I find a quote by Clint Eastwood on marriage very apt and pertinent: ‘They say marriages are made in heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.” Being happily married myself for 13 years I find this quote truly catches the spirit of matrimonial bliss. I always say that marriage is God’s practical joke on us lesser mortals. Putting two people with totally opposite physical and mental properties together under one roof and then He observes as they try playing a match where half time never comes and no one blows the whistle either. And so the game continues with no winners or losers but two people who continue to try and be happy playing.

While my thoughts on the subject of marriage may sound very pessimistic questioning matrimonial bliss, I repeat I am happily married lest my better half take offense. So what is it about this beautiful relationship that seems like the ultimate thing to achieve in life and everything else takes a back seat? Why do most of us irrespective of cast, color or creed feel that finding a life partner is so important? Why do we feel that being married is not a choice? I remember one of my friends at the tender age of 15 saying, “shaadi to sab ki hoti hai”. Why do we feel that we are born to be married? Especially in our society, marriage is given too much weightage. There are very few brave ones who defy and want to stay deprived of this magnificence and oh, hell hath no fury like a Pakistani society scorned! The wrath of family and friends come running like a bullet train. .

Single? How will you live when you are old? Who will take care of you? As if currently we are all lucky to have children who take care of their parents in their old age. One reason I feel why we give so much attention to marriage is children. You can only have children if you are married so let’s not even go in the domain where we can question this fact. But what about adoption? Will we accept a single man or woman who choose to adopt a child and still not want to be married? I can already feel some eyes popping out as they read this line. Has the writer gone mad? I can hear my sanity under scrutiny. But is the idea so preposterous? Can’t a single parent raise a healthy individual? Are there not so many children out there who will give their right arm for a home than be on the streets?

My current frustration on the paramount significance of marriage is the stress I see parents going through these days looking for suitable matches for their daughters and sons. I have aunts right now who have educated promising daughters and sons and they can’t find any rishta. It’s the biggest stress in their lives especially for those with daughters who are, God forbid, in their late 20s. Their daughters are educated with careers and the ability to sustain themselves. They are willing to agree to any conditions placed by the boy’s side that includes not letting the girls work as long as they get married. They have lowered their bar on what kind of groom they are looking for only because of the girl’s ages. Why? If your daughter is in her late 20s, does that mean her demand for more is unsuitable? The fact that she was able to educate herself more and have a few professional years under her belt do not matter. Why is it that educated families still cannot break the chains of outdated stereotypes and are as vulnerable as ever?

Our society needs to accept single men and women. Parents have a right to suggest suitable matches for their children (that being more of a social norm than a religious one and I mention religion here only because we all like to win our arguments playing the religion card). Let them find their own partners in their own time and space. I have seen how girls more than boys get so stressed out because their parents are anxious to get them married. Those prime years of the glorious 20s that are supposed to be fun and frolic are spent trying to get married and then once they proudly get on the bandwagon there is a rude awakening. Uh oh.

Marriage is a good thing, it can even be a great thing, but making it the primary purpose of our existence is something that needs to be requisitioned in this society.