Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Worse than a widower

Photo by jcoterhals (CC)
There it is, another one who asks me whether I'm married. Well, as it often happens in Asia, he asks the question but actually means a statement: of course you are, tell me a little about your family then...And there it is: that face that he makes when he hears my answer. I keep meeting people like this, who are surprised when they find out that I don't have a wife. Worst than that actually: surprised to find out that I have never had a wife...as if been a divorcé or a widower, sad as it may be, were still a lot better than the highest form of damnation: being single.
To be honest in fact, the very institution of marriage does not completely convince me. Not in itself, of course, as it has proven to be a fundamental instrument in building solid societies and good growing environments for children. It's the mechanism as it is made available today that I find faulty, especially in the western world, even though the differences between East and West are getting narrower and narrower.
People seem to be anxious to get married because they are told that they have to, and actually it has always been like that. In the past though, besides being taught that they should marry, young people were also told that marriage would last forever. No matter how serious the problems they would have to face, no matter how close to hell life within the new family could turn, the couple had to find a way through it. Or put up with it, until death would part them. 
Nowadays newlyweds are given options to get out of it, and on top of that they are brought to think that it's not even such a bad drama, or that it is their fault for that matter...shit happens - seems to be the message - don't think too much about it, just move on. 
While I have spent a large part of my adult life as a single and I've never really got close to planning my wedding, I've seen so many friends celebrating their marriages and a few years later mourning for their failures. That's why I think that if the paradigm has changed and there is not a fairly high probability that marriage will last forever, it's better to teach young people that they shouldn't feel so anxious about it. 
Convincing them to get married just to sell more insurance policies and washing machines, knowing that many of them will split up - or even counting on selling more products after a second or a third wedding - might seem an effective way to boost consumption economy: actually it's nothing more than a moral crime. Either you promise them a stable future or you don't promise anything at all, otherwise you're not guiding them: you're only deceiving them.

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