Some time ago I asked my students, “What do people get married for?” They came up with various answers. That’s for sure.
1st student answered, “To follow sunnah Rasul…”
My comment, “How sure are you that getting married is one form of sunnah Rasul?”
He went on, “People say so, Ma’am…”
My response, “What made you believe in those people saying that getting married is one form of sunnah Rasul?”
2nd student answered, “To have children…”
My comment, “To have children, people just need to have sex, no need to get married. Don’t you see many people have children without getting married, only by having sex?” LOL.
3rd student answered, “To have someone who will always accompany us, Ma’am…”
My comment, “How sure are you that your spouse will always accompany you till the end of your life? How sure are you that he/she will not turn to someone else?”
4th student answered, “To have a better life, Ma’am. I want to marry someone richer than I am…”
My comment, “That makes sense. But make sure that you will really find someone richer than you are, and he will spend his money for you. The following question is, will you be willing to do anything he asks you to do in return of the money he’ll give you? Let’s say you become his property? If yes, well, … what’s the difference between a housewife and a prostitute?”
She just frowned, didn’t respond my comment.
5th student answered, “For love, Ma’am. I want to marry someone I love. I want to spend the rest of my life with someone I love.”
My comment, “That makes sense too. One thing I want to tell you, make sure that you and your spouse will maintain the love between both of you so that boredom will not come between you.”
Do I sound like a wise-guy teacher?
In general, then, I can make a conclusion that people get married at least for those five reasons; namely to follow sunnah Rasul (for Muslim people, of course), to get offspring, companionship, money, and love. And, because we live in a marriage-oriented society where people believe that to get happiness people must get married, people can add one more reason; to be happy.
For the first reason—to follow sunnah Rasul--, well, it doesn’t mean then people are supposed to force themselves to grab any guy/girl when they think that they are already at a “dangerous age”. Right? There are many other sunnah Rasul that Muslim people can do, so that it will give them a feeling that they will go to heaven for that. J
The second reason—to get offspring—gives many problems for couple who don’t get any baby after quite a long time they get married. They blame each other which one is not “fertile” so that they don’t get baby soon. More terribly, marriage regulation for Muslim (made by Indonesian government) corners women’s position. Those “unfertile” women are forced to let their (selfish) husbands get married again, to get offspring. No woman chooses to be born unfertile, I suppose. If they can choose, probably most women will choose to be able to have their own babies. It means it is all God’s secret why one woman can get pregnant easily while the others cannot. Government is not supposed to give “punishment” to these women by issuing regulation that forces women to let their husbands marry another woman only for babies. How about if the condition is on the contrary? When they find out that in fact the man is the one who doesn’t have fertile sperm, and the woman wants to have babies, will the husband let the wife marry another man to have them? Why doesn’t Indonesian government make regulations for this case? To make it fair?
The third reason—companionship—is very logical indeed. However, if I see polygamy phenomenon (especially in Indonesia), I am wondering if having (half-time) husband really gives those women secure feeling? A husband who is not always there for them because they have to share their husband with someone else? Or maybe with some other women? What kind of companionship is it? How about if one night or one day they need their husband to do something, and it turns out that at that time their husband is with the other wife that probably lives quite far, in another city? If they are really honest to themselves, inside their heart, are they really willing to share their husband with another woman? except if they are “promised” to go to heaven? (How about if, later, it turns out that heaven and hell are only tales?) No more life after death?
The fourth reason—money—puts women in a very degraded position, for me. Referring to Marx theory about social class, people who have money have a high position in society, and decide anything. People who don’t have money will be marginalized, don’t have any right to say anything. Women will have similar role as property for men, or even only as a decoration, an angel of the house. Their husbands will show them off when they deserve to be shown off. When they are no longer attractive, it is high time then for them to be dumped. Women cannot complain because they survive with their husband’s money.
The fifth reason—love, to spend the rest of their life with someone they love—is a very touching one. However, maintaining flame in a marriage is not an easy task. Many obstacles and problems come up. Many kinds of bills to pay, and no enough paycheck for all of them, let’s say. Many temptations outside marriage will be on the way too. A proverb saying “the grass is greener at the other side of the fence” may be interpreted into “Another woman’s husband or another man’s wife is more attractive than our own spouse”. LOL. Routines will give us boredom. Right?
The last but not least—people who are lulled by fairy tales believe that marriage is the gate of happiness. However, if we are willing to be honest to ourselves, who will guarantee that happiness will always come after marriage? Three requirements people make to be happy—getting married, having a job, and having a kid—will not always make the people involved in it happy.
Living in a marriage does not always guarantee happiness. Living single does not always mean hellish life.
Yogya 21.52 051205