Why Conventional Marriage is Not For Me
Marriage is a topic I despise openly. To speak negatively against marriage does not mean that I am against love. I am actually 100% for love but 100% against the social construct of marriage.
I understand my views can be quite different from most people and there are people who are happily married and found the marriage system has worked for them. I respect those who follow the conventional path and found it worked, so this article is probably not for everyone.
This article is written for those (especially women) who are not willing to settle down according to society's prescriptions, for those who want to live life on their own terms, their own ways. for those adventurous, wild, intelligent, free-spirited wonder women out there, for those who believe marriage has nothing to do with love and for those who are interested in exploring the alternatives.
I am a deep believer in love and romance. In fact, I probably cannot live without love (and romance) as I firmly believe love is the true essence of human beings.
“Love is our true essence. Love has no limitations of caste, religion, race, or nationality. We are all beads strung together on the same thread of love. To awaken this unity and spread the love that is our inherent nature, is the true goal of human life.”
-Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi)
Love is my religion. However, despite being a deep lover of life, I am not an advocate for marriage.
1) Marriage does not equal love
Marriage does not equal love, and love does not equal marriage. From my observation, the social construct of marriage may very well destroy love. Esther Perel summed it up best in her popular TED Talk “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship”:
“Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life regarding children, social status, succession, and companionship. But now...we come to one person and are basically asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: belonging, identity, continuity, transcendence, mystery, awe, comfort, edge, novelty, familiarity, predictability, and surprise all in one.” Oh, is that all?
(is that even realistic...?!)
Marriage assumes everything stays the same from the moment people exchanged vows about how things will never change ‘until death do us apart’.
Apparently, that is not the case. Divorce has existed for about as long as marriage exists, so although we’ve been practising monogamy for a long time, still we are not very good at it.
‘The divorce rate is alarmingly high in the US at 53%, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Hungry are worse off with divorce rates higher than 60%. Australia fares a little better but has a rate of 45%. Belgium has the highest rate of divorce set at a staggering 70%.’ (source from Business Insider). In China, there is also a soaring divorce rate over 50%, especially among the younger generations.
All these staggering statistics worth us to delve deeper into why marriages fail in many instances.
People get married because of love, but after a few years, this love they initially felt may or may not be there any longer. For those that have felt the love has gone, they may feel being stuck in marriage - a binding legal contract. It is rather foolish to assume everything is constant, for Heraclitus pointed out thousands of years ago that change is the only constant in life and I think this natural law still proves to be valid to this day. Everything changes and nothing stands still — the water flows, the stone evolves, and how can love be stagnant?
Also, to me, true love is unconditional. This is my definition of true love. True love has to be unconditional. If you genuinely love a person, why is it necessary to tie the other person down to a legal contract? True love should not be tamed by a legal contract such as marriage.
2) Marriage cuts down freedom, love needs freedom to thrive.
I believe it's simply human nature to want to love freely. By loving freely, I don’t mean in a promiscuous way; rather, it is a spontaneous giving of love. Love is simply an energy from within that wants to flow, and it is certainly not stagnant.
Also, it won't just flow to one person only (and abandoning others), it can flow to many people as long as you allow the current to flow and not blocking it. Love is, simply put, a state of being that's from within!
The social construct of marriage cuts down freedom and individuality. In a marriage, unless both parties are highly conscious beings, otherwise, it is easy for people to manipulate and to exercise power control over one another. That is why people are afraid of allowing their loving energy flow when they are in a marriage because they are afraid that their spouse may feel jealous or misinterpret et cetera. Thus, they have to suppress this flowing energy, and that is why many people feel stuck and repressed in a marriage.
When the fear and the power control is there, then love is gone. Love is, in my opinion, a very pure energy. Marriage is a fear-based institution and may very well destroy love, as it has done in many marriages.
Most marriages I witnessed in my life are unfortunately not that happy. My grandmother was in an unhappy marriage for over fifty years, and even at the age of sixty, she still talked about wanting to separate from my grandfather (who used to serve the Navy and was not really a person of good temper), but because of social convention, she felt like she could not. My mother also suffered from a loveless marriage for many years.
I have also witnessed domestic violence and emotional abuse in marriages. I even called the police for one of my girlfriends who suffered from domestic violence.
Now you can probably tell where my strong negative and (perhaps bias) opinions about marriage came from. It indeed goes back to several generations, and I had indeed witnessed some of the ugliest things people can do marriages. Most of the marriages that I have witnessed in my life (and I have seen many) are not that happy. Even those that appear to be happy and normal on the surface, somehow feel a bit boring and dead to me. Very rarely I encounter truly happily long term married couples - the happiest couples I have met are the ones that never got married but remained as long-term partners.
Such as the spiritual musicians – Deva Premal & Miten (who were also Osho sannyasins and they met at the Osho commune in Pune in the 1990s, then started touring the world in 1992 to share their divine music with as many people as possible)
I met them personally at their concert in Byron Bay. They have been with each other for almost twenty-seven years, but the chemistry between them was still very strong, and you could feel it. In an interview, when they were asked whether they were exclusive, they replied no. Deva said they do not use that, it is a freedom that they do not need to use, but the freedom needs to be there. Otherwise, they would find it difficult. I echo with that statement strongly.
Also, according to a survey by the famous dating website Match.com, it is said that a higher percentage of adults said sex is better in an unmarried relationship with a long-term, live-in partner.
“The possibility of breaking up means you both need to stay on top of your game, even just a little bit. You need to do just enough to keep it spontaneous and fun,” and interestingly, perhaps unsurprisingly, people often cheat less when they are not locked down.
I truly believe that by granting complete freedom to your partner is the secret of keeping the romance and love alive for as long as possible. Love needs the freedom to grow and thrive.
It is human tendency to take things for granted especially when we know the thing or the person belongs to us forever. However, if you know that every day there is a possibility that your partner may leave you, then you will probably not take your partner for granted so easily.
3) Losing My Mojo
This may sound a bit funny to some people, but I really do not want to lose my mojo – yes, I absolutely still want to feel beautiful and sexy when I am fifty or sixty. It is not about vanity, I want to feel good about myself no matter what age I am in.
I recently went to visit an old friend of mine who gave birth to a baby girl nine months ago. When I saw her, I thought she was again pregnant, but she said no, she just put on a lot of weight. Then she added, with the husband sitting next to her, ‘it’s the good thing about marriage, you can grow fat, your husband can’t run anywhere, he has no choice, you can’t change.’
She might be teasing, but I do not agree with that kind of thinking. Yes, call me an absolute romantic, but I think in a loving relationship, it is important for both partners to stay beautiful for each other. It is important to stay beautiful for yourself and for other.
In a marriage, I think it is easy to lose the mojo mainly due to two reasons: first, when a person’s freedom is cut down, and the individuality is repressed (when you can't express yourself freely); secondly, when the person thinks nothing is going to change and the spouse will not get away anyway, so why bother? – Well, don't forget there’s also divorce too.
3) Are human beings really programmed for monogamy?
Marriage assumes everybody is a monogamist, that we will only ever have sex with the same person after marriage for the rest of our life. The idea of marrying someone and not looking at other human beings nor feel attracted to other humans, no matter how intelligent and beautiful they are, seem to be quite bizarre and rather unrealistic to me.
Human beings are by nature social beings. We like company. If we are all programmed for monogamy, why do people cheat all the time and why there is the existence of prostitution? Cheating and prostitution, if you delve deeper, seem more like the by-products of marriage. If marriage does not exist in the first place, then there is probably no need for cheating and prostitution.
4) Exploring the alternatives
But then who says marriage has to be conventional (Thank God!)? More and more people start experimenting with alternatives such open relationships or even open marriages.
My ideal partnership would be with a similar minded spiritual partner who also believes that true love means complete freedom. There is no restraint and control over a relationship. Both parties are allowed to be themselves completely. There is no imposed duty and responsibilities. Duty and responsibilities arise out of awareness that we genuinely want to be with each other every day and we consciously choose each other every day.
There is always freedom for each other. It is a freedom that you may not need to exercise at all because you feel so connected with your partner, but I think it is important for the freedom to be there, so no one will feel trapped (especially if you know you are the free spirit type).
One thing I would like to add is that the alternative to marriage, such as open relationship or open marriage does not mean it is necessarily easy and I recognise that it is also not for everyone. One needs to overcome a lot of negativities in our human minds first, such as jealousy, fear, ego and the sense of insecurity et cetera, to be able to handle a healthy open relationship.
If you are a person that is possessive and easily jealous, then an open relationship is definitely not for you. And this is common for most people, including my old self.
I used to be an easily jealous and possessive person, but when I was spiritually awakened and kept walking and growing on this path, I found that I do not really get jealous anymore. When my heart starts to open up and expand, I actually think it is rather beautiful for my partner to go and love someone else, to spread more love to the Universe. Also, it creates space in our relationship, which in turn creates more love.
Of course, it is very possible that my partner may fall in love with someone else and want to separate with me, that is also fine too (even in a marriage, how can you guarantee that your partner may not fall in love with others?). If I truly love the person, then his or her happiness is also my happiness, even if it means it does not include me. Over the years, I have learned to accept the impermanence of all things, and I have also come to appreciate the beauty of the flux of life (another benefit for not getting married, the exit is always easier and less messy).
In my opinion, one needs to grow emotionally stable and spiritually mature to handle an open relationship. Actually, whether it is marriage or open relationship, for the relationship to work and for love to thrive, it all requires us to be very conscious. This includes about being honest to oneself and others, to be tolerant and compassionate towards others and openly communicate our needs and desires.
I hope the society can be less judgmental and more accepting towards people who are not really into the conventional path (whether it is marriage or other aspects of life). I also hope to see more open-minded people to experiment the alternatives in life, to create a life that makes us truly happy, not just blindly following the conventional path imposed by the society.
The only foreseeable exception for me to get married in this lifetime would most likely be with a partner who embraces the same ideology, and we have to be 'forced' to get married for some practical reasons (e.g. medical insurance, foreign citizenship etc.)
Our society is a Matrix of control. The deeper I walk on the spiritual path, the more I find myself disagreeing with a lot of the ways of how the system works (how after university, we were told to slave ourselves for many years in the corporate world, then to get married, to settle down, to retire and to die...), is this all there is? I highly doubt so and have been grateful to be able to walk the path at a relatively young age. The sooner you are on the path, the more risks you take at a young age, the better, in my opinion.
I will not spend my life fitting into this ludicrous matrix. I will find whatever ways I could to hack the matrix creatively (and this can definitely be done as it has been done by many). I will live life on my own terms and my own ways.
I will live my own truth, understanding that all is just a game, a matrix.
PSPS. I have in fact married myself this year at a Tantra retreat in Turkey - to marry the masculine and feminine energies within me.
To be honest, I feel whole and complete and do not feel I need anyone to complete my life. All I'm doing now is simply to share my love, allowing the energy to flow to as Osho right puts it, to 'whomsoever it may concern.'
Here is a video of my beloved guruji Osho sharing his view about marriage (I resonate strongly) .
(It’s not because Osho disapproves marriage, so I disapprove marriage. It is more because of what Osho said really resonate with me, that’s why he is my Guruji)
More enlightening books by Osho on love :) Highly recommended!