The very first time in my life I reflected on companionship was when the news of Prince Charles marrying Camilla Parker hit the world. I know it sounds like an unusual example in the given context, but I learnt a very important lesson then.
It so happened that someone in my family happened to mock over the fact that Prince of Wales had decided to marry Camilla Parker at such an age when getting married didn’t sound to make any sense. I do not remember the exact conversation that took place but I vividly remember my mum talking about their marriage being more for companionship (given their age and circumstances) rather than for any other purpose.
The phrase getting married for companionship literally stuck to my mind. Soon after, I moved abroad and on many occasions I was seen quoting this very example to explain the basis of a marriage in the later years of life. At that point of time I had no clue that someday this very topic shall raise its head again and my well rehearsed lesson will help me see sense out of inane banter.
Irrespective of all the setbacks I have suffered in my married life, I still believe in the institution of marriage and hold nothing against the very idea of re-marriage. This post isn’t about my re-marriage. It so happened that a friend (whom I met through the online support groups), let’s name her Archana* is going through a very difficult divorce with custody battle for her little daughter. She is facing strong pressure on part of her family to either reconcile with her (soon-to-be-an-ex) husband or agree to remarry as soon as possible.
Archana’s difficult position left me thinking as to why our society believes that every single male or female needs to get married/ re-married at the first available opportunity. Be it in the name of providing a second parent to your child or in the garb of providing social security, re-marriages are so often forced upon people who have lost their spouse cause of any reason (be it death or divorce).
I have no problems with the idea of re-marrying, but, I believe one needs to give oneself time to heal. Time to learn from past mistakes and then move on to making any commitment. It’s a very sorry state to be in where you have not yet dealt with the baggage you’ve brought out of your earlier marriage, haven’t resolved all issues associated with your past and decide to plunge in another relationship.
As our conversation rolled on she confided in me the real point of her worry. Archana isn’t against re-marrying and has infact given her consent to her family that she’ll be happy to go ahead with a relationship. Her family in turn have advertised in the matrimonial columns of all leading newspapers and a couple of popular matrimonial websites.
Besides, the usual issues involved in arranged marriage set-up a peculiar (in my opinion) issue that is being raised constantly is most prospective grooms (divorcee/ widowers) turn down the proposal when they learn that she has a daughter. The problem isn’t in her having a child from her past marriage, but that she has a daughter and not a son. The second and major one being, the prospective grooms expect her parents to take care of her daughter as a pre-requisite of marrying her.
I was angry and shocked beyond words on learning that. I mean, which mother would want to marry such a man who isn’t ready to take care of her child and puts this as his first condition of going ahead with the proposal. I believe people have gone out of their minds and have lost all understanding of basic human values and the very essence of marriage.
When I was wondering her family would have punched such prospective grooms in their nose, came the biggest shock for me. She told me her parents have agreed to take care of her daughter to let her have a socially secure life.
My brain stopped working at that point. I had no words left to express my thoughts and to be honest I really had no clue as to how to react to all this. I don’t know what such people actually mean by getting married in the first place and I am pretty confident that companionship, love and mutual respect have no place in such people’s minds or in their vision of married life.
I have gradually stopped indulging in such debates, for I feel I don’t agree with anything that people who advocate re-marriages think in the first place. I sincerely hope, better sense prevails in Archana’s family and herself and they begin to think and behave like normal people should in their circumstances.
* Name changed to protect identity.
The song on my mind: Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye ~ Pyasa