Monday, October 10, 2005

Are you the marrying kind?

Rene Zelleweger’s lasted about five months. Karishma Kapoors a little more than a year. Tom-Nicole made it work for about 10 years, before calling it quits. Rekha tried and failed at it and Sanjay-Menaka Gandhi allegedly showed strains in theirs. Charles-Diana, Jack Welsh, Brad-Jen and Rupert Murdoch and several others all underwent a public spectacle, taking thousands of lines of print space and thousands of hours of TV and radio coverage.

Well, all examples quoted above have been for marriages, or rather the disintegration of marriages of our much vaunted celebrities, all across the globe.

Is marriage, as we know it, losing its sheen? If statistics are to be believed, in 1997 the rate of divorce is gone up to 10% in the US, up from 8% in 1990.

This excellent article which provides and excellent perspective of Asian relationship and marriage education divorce is steadily increasing in Asian countries as well.

Over the centuries we’ve tried it all, from our Neanderthal ancestors claiming dominance by clubbing the fairer sex over the heads, the polygamous as well as Ms. Draupadi’s polyandrous rituals, Swayamvaras, free sex of the 60’s, live-in relationships thru contemporary dating-mating rituals which occasionally culminate in the man and wife, till death or the divorce lawyer do us apart, whichever comes first, ritual.

Wikipedia had this interesting paragraph on the subject of marriage:

Some traditional cultures still practice marriage by abduction , a form of forced marriage in which a woman who is kidnapped and raped by a man is regarded as his wife. This practice is limited to a few traditional cultures in a small number of countries, and is generally regarded as abhorrent by other cultures.

Some parts of India follow a custom in which the groom is required to marry with an auspicious plant called Tulsi before a second marriage to overcome inauspicious predictions about the health of the husband. However, the relationship is not consummated and does not affect their ability to remarry later. One should note that this is not a norm found across the entire Indian sub-continent.

In the state of Kerala, India, the Nambudiri Brahmin caste traditionally practices henogamy, in which only the eldest son in each family is permitted to marry.

In Mormonism, a couple may seal their marriage "for time and for all eternity" through a "sealing" ceremony conducted within the LDS temple. The couple is then believed to be bound to each other in marriage throughout eternity if they live according to their covenants made in the ceremony. Mormonism also allows living persons to act as proxies in the sealing ceremony to "seal" a marriage between ancestors who have been dead for at least one year and who were married during their lifetime. According to LDS theology, it is then up to the deceased individuals to accept or reject this sealing in the spirit world before their eventual resurrection. A living person can also be sealed to his or her deceased spouse, with another person of the same sex as the deceased acting as proxy for that deceased individual.

Other unusual variations include marriage between a living human and a ghost (Taiwan), a living human and a recently-deceased human with whom they were emotionally involved (France), and between a human being and God (Catholic and Orthodox monasticism). Again, these lack the social meaning of ordinary marriage and belong rather to the realm of religion or (in the case of weddings of dogs to other dogs, Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy, and the like) pure spectacle.

Ahem. I bet, you didn’t know about all these kinds of marriages, now did ya? Well, neither did I, if that’s any consolation.

So here I am trying to pretend to gaze into my crystal ball, for the future of celestial unions, aka marriages, in the coming decades, and quite sadly, the prognosis isn’t too good.

Having being married for long but not nearly long enough, one realization that certainly has dawned upon me is that marriage certainly has its ups and downs. And I don’t mean this in a sexual way!

Marriage is a lot of hard work, for both spouses involved. There are days when you are muttering exotic gourmet recipes into each others ears and the next day it may turns into a full blown Saurav Ganguly-Greg Chappell kinda ugly spat, with usually nary-a-kind ramifications over the next several hours, days, weeks or in extreme situations, the feud could run into months, with both parties refusing to call truce.

This ugly situation, of course, never has happened in our blessed home, since my missus is the world’s most acquiescent spouse, doing whatever is required for domestic harmony, even looking over my shoulder as I type out my blogs, checking them for accuracy, you see!!! He.He.He. How nice.

No two people in this world are 100% compatible, no matter what anyone says. After a period of co-habitation, the realization sets in that each one of us have our quirks, habits and rituals, which could either be endearing, infuriating or just something that warrants just a passing thought. But they exist, and they grow on you, over a period of time. All these idiosyncrasy, that once seemed quaint and charming, now becoming “that annoying habit of yours” followed by the inevitable “why don’t you try and do something about that” and “I’ve always hated that about you”. Happens, to the best of us.

If one was to give much thought to the downsides of a relationship, there might be several excuses to get out of it, rather than stay in. Now fighting that feeling of giving up on your marriage or relationship, is the most challenging part, if you are to stay committed in your marriage.

Until not so in the recent past, in many marriages, one of the spouses, usually the woman, was dependent on the male, to provide for her own well-being and the well-being of the children. With the financial emancipation of women, this no longer holds true. The so-called fairer sex is equally, if not more, financially self-sufficient, as the male counterpart. Hence the dependence on the male, as the sole bread winner, in the family, is drastically reduced. Thereby, also reduced is the typically chauvinistic crap that gets often dished out by the male of the species. Well maybe, it may not be reduced, but it need not be tolerated. Hence, the incentive to stay in a relationship, just based upon the argument for pure sustenance, and making the necessary compromises, is greatly reduced.

Over the past few decades the joint-family structure has corroded into oblivion giving way to the modern day nuclear families. The evolution of the nuclear families may have its roots in some of the industrial and technological revolution that has happened over the years, but it can also be attributed to the heightened sense of individualism. Will this sense of individualism also wreck the nuclear family over the course of the next few years? Only time will tell, but I suspect it will.

So will marriages survive the ravages of time in about half a decade? I think not. Just like the pre-nuptials that get arranged prior to celebrity marriages, marriages of the future, will be more contractual. Just like all business partnerships, marriage contracts will have specific clauses for do’s and don’ts, and termination. It will be up to the partners to renew their contracts after their stipulated timeframes. Well it takes the romance out of the entire affair, but at least this way the expectations of the spouses will be documented and agreed upon before going into an alliance. Romance in a marriage, IMHO, is highly overrated, anyway!!! 99% of the time, OK 98% of the time is spent in taking out the trash, groceries, changing diapers or sleeping, in front of the TV.

While all this social corrosion is happening, I for one, several decades from now, will hopefully be sprawled across the couch in front of the TV, enjoying my nuclear family retirement benefits, flipping the remote, while my loving wife fixes my supper, takes out the trash, does the dishes, pays off the bills and cleans out my dentures. Now only if she would do all this, without any complaints, life as I know, would be utopian.

How’s that for romance in a marriage?


Anonymous Sakshi said...

BTW Karisma-Sanjay thing has been sorted out. Apprantly the two have decided to give a 2nd chance to their relationship...why cudn't they figure this out earlier.

I guess...why divorces are high these days is cause people now no longer believe in staying in relationship that are not working, atleast this is the case in India.

Earlier it was considered a taboo, now a days parents are ready to support their daughter thru the divorce process...and have started seeing things from their daughter's point of view. Some take a money making business. INDIA IS CHANGING..MY FRIEND !!!

BTW boss, pls update my blog add in your blogroll. And the link for live-in relationship is here.

1:06 PM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

thats quite a research.. but for all the failures, dont we have at least a 100 that have worked?? ..but yes, the modalities, i guess, have to change with time... and best of luck on utopia :)

4:45 AM  
Blogger Anshul said...

Great one, Sourin!
I loved your last para where you penned down your dreams - All the best;)

There has lot been written on marriages, live-in relationships, broken relationships and divorces and do appreciate all your thoughts and opinions. A well researched blog!!! But, any relationship boils down to as to how long and how well you cope up with the other person's thoughts, demands, understanding abilities and accommodate and adjust yourself accordingly. We, INDIANS...i feel are the best in this perspective and KUDOS to all of us. We do understand and realize that A MAN AND WOMAN ARE FROM DIFFERENT PLANETS.

Now,Let's be straight-forward! We have this sense of committment due to our immense love and affection towards our spouse in the first/second year of the arranged marriage. No, definitely not!!! It's the social obligations, the marriage history of our families and our 'SOCIETY' which makes us believe and forces us to keep going and going and...!!! & then gradually we become stronger and start empathizing with our spouses and make it happen. I also, strongly believe that there is a lot of effort from our friends and extended families which helps us in building these relationships and leaves an indelible mark on our minds.

11:11 AM  
Blogger One More Reason said...

Good luck on that Utopian dream :) If you do manage to attain it, let all of us know the "how" :)

10:39 AM  
Blogger Sunil said...

all the best on your utopian dream. Let me know how that one goes....

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anand said...


I think in the wiki mention about Kerala, the right statement would be "only the eldest son in each family is permitted to marry inside the community". Others too married (traditionally) but outside the Namboodiri community.

8:35 AM  

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