Woe Is Me! “The Bickering Married People in My Life Make Marriage Seem Like a Curse. Am I Wrong?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I have a bad opinion about marriage due to conflicts between partners in my family. My cousin got divorced only after a few months of getting married; seeing the way she’s being treated as a divorcee by other people (so-called relatives) has made me even warier — of both marriage and men. Recently when I got Covid19, I did realize how a family could be emotionally supporting, caring, and essential for my well-being. But I still treat getting married as not just my biggest fear, but also the worst thing I could ever do in my life. How can I change my opinion on this matter?”
— Hum saath saath kyun hain
DR: I’m so sorry you’ve found yourself here due to no fault of your own — we can’t really control how our biological families turn out to be, and unfortunately, we’re often left to deal with the impact of their behavior on our psyche. By acknowledging how your familial environment has impacted your outlook toward marriages, I think you’ve begun the process of healing already. However, I feel like you’re trying to tackle too much too quickly, and that too, all at once. Rather than unlearning your entire perspective about marriage in one go, perhaps, you can try a different approach? Not every marriage has to follow the same blueprint — every person is unique, and their partnership, which is a mix of their respective unique traits, results in unique dynamics too. That’s only logical, right? So, you see, there’s no one impression you can form of marriage. Instead, what if you approach getting married as meeting, spending time, and building a rapport with people you can potentially see as the kind of person you’d want to be partner with? But in order for you to be able to do that, I think you should spend some time introspecting — to find out what it is that you expect from your potential marriage.
I can’t conclude without saying this, though: marriage isn’t really a necessity, nor is having a lifelong romantic and/or sexual partner. But given that marriage seems to be something you consider important, but are struggling to come to terms with, my advice addresses that. If, instead, though, you don’t want to go down that route, and instead, choose to find your support system away from the marital route, that’s perfectly alright!
DD: Honestly, if you feel it in your gut that marriage is the worst thing for you then I don’t see why you need to change that. I agree, in the conventional sense, family is sometimes great for support in difficult times. But marriage isn’t the only way to build a family. We’re socially wired to believe that marriage and biological family mean security but most often, that ounce of security comes with multiple terms and conditions which can be very restricting. My suggestion would be to invest in meaningful friendships and relationships with community members who can give you the support and care you want. Chosen family is still family!
SK: It sounds like what you seek is not marriage, but companionship instead. Everybody needs emotional support and someone to care for them, and this ecosystem of love can take on a different meaning for different people. I do hope over time you realize what this support and companionship look like for you outside of what people expect you to do. A deeply embedded idea in all of us is to associate companionship — or, at least, long-term companionship — with marriage by virtue of how socially acceptable and legitimate it all sounds. It’s somewhat cathartic to see that you realize the hypocrisies and vulnerabilities of the family system. While your fear and hesitance are understandable, it might help to use those feelings to undo much of what we have been conditioned? Companionship by way of friendship could be just as strong as companionship by way of marriage. In each dynamic, the question will still be about how much you know and value yourself.
At the same time, every relationship is different and has so much context that we often don’t realize. The experiences of people around you will determine how you think of marriage and love. Yet, we must give ourselves the freedom and chance to boldly ask: what do they mean to us without the weight of our past?
PR: It seems like you have the right opinion and it sucks that we live in a society where we are ridiculed for being treated badly by partners. I don’t think you need to necessarily change your opinion about marriage; what would be better is that you find someone with whom you feel like spending the rest of your life with — which can be both with or without marrying them, and with or without letting your family choose your partner. Our society, sadly, loves to hate on divorcees. People often cloud that resentment with hate on non-conforming adults who’re trying to do things that are better for them.
These aren’t flip-switch feelings and opinions, it might just take you a lot of time to either keep this opinion, or change it. And you deserve that time. I don’t know if this was helpful; but I do you the best of luck.