Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Great Indian Marriage

Last night I saw a sweet old fashioned film called 'Barefoot in the Park'. It's just waiting to catch the eye of a Bollywood type at his local DVD library - watch for it to be turned into a hit Hindi phillum!

Actually the movie itself is an adaptation of a Broadway play written by Neil Simon in the 60s. The story is basic: Paul (Robert Redford) is an up and coming young lawyer who's just married Corie (Jane Fonda) an excessively perky young thing. Life after the honeymoon is not a bed of roses as Corie is not exactly a meticulous homemaker. For example. she chooses an apartment on the 5th floor of a building without an elevator (making for plenty of comic moments).

What's worse, however, is that Paul now needs to concentrate on furthering his career - and after one night on the town where Paul does not join in the fun, Corie starts feeling he's a 'stuffed shirt'. "You won't even walk barefoot in the park," she says - a confirmation to her of the fact that Paul is simply to uptight to enjoy life.

So, just a few weeks into the marriage she declares it's time for him to move out - and for them to get a divorce. Remember I said it's an old fashioned film - so in the end they kiss and make up. However it's interesting to note that it's basically a case of the young woman's lowered 'tolerance level' - a phenomenon we are seeing a lot of in India now.

"Can't take it, won't take it"
An India Today cover story titled 'Divorce goes young' (Feb 28, 2005) notes that 70% of divorces now involve couples below 35 years of age, driven apart by stressful lifestyles and intolerance.

'Divorces are not new in India," notes the article. "What's new is their growing numbers, different reasons and the diminishing stigma around them. More young couples are filing for divorce long before the 7 year itch sets in... Some in the first year of marriage."

Apparently 'amicable separation' in the first year of marriage has increased by 30% since 2000. And, more young women are initiating divorce. And not because of dowry harassment/ physical violence - which were the main reasons earlier. "Sexual incomaptibility, insensitivity, inequality, temperamental differences and psychological tiredness" are the reasons given most often now.

The problem begins with simple irritants like one partner likes films, the other theatre... one likes to spend, the other save. "Instead of adjustment, people dwell on the differences..." And then things quickly boil over.

Part of the reason is the financial empowerment of women - it makes it a lot easier for them to say "I don't need to put up with this nonsense". But even women who stepped into marriage as 'homemakers' are less inclined to be adjusting and tolerant.

However, survey after survey reveals that young people still believe in marriage - few are for live-in relationships. So what's the solution?

Maybe 'relationship training' in schools and colleges? At least plant the seed in young people's minds that marriage is not something that can run on auto-pilot once the wooing phase is over. You have to work on it, just like your career.

Speaking of careers, there's a big business opportunity in counselling - marital and otherwise. Psychology graduates are going to soon be a 'hot' commodity in the market - as companies, schools and colleges will be forced to look at the mental health aspect in their organisations.

Coming back to the original topic, Corie's mother gives her this most sensible piece od advice,"Give up a little of yourself for him... Don't make everything a game. Take care of him. Make him feel important!" If you manage to do that, she says - you will be one of the 2 out of 10 couples with a 'happy marriage'.

Unfortunately, young women, can't manage that. It goes against their 'we are liberated and demand equality' attitude'. Yet 4 decades later that bit of advice is still relevant.

Fact is, men - in India and the world over - have not evolved as rapidly as the women. They need reassurance and ego massage. Which is something young women should not see as a sign that they are 'inferior' - in fact it's quite the opposite :)

Shobha De's new book 'Spouse' seems like a very timely release in this context. I am no fan of her past works, but I think finally she has produced a book on a subject where she has real insight to share. In a first of sorts then - I may actually pick up a copy. Will let you know if you should too :)

14 comments:

  1. prabhakar8:29 PM

    "Fact is, men - in India and the world over - have not evolved as rapidly as the women. They need reassurance and ego massage. Which is something young women should not see as a sign that they are 'inferior' - in fact it's quite the opposite :)"


    Fact !!!!!! pleaaassse - categorizing individual behaviour based on gender is too general and chauvnistic.

    Marriage as an institution forced by convention and soceity is questionable in todays context. Ideally it should be a relationship between two independent individuals, some thing like a live-in where u dont take things for granted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:00 PM

    prabhakar said...
    "Fact is, men - in India and the world over - have not evolved as rapidly as the women. They need reassurance and ego massage. Which is something young women should not see as a sign that they are 'inferior' - in fact it's quite the opposite :)"


    Fact !!!!!! pleaaassse - categorizing individual behaviour based on gender is too general and chauvnistic.

    Marriage as an institution forced by convention and soceity is questionable in todays context. Ideally it should be a relationship between two independent individuals, some thing like a live-in where u dont take things for granted.

    8:29 PM

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmmm good advice there.
    By the way, at Xaviers Bombay, we used to have a Marriage Counselling vocational clas....didnt take it myself, but heard it was pretty interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi,

    I too read the cover story and was wondering.. with so much of education/exposure and the understanding that we (men&women) give to the outside world, why is it that the oldest institute (of marriage)is falling apart.

    Its the basic understanding which is missing.. man's ego or woman's liberation (financial..sexual..etc) all discounted.. its just the basics which need to be set right.
    The profession demands odd hours so be it..its the same for me as her man and for her as my woman.. the space is needed and should be given, at the same time the space should never become distance which could never be covered up! I fully agree with Cori's mothers advice of giving up a little... it applies to both the partners.

    Knowing what we want.. together and for self.. the magic of being we from i and me.. i guess that should make a difference.. not to sure (still single!!)

    An eg.. One a very close friend of mine, madly in love with a classmate and she too was interested but she knew that the way she has been living (stinkingly rich)life, that is something my friend will never be able to give (atleast in the first 5-10years) she knew she wont be able to adjust and thus she refused. Heart break... Sobb.. a lot of it but i guess it was all worth it for the future they thought they'd have together which (might)have ended as one of the case studies of INDIA TODAY's cover story.

    My own story.. decided to not to marry for the one whom i wanted to is not happening and i dont think i am ready to accept anyone else.. i know that i'd be comparing both the females.. she and the one who would come in my life.. A lot of it.. dont know if the mindset will ever change .. but for sure i am not prepaired to get married now.
    Incidently i met a very highly placed employee of a TOurism Board and her reaction when she got to know taht i am still unmarried was that.." you should get married now..28 is the apt age and if you keep waiting, you'll get a mature (age wise)woman and she would never compromise and life would be tough..."

    what an advice i thought.. rules are diff for me and for that woman..(wont she think i am old enf to adjust?) anyways, tell me if getting married at an early age is problematic and at a later age too.. Y ON EARTH SHOULD ONE GET MARRIED!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "relationship training in schools and colleges"

    Isn't that achieved by having a girlfriend/boyfriend? You want to make it compulsory, da?

    ReplyDelete
  6. if you don't like shobhaa de,then u surely must read "speedpost"...and well,lets get back to discussing her acumen for all things literary after that

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey...visited your blog for teh first time...
    Had been a long time since I heard a woman talk like that on a public platform...
    Sounds great and makes me feel great too...
    Its nice when someone, once in a while, takes reality and throws it right at your face...
    Some people might feel a li'l offended...but like it is said Reality Bites....sometimes...it Stings...
    Good job Rashmi...Am so glad i came across your blog. take a peep into mine if you feel like, someday. Tho' its a little different from yours...infact very different. Its called akaakina.blogspot.com . Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Diddo on the woman throwing it at the wall thing. I think that you couldn't be more right on but the comment on categorizing behavior based on male or female is also on in a sense and shouldn't be taken lightly. All in all, good advice.
    regards,
    Brian
    relationship help & advice guy

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now a days lots many matrimonial sites are coming up for Indian community, like shaai.com, SuperShaadi.com, shaadiKaro.com, jeevaan sathi.com but one thing is common most of them are simply copying the concept from shaadi.com, there one site called supershaadi.com, seems they have copied the complete concept from shaadi.com but they are claiming that they are 100% freee. How is that possible ??. Right now I am looking for a good indian girl from Hindu community, any suggestion, which site is good for that ?

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