Of late, the culture of marriage has been changing drastically in India. There was a time when people married only once and lived with the same person for the rest of their lives, even if they fell out of love or were not happy in the marriage, because of societal pressure. It was only in 1995 that divorce was made legal in India.
Now, divorce is granted on various grounds such as adultery, cruelty, desertion for two years, religious conversion, mental abnormality or venereal diseases. But the reason behind divorce that is most controversial according to society is when two people are divorced by mutual consent; a situation where people just choose to stop living with each other and mutually decide to end the marriage.
Now there are two major verticals that one needs to understand—Marriage and Divorce. But before delving more into divorce, let’s first enlighten ourselves about marriage.
Wikipedia defines marriage as, “Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.”
There are basically three kinds of marriages: Monogamy (1 spouse), Bigamy (2 spouses) and Polygamy (more than 2 spouses). Although bigamy and polygamy have existed since times unknown, they are considered illegal in most countries today.
There are also avunculate marriages where a marriage is fixed between an uncle and his niece or between an aunt and her nephew. Same caste marriages are known as Endogamy where as Exogamyrefers to the practise where people have to choose their partners outside their own caste.
Earlier, marriages were just alliances between families or countries as a means of avoiding war. After that, marriages were conducted with-in the family, with first or second cousins to be precise, to avoid disputes, and to keep money and property within the same family. There have been instances where even siblings were made to marry each other for the same reasons. Later, polygamy came into the picture and it existed until very recently. As of now, legally, only monogamy is practiced.
As for “love” marriages, the concept of affectionate (love) marriages was first introduced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his popular novel Julie, or the New Heloise, in 1761. Love marriages, however, picked up real steam all over the globe only in the last 300-400 years. Moreover, in the last decade or so, gay or lesbian marriages (same sex marriages) and live-in relationships (living under the same roof without marriage) have become increasingly popular.
Although, the world accepted love-marriages hundreds of years ago, India was very late to accept this phenomenon. Unfortunately, most of the cases of love marriages are only confined to the metro and cosmopolitan cities. In other parts of the country, parents still believe in the orthodox practice where a child is supposed to marry a spouse of his or her parents’ choice.
Although the scenario is changing now-a-days and more and more parents are accepting love-marriages, in most parts of the country, the society is still averse to the concept of love-marriages. They don’t permit inter-caste marriages, allowing inter-religious marriages is a long road ahead.
Now that we’ve covered marriage, and the evolution of the institution of marriage, let’s move on to divorce.
Studies show that 11 in 1000 marriages end up in divorce in India. And two major reasons are that couples either fell out of love or that one or both the partners fell in love with someone else.
Why you might ask? Because most marriages these days take place against the wishes of the children.
I see many parents wish the best for their children. They give them a good life, provide luxury, send them to foreign lands to pursue higher education, give them total independence to select the profession of their choice, in short they their children total independence when it comes to various decisions about life. But, when it comes to marriage, they still want their children to marry someone of their own caste. They use emotional blackmail, suicide threats, and even threaten to cut off all ties if the child politely asks for their permission to get married to the spouse of his or her choice. Or, they say, “We gave you everything and we ask you for this one thing. You owe it to us.”
I reckon, as a parent, when you force your child to marry someone who is not of his or her choice, you are spoiling three lives. One, of your own child, two, of the person he or she loves and wants to marry and three, the person he or she eventually marries. The child is never happy with the marriage, but for your happiness, he or she forcibly agrees for the marriage. Thus, he or she spends his time brooding about the person that they love and can never keep the one they forcibly married happy.
Rejecting the marriage on other terms such as non-compatibility issues, difference in lifestyle or attitude is still fine, but rejecting the person just because he is from a different caste or religion shouldn’t be a criterion.
Unfortunately, this is the state as of now in most places in India and it is going to take a long time before every parent and society stops stressing about caste and gives more preference to the choice, desire and wish of their child.
(First published at The Viewspaper, an online magazine)
(Image source: www.bubblews.com)