28°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Defining Marriage

From a young age, I’ve held to the belief that marriage is a gamble. I don’t know exactly when this belief was cemented, but in hindsight, it was a gradual culmination of experiences that led to my aversion to marriage. But still, marriage is an aspect of society that people find important. And so, when I’m faced with the question, “What makes a good marriage?” I force myself to answer with an idealistic reality.
I happen to be a member of the Indian community, where arranged marriages are the norm and love marriages are unheard of. My aunts had arranged marriages. My grandparents had arranged marriages. My cousins will have arranged marriages.
But my parents had a love marriage.
Or so I’m told. I say this with doubt because I learned my parents wanted to marry each other from my cousin, not from my parents. When the story was revealed to my siblings and me, it was reminiscent of the plot of a romance novel—two star-crossed lovers who desired to marry each other against the wishes of their parents. But the constant arguments that convinced a child from a young age never to fall into the trap of marriage, in addition to the almost year-long silence between two individuals living in the same household has convinced me that marriage is bound to fail even if it is a love marriage.
Many say that divorce should have occurred between my parents. But these people fail to realize the enormity of divorce in Indian society. Divorce is taboo; divorce is hushed. Divorce is not to be spoken of, and in a patriarchal society, divorce is the woman’s fault. Had my mother divorced my father, she would have been shunned by friends who share the same culture; even in American society, divorce is spoken about rarely, and has a negative connotation attached to it.
So I’ve grown up convinced marriage is a romanticized, patriarchal aspect of society that is made out to be a glamorous step in one’s life, and is doomed to fail. I’ve never really given myself a chance at defining what a good marriage would be.
So here it goes, the definition for something the cynic in me doesn’t believe in: a good marriage is where two individuals respect each other and are kind to one another. A good marriage is where domestic duties are shared equally, where perhaps two people take turns cooking each night. A good marriage is where parents take into consideration how impactful their behaviors can be on a child. A good marriage is between two people who are not only lovers, but best friends. It is between two individuals who can find a compromise. Two individuals who do not take each other for granted. A good marriage can be, I believe, possible. Perhaps it doesn’t exist in the idealistic reality I have it confined to.
The marriages I am surrounded by – where a woman dialed 911 in hopes it would be a step away from her husband and was told, “You both are adults, you should be able to sort it out,” or when a man beat his wife while she was carrying his child and she’s still with him 27 years later, or when a man has a diurnal habit of degrading his wife in front of their acquaintances – have also forced me to form opinions on the goodness of people and faith.
I know two men who are God-fearing people. They pray frequently, attend church on a diurnal basis, and complete their fasts from dawn until dusk without any difficulty. I’ve witnessed their devotion to God. But I’ve heard about their behaviors with their wives, which I have no reason to doubt. I’ve heard them speak with conviction that their actions as a religious person will guarantee them as “good” in God’s eyes. I find this hypocritical; a man who insults or abuses his wife is not a good person in my eye. And honestly, I think God would hold the same sentiment. You can’t show cruelty to your wife and kids and justify your goodness by being a religious person. You can’t raise a hand to harm and then fold a hand to pray. Your prayers were faulty the moment your hand was raised, or your fists pierced skin, or your cruel words tore your child’s self-esteem down. You can’t live as a cruel kindness. A good person would not live like an oxymoron. A good person would show the same dedication and kindness to every aspect of their life.