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All this recent attention on gay marriage rights got me thinking about why marriage is such an important part of our lives. Why many people have dreamt of their wedding day from a very young age. Why the way it usually goes is: school – university – job – marriage. Why there are gay couples out there fighting so hard to make it legal. Why, in this day and age, one even needs to marry in order to have children, live comfortably, and be respected in society. I mean, times are changing. You don’t get branded with the scarlet letter for having children out of wedlock or living with someone anymore. So then, why? As I wake up to Facebook statuses ecstatically proclaiming “I’m marrying my best friend today!” or “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives!” or Hollywood caliber engagement photo-shoots on beaches and boardwalks, I inadvertently join the hordes of despondent bachelors and bachelorettes (both single and in relationships) in suddenly becoming anxious to settle down as well. This phase lasts for a short period of time, after which follows a longer phase consisting of me enviously creeping through their wedding pictures, frantically texting my best friends (“I can’t believe they’re married! Weren’t they on the verge of breaking up like 6 months ago?!”), and of course,  sharing Facebook memes about how the rest of the world is busy getting married while I am busy being awesome.

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The reality is, we’ve all at least thought about it. Most of us have made a decision about whether or not we even want to believe in the institution. Many of us are ready but long for that perfect partner that we’d actually want to marry. A few of us already have someone but need that push to ‘take the plunge’ so to speak. And a minuscule number of us are ready, willing, able and are either in the process of getting, or have already gotten married.

I think that our generation (Millennial? Generation Y?) is caught in the crossfire of two very polar generations. Our parents – Generation X‘ers, Baby Boomers – who come  from a time of arranged marriages and shotgun weddings, and the Generation Z‘s, our much younger siblings or our kids, who will probably not even worry about being unmarried at 40. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being 40+ and single, I feel like current society (especially in the south Asian culture) will judge you if you’re not wed by a certain “ideal” age. This isn’t anyone’s fault really. Human beings are resistant to change. And our elders are after all, only human. Think of the ages our parents were married at. Early to mid-twenties, on average! You finish school, get a job and get married. That was how it was. I’m sure our mothers faced difficulties changing the culture of “women belong in the kitchen and take care of the kids” to “women can now bring home the bread too”.

So I decided to get some answers. From real individuals. People from all walks of life. Young, old, Indian, non-Indian, married, unmarried, almost married, never planning to marry. I asked them what they feel about marriage in general, specific to their situation, their fears associated with it, their excitement (or lack thereof), whether it was what they expected (if already married) and so on. My first reaction to their responses was pure respect. And a whole lot of surprise. I realized that I had never seriously asked any of these people the marriage question. I got in-depth, descriptive and highly insightful responses from some, engaged in long, eye-opening discussions with others, and was really touched by just how much belief there still is in the institution. But we also have to consider the scary reality, and my reason for asking all these marriage questions in the first place. We’ve got a hefty national statistic staring us in the face: 3.6 divorces per 1000 population in the U.S. for 2013. That’s the divorce rate currently. What’s the marriage rate? 6.8 per 1000. Around 40% of all marriages end in divorce in the United States of America. The silver lining? The rate used to be around 50%, so it looks like we’re trending downwards, yay. I divided this post into parts because I really felt each group needed its own limelight. I also want you to continue to read my blog so I couldn’t make it too long!

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