When Problems Come In Through The Door..
One of my friends’ daughter was married last year to a boy of her choice, younger than her by 4 years and less educated and coming from a different class and religious community. This was not liked by the parents and relatives on both sides but that did not deter the young couple who were supposedly very much in love and determined to face all opposition and lead a happy life ever after. In fact, the more the opposition the more determined they were to get married and prove everyone else wrong. They were married at the registrar’s office and had a reception for friends and close family. However, within a matter of 5 months they separated and now are in the process of filing for divorce in the family court.
It was very sad and although my friend did try her level best to talk some sense into her daughter, even dissuade her from taking a hasty decision, the girl in turn cited and brought out all the very same differences between her and her husband that the parents had brought out before the marriage as reasons for the breakdown of relationship trying to convince her parents and herself that she was doing the right thing! Part of the blame also was with my friend and her husband and on their home atmosphere, since they fought day in and day out creating a very unstable and unhappy home atmosphere with one or the other perpetually moving out of the house for days together and later coming back reluctantly, which probably made the girl choose a man erratically simply to get away from home. I doubt if she gave much thought about the future prospects.
While I am definitely not against either the age factor where the girl is older or for that matter the religious differences, it is also a well-known fact that the more differences you have, the more complicated a relationship becomes and more adjustment you need to make. And, I personally feel that nowadays young couple are not ready to go all out to compromise or save their marriage or even make it work. The attitude is, if it works fine or else one can always separate and remarry later. This kind of attitude reflects even in their career choices which further weakens their own commitment levels.
The debate between love marriage and arranged marriage is an age old one with family elders and many wise old people advising youngsters to be extra cautious when it comes to choosing their life partner, more so when it is a love marriage! Not that arranged marriages are hundred percent safe but some of the responsibilities are normally shouldered by the couples' parents and immediate family, during times of distress and timely advice given when misunderstandings occur. They make sure that the couple don’t break away easily without having exhausted all possible options. Of course there are times when the family honor bit is taken too far even when there is enough reason for separation.
Change is universal
However, one cannot stop the winds of change since change is universal and the only permanent thing in life. With changed values and life style people’s attitudes and preferences too change. Relationships have undergone a change, one cannot say whether it is for the better or worse.
We have seen a spate of suicides due to failed relationships or due to disappointment among the celebrities, one such recent case of suicide is still being debated by all news channels. In almost all of these cases the girl suffers because inherently whether they admit or not girls expect more from their partners being more emotional by nature – stability and security. When they find their partners cheating on them or not reciprocating in the way they expect them to, they feel distressed and they take a drastic step like suicide. This is what comes out of jumping into relationships based solely on physical attraction.
Again going back to the good old days there was a lot of interaction between families, cousins and family elders with people visiting each others' homes and partaking in joint celebrations. Most of these activities have stopped in cities because of lack of time, distance and other factors. Many of the today's youngsters meet even their grandparents once a year if they are lucky and their interactions are never intimate and fulfilling. This also reflects on youngsters attitude in their own personal life. They become self centered and tend to take life and relationships far more casually than the previous generations did.
There is an age old saying ' When problems come in through the door, love flies out of the window '! Problems seem immense after the couple settle down to their married life and their eternal love, if it is not strong enough to withstand the initial problems of adjustments, can easily fly out quickly, thereby leading the distress and disappointment. In fact problems zoom through the door since one is never ever prepared for them and always taken by surprise at the pace at which they destroy our entire life!
During the good old times family elders acted as counselors giving the required wisdom, advise, and help that would help calm down ruffled egos and troubled marriages. Today, things are vastly different with nuclear families and love marriages becoming the norm at least in metro cities and when there is trouble, many a times things become complicated and get out of hand. Statistics show that in the past decade there have been far more number of divorces and separations than at any time in the past and number would only increase in the days to come. One cannot blame love marriages alone for this state of affairs. It is a transition that is taking place in our society when youngsters would rather have their way than compromise on what they think is their freedom and right of expression. This is true of both men and women. Education, Financial freedom and liberalisation has made youngsters to a certain extent reckless in their attitude towards life in general including marriage and family !
Is there a middle path ?
I remember a seminar I attended dealing with youngsters and their unique problems in our society. Almost 70% of the crowd consisting of mostly post graduate students between the age group of 22- 26, felt that they would prefer to experiment with sex before marriage and would want to have a sexual/live in relationship with the opposite sex before they decide to marry. In fact they felt that they may have to have several such relationships before they finally find someone of their choice with whom they would decide to spend the rest of their life. Some of them even went to the extent of saying that while sex is essential, marriage was not, so they may have several intimate relationships with no firm commitment . However, I admired their direct talk and their ability to speak their mind.
On analysing this trend of thought from the youngsters three points came to my mind ..
First of all for those wanting to settle down - where and when do they draw the line? After the 3rd, 4th or the 5th partner? And what if they never find anyone of their choice? Do they go on experimenting all their lives ?
Second point that most of the youngsters seem to forget is the emotional one. Each time you get closer to another individual you get emotionally attached to the person to a certain extent even without realising and a breakup can leave a scar and the more breakups, the more scars. This may make a person disillusioned and disinterested to the extent that he or she may become a cynic, not being able to settle down with anyone. Some of them also may end up blaming themselves for not being able to sustain a relationship and develop an inferiority complex about their own selves.
Thirdly and far more importantly, what about health issues? Do they realise that with such an attitude they are laying themselves open to health hazards if one of them has some transmittable disease .
When some of us suggested a middle path of becoming friends and getting to know each other well from all angles and only if there is a strong bond, to go in for a live in relationship, since that seems to be pretty much the norm these days. It was not encouraging to see the lukewarm and halfhearted response from the majority, although a few did agree that the suggestion was sensible. One cannot blame the now generation for being fast paced, wanting everything instantly and if things don’t work out they would go ahead and look for a different partner rather than try to compromise and work on their already existing relationships. Marry in haste and repent at leisure - this is also a reflection of changed values within our society.
This may seem drastic to the older generation and to some from the new generation as well, but one has to move with the times and accept change. A strong family atmosphere in their own homes can make youngsters seek strong commitments and also capable of giving the same to their loved ones. Broken homes and troubled family atmosphere is at the root of most of these platonic and foot loose relationships that can only lead to stress and unhappiness in the long run. As I wrote earlier this may also end in tragedies like suicides. Most suicides are never planned, and take place when an individual is extremely stressed at something and feels it is the end of the path and decides to end his or her life. In more than 75% of the cases it is the girl who is driven to such a measure.
Can there be a life without problems and complications? Problems are there in every sphere of life, whether within a family or between couple. What essentially matters is what you have been exposed to as a child and a teenager. When children see their parents fight the general reaction is that of insecurity and fear. But if the parents make up after a while and are back to being on normal terms, children accept this as part of life and minor argument and misunderstanding don’t mean the end of the world, it is a way of clearing the air and then move on with your routine. They also realise that conflict and difference of opinion is bound to be there between people and needs to be dealt with in a mature manner. Having witnessed this in their own homes, they will be able to handle their relationships in the same manner . Children coming from homes where they become part of an abusive relationship or from broken homes find it very difficult to adjust to a normal relationship. Although in some cases, where the youngster is intelligent and has clarity of thought, that fact itself might spur him or her on to do better with their own lives and relationships rather than follow the example of their parents or elders.
This is precisely why we need to teach our youngsters to be persistent and not give up easily, which trait reflects in all their dealings and activities and has far reaching effects into their adult life. One cannot give a perfect life but one can try to make it as secure and loving as possible. Because a strong bond within the family acts as a rudder and an anchor that helps the youngsters withstand and float along when problems come rushing in.
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