Today is commonly known as “Married Couples Day” in my homeland, for the short-form of today’s date, number 11-22, is pronounced the same way as the phrase “good husband and wife.”
The concept of marriage in my culture has undergone significant changes over the past century – and especially within the past two to three decades – as I believe it has in many other cultures.
One the one hand we have more people who get married easily (and get divorced just as easily), while on the other hand we also have more people who set the bar so high when looking for partners they never get married. And somewhere in between these two groups we have a third, with more people who choose the form of de facto unions instead of being lawfully wedded husbands and wives. Then there are the outstanding fourth and fifth, of cross-cultural and same-sex marriage, which are still quite new to us but quickly gaining more recognition.
My generation and those after us would probably say these trends are evolutionary. But if you tell my parents’ generation, they will likely say the trends are signs of demise of the framework of marriage. And my grandparents’ generation will undoubtedly say the trends are destroying the credibility of the system of marriage. There are such great divides between the generations regarding marriage, it is often named one of the most taboo topics to bring up at family get-togethers!
I myself did not used to like talking about it, because ever since I have become legally eligible to marry, my family and relatives have kept trying to arrange what they define to be “the best marriage” for me… i.e., one that can make the husband become a man and the wife realize happiness in life, and maximally contribute to the proliferation of the lineage. But this is not what I want in my marriage, so I kept refusing arrangements.
Lately, though, I do not mind so much listening to my family and relatives of different generations talk about marriage, because I keep hearing about this one secret spice to spousehood that seems to be passed around – it appears it comes in different flavours and scents for everyone, but its has a common effect of doubling the joy and halving the sorrow.
So maybe marriage comes in different blends and servings in different people.
Maybe it has become so diverse in form and function, a single recipe for it is no longer plausible or practical.
Then maybe it is not about passing on the same-old preparation any more, but about passing on the one secret spice that doubles the joy and halves the sorrow in keeping a chemical reaction going between any two ingredients.
Maybe it is no secret that if the spice is there, it will be “Married Couples Day” every day for the two in union no matter what you call or how you define their relationship.