More articles by

Dr D Narayana Reddy
Dr D Narayana Reddy


Creative love


What is priority in marriage: union of two souls or procreation?

It has been hardly two months since Mrugesh and Mrinalini got married. And already everyone is asking “Is there any good news?”—which of course means whether Mrinalini is pregnant. Some relatives suggested they consult fertility specialists. The elderly advised pilgrimages. Others, astrological consultation. Mrinalini was in tears. She said, "Doctor, we are scared of attending family functions. We are bombarded with suggestions and we feel self-conscious."

In the west, a marriage is by and large between two individuals; in India, it is also between two families. Hence, every family member assumes the responsibility of advising (maybe in good faith) the newly-weds.

People get married for money, security, love, out of family pressure, to bring forth children and so on. The nature of marriage is such that it requires all of these for a family to be functional. Often, one aspect is over-emphasised while the others are ignored. This imbalance may lead to marital and, possibly, family problems.

In our culture the pressure on the couple to procreate is enormous. When a pleasurable hobby or activity is done out of compulsion, the interest in doing it is lost. Sex is no different. It becomes mechanical, or, in other words, a means to an end. The end in this case is the conception of a child. Sex, then, is performed only as a duty, and it becomes difficult for many men to have an erection on demand. Performance evaluation overtakes sexual arousal and spontaneity. This can lead to further erectile dysfunction. A vicious cycle is in play.

The WHO guidelines suggest that a couple wait at least for a year of having unprotected sex before seeking help to conceive. The WHO also states that those aged 35 and above can seek help after six months.

The pleasurable and sensual fun of honeymoon is replaced by fights, ego clashes and blame games, possibly causing irreparable damage to the marriage. Even in this state of mind, the couple continues its attempts at baby-making, owing to social pressure or pressure from the family. For example, at family functions, intentionally or not, the topic revolves around marriages and children. Pressure builds and eventually a couple which planned to wait for some time may have children just to end the never-ending banter.

Now, it is entirely up to the couple if it wants to have children early. Marriage involves a strong relationship, where the husband and wife can communicate openly, solve problems effectively, have a strong desire to be together and raise a child and, of course, have the means to do so.

Most important, child-bearing need not be the sole objective in marriage. In our society, marriage is between two families and not two individuals. When partners are able to prioritise procreation with the objective of living a healthy and happy life, then there is nothing better than the gift of a child.

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