions once you marry, especially when family expands along with your materialistic possessions. It is not necessarily a bad thing but those who want to remain spontaneous and impulsive with their actions, should stay single.

It is just paperwork (you can still be in a monogamous relationship with someone you truly love and care about) – I totally agree. Marriage in a way is a social ceremony and a legal document that gives you universal acceptance to society norms and standards. There is nothing that prevents us being married without getting married.

Expensive – oh boy, marriage certainly is. Monthly bills of grocery proves it, any travel you have to take proves it.

Lack of options – your choices do get limited, I believe. But I could be totally wrong as well. I am sure marriage also opens up many possibilities not available to singles.

Gaining weight – in India we have a popular notion that if you are thin and undernourished you must get married. Marriage gets you healthy and glowing and more flesh to your bones. This is true in most cases and not necessarily a bad thing.

Single and ready to mingle or dangle

Ten Best reasons to stay single (in order of priority)

Less stressed, healthier heart – do singles really have a healthier heart and suffer from less stress? I certainly have and do. I think this can be debated by both sides. So no comments.

Be more productive in what you do – I guess singles can devote more time to their work or passion since they have lesser responsibilities. Since a married person if did the same would certainly be cutting away time from his or her responsibilities.

Casual sex decreases depression – I think Casanova influenced Mr Google into this. Firstly what leads to think that singles like or have more casual sex? And that casual sex decreases depression. Yes it is true that sexual act releases enzymes and chemicals that reduce stress, depression and brings in a feeling of well being and safety but in a single it may not have a lasting impact. But I do agree that as a single having sex or not is always a matter of personal choice even if the opportunity exists. After all being single is not only about having sex all the time with as many different partners we can. But in a marriage sex at times may not be a matter of personal choice. As our law says that in marriage conjugal rights have to be granted to your spouse whenever demanded.

Have more time for friends, socially more active – I can’t say about this for sure. Mr Google says that as you are not confined only to your kids and spouse, a single person is more outgoing and social. But I know of many married couples who are super social and super outgoing.

Stay in better shape – do single people stay in better shape or are more careful about their shape? Perhaps it is so. I definitely like to be in a good shape, even though round is a shape too. If I randomly pick up 10 single and 10 married friends, this point is amply proven to be true.

Manage your finances anyway you want – precisely since you don’t have to think of anyone else how much you earn, how you spend and how you save. It’s all up to you to do whatever you want with your money.

Better job prospective – this is something I didn’t know before Mr Google unravelled. If this is true then first get the job and then get married, which anyway should be the logical sequence even otherwise.

Better sleep (no one to disturb you at night) – I am sure all those who love to cuddle will not agree to this one. But for singles there is always an option of a big life size bunny or Teddy. After all if your problem of sleep is related to someone snoring next to you or kicking you while asleep a bunny or Teddy is the best companion to have in bed. I am fine inside my sleeping bag though.

More philanthropic – I have seen more single people doing philanthropy through money or time or work since they have those things to spare. It is obvious if a married person has more time, it will be spent first with the family. I do not say that married people are in any way less philanthropic, only that they may not be able to devote as much time or money or efforts they might want to, at least till a certain stage.

More freedom – this is absolutely obvious and perhaps the main reason why everyone envies my life. Undoubtedly you have your freedom; of thoughts, of action and to be. Not necessarily a good thing if you do not know what to do with that freedom.

Worst reasons to stay single (in effect you should not stay single if these are the reasons for you being single)

Searching for ideal husband or wife (perfect life partner) – perfection is fantasy; you will never find anyone perfect in every sense. Ideal life partner is again a myth.

Not finding someone of your own religion, colour, country etc – if your desire to get married is so short sighted then it is better off to not marry

Because marriages fail – not all marriages fail and marriage is a wonderful statehood by all means. Do not be scared, go ahead, take the plunge

You have no time for relationships – what has love got to do with time. Love happens if you open yourself up since it is within you.

If you have strict age preferences – marriage is not bound by age limitations, once you cross the minimum legal age limit. So even if you are single and 80, you can marry.

No one cares about me – certainly someone does, you haven’t found that person yet, so do not lose hope. If you really want to get married let that person find you
I have responsibilities – responsibilities will always be there and if you want to wait till you have none before getting married then you will never get married.

The above points came from Mr Google and the annotations were mine. These are pretty much universal points and whether you are married or single, I am sure you will find your reasons for being so in the above and you can either gloat on your wisdom or stupidity for being in that statehood. And as you can figure out, you can change. The single can get married, the married can get single, though the former is easier to achieve socially. I am single by choice and I intend to remain so. Not because it is the way to be, but because it is the way I want to be.

Both marriage and singlehood have their advantages and disadvantages and no one is correct to decide which one of the two is best. To each his own I would say. But life is a journey and it is about change, about transformation. We can change, we can transform and if you are single today, you can get married and if you are married, you can become single again. Nothing is lost after all. No one has the best pie or the only pie.

But having said all the above, I must acknowledge that I have the greatest of respect and admiration for the institution of marriage and I am a firm believer in it personally that it is a good, wholesome and ideal way to be; if only we knew how to achieve it. Some of my friends have achieved it and their homes are like heaven on earth. And those who couldn’t live in a world worst than hell.

Singles do not live in heaven or in hell, but when they do, they do not end up affecting so many others since they go through hell by themselves so they have courage and fortitude to face life alone while when they go through heaven they share it with the world. Being single is akin to being a martyr, whatever you do, one day you will be totally by yourself. For many of us that is freedom and heartening while for some that is fearful and depressing.

Being single doesn’t mean love cannot find you, in fact it means love can find you in many myriads of form, shapes and dimensions and you can spread your wings more, go beyond your dreams and leap higher than your desires since if you fall, you fall alone. While we must remember that life is not only about excitement, even for me there are dull and boring days when every second seems to drag and I wish in those moments that I had someone to share those moments too like I share my excitements with the world.

I have always stated that married people are the true adventurers and explorers since each day they climb Everest and live to tell the tale, and if you are married with kids then you are like Shackleton and Scott treading unknown horizons each moment not knowing where your boat will go or how far is your goal. What can I say? Being married or staying single is an individual choice that needs to be made consciously and judiciously and diligently. Once made you should go with your choice at least to a point. And always remember you can change your status. There is always someone for everyone. So in one marriage if you didn’t find your dreams, then get back to being single and let that dream once again find you. Or better still; continue to row the boat through troubled waters since nothing, not even the worst hurricanes, lasts forever.

As a single you certainly have more freedom to exercise your options since you do not have the needs of others to consider. You only think of yourself or at least of yourself first. It is in a way a selfish way of living but it’s fine and I am not judging whether it is bad or good to be selfish. It is the way it is. Whereas if you are married you have many more things to consider to take care of to make provisions for. When we get married we give up lot of things while gaining so many things. While as long as we are single we may not give up so many things but then we are also deprived of many wonderful things.

It can never be a win-win or lose-lose situation on either side of the fence. I think there’s a third category which is actually worst of the lot, those who are sitting on the fence. Single who want to get married but not doing it and those married that want to get out of their marriage but not doing it. And like I said, being one or the other is not something that cannot be changed if you want it to. Please remember that fences often have sharp pointy things on top that will end up piercing and poking you at very uncomfortable locations. So get off it please.

So if you read through all these words to discover if marriage was better than being single then I am sure you are disappointed since I do not advocate one over the other. I am not sure what your purpose had been to read this post, but for me it was an exercise to hone my writing skills. Just like any skills, if you wish to achieve dexterity, you must practice that skill more under diverse situations, similarly in order to write better I need to write more and I thought the above is an excellent subject to dwell upon. More so since I am often called upon to air my views on this. So my purpose has been met and I am happy that you came along with me. Now I must go to delve deeper into another world where it is not about being single or married but it is all about being who you think you can never be. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh My God!!! what's with marriage and love posts coming from Mr. IMPossible!!! LOL
    The grass is always green on the other side, isn't it! oh yes, not for you though. For you, the grass is greener where you water it!!! :-p