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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bonded for life

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Yesterday night a thought occurred to me. Is a man closer to his brothers and sisters in terms of relationship than to his spouse, on an average? Let’s say that you could rate a relationship in terms of whatever criteria you chose, where, lowest score means that you hate that person and cannot bear to hear his name and not be in same room, and highest score means you adore that person and will do anything for him and cannot live without him. You must rate all your brothers and sisters who were significant part of your childhood and your significant other, past or present. If this exercise is done for large number of people, then will siblings get higher average score or spouses? What I want to impress upon from this is to investigate that whether child marriages (in modified form) makes for more successful marriages.

Now don’t just roll eyes in disgust or shock. By child marriage, I mean marriage fixed by parents in early childhood without taking into account individual preferences of bride and groom. I don’t mean marriage consummated before adulthood. That’s not so dramatic if you were to consider that most arranged marriages are fixed like this in India and whether marriage is fixed at age of 25 or 5 is irrelevant if permission of couple is not factored in in either case. My modified version of child marriage also requires that young husband and wife be raised together in same household.

From where I see it, and I can be wrong here, that a person is almost always very close to his brothers and sisters in Indian households. His closeness may decrease after marriage but only because life becomes separate and money becomes important. Assuming that data to my survey in first paragraph comes out in favour of siblings then I can conclude that relationships where we don’t have choice tend to stick longer. As a corollary, it would make sense if partner for life is thrust upon from the beginning and we are brought up with simple understanding that nothing can be done later. It can be argued that when given no choice, one tends to look and evaluate a person or relationship differently then when given a choice to get out of it. Maybe silliness becomes forgivable mischievousness, perhaps beauty becomes less important (how most of use find our offsprings, nieces and nephews beautiful anyways), perhaps an irritating habit is internalized, and so on. Growing up knowing your partner for life (meaning of this term can change as child matures to man) may result in so many shared memories and common value system that bond is further strengthened. In such cases, it appears that adult marriage will be stronger and more stable and very less likely to result in separation. In fact, this is one reason which I am led to believe was behind child marriages in earlier times.

Basic premise of my argument is that relationships grown from childhood with no option to severe are more stable than others build upon later, at least for first few years. I don’t think it is unequivocally correct, but it's still a thought.