“Marriages are made in heaven”- goes the old saying. What about divorces? They definitely can’t be made in heaven. Divorces do create hell!
According to the replies provided by various family Courts of Kerala, to an RTI inquiry, it has now been officially established that, on an average 500 marriages break down each day in Kerala. Remember, these 500 per day statistics indicate only those break downs that result in filing a divorce petition in a family court and not the numerous others that simmer just below the boiling point.
Kerala model of social development and its various aspects are much discussed subjects. However, not many studies have taken place to pinpoint the reasons for some of the peculiarities of Kerala, such as highest suicide rate in the country, increasing alcoholism, increasing divorce rate etc. For example, is the increasing migration and economic independence of Kerala women allowing them to take the decision to walk out of a marriage, when compared to their sisters elsewhere?
Be that as it may, my intention here is not a detailed study to connect various social factors for increasing divorce rates. I am only trying to collate some of my observations about the institution of marriage. After all, I have 14 years of personal experience and many more years of observational experience in this subject and if these observations can be of use to anyone, so be it.
I strongly believe marriage is an institution that was created, against the natural inclination of human beings, for the specific purpose of sustaining family and thereby ensuring order in the society. The very survival of future generations of humankind is dependent on the institution of family and that in turn survives on the basis of institution of marriage. Since marriage is a ‘forced upon institution’ it is necessary to have strong reasons and social sanctions to sustain it.
Let us look at the individuals’ perspective. Like I said, the natural inclination is promiscuous. They subject themselves to the bindings of marriage for various reasons, such as family and social pressures, economic reasons, security reasons etc. If the marriage fails to confirm to these very basic reasons, it is natural that the bond will break sometime soon unless that bond is reinforced through mutual understanding, mutual love etc. If both the partners are self sufficient to sustain themselves, the economic and security reasons wither away. If the society’s moral pressures on the individuals are reduced, that will further encourage individuals to walk out of a marriage.
Given that modern social developments are reducing the inter dependency of partners, and that is bound to affect the institution of marriage, we need to further the understanding among people about marriage and its realities so as to preserve the institution.
Let us look at the reality. Devoid of all its social roles, marriage is merely an understanding between two individuals to share their life; operative word being ‘share’. It is like any other contract; a process of give and take! If we enter into it with all the romantic ‘made in heaven’ notions, there are bound to be frustrations. It is not easy for individuals to ‘share’ their lives. It involves giving up a lot, including often cherished freedoms. If one expects the partner to do all the understanding and all the giving up, marriage won’t succeed; one has to be prepared to reciprocate.
When two people decide to share their lives, communication is very important. Instead of simmering with feelings of having short-changed, it is important to communicate one’s expectations and frustrations in a healthy manner, before the ego takes control of the situation. If necessary, third party intervention through expert counselling can be availed to repair any damage in the communication process. It is a fact that most of the couples who are likely to undergo counselling as part of their divorce proceedings do not consider it necessary to undergo the same, before they decide to meet in the family court!
My advice to all the married or soon to be married individuals is that please treat your marriage as ‘made here in earth’. It is a contract, like any other contract, that involves mutual rights and liabilities and mutual considerations. Treat every right or liability in the light of the contract and the other party’s rights and liabilities. Remember, your partner has only agreed to marry you and not to give up his/her life. Whenever issues arise in the contract (bound to happen as in most other contracts), use communication as the most effective tool to resolve it. If you are unable to do so through mutual communication, do not hesitate to invoke the third party intervention; not by your interested parents but by an uninterested expert counsellor.
Marriage has nothing to do with heaven. Love is only a by-product and not the basis of marriage. Basis of marriage is give and take in the form of adjustments and therefore, be ready to give at least as much as you are wanting to take; and more when your children’s healthy growth and development is dependent on the success of your marriage. That realisation will help most individuals to make their marriage a success. Once you make it work, love will soon follow.
Remember, your children did not choose you; you chose them and therefore never fail them!!