IHM , my friend, you just woke me up from my deep blog slumber! Here’s what I have to say to your question...Is marriage an over rated institution???
I would nod with an emphatic yes to that question. It is presented as a win win situation though...so let's see what a girl wins in the equation.
In India, girls tend to lose more than they gain by being married. Right when the ceremonies begin, it is an unspoken truth that no matter what the boy's side does and asks for, the girl's side has to comply. The start of the relationship happens at an unequal footing. nahi beta, wo ladkey wale hain
Once the newlywed girl reaches her in-laws home, the only words that she can use are "Haan ji" (which would loosely translate to "as you say' in this situation), utter anything else and she can be the talk of the town for being such a badtameez (manner less and arrogant). She should know that girls, especially when they become bahus, don't have a right to have an opinion, much less express it!!
So there goes your basic freedom of speech.
The daughter in law will be told what can she wear and what colors can it be. She has to wear bindi, has to wear bangles, cannot wear jeans, and can’t even think of skirts. Up until now, she has been dressing up in crap and by being married, she has got an army of designers, Lucky her! that includes her MIL, FIL and basically everyone with an in-law suffix. They all know what will work. And she has to comply, otherwise, you got it right, she is arrogant.
And there goes the basic freedom of dressing up.
Though she is the one who is new in a family, the onus of keeping everyone happy rests on her and she needs to remember in laws are super easy to offend. Wake up when you want to, someone gets offended. Talk to your mom on the phone, someone gets offended. Don't cook and offend the whole family!!
Sky can fall if she expresses the urge to see her side of the family. If she needs to go out with friends, permission needs be sought from in laws. And the in laws are very nice if they say yes, plus she is considered very lucky.
Hence goes a basic freedom to living your life.
Where is the guy? Did he change his wake up time just because he got married? Did he change the way he dresses? Did he change his social behavior? Did he forgo seeing his parents on a certain festival because he has to be with the girl's parents?
A girl is raised with one single goal and that is to get married and stay married. Learn to cook, not because it’s a good skill to have to be able to feed yourself but to get married. The ultimate goal of a girl's life is expected to be to please others and aspire for their approval. All in all its lose lose situation for girls. If they chose to not to get married (as if they can!) the society always looks at them in demeaning ways. If she does get married (as if there is a choice) society has all the tools to rob her of basic freedoms. And lo and behold, if she dares to speak up and gets out of a bad marriage and gets a divorce, she is looked down upon as the one who was on the wrong side. She should have adjusted, she should have just used her inner strength to over look the all the problems and be in that relationship for the sake of others.
People say marriage isn't between two individuals but between two families, I would tweak this statement with one word and say that "A wedding is between the families but marriage is between two individuals" Wedding is a ceremony where all can have fun but a marriage is a relationship, a life that a man and a woman lead afterwards. It takes a lot of effort to make any marriage work but this work needs to take place between the husband and wife. Like any relationship, a marriage needs two individuals who look at each other as companions, I love how this quotes puts things in perspective “Marriage is when a man and woman become as one; the trouble starts when they try to decide which one" If anyone, girl or boy, is expected to just lose their own self to make a marriage work, its totally not worth it. How can a person be not themselves and be expected to be happy and furthermore raise happy kids?
If getting married wasn't such a big deal, girls would have a better chance at life. Female infanticide wouldn't be there because no parent would be worried about the burden of dowry, life would not be a gamble for their daughters, there daughter's happiness would not depend on some other family. If getting married wasn't the ultimate goal for girls, parents would not see money spent on their education as waste, because who knows if her future family would allow her to work, also they wouldn't be worried about saving every penny for her dowry. They will be able to use that same money for better things like their own retirement, her education. Parents would have the freedom of raising their girls with a normal childhood, with the goal of shaping up a strong individual and not a "perfect daughter in law" or "some one's wife" Domestic violence would be tackled much easily if the girl knows that in order to appear normal she doesn't need to stay married. Undue advantage is taken just because of this known fact that she can't raise a voice because society expects her to stay married and appear happy.
Institution is a noun and as someone rightly said marriage is a verb. It isn't something you get, it's something you do. It's the way you live your life everyday with your partner. But if you insist it being an institution then, I say, as with any other institution, admission should be optional and not required. Everyone should get married if they want and not because they are expected to.