Is There Life After Love

25 March, 2016
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Is There Life After Love

25 March, 2016

In the TV series ‘Friends’, I watched the episode where Monica talks about games little girls play – in particular, the game of marriage. This is the game where “Girls spend their life dreaming of and planning for the perfect wedding with the perfect guy.”  As wonderful as marriage is, can any institution live up to this hype? Can any man live up to the billing of “the perfect guy” and fulfill the heightened expectation of a woman who has been “waiting for him all her life”?


Where there is a vulnerability to be exploited, voila –an industry springs up to make money off it. So it is with the happily-ever-after myth, starting with the Ken Doll who completes the Barbie. Thereafter there are books, TV shows and movies to drive home the point that for a woman the journey of life must culminate in a successful relationship. The journey ends at this point because I have never heard of afterlife to happily-ever-after. Rest of the life is presumably spent sitting back and eating pie for lack of anything more to achieve.

This fable is patently false on two counts. First and foremost, life is not a race with a static finish line; it is a journey with shifting goalposts that we need to navigate constantly to keep balance. Secondly, happiness is not a gift that can be handed over to passive recipients. Each person needs to actively pursue and attain her own happiness; expecting others to make you happy is just plain silly.


Love, marriage, motherhood, religion, career are all a part of life and not life itself. As important as these components are, life is so more than the sum of these parts. When we teach girls to seek happiness in a single relationship, we stunt their growth and hinder their ability to chart their own course because eventually, fulfilling your destiny is a deeply personal (maybe even a lonely) journey.  When I hit the wall during long distance running, I have to reach deep inside and wrench out the last bit of willpower to make it past the finish post. When I struggle with my writing, it’s a barrier that I must overcome all on my own. And this is true for anyone on a mission. External support provides strength for the inward journey, but no matter how strong the relationship or how deep the love, nobody can walk the path for you.


When we teach girls to put the onus of their happiness into the hands of another, we also teach them to look outward for the source their unhappiness. A girl who expects her partner to make her happy will, in all likelihood, also hold him responsible for all her dissatisfaction – a situation tailor-made for all round misery. Perhaps the trick is to raise mighty girls who don’t need marriage. Girls who don’t need marriage will probably make wiser choices and have happier marriages than those who spend their life planning for it.

Archana Rao-D'Cruz