Love = Marriage?

Adam and Eve. Man and woman. That most important bond of life, and what is it that we seek here — love. Or marriage? But aren’t these two sides of the same coin. Didn’t love and marriage, as Frank Sinatra proclaimed, go together like a horse and carriage. Not quite. No. Marriage isn’t necessarily love. And love isn’t necessarily marriage. Yes, they aren’t mutually exclusive, do co-exist, but one can flourish without the other.

Love is the pursuit of personal happiness. To love is to be loved in return. To care and be cared for. So, you give and you take, and bliss ensues. Marriage meanwhile, typically, frowns on personal happiness. Self-pursuit is construed as betrayal. Love is free flowing; marriage is structured. Love is a philosophy based on higher ideals; marriage is brass-tacks: roti, kapda, makaan. Marriage is a charter of life with the ‘good enough’ and love a shared journey with ‘the one’.

Love has always been seen as a desirable outcome of marriage, a bonus and not a prerequisite. And, even when you do marry for love, somewhere you are willing to concede that love might take your leave, and it’s okay. For, marriage’s central theme is not considered to be love. Meanwhile, is the logical conclusion of love, marriage?

She’s all you ever wanted, and she’s passed the litmus tests. The love is pure, perfect and precious. Profound. Yields your innermost need of companionship. A constant flow of care and validation. That calm excitement born of a sense of forever. And yet, right here’s the conundrum… What defines forever — marriage? That’s the narrative we are fed, and are consumed by it. That you meet, fall in love and she wakes you up with wet hair, a kiss and a cup of tea. Babies follow. Perhaps they do. Meanwhile, does love?

It may and it may not. Marriage may lead to love, but love may or may not entail marriage. Marriage is a structure to safeguard interests; love by definition is unconditional and sans structure… Is that why it wilts when mired in marriage or then, any sense of captivity? And therefore, does it imply that love has no promise…

That love is but an oasis of brief succor, and no more. A shallow dip to return renewed to the responsibilities of life. That love is here and now and not tomorrow. That love is not future-focused and evaluative but a state of being. Being in the here and now and doing nothing about it? Indeed, love extols the state of being. Being that allows you to accept what is without evaluation and without judgment. And yet, present-centred and unconditional as love is, it does not proclaim being in denial. Love is not food for failures to wallow and wither. Ghalib may beg to differ but love doesn’t attain higher ground by martyrdom. If not to marriage, then fetters. Or even insecurity.

Love is to live in love, to stay in love — married or not.

And yet, what must love do to acquire the reassurance of forever without compromising the raciness of the unshackled? To stay the course and not wither. To keep you both warm till judgment day.

Commitment. Exclusivity. Respect, perhaps admiration. Profound care. That certain freedom that kills the monotony of captivity. Shared values, reciprocity and shared passions. Trust. And most importantly, fun. For too long love’s been painted misery. It isn’t.

And yet, can love live on loftiness alone? No framework, no bonds on bonded paper…. No acquisition of a last name? Does it not need to hitch its wagon to something more concrete? Structured, perhaps. But then must love or everything we pursue reach a conclusion? Isn’t a conclusion in a sense an end? And why then, when we succumb to structure do we complain, “The spark died…” We desired a conclusion and it did conclude. The love, that is.

Love is not a slave to marriage; promises as it does commitment. For, left alone, love isn’t insecure. When trust reigns supreme ring fingers don’t matter — it’s breakfast we attempt at Tiffany’s. And yet, for love to be long-term, to reign unrestrained, it needs to set shared goals and promises that then are the framework of a life in love. When you are Mrs. Whoever not merely by marriage but, more importantly, by love.

Marriage then is mere detail. Love, the reality.

Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio and brands. Reach her at

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