Growing up I did not know a single divorced desi. I remember when the topic of marriage came up in one of my psychology classes I kept waiting for the professor to discuss the anamoly that was the desi marriage. We stayed together- forever! When he did not do so I, in self righteous vigor, approached him after class demanding to know why he did not discuss the longevity of desi marriages. Turned out he wasn’t focused on the quantity (i.e. duration) of marriage but its quality.
If they made enduring a bad marriage an olympic sport a desi national would surely take home the gold each time. The discussion with the professor made me tune into the marriages of aunties around me. They spoke of staying together for the sake of the children. And then staying together because they knew nothing else. Of being cheated on and doing nothing. Of being abused and doing nothing. Of being ignored and unloved and doing nothing. What must it be like to spend an entire life with someone who will never be your confidante. Who will never be a soft place to fall.
But nowadays desis are not putting up with what they used to and divorcing at alarming rates. Some wave it away saying new couples have too many expectations and not enough tolerance. That they don’t try hard enough. Interestingly those who divorce inevitably speak of one major problem in their marriage: inlaws. Mothers demanding too much from sons overwhelmed with too much guilt from the emotional blackmail to refuse them (after all my mamma raised me). She will berate the daughter in law, bring her to tears but the son will wringe his hands on what to do (after all his mamma raised him). The inlaws in many of the (now) divorced couples demand and do not expect “no” for answer. “Have children. Give us money. Do X, Y, or Z. Tell your wife to do X, Y, Z” The wife asks the husband to intervene to tell his parents this is not right to ask his parents to let them live their lives…. but he points out he can’t! After all, his mamma raised him!
You should respect your mother. She did feed you as a child. bathe you as a baby. love you. Mothers are important but so are wives. Marriage is important. And you have to be rational enough to see when someone (even if its your mamma) is killing your marriage. Isn’t the woman you agreed to marry going to be the mother of your children? Wouldn’t you have appreciated it if your father stood up for your mother when you were growing up and respected her needs?
I know that the demise of all marriages are not always the inlaws fault. But its sad that the generation that probably endured the worst inlaw issues themselves are passing on the cycle in the way they treat their children’s spouses. But unlike our parents generation who suffered through awful inlaws but felt they had no choice, our generation does have a choice. Sadly many sons/husbands feel the only choice they have is divorce. This is not true. To maintain the status quo leaves no one happy but changing it and finding joy does not mean you must leave your wife in the process.