Thought Box

“Marriage – Bond or Bondage”

“Marriage – Bond or Bondage”

by Simran Puri March 11 2015, 4:20 pm Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 24 secs

“Are you married?” the Hollywood actress was asked on a TV show.

“Sometimes!” she answered.

The response is one amongst the variant perspectives to the institution of marriage. Whether a bond or bondage is determined by its outcome. It must blossom or wither. This is one bud that cannot be forced open. They say one reason explains love. But many explain marriage. The reasons to come together may not remain the reasons to stay together. There is no dissent to the view that a bird cannot fly on one wing. Marriage is a well both must drink from. And wells are not dug by needles. The complexities of the union continue to multiply, leaving no one any wiser. Civilised societies add to the conundrum of these complexities by the proliferating laws governing the matrimonial union and it dissolution.

Memories return of a bridalware boutique that advertised -“Liz Taylor got married 8 times. You may not be so fortunate. Come to us for your only wedding dress”, the catch line announced.Therein lies the truth of the transition. From wedding to marriage, the long and arduous journey. Each traveller must determine its own path. “There are no tips. Only pits,” a wizened veteran shared on his golden wedding anniversary. “But you haven’t been married that long!” begged to correct one guest. The veteran’s brow arose in defence, “Why? 20 years in my first marriage, 15 in the second and another 15 in my third! Makes it to the golden Anniversary!” The riposte was irrefutable.Are there are any secrets to a happy marriage? Or a lasting one? “Just one” the most married man announced on his 67th marriage, “Just keep your big mouth shut!”

Marriage has remained the bedrock of many lives and livelihoods. Pundits, matrimonial agencies, diverse business interests encompassing attire, accessories, venue, catering , designers, and now a burgeoning breed of wedding planners. But foremost, it sustains a specialized aspect of legal practice. Many survive for their livelihood on the varied aspects of matrimony.The wedded have to nod either way, or a breed of provider’s surface for deliverance. Impelling the married to question their nuptial ties and longevity of the bond. Of bond or bondage is the question. The answers lie embedded within the deepest confines of their hearts, regardless of external projections.It is a strange facet of life that the only constant is change. Yet it defies reason why an individual would opt for the monotony of monogamy in an otherwise rapidly changing world. The complexities of the union transcend the physical, cultural, religious and social dimensions of the nuptial union. The security of the bond suffices for its continuance. But beyond the realms of endurance and give- ins, all roads lead to Rome. To the nearest chamber of a matrimonial lawyer.

The beginnings and ends of the matrimonial union in escapably rest within the legal domain.There is no escape from the legal pundit. All is well if the spouses jell. A good Jack makes a good Jill.So long as the fire in the heart sends smoke in the head, the four legs in bed would suffice to cement the bond. However a fine cage does not feed the birds for long. And wedlock becomes padlock. The keys are many. And each one hangs from the legal keychain.Once the bonds become bondage, the end questions the beginning. Was the marriage legal in the first place? Could it have been solemnized at all? What path would show the turning in the long lane? Which law will govern untying the matrimonial knots? Why would any husband pay hefty alimony? No one buys oats for a dead horse. But the applicable law takes over choices and dictates judgments that dissolve the union. The bottom line is ‘Applicable laws’.

There are instances galore where the matrimonial bond bound two souls from diverse faiths.It is here that the legit base of marriage comes into play. First the first step. Please marry right. In case of inter faith marriages, the Special Marriage Act 1954 applies. It provides for civil marriage before the marriage officer. Marriages solemnized in any form also can later be registered under this Act. The grounds of divorce are specified under this Act itself. Including divorce by mutual consent. For same faith marriages, the personal laws govern the marriage, divorce and rights to maintenance.Unless a party has properly converted to the faith of the other, a religious marriage is not advised. A Hindu cannot be bound in a Nikaah if the other party is Muslim, nor can a Muslim be bound by a Vedic marriage if the other party is a Hindu. If for cultural reasons the families desire such ceremonies, it is best to eventually solemnize the marriage under the Special Marriage Act. Other same faith marriage must also be got registered after the religious ceremony. This precludes the possibility of a spouse later questioning the validity of the religious marriage as not ‘properly performed’. An easy escape for a bigamist, whose first wife must prove ‘properly conducted’ religious marriage. Then there are the prohibited degrees of marriage within certain faiths. Why step into domains that are not legally recognized? The progeny in turn is affected by issues of legitimacy and inheritance.

Strange are the ways of human failings. And love blindfolds completely. Runaway couples. Quick temple marriages. Inter faith marriages conducted according to rites of one faith ‘to please an ailing grandmother’. Without a thought to the imperatives of conversion to the other’s faith.“Look not where you fell, but look where you tripped”cautions an African proverb. It would offer wise counsel to the amorous vying for the sacred tying. The legal labyrinth is expensive and without timeline. The Family Court remains clogged with cases, some upto a decade old. Once an exasperated matrimonial litigant directed a query,“Madam this takes forever. Why don’t you file my divorce Petition in the consumer forum? It would move faster”. “But how can a consumer forum take up matrimonial cases?”I was aghast at the suggestion. His logic was simple. “I will sue my wife for serious misrepresentation at the time of offer. And I want to return defective goods!”

The wizened and the seasoned continue to learn.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.