The Price of ‘Settling’
“She settled coz she was getting on in age”, “He settled coz his parents wanted him to”. Very often we hear these statements in regular parlance. How much people “settle” for someone because of a whole host of reasons. And contrary to the meaning of the word, it creates a pot of discontent, incompatibility and frustration that few ever want to admit or talk about.
South Asian societies are notorious for promoting marriage – at any cost. The idea that one is incomplete without a marital partner is a prevalent one. Many though claiming to be rebels and against the grain, ‘independent’ etc. somehow at some point, cave into the idea that if they are not married, there is something missing in their lives. Hence you find people getting married for sadly all the wrong reasons – parental pressure, financial stability, social image, the need to continue the family name etc. When these external factors start working, the real reason for any relationship – love, trust, companionship, understanding etc. somehow gets thrown aside. And so you settle. With whoever you feel is the best suited depending on the current situation.
Many in “settled” relationships know that they settled but would never admit it. Coz to admit it would mean to accept that your relationship isn’t exactly what you wanted to be and in some cases, it’s quite the opposite. Also, somewhere down the line, the frustration creeps in – you know this is not what you wanted but your parents made you do it, you needed the money etc. and so you are determined to keep it going. But you are not happy. And as per human nature you start seeking happiness elsewhere. It can be through work or sadly, in most cases, in the arms of another. You escape the settled relationship from time to time but you keep coming back coz you fear the social pressure more than you fear your own unhappiness. Somehow the deceit becomes the norm. Your social media bleats about your happiness whereas your heart is bleeding with unhappiness.
In this settled atmosphere, many bring in children. Who suffer the consequences of a dysfunctional parental relationship. Externally everything is rosy. You have money, you provide the best in care and education for your kids and then you have a relationship that isn’t based on love and trust. Instead it’s based on social expectation. And so it lacks substance. And the children imbibe this – albeit unconsciously – and it makes them look for the same when they seek relationships. Very few will admit that their parents were never truly happy. Happiness is a choice and a state of being. It’s not a feeling.
Most settled marriages tick off all the social boxes – same social class, same religion / ethnicity / caste, same wealth status, good looking couple, same group of friends etc. This worked for our grandparents’ generation. It does not work now and you see it everyday. With women equally educated and seeking fulfillment in life, you are certainly not going to be happy sitting at home, cooking for your spouse and raising kids. It’s the same with men – you are not just looking for a housekeeper, you are looking for an intellectual equal. And what you lack within you search for outside.
At some point, the glass cracks. And the shards begin to fall off as the pressure for self fulfillment mounts. It can be in 2 years, 10 years or 20 years. But when the glass cracks, be ready for the fall. This is the price of settling. And sadly, many still keep making the same mistake because we give far more value to the external than we do to ourselves and what we truly want.