Instant Messaging’s war on Marriage

The title may sound like an exaggeration. It is not. Some people may argue in favour of social media usage for sustaining friendships but when it comes to marriages it’s a sure destroyer. Let’s just say the average couple will find it exceedingly difficult to sustain a healthy relationship while leading independent social media lives. Even the idea of marriage and its relevance in today’s times has come to be challenged and questioned.

WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and other such media allow for the first time in human history an opportunity and triggers for flirtatious behaviour, jealousy, envy, inadequacy, emotional intimacy and chances of infidelity that we have not seen in history so far. And all this comes at a scale that is unprecedented.

The world today is divided into libertarians who believe in the essential human weakness that leads to infidelity and loyalists who believe in the soulmate ideal or emotional & sexual loyalty to only one partner. Each has its own reasons to profess its respective ideology. Reality, on the other hand,  swings between these two extremes.

Many people want to be married, have children and then go on to have emotional or sexual flings with one or more of their other partners. They want the best of both worlds for themselves- the security of a home and family to go back to and at the end of the day and at other times, the adventure of emotional & sexual flirting with another person. They want to have secret Snapchat or Instagram accounts that can stage their adventures and a real family & home to enjoy social respect and status.

This balancing act brings a lot of stress, dissonance and turmoil in day to day life of the players. How to come out of it? Does one not have the right to choose to do whatever makes one happy? Why shouldn’t one have the best of both worlds?

What is the solution to this? Here is my take on this topic.

  • First, a couple needs to agree to a common definition of marriage or their partnership. What is this marriage expected to achieve for both of them? It could be one or more these goals like parenting, growth, security, companionship, stability, love and so on.
  • Secondly, they need to clarify to each other if they expect emotional & sexual loyalty to each other and if straying from this will be tolerated bybany of them. What does such ‘straying’ look like?
  • Thirdly, clearly draw the boundaries which cannot be crossed without annuling the marriage/ partnership.

Once the couple is on the same page on these questions, they are free to put their trust in their partner and lead their lives. I think these three questions especially must be discussed before tying the knot of marriage. Unfortunately many marriages today are an act of passion rather than clear, intentional and mutually well-understood decisions.

Like many other institutions, marriage, I believe, still has its place in our lives and the future of our planet. All that is needed is a clear understanding of it.

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