A Reader wrote to me:
HI. I came across the following words in a wedding invitation. (MARRIAGES ARE CREATED IN HEAVEN, BUT CELEBRATED ON EARTH. IT IS THE UNITY OF TWO UNKNOWN SOULS WRITTEN RIGHT FROM BIRTH.) What are your thoughts about it.

My thoughts:

It is true that Marriages are created in Heaven. It is also true that sometimes partners are difficult and the reason is karmic. They are together to learn some of the most difficult lessons that we are meant to learn. Women’s Movement for Peace and Prosperity, of which I am the Founder Trustee, is having an ongoing panel discussion on:

‘Is the institution of Marriage under threat?’ What can be done?
Someone suggested that the title for the discussion should be: Marriage: Rock or Wreck?
A discussion based on contemporary experiences and perceptions of an age-old institution.
I am sending you some random points, and thoughts of participants, that I put together.

A thought of mine:

We may or may not reach any conclusions, we may or may not agree with all the view points, but we could become more enlightened on the subject, after reading the following.

Q) What are the reasons that are contributing to instability of marriage in this millennium?
“…the concept of marriage is going through change – and change is the prime driver of life!
Marriage is an old institution which is losing its basic values.

Financial : Too much money, so bad habits. Too little money, so both partners must work, which leads to friction, jealousy, ego problems.
Social: Disparity in status
In law’s interference

Influence of TV
More travel
Patriarchal mindset
Imposition of views on young people- both married and otherwise
Impatience with mistakes made by the younger generation
Refusal to let go

4) What are the solutions?

The first solution to all problems is: Effective Communication:

Listen more talk less
Use: I Would feel better if….rather than ‘it is your fault’
Do not communicate when angry.
Look at the plus points in your marriage
You do not have to agree on everything…you can love intensely despite…
You must allow each other to grow
Speak your mind clearly and gently
Do not ask ‘How was your day?’ ask specific Qs.
Remember ‘men come from Mars and Women from Venus. We may not be able to understand each other fully, but we can still love.

Celebrate the difference and complement one another.

A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy the differences’
Dave Meurer

Maybe children should not be pressured into getting married.
Parents need to get educated on the changing patterns of life.

Case study. Girls/ Boys are returning to their sweethearts after being married for a while.

Thoughts on Marriage by Khalil Gibran

Thoughts of Participants:
We should avoid the use of ” extreme” words like perfect and imperfect, differences and similarities – the underlying truth could be: every person is unique. he/she conforms or differs based on her/his own perspective of life.

I think it is important to have the perception and realities of marriage in right perspective. One must have the maturity to handle and accept change and different circumstances (that disintegrate a marriage) gracefully. Expectations have to be looked at realistically. One should not forget that family creates an environment and space which facilitates growth. That space is dynamic by nature accepting both positive and negative consequences. The couple and other members require understanding to make (marriage, life) successful.

We need to protect marriage. We should look at how marriage should serve us better. I think there are some very happy marriages and there are many spiritually enlightened couples who can talk about their success story in a few words in the seminar.

1)We are saying that family is the backbone of civilization hence marriage is important, so to make a marriage work everybody has to contribute.
2)In India we see that people especially women sacrifice too much to uphold this institution so there must be a community/government involvement also to make life easier in marriage for women.

3) The first step like you said is is pre marital counseling but also sensitizing seniors in the family, government policy makers, religious leaders, teachers and lawyers and doctors. How do we do it? When the panel discussion takes place we can ask different team leaders( doctors, lawyers etc) for suggestions and plans. marriage is supposed to provide a safe place for two individual adults to become better human beings so is the institution doing all this for the two individuals.

Example: When two people marry of their own choice, parents will be so angry that they refuse to help the girl or boy with the process. can aspects like this be looked at.

In Hinduism, we say the soul goes through three tortures. one is at birth, second is in the first year of marriage and third is during death. The first year of marriage is the worst ever for most couples so we can keep that in mind during the discussion.

“…if the ability to carry on doing the right things that one wants to do is strengthened, then everything else falls into place. even a stormy marriage can survive if there is mutual appreciation for the good things being done.

The institution of marriage is going through a transition. It is inevitable. It will stabilize…

To be continued…