How Must A Commitment Phobic Generation Make Marriages Work?
It’s not easy to understand a person that comes from a different place – a generation, culture, or experiences. I believe our perspective comes laced with the lessons we learnt from our own experiences. We have a right and a wrong way of doing things and amidst all this, we forget that everyone is entitled to a different pov. This is also why we often feel that the older generation doesn’t understand us. But we don’t see things their way and neither do we relate well with Gen Z. So I am not surprised that our elders find the whole commitment phobia millennials are going through as off-putting. But the secret here is that even we, millennials don’t like it! So how does a commitment-phobic generation make marriages work?
We don’t know how to handle a lot. Everything we learned about relationships and romance came from the movies and our parents. But when we grew up, it was all different. Here we are, faced with abundant equally bad options on dating apps. We go on dates with people we matched purely on the basis of the number of abs they have and hook up. But almost every hint of romance that comes into our lives looks as complicated as the last. We have one foot outside at all times, should we get attached. Millennials could be a walking advertisement for Nike shoes.
Even one night stands are getting shorter! These days what we do is called half-night stands wherein we can’t even commit to staying the entire night. A person in another generation may think we are a detached generation that just doesn’t care. But we know that’s so further away from the truth. We care, in fact, we care too much. We feel deeply and we have been hurt one too many times. So in the end, this is all an attempt at self-preservation. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise when that made us a commitment-phobic lot and the very attempt of self-preservation is being the result of our doom.
So I got on a call with Leena Paranjpe, a Mumbai-based millennial marriage coach and she helped me decode this mystery that haunts almost all millennials. She explains millennials’ resentment towards commitment, “There are two types of commitment – Obligation and dedication. Millennials are seeing commitment as an obligation and thus they develop resentment towards it. They do not see it as dedication, where they want to be involved and do things, completely out of choice. Say when you are deciding to get married at a certain age, if you do it because the society tells you or because your parents tell you, it will feel like an obligation. But when you spend time with them and feel like you can take it forward, you do it out of choice.”
Paranjpe further added that our generation is very excited about getting married in fact. But where is this coming from? “Millennials get into marriage for security and they are very well ready for a wedding. But after the wedding when the marriage begins, they realise they are not ready. So they are all ready for a wedding, not a marriage,” she explains.
She explained that millennials are abandoning the dating pool and jumping into arranged marriages because of fear and self-doubt. We lose hope that we will find someone ourselves and then we turn to our parents to do the job. Or that we can’t sustain a relationship long enough to get married. That isn’t a good reason to look for a match.
So how do we make marriages work? Paranjpe explained that it’s all about understanding and acceptance. She said all of us come from different experiences. “Nobody marries in pursuit of unhappiness. Nobody marries to break the relationship,” she said. “You both have two different mindsets and nature so suddenly you can’t fix all the issues.” We must understand the difference in mindsets and with effective communication resolve the issues.
But considering that millennials value their freedom way too much, we always have a bag packed as we remain ready to abandon ship. She said that we fear inter-dependence but that’s not how marriages work. Paranjpe highlighted that there is no way you can be completely independent in a marriage, you have to be inter-dependent for it to work. That’s how teamwork happens, right?
Combine that with the “dedication” kind of commitment and marriages will work. She said that we must not get married out of fear and insecurity or family pressure. Only when we do it out of choice, unafraid to compromise on a little “freedom” and not see it as restrictive, we will be able to be committed in the true sense. That is true on so many levels. How many of us have been loyal to our so-called casual lovers? So many of us! Maybe because it came from the heart!
Marriage may feel scary to us but when we have the right reasons and the right kind of guidance to deal with it properly, it will be really quite beautiful!