Relationships Voices

There’s No Such Thing as a Failed Marriage

Such terms went out of fashion in the last century. Let us lay them to rest.

My column last month against the institution of marriage sparked off a massive and unexpected debate online – and in various WhatsApp groups, classrooms and kitty parties – and earned me both bouquets and brickbats. Life, however, has taught me that what other people think of me is none of my business, so I wasn’t too affected by the onslaught.

But one critic’s comment – forwarded to me by an old friend – stayed with me: “Just because she has two failed marriages, she views the institution with heavily coloured goggles,” the lady said about me.

Okay, hold on just a minute. Let’s address this. What’s a failed marriage? What is the parameter of success for a marriage? Is being married till the day you die – even if you die every day in suffocation, misery and abuse – a definition of a ‘successful’ marriage?

Come to think of it, what’s a ‘broken’ family? Is living with conflict and violence a better alternative? And what if there’s no alternative? Is that family broken just because it doesn’t fit into the 1970s’ family-planning slogan hum do hamare do?

Such terms went out of fashion in the last century. Let us lay them to rest.

My stance on marriage remains the same: It’s a punishment to keep a bad relationship going simply because you’re married, and a good relationship doesn’t need marriage to keep it going. Having said that – and considering that half of the adults in the world are married right at this moment – I venture to add: There’s no such thing as a failed marriage, unless you are wearing heavily coloured goggles.

If the parameter to judge the success of any venture is its outcome, then both my marriages were / are successful. The past one made me seek a higher calling and led me to Buddhism, and the current one has given me the courage to live my dreams. Somewhere along the way, I shed the goggles of social expectations, trying to live by someone else’s rules, judging others, and seeing life as a battle against antagonistic forces and myself as its hapless casualty.

I shopped for another set of goggles. These showed me the best in people, the silver lining on a dark day, an expanse of opportunities and joys just waiting for me to grab them, and such a tremendous amount of love that one little heart cannot possibly contain it all. I’ve had to place an order for one as big as the sun. For now.

How is that a failure?

Let us not misuse the terms ‘happily married’, or a ‘normal family’. Happiness is a process with or without marriage, and no family or marriage or even person is ‘normal’. Each one has its own quirks, unique traits, colours and flavours. Sometimes a mother and daughter living by themselves or a childless couple are a very complete family. Sometimes a pair of gay lovers disowned by their respective parents make for a perfect marriage. Sometimes a group of people totally unrelated to one another build a warm, loving nest to come home to each night, and it’s enough. ‘Normal’ is reductive. Diversity is the norm.

Be unafraid of social tags. The only failure is not living life to your fullest potential, and breaking relationships is better than being broken yourself.

Strive instead for the day when every cell of your body lights up with gratitude, for that’s when you’re ‘whole’, even if others may brand it otherwise.

Come, wear my goggles. They’re lightly coloured with peace today.

Lead image: ‘Cleansing my sins’ a la Osho, beside the very evolved Asha Rajkumari (left)

First published in eShe’s April 2019 issue

4 comments on “There’s No Such Thing as a Failed Marriage

  1. Monica Aggarwal

    Beautifully expressed. Fully agree with your views. People are very judgemental in our society and are quick to denigrate anyone who has the courage to call a spade a spade. We have come on this planet to lead purposeful lives and any relationship which helps us evolve is right for us the nature of it be any. So yes choosing to be by yourself is anyday better than being lonely in an unhappy marriage.

  2. Sheetal Chadha

    Marriage is anything but easy. Unfortunately, sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. Regardless if there is a happily ever after or not – there eventually will be. Everything happens for a reason – you have to be willing to learn and get back up when you’ve fell down.
    Every relationship has boundaries that must be respected. While every relationship is different, take note of what is acceptable and unacceptable.
    As a couple, you made memories and had good times. There’s a reason why you got together and were attracted to each other. There’s no point in beating yourself up or wishing you could go back in time and change things, instead be thankful of the good times and learn how to relish in the best of times. In your next relationship, learn how to make the best out of the best.Be thankful for your friends and family and never believe that marriage has failed you.
    Stating that your marriage was a failure, would be like saying part of your life was a waste of time. While it’s impossible to be positive about every aspect, think of your marriage as a chapter in your life that allowed you to evolve. There should never be any shame in the efforts you’ve made. Allow the events in your life to serve you as lessons and grow from them.
    And you are an inspiration Aekta. I will never get married just to change my status for the society. After reading your article I feel bold to stand out single till the time I get a right man in my life.
    Thanks for writing such a beautiful article.
    It’s important to change your mindset and not be thinking about what society will think about your past relationship..

  3. Beautifully expressed ! Most people in our society are so preachy with their myopic view and opinion of things going on in other people’s lives just so they look superior and perfect but actually are really a mess inside, not knowing the right, corrective steps to take or lacking the guts to break the shackles and emerge out in dignity. But then, in the end the woman is blamed: for everything, for bearing/ tolerating too much or for sufferring or not sufferring enough or till end …. and everything, that’s happened or not happened…..
    Oh ….. does this make sense ?? God! Its frustrating when your fellow beings are like this !

  4. Beautifully expressed ! Most people in our society are so preachy with their myopic view and opinion of things going on in other people’s lives just so they look superior and perfect but actually are really a mess inside, not knowing the right, corrective steps to take or lacking the guts to break the shackles and emerge out in dignity. But then, in the end the woman is blamed: for everything, for bearing/ tolerating too much or for sufferring or not sufferring enough or till end …. and everything, that’s happened or not happened…..
    Oh ….. does this make sense ?? God! Its frustrating when your fellow beings are like this !

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