THE happily-ever-after phrase is a far off dream in modern marriages.
Relationship counsellors harp on the fact that couples should stick together in not-so-happy marriages because of obligation, partnership and convenience. And now a controversial new book reiterates the fact. Written by historian and feminist thinker Pamela Haag, Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples classifies modern marriages into various categories. We take a brief look at each of them and ask experts if they exist in the urban Indian scenario.
IF THE relationship with your spouse is affectionate but passionless, don’t sweat, you are part of the majority. Couples who continue in such marriages are trapped in a situation where things aren’t too bad to opt out or good enough to bring joy, Haag says. Married for ten years, Shilpi and Avidesh Kumar (both 38), have a hectic work schedule. They travel 15 days in a month and their marriage has already drifted into a predictable routine. “ We spend no more than a week or 10 days together in a month... that too staggered,” says Shilpi, a public relations executive with a Noida- based company.
Avidesh, a sales manager, says: "When we meet there is only enough time to exchange brickbats over finances. Our relationship has become too predictable,” says Kumar. According to Hagg, these semi-happy married couples are always in a dilemma. One moment they feel they are in a good, strong marriage, and the next, they resent it and think of ways to get out.
According to lifestyle management expert Rachna Singh, in a fast-paced world where both partners work, semi- happy marriages is the norm and the commonnest in India. Surprisingly it’s highly functional. “It’s not a miserable condition, but you can’t call it successful either. Both spouses are like business partners or friends bound by social or personal commitments. But deep satisfaction and happiness are missing," says Singh.
Family and marriage counsellor Gitanjali Sharma says 90 per cent of Indian marriages belong to this category. "The problem is not with the marriages, but their thinking. These couples are indecisive and unhappy because their expectations are too high,” says Dr Sharma.
HAAG, a mother of one, says children often turn out to be the reason why couples continue in a marriage. With children being socially included more than ever before, she feels parenting turns out to be the sole priority, crowding out other functions.
Advertising professional Sameer Babu and his wife Sunanda are together for the sake of their 14-year-old son. Both have an active social life. Their relationships outside their marriage are no secret among friends.
"I am waiting for my son to go abroad for higher studies. That will be a new beginning for him and me. I am seriously thinking of ending this relationship,” admits Sunanda.
Sharma says the trend is very common among parents in India. "Over 40 per cent of couples stay together for the sake of their children. They often part ways once the children grow up and live a life of their own," she says.
However, Sharma warns that even in such a situation, the children suffer the most and many end up with personality disorders.
THE workhorse wife is the exhausted breadwinner as opposed to her dream- chasing husband. These marriages too are beginning to be seen in India.
Dr Singh puts its prevalence to a 60: 40 ratio. “ This is a marriage with imbalances. In such cases, the lady takes all the responsibility while the husband chases an impossible dream. The chances of such marriages falling apart are very high," says Dr Singh. Recollecting one of her cases, she says how one of her client Sarita Kurup ( name changed) is going through hell.
Kurup a mid-level staffer in a Gurgaon- based MNC is at her wits end with her husband of seven years who has been trying to get a foothold as an artist. "I have been supporting the family, working long hours without a vacation for seven years but my husband doesn’t even make an effort to understand what I am going through. He takes me for granted, I am left with no other option than divorce,” says Kurup.
ED MCMAHON RULE
TAKING inspiration from the eternal sidekick and American TV show host, Ed McMahon, Haag brands it as a syndrome, where one spouse just accept what the other says. Even outlandish suggestions are accepted. Singh cautions that such marriages are fraught with dangers that will spoil the relationship and damage a person’s self esteem. “ It’s obvious that in such a relationship, one partner will be dominant and the other one meek,” says Singh.
RUHI and Sabir Ahuja are the cynosure of all eyes at social gatherings. They conduct themselves with grace, but have been estranged for five years. Little do people realise how plastic their smiles are when they socialise. “ Such cases are on the rise. Many couple choose to live separately rather than divorce due to social obligations. It is a convenient arrangement," says Sharma.
HAAG’S book isn’t all about the predicaments that surround marriage. She has a few suggestions on how to get the zing back.
She advises people to save their marriage by turning into a 'new monogamist' — her term for an open marriage. Our experts, however, disagree. "Marriage is about commitment. Open marriages and contract marriages are not the solutions, but only temporary options that make couples insecure. One should look inward, instead of outward for happiness. Strong communication and unconditional love saves a marriage,” advises Sharma.
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2011. MTNPL. All rights reserved.