Marriage is the approved social pattern whereby two to more persons establish a family. It involves not only the right to conceive and rear children, but also a host of other obligation and privileges affecting a good many people.
The real meaning of marriage is the acceptance of a new status, with a new set of privileges and obligations, and the recognition of this new status by others. A legal marriage legitimizes a social status and creates a set of legally recognized rights and duties.
Marriage is one of the oldest socially recognized institution and essential for the procreation of children and satisfaction of our sexual urges. In different societies there are different methods of marriage. Some of the societies allow a male to marry only a single female whereas in other societies a husband is allowed to have more than one wife. Similarly some societies will not allow a woman to have more than one husband whereas other societies will not mind a woman having more than one husband. In some cases the parent arranges the marriage whereas in others the boys and girls arrange their marriage.
Definition of Marriage: Marriageis a term for social relationships of husband and wife or of plural mates. Also used for the ceremony of uniting marital partners.
It refers to the finding of spouse by man and woman. There are two methods given as:
- Exogamy: When a person marries outside one’s group, caste, religion, class or race. It is attributed as exogamy. In the modern times this marriage is mostly in practice.
- Endogamy: When a person marries inside one’s group, caste, religion, class or race. It is known as endogamy. This kind of marriage is practice mostly in the rural areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan.
Form of Marriage
Different societies have different views for the social recognition and approval of marriage. That is the reason why we find different of marriages. The main types of marriage are given below:
- Monogamy: One person is allowed to marry once.
- Polygamy: Person ( man or woman ) is allowed to marry more than once.
- Polygyny: A husband is permitted to have more than one wife at one time.
- Polyandry: A woman marries to more than one man at a time.
- Fraternal polyandry: When a woman is considered and treated as the wife of all the brothers living in the family and the offspring is considered to be the son/daughter of the eldest brother.
- Non-fraternal polyandry: In this form a woman is supposed to have more than one husband.
- Group marriage: The brothers are required to marry with the sisters living together.
- Experimental marriage: In such a marriage the couple should be allowed to come together and freely mix and meet to understand each other before their marriage.
- Inter caste marriage: A man marries a woman with in a caste. Like in India.
- Anuloma: When the men of higher castes are allowed to marry the women of lower castes is called anuloma.
- Pratiloma: When the women of higher castes marry to the men of lower castes are called Pratiloma.
- Hyper-gamy & hypo-gamy: A man belonging to the nobility is allowed to marry a woman of lower social status is called Hyper-gamy. But when a woman of higher social status is marrying a man of lower social status is called Hypo-gamy.
- Sororate marriage: If the wife is died. After the death, the husband marries this deceased wife’s sister.
- Levirate marriage: When the husband is died. After the death the wife marries her deceased husband’s brother.
- Marriage by elopement: If a boy and girl run away and marry against the choice of their parents. They marry either in court or other place.
- Compassionate Marriage: The dissolution of marriage by mutual consents, due to having no children.
- Arranged Marriage: The marriage, which is arranged by the consent of both sides parent.
- Love Marriage: The system under which the youngsters themselves select their life partners is called love marriage.
- Swara Marriage: It’s a common marriage in Pukhtoon society.
Functions of Marriage
- Social Recognition: Marriage gives social recognition to all sexual relationships, which otherwise would have many social problems. Marriage alone makes the society accept the relationship of boy and girl, as husband and wife.
- Procreation of Children: Then another function of the marriage is to have legitimate children; The children born as a result of socially recognized marriage are accepted by the society as legitimate and legal heirs to the property and other assets of the family.
- Sense of Sympathy: After the marriage alone the husband and wife and their children develop a sense of sympathy for each other and they begin to share each other’s joys and sorrows. They sacrifice for the sake of each other.
- Basis of Family: Then another function of marriage is that it is the basis of family life. As we all know that after marriage family comes into being and with that the virtues of all the family life emerge in the society.
- Stability in Relationship: After marriage alone relationships come into being e.g. the relationship of husband and wife, son or daughter, father in law and mother in law or that of grand father and grand mother etc. these relations get stabilized with the passage of time but only after marriage but not before marriage.
- Perpetuation of Lineage: It is after marriage that there is desire to perpetuate the name of the family. The children perpetuate the names of their parents and then come grand children, great grand children etc. After some time then there is a desire to perpetuate the lineage of the family and it at any stage in the family there are no offshoots, then every effort is made to have then, so that the name of the family continues.
In this way each family has very important and basic functions to perform. Without these functions our whole social system would failed and would resulting many social problems. Then marriage alone has helped in maintaining high moral standards of which any society can really feel proud.
Arranged marriage has been the traditional way of conducting marriages from the ancient times. Much have changed in the modern world and today in many parts of the world especially the western part, marriage decision is totally left to the two individuals who decide to live together based on love, trust and commitment to each other. This love, trust and commitment is built over time by knowing each other. But in majority of the Middle East and south Asian countries marriage is still fully arranged or at least partly arranged by the elders in the family and by other authorities and the so called gatekeepers of the society. These people have considerable influence on the family based on religious and caste based structures.
So let’s understand what an arranged marriage is and what are the positives and negatives of the arranged type of marriage. Further if you decide to go for an arranged marriage it would be also wise to take some tips and guidelines regarding this type of marriage. To start with, we can define arranged marriages as marriages which are primarily decided by third parties other than the two individuals who are actually going to get married. It is also called as prearranged marriage. As this kind of marriage is arranged by someone other than the persons actually getting married, the process of courtship is completely curtailed or shortened to a great extent. Now these “other persons” in highly traditional societies may include parents, family elders, relatives, priests and religious leaders. In a little more liberal atmosphere we can see the utilization of the services of matchmaking agents, family friends and matrimonial sites. It has been seen that the matrimonial sites offer at least some scope for the couple to know each other before getting married. All other avenues, to a very large extent are out of the direct control and influence of the actual people getting married.
Arranged marriage: Positives of the arranged type of marriage
Now let’s analyze the positive points of the arranged type of marriage. The first and foremost thing that comes into mind when we discuss the positives of arranged marriage is the full support of the families from both sides. Arranged marriages are decided after lot of meetings and discussions among parents and elder members in the family and therefore the chance of any discord in the family as regard to the marriage can be mostly eliminated out. Further these marriages are built on a solid foundation of two families coming together and therefore the actual people getting married get lot of confidence. In fact the trust among them increases to a great extent because of the all round approval. Arranged marriage settings actually take away lot of burden and uncertainty from the lives of the unmarried boys and girls. For example if the boy or the girl fully know that they are going to get married only through arranged type of marriage then they don’t have to take the trouble of hunting their life partners by their own. They can concentrate all their energies on more purposeful and fruitful endeavours like higher education and a career and leave the decision of their marriage completely to their parents. The other benefits of the arranged marriage include financial and physical support from both the families for the newly wedded couple in terms of starting a new household of their own. Moreover the extended family also provides a cushion in relatively tougher times. The long term benefits of an arranged marriage include a secure environment for the next generation under the watchful eyes of the grandparents and a large family.
Arranged marriage: Negatives of the arranged type of marriage
As we have discussed the positives of arranged marriage in great length we should also be aware of the negatives and shortcomings of the arranged type of marriage. One of the biggest drawbacks of the arranged marriage is that the most important decision of a person’s personal life is taken by somebody else. There is no work involved from the boy or the girl for finding their life partner and there is no personal relationship between the boy and girl based on love, understanding and commitment to a live a life together. The boy and girl are strangers to each other and they don’t know the likes and dislikes of each other. This can latter lead to lot of distress and can become a prime reason for marital discord. Further there is no guaranty that the trust between the families and elders that are seen in the initial days will continue for long. A small issue among the senior members of the family can get blown out of proportion and then the large egos of the parents and other senior family members can completely destroy the marriage. Further arranged marriages are the biggest cause of dowry demands and dowry related problems. These marriages are also the biggest hindrance to personal development and independence in life. The girl and the boy become dependent on their families and they become incapable of even taking the smallest decisions of their life by their own. Further there is lot of interference from the families even in the most trivial of matters and the boy and the girl never learn to sort of their lives the way they want. Socially also arranged type of marriage is the biggest hindrance towards a society which is based on equality among the people. Arranged marriages are the biggest propagators of the caste system and conservative religious beliefs.
Arranged marriage: Tips for arranged type of marriage
Every system has its positives and negatives. If you have decided that arranged marriage is the only way that you can get married in the current circumstances prevailing in your life then it would be wise to increase the positives of the arranged marriage and avoid the negatives to the maximum extent. The foremost thing that you need to do is to become accountable about your own marriage. Don’t leave the decision of your marriage in others hands. It is after all your life and therefore your opinion has to be respected. This is something that you should communicate to your parents and elders in the house. Next is the source of getting a good match. In today’s world when communications take place at lightning speed it is good to use tools like internet based matrimonial sites for searching your life partner. With this mode you will have some control in the selection process as you get a chance to directly get in touch with the other person to whom you might get married and further there is also chance of brief courtship through this mode. At least by this method you can know your life partner a little better before getting actually married and you can also minimize dowry related demands and problems.
Further check the horoscopes for a match if both the families insist on it. This will increase the confidence among the families as well as the people who are getting married. It is highly desirable to keep at least 3-4 months period gap between the time the marriage is fixed and the actual marriage date. Apart from courtship and understanding each other, this time can be utilized for checking and rechecking the antecedents of the individuals who are getting married. This period can be also a good opportunity for the two families to mingle with each other and create enough rapport so that any future misunderstandings can be avoided. Finally the most important point to remember is that the success of any marriage whether arranged or love marriage depends upon the two individuals who are actually getting married. It is definitely in their hands to make the marriage a big success or a big failure.
It is said that marriages are made in heaven and marriage vows are sacred in nature. Whatever may be the truth, marriage is one of the oldest human institutions surviving through ages and still doing fine. In fact it is one of those primary relationships which give rise to a family which in turn leads to the higher social structures and the society. Marriage has undergone tremendous change over thousands of years. Today in few parts of the world and in few societies, marriage is an established social structure for a primary relationship between a Man and Women based on equality and shared bonding.
Marriage vows: The reality
But this may not be true as black and white. If we analyze the marriage structure across societies around the world we will find lot of grey areas which are of concern. We may find that in many societies women are purchased like commodities at the market place. Here the criterion for selection is the amount of dowry the Women brings with her. In many more societies the only role of women in marriage is reproduction, procreation and bringing up the next generation. In such marriages it has been seen that women has to sacrifice her individuality at the expense of the family. Ironically such sacrifices are accepted as strict norms and rules for the women involved in the marriage but they are not applicable for the men. So in real terms marriage becomes a burden for the women involved. It becomes one of the classic tools of suppression and exploitation of women. All kinds of evil deeds against women are seen in the guise of marriage like the physical and mental torture of women in the name of dowry or covert and overt ways of control of women through the marriage including a check on their physical, psychological, financial, social and religious independence.
Marriage vows: The positive side
Nevertheless marriage is an institution which is worthwhile to preserve for the sake of all the positive advantages it offers to the society. Marriage allows the couple a life of love and commitment to each other and it provides a stable and protective environment for bringing up the next generation. Marriage helps us to live a life of love, compassion, sharing, caring and commitment which not only involves the self but also others in the family. In fact this is an institution which if properly understood and incorporated as part of our lives, can help us in evolving as a more refined human being who is capable of caring for others and who cares for the nature itself. Therefore marriage vows are sacred in nature.
Marriage vows: Interpretation of love in marriage
On the other hand marriage can also become a living hell if there is no love between the partners in the marriage. Now love in today’s society has a very-very narrow meaning. Most of the marriages which have failed have sown the seeds of their own down fall either because of the evil practices which I had mentioned earlier or because of the “lack of love, bonding & mutual care” between the partners. When a person interprets lack of love and caring most of the times he/she ends up telling about only his/her needs which are perceived not to be fulfilled ignoring the other persons unfulfilled needs from the marriage. This is pure selfishness based only on one’s self interest. This is not love. In fact this might have been a relationship where both the individuals only cared about their own needs ignoring the other person’s aspirations and his/her needs. Always it has been seen that a marriage which is moving towards a failure has self interest as the primary cause of failure. Further the negative and manipulative developments due to the so called friends and relatives compound the problem to a great extent.
Marriage vows: No single answer for failure or success
There can be lot of angles through which we can analyze why a particular marriage was a failure or for that matter why majority of marriages are a big success even in today’s materialistic world.
Marriage vows: Building the essential structures for married life
Speaking in a broader sense, I feel every marriage can work if people can look at their marriage through the spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and the physical planes strictly according to the order that I have mentioned. When we start looking the marriage through the spiritual dimension then the whole “scheme of the nature” opens in front of us. Then we can see the larger purpose of the marriage and we can see the meaning of the marriage in terms of what it can offer to the individuals involved, what it can offer to the family that is raised, what it can offer to the near and dear ones from both the sides and most importantly what it can offer to the society and the humanity at large.
Marriage vows: Living the real life
For the germination of a thinking based on holism and unification, we need to come out of our “outer exterior” that we portray to the world and live the real life we cherish and value. It is paramount for the couple to discus and open up their soul’s true urge to each other and then synthesize a common structure at the spiritual level. They should know why they are coming together and how they see themselves together in the short term, the medium term and the long term. The couple should discuss their purpose of coming together in depth which in turn will provide the awareness and inclination to lay a structure and framework towards achieving their mutually synthesized purpose.
Marriage vows: Marriage with a mutually synthesized purpose
When the couple starts living their life dedicated to their mutually synthesized purpose, they will find that they are truly becoming independent and free in their growth as an individual and still remaining complementary and beneficial to each other, their near and dear ones and the society at large. Such a mutually complementary life sows the seed of real love and commitment which considers the total well being of not only the self but also the other person, the extended family, the society and the world.
Marriage vows: Highest foundation of spiritual awakening
Once a couple start living their life with their inner voice as the supreme guiding force, the world will start respecting them as individuals as well as a couple. People and society will then seek suggestions and advice from the couple and further they will have only suggestions and advise to offer to the couple. In fact the world will lose the power to interfere in the couple’s day-to-day life.
Such a marriage based on the highest foundation of spiritual awakening based on our soul’s desire is bound to succeed. A life lived with our inner soul’s voice can never ever lead us to a wrong direction. It may throw up hurdles and barriers but it will also help us develop the strength and resourcefulness to invent ways to overcome these hurdles and barriers.
Marriage vows: Solid foundation for a marriage
Once we have a solid foundation based on the spiritual and the intuitional wisdom, we can start expanding the same into the intellectual, mental, emotional and physical planes. We can then think about the way we will use our keen intellect and mental energies to deal with the issues and people in our life. We will be then able to handle the negativity around us more rationally. We will then stop condemning a negative person and also stop becoming ourselves negative. On the other hand we will then try asking questions like, why this person is generating so much negativity. Are we the cause of it? Or is this person so negative because of his/her circumstances and past experiences? Whatever the cause may be, we will be then able to either solve the negativity or avoid the negativity without condemning the person involved and without we falling into the negativity trap. This will also help us to come out of the “blame game” which is so typical of today’s society.
Further this kind of thinking will allow us to understand the negative and positive structures and help us to build on the positive structures of life and simultaneously either resolve, downplay or avoid the negative structures. We therefore prevent ourselves from getting into the negative spiral.
Thus with strong spiritual and intuitional wisdom as our foundation in life and with sound intellectual and mental balance to distinguish between the negative and positive structures of life it will become very easy for us to live in the emotional and physical planes. This will make us live a life with emotional and physical commitment to our near and dear ones, it will help us in starting a family with true commitment and dedication, it will help us in bringing the next generation in a protective and nurturing environment and it will help us in creating financial and material resources to look after us, our families and to be helpful to the society at large with the additional resources in hand.
Marriage vows: Integration of life at every level
Only by living a life which synthesizes and integrates the spiritual, intuitional, intellectual, mental and physical planes, we can think about living a life in sync with nature and our inner self. This makes us part of the nature’s scheme of things in bringing the unification of forces. We need to believe in this unification of forces and actively practice in establishing it through motivating and strongly cajoling each other towards it. Only if this is done, we can think about bringing positive forces in our life and only then we can move ahead in life taking everybody along with us.
Marriage vows: Rupture in the marital relations
Now if a couple can work on the above mentioned platform from the beginning, the synthesis of life becomes easy. On the other hand if the marriage is already in trouble because of all the negative structures of the past and if the couple is trying to work out the process of rapprochement then they should keep one thing in their mind that is the whole process of rapprochement is a slow and steady process and it will evolve as per the will of the nature.
We should not think of pushing it or hastening it as nature has its own course of action. We are nobody to control nature. It may take months and years to break the negative structures and thus clear the bad blood and animosity between everybody involved. The miracles of nature happen slowly and steadily.
We need to understand the fact that to break and destroy things is easier and faster. To build a new structure from the ruins, it takes great courage, commitment and lot of time. As they say the real character of a person is known by how he/she acts in the times of adversity.
Marriage vows: Finding a win-win situation
In the troubled times, the rapprochement and counseling session should work on the immediate goal of finding a working solution to prevent the complete collapse of the marriage by offering a win-win situation to everybody involved.
Marriage vows: Open communication
The most important thing in this regard will be an open and free communication between the couple involved as well as the true well wishers of the couple who want to see them back together. This communication should not become a blame-game session nor should it become a session of dominating each other. These communication sessions should explore the possibility of constructing a middle ground to live a life based on the structures of spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional and physical well being of everybody concerned.
Marriage vows: The choice is with the couple
Therefore it is indeed in the hands of the partners involved in the marriage to either make marriage vows sacred or make marriage a living hell for themselves. The choice is indeed with them and nobody else.