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The Anatomy Of An Indian Marriage!

Discussion in 'Married Life' started by varalotti, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    THE ANATOMY OF AN INDIAN MARRIAGE I

    By Varalotti Rengasamy

    It was a dream wedding in every sense of the term. The whole Southern sea town was in a festive mood. Commemorative arches were ubiquitous. Political leaders, media people and even spiritual leaders were present. One of my richest clients was getting married on that day to the daughter of the richest man of that renowned sea town. We were housed in star hotels; posh cars were waiting to carry us wherever we wanted to go. Food was in plenty and there were enough service counters to cater to the thousands of guests.
    I can go on describing about this wedding. But the point of concern is that the marriage ended in a divorce within six months. The bride’s side and the groom’s side were actively trading charges, which only served to make the already painful divorce a messy one too.

    In another case I know the couple went on a honeymoon tour of the North. They were playfully teasing each other, which soon took a serious turn. The husband deserted the wife in an unknown railway station and returned to his home base. Meanwhile the wife with great difficulty reached her home. And the first thing she did thereafter was to contact a competent lawyer to issue a divorce notice to the boy.

    Another marriage. Boy, a flourishing software engineer in the US; girl, a well-educated girl from a progressive family. The only hitch: the boy had to leave for US soon after the marriage and the girl could not go along because of the proverbial US visa problems. When her visa came at last after a year, she was in no mood to go. Nor was she prepared to live with her husband. Result: divorce by mutual consent.

    Another couple I know have been fighting with each other continuously for the entire 45 years of their marriage. But still manage to stay together under the same roof, raising four children.

    The case of another couple is slightly different. They have children who have grown up to be corporate high fliers. Some thirty years ago the couple had an argument, which turned bitter. They have not been talking to each other for the past thirty years.

    All these incidents make one wonder about this strange thing called marriage. It is one of the oldest social institutions, one of the most sacred contracts, one, which we cannot definitely do without and one which can make a heaven or hell of our lives.

    Our life starts precisely at the moment when the romantic story or the typical romance movie ends, usually with the hackneyed words, “and they lived happily ever after.” The movie or the Mills and Boon book need not have to bother about the post-marital relationship and they could not do so, because it is beyond the competence of the Director or the romance writer.

    When we are curious enough to see a cross section of a frog’s digestive organs or a cockroach’s reproductive organs, should we not be at least equally curious to have a similar view of the anatomy of the marriage, especially in the Indian context?

    Pre-marital love and courtship, though popular, is yet to catch up with the Indians as it has with the Americans. So let’s have a peek at the honeymooning couple – of course not the unusual couple who fought with each other on their honeymoon, but the typical couple, consisting of average people like you and me.

    It is during honeymoon each spouse discovers that he or she has so many things in common with the other person. They discover with a romantic thrill which only the newlyweds can have, that they after all like the same books, same authors, same perfumes, same actors, same dishes – it is an endless list of “sames.” They ultimately discover in the cozy warmth of each other’s body “We are made for each other.”

    I have to harden my hearts to express anything against these sentiments, as I am a die-hard romantic myself. But there is no point in suppressing the truth. This discovery of sameness is an “optical illusion” as each free person is substantially unique in his or her tastes and preferences. While honeymooning the couple is busy hunting for a handful of similarities from out of an ocean of differences. They have pre-conceived the “made for each other” statement. So they go hunting for the rationale to support that. The irony is, at a later stage, when they are fighting with each other, they try to do the reverse: they hunt for the differences in tastes, which of course is available in thousands just for the asking.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    THE ANATOMY OF AN INDIAN MARRIAGE II

    By Varalotti Rengasamy

    You may call this first stage, a long honeymoon, and it normally lasts for a year, though in some cases it comes to an end much earlier. Very surprisingly in a few cases it continues longer – at times even for a whole lifetime.

    If the marriage is one long honeymoon, it is not a life of two free individuals, but a charade of two skilled actors (exceptions are there). The emptiness may be felt but might not be expressed for fear of consequences.

    Then the marriage drifts to the next stage, which happens with a realisation that the other person is “wrong”. And they vow to themselves: “I will correct him by my dedication.” This is not just a stage in marriage but a psychological disease popularly known as the “beauty and the beast” syndrome. (Remember the fairytale where a beautiful princess out of compassion marries an ugly beast and by her true love the beast is transformed into a handsome prince).


    Here one partner, (it could be the wife or the husband; the difference is that when the wife plays the beauty part she does it with softness and compassion; when the husband does it he does it with cleverness and at times even brutality) assumes the role of martyr and for her, living with the partner by itself is an act of ‘sacrifice’. This martyrdom is not love, because love presupposes the acceptance of beloved as such, with all his or her faults. The attempt to reform is resented by the other spouse, particularly when the latter is psychologically healthy.

    After a while the beauty fails in all her attempts. She realises that a beast is a beast and more and more of unconditional love only makes it into a worse beast. Meanwhile the beast is also tired of living constantly with a martyr or a doormat beauty and indulges in other escapades. For the beast, beauty is now just a fixture in the house like the dining table or the TV stand. For the beauty, the beast is just a beast – untamed and incorrigible and only a necessary evil.

    Most of the marriages in India freeze at this stage. The beauty and the beast may decide not to separate for practical reasons – children, financial reasons, the stigma of a divorce etc. The worst stage in marriage is not the open confrontation between the partners but the silent resignation and the complete indifference within the mind of each spouse. There is no living but a mere pretension of it. I don’t know whether it is true that women fake orgasms; but many men and women fake living.

    Some daring couples at this stage may opt for a divorce. But don’t think that divorce implies the death of a marriage. The marriage is long dead and the divorce is just the official funeral accompanied by an authentic death certificate. I often hear Indians boasting that there are not many divorces in India as there are in the US. Another form of America-bashing. It does not mean that India has a lot more of healthy marriages than the US. In India there are at least as many divorceable marriages as there are divorced marriages.
    The Indian couples (particularly the women) instead of walking off a dead marriage choose to live with that for the sake of their children. In a way, it is a noble sacrifice. Hats off to the noble Indian women who bury truck loads of sadness in their hearts and have a smile on their lips for their children. That explains why on an average our children are emotionally healthier and more intelligent than their American counterparts. Yes, the children benefit. But what about the couples themselves?

    The couples simply stop relating to each other. If you don’t believe this harsh statement, catch hold of an Indian husband or wife and ask him or her to log the time he or she spends with the spouse. It is not the time they spend in the same building or even in the same room or the same bed, but the actual time spent in relating to each other – like conversation, joint activity or a joint outing with nobody else involved. Such time will be incredibly minimal and will be less than 3% of their total waking hours.

    Hopefully there is a final stage in the marital relationship. After the frustration in our attempts to reform the other person we at times miraculously jump into the next stage of accepting the other person as such with all the given faults and bad qualities and even start loving him as such. This is true love and an unfailing hallmark of a high level of mental maturity. Once a marriage reaches this stage the couples will stay together, in all senses of the term, till death do them part. In India hardly three out of hundred marriages reach this stage.
     
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  3. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Hello Sridhar,

    That was one hell of an analysing a marriage. It is very true in most cases regarding the situation where we fail to accept the other partner as he or she is and try hard to change them. This definetely leads to a no- win sitauation. Like you have rightly put it in the last paragraph, the best would be to accept the other partner and try to lead a life with understanding, which needs a lot of maturity and patience. This usually develops over a period of time, and by then it can be too late or it may not be worth the effort!

    Let's see what the others think......
    regards,
     
  4. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    Fake living

    Like Varalotti rightly pointed out, many couples are indifferent and there is total non-communication. I don't know if it can be termed "noble" to put up a front for the sake of the children - but having brought them into this world, I think it is the least that parents can do.
    Wives are taken for granted and very few husbands make them feel special by devoting their time and attention to them. It's always "Have you paid the fees? Have you fixed dad's appointment with the dentist?"
    This analysis was thoughtprovoking - and because there is a lot of truth in it, it is rather depressing. At times I feel that one should not think too deeply or analyse relationships - because then you always find something lacking. It's better to count your blessings and live in the here and now. These lines by Kahlil Gibran ring so true -

    Ah! what boots it to repeat
    That time is slipping underneath our feet.
    Dead to yesterday, unborn tomorrow,
    Why fret about if today be sweet?

    May everyday be sweet for all at IL!
    Sharada
     
  5. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Sudha for the very first response and for opening up the discussion. You used the right words 'one hell of analysing'. Yes it really was. If you want the truth then I'll have to confess that I felt very heavy writing this analysis as every married person normally is. Some wisecrack said that you get the comb of experience only after the head (in this case) becomes bald (in this case life is over). And one thinker placed this petition before God. First make us old and give us all the wisdom. Then give us the youth so that we can enjoy it fully without any compunction. These are all empty wishes. When you are wise enough to accept your partner as such, as you rightly said, it's already late, life has passed by you and your acceptance or otherwise doesn't matter. Everywhere in life wisdom tastes sweet; but in matters of marriage the taste is strikingly bitter. That's life.
    sridhar
     
  6. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    It was depressing for me as well!

    Dear Sharada,
    Your Kahlil Gibran's quote was very good. Is it from The Prophet? As I said earlier it was depressing for me as well to do this analysis.
    But we owe it to the posterity to leave this message loud and clear. May be our children or may be other young ladies might gain some insights from this analysis and may be make some mid-course corrections. I still persist that the women who continue to remain married in spite of the fact that Husbands take them for granted, are definitely noble. Indian women top the world on this trait. We can argue it's lack of courage or fear of stigma or others. But the fact remains that they bear the brunt of troubles so that the children are insulated from disaster. I have a distant cousin who had some minor handicaps in the form of a feeble voice and a puny body. She was married to a lawyer. Who after a while started ill-treating her. There was no obvious domestic violence but a very subtle psychological violence. Like very grossly appreciating the other women (especially their physical beauty) in her presence and once even flaunted a relationship with another women. There are many men who seek other women. But they do it discreetly. Not that I approve of them. But this man was extra-cruel. For instance when my cousin attended a family marriage in a far-off place. The husband and wife came together for the marriage. But when it was time to leave the husband came with a buxom women telling us all (who were there for the marriage) that the lady was his friend's wife and they two were going for a two day tour for some work. So my cousin was asked to go to their place along with other relatives. Imagine what kind of torture it would have been for my cousin? Everyone asked her about her husband's waywardness.
    Thankfully things have changed. My cousin's son has got a job in Infosys and showers all his love on his mother. The son does not regard father as a human being at all. Yes the husband had suffered. Agreed. But the lady also suffered. How are we going to rebuild the institution of marriage so that it nurtures a healthy relationship between two healthy human beings?
    Thanks Sharada for taking part in the discussion.
    varalotti
     
  7. nuggehallipankaja

    nuggehallipankaja New IL'ite

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    superb!

    Dear Sridhar,

    Sorry, I have taken my own time to join the voices;

    Your article'Anatomy of Indian Marriage' is superb!

    You have elaborated very well, colouring it with

    catching instances-phrases-thoughts(Beauty and beast, so

    on. ) As usual , I enjoyed the interesting chat between you

    and the readers, but am content to munch for my

    moody 'MUSE' to benefit.
     
  8. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Varalotti, your analysis is perfect !

    Hello all,

    Varalotti’s analysis just hits the nail on the head. Every word written is so well analysed that we cannot condemn any part of the article as superflous or exaggerated. This analysis will go on endlessly as long as the institution of marriage continues & that is, for ever. There is no running away from the fact that we enter married life with the high hopes, but finally accept it because somewhere in our mind, we do not want to accept defeat. Compromise is a small word for what the 2 partners have to accept in eachother. Do we not compromise on everything in life ? – how can one ever think that he or she will be the perfect foil for the other ? The mental make up that, come what may, I will give my best in this relationship, is very essential to start with. Just for a minute, think, how the partner must be finding it difficult to tolerate you – one is not an angel. Ofcourse, I am talking about general situations & not the extreme cases like the established presence of a third person in one of the spouse’s life etc. It is essential for both partners to start with the openness that I will sincerely give my best to make this marriage work. Accepting the other person & not thinking of changing him or her is also important. More than than letting a problem become an excuse, we have to look at ways of solving the problem. A problem free married life is only a mirage in the desert. We have no choice but to manage the problems creatively & constructively. The determination to make the marriage a success has to be two-sided. I remember my MIL always used to say than in any marriage , the ratio is never 1:1 – it is always this side or that side & we must start our life accepting that first. We have to make a conscious effort to identify the plus points in the partner which we should learn to turn to our advantage. I personally feel, that if we do not attempt to change the spouse’s nature to our way of thinking, there is less friction. Except in cases where sadism, infidelity etc are reasons, both partners have to decide to start life as equals & complement each other effectively with the perfect understanding of “ give & take” which is one of the main pillars on which a happy married life rests.
    regards,
    Chithra.

     
  9. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    Prophet

    The lines are from KG's Prophet. My dad used to make me learn and recite poetry that he liked - and somehow those are the ones I still rattle off! My siblings don't seem to remember anything at all - perhaps I have better retention!
    sharada
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Chitvish For Your Words Of Distilled Wisdom!

    Chitvish, in more ways than one you are the role model for most of us in IL. Your enthusiasm, your matured outlook and your clear principles - all these things have stood you in good stead and gives us, all middle-aged people, the basic lessons of ageing gracefully. And your views on marriage, the compromise, the sharing never being at 1:1 and the hard work one needs to put in are nothing but your distilled wisdom conveniently packed for young couples in easy to understand words.
    And what you have written is not just a reply to this thread but a supplementary article on the subject.
    While you have stressed the need to adjust and compromise, you have also made it very clear that in extreme cases of cruelty, sadism and infidelity there should not be any compromise. I fully subscribe to your views. In such cases even if children's interests are concerned the affected partner should clearly walk out of the relationship. And if she does not do so, she will be sending a very wrong signal to her children. That it is okay to be unfaithful or cruel. And if your partner is like that you should somehow adjust and live with him or her. That could be the most destructive message a parent can ever give to his or her children.
    You have drawn the lines beautifully well.
    Thanks, the most sought-after woman of IL, for the most relevant views on the subject.
    varalotti
     

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