If you presume from the title that I have anything against homosexual relationships being officially recognised by the American state -- or by God, or otherwise -- you are mistaken. If gripes are to be had, it’s with marriage as a whole.
Without humanity’s constant need to seek out meaning in everything it does -- from work to relationships -- there would be no need for an institution as flabbergastingly redundant as marriage. I will not proceed without giving due diligence to the fact that marriage has its benefits.
But what is marriage? To a few, a piece of paper; to some, a rite of passage; to many, a necessary step in the cog-like life of a minuscule spec crying out for significance. It can also be a way to continue to populate the Earth, to preserve bloodlines, to have sex “legally,” to not be alone, to escape financial distress. Or it can be all of those things.
But let us also assume we don’t live in Bangladesh, or not even on this planet, but in a utopian (for some of us, at least; one man’s utopia is another man’s jahannam) free society, where men, women, and other genders have equal rights, whatever their orientation may be. Without societal judgment bearing down our backs, the freedom to explore relationships to their maximum potential seems likely.
We are provided with the privilege of finding out whether a person suits us, or is compatible with our own lifestyle. Cohabitation provides us with the opportunity to figure out the ins and outs of a relationship before one takes that final plunge into marriage.
But as can be seen in the West, that is no solution either.
With divorce rates gearing up to and upwards of 50% in a culture where cohabitation has become one footfall on the road to partnership, this has been no deterrent.
Critics of the argument would counterpose that that is exactly why divorce rates are so high. But that falls apart when one focuses on the fact that Bangladesh has seen a steady increase in divorce rates in recent years.
Not because cohabitation has become a thing here, but because, thanks to progress made with regards to individual civil liberties and societal perceptions, women (and men) have been free to cut off the chains which had once bound them.
With the right to work and the possibility of remarriage not completely out of the picture, women have felt it within their power to free themselves from environments unsuitable, be it a husband who beats them, cheats on them, or merely whose affections they have ceased to pine for. And vice versa.
And with Dhaka boasting 23 divorces per day last year, it is evident that divorce has become quite chic.
And therein lies the beauty of divorces: It speaks of a culture that has accepted solitary lifestyles. Being alone and independent isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, quite the opposite. This is a much better outcome than being stuck unhappily in a prison cell created by the conventions of society.
Let us call out marriage for what it is: The world’s oldest financial transaction. Built for a time when women were often perceived as “useless” anywhere outside of the house, it was an exchange created to stop feeding the undervalued members of the household.
It was a way to keep creating inheritors and build stronger clans. And then, people lived till 40 anyway. “Till death do us part” made a lot more sense.
Now, though? In this day and age? Women can inherit, they can work, they can run businesses. Is cohabitation such a bad idea? What would a little pre-marital sex do really? Maybe have some repercussions for judgment day, but that’s still a long time coming.
This rising divorce rate in our country (and everywhere else, really, where the freedom exists) indicates, perhaps, at people less willing to reconcile their differences. People have become more impatient, their attention spans too short, where one person really doesn’t suffice anymore.
It is not a matter of good or bad at this point, but what course of action is best suited if we plan to move forward. Does this not speak of how, mentally at least, we have evolved to leave the archaic institution of marriage behind?
You may scream: “What about the kids?!” Well, what about ‘em? We’ll have them. We still get divorces, don't we?
And if non-platonic relationships were left up to the individual to decide how important they were, wouldn’t that bode well for everyone involved?
How many times have men been forced to carry the burden of a family he doesn’t want, or a woman been forced to bear children that she has no interest in (if you will pardon the stereotypes)?
With same-sex marriage being legalised in the United States, one is, of course, glad. Hashtag LoveWins and whatnot. But one cannot also help feel that they’ve signed themselves up for a whole new world of misery.
No one is saying that marriages should be abolished (not yet, anyway) nor that there aren’t various pitfalls to a society without marriage. But if we can elevate ourselves to view of marriage for what it is -- an archaic and persistent sham created by people, lacking inherent value -- then we can move on to find better alternatives and solutions to the matter.