Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Is it not time to broaden our understanding of marriage and adultery?

Why do people cheat? And why is it that even happy people cheat? And when we say "adultery," what exactly do we mean? Is it for many people a hook-up, a love story, paid sex, a chat room, a massage with a surprisingly satisfactory ending? Why is it that we tend to believe that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out of loneliness and desperation for intimacy? And why does disclosure of such experimental affair always cause death of the relationship?

A lot of people these days wonder about whether or not they can manage a marriage (earlier they never even gave it a thought, considering themselves as not having that freedom),which is why we see youngsters finding it difficult and pressurising  to make timely decisions.

 Things are more complicated in India, a country where under the pressure of religion and social morality things happen only under cover and once discovered, are utterly discouraged without making any effort to understand the science and desperation behind that decision. It’s only in India, that the concept of arranged marriages even in this century, finds itself embraced.
It is studied, that adultery shatters relationships completely. So, what is adultery? It is one simple act of transgression that can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness and their very identity: an affair. A lot of people discourage it and would tag you with uncomfortable and weird labels but would never really try to dig deep and find out its mechanism.

Well, adultery as a concept and practice, has existed since marriage was invented, funny? But that’s how it is. In fact, infidelity has doggedness that marriage can only envy, so much so, that this is the only commandment that is repeated twice in the Bible: once for doing it, and once just for thinking about it. So, how do we settle by understanding what is universally forbidden, yet universally practised?

Throughout history, men did practically have a license to cheat with little consequence, and their attitude was supported by a host of biological and evolutionary theories that justified their need to roam, so the double standard is as old as adultery itself, but things have definitely been different for women. When it comes to sex, the sole pressure for men is to boast and to lay it on thick, whereas the pressure for women is to hide, minimize and deny.

People used to marry, and initiate their sex life for the first time. But now people marry, and then they stop having sex with others. Men relied on women's fidelity in order to understand whose children these are, and who gets the house and gold when he dies. You see it’s all about moral obligation?There was a time, when marriage was an economic enterprise, adultery vulnerable our economic security. But now that marriage is becoming to be a romantic arrangement, adultery now threatens our emotional security.

I believe, there are three ways in which adultery hurts differently today. We all somehow have a romantic ideal (built out of the specific cultural conditioning) in which we choose to turn to one person to fulfil an endless list: he/she to be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, trusted confidant/confidante, emotional companion, intellectual equal. And we wish to tell ourselves: I'm chosen, I'm unique, I'm indispensable, I'm irreplaceable, I'm the one for that one person. But adultery shatters our ideals telling us that we are not. It is the ultimate betrayal. It completely shatters the grand ambition of love and marriage. But if throughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because it threatens our sense of self. With everyday mushrooming social media platforms, the feeling of emotional insecurity increases further more as people choose to instantaneously make updates and bring their personal life to public notice. Thus, affairs in this digital age are death by a thousand cuts. Adultery, in simple words is an act of violation of trust, leading to a crisis of identity. And, people end-up asking their partners-"Can I ever trust you again?" he asks. "Can I ever trust anyone again?"

Because of this romantic ideal, we are relying on our partner's fidelity with a unique zeal. But we need to accept that we also have never been more inclined to stray, and not because we have new desires today, but because we live in an era where we feel that we are allowed to pursue our desires, because this is the culture where we deserve to be happy. And if we used to divorce because we were unhappy, today we divorce because we could be happier. And if divorce carried all the shame, today, choosing to stay when you can leave is the new shame. I believe, if only people could open their minds to the other side and allow their hearts to understand the science behind adultery they would end-up making more sorted decisions about marriage.

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