Marriages in the twenty first century have undergone a complete transformation. Tales of valour, commitment and selflessness are now replaced by tales of ‘I, me, myself’ from both the groom and the bride.

Divorces In Rajputs

“Earlier marriages were between two families who were equal in all respects,” says Amit Jaglan, a lawyer based in Gurgaon. “People used search for alliances with people who were equal to them in all respects (status, money, thinking, caste) so that the girl goes into a house which is almost same as hers in terms of lifestyle, money etc. These days however, things have changed. Apart from the materialistic riches, mental and cultural compatibility also plays a big role.”
Amit says that these days as a result of higher education and qualifications, women have developed a more progressive outlook which creates issues in compatibility. “So, on one end we have the guy who is not very educated but has ancestral property and a thriving business. The girl may also have a similar financial standing but may have done her post-graduation and even Ph.D. She may even be working somewhere. All this generally results in a more open and broader outlook of the 21st century whereas the boy’s family does not think beyond the 19th century. Soon, the mental frustration starts causing cracks in the relationship. So, naturally, this will cause a lot of friction and eventually lead to a break up!”

Short fuse
“Once a bride stepped into her husband’s home, it was her responsibility to adjust in an alien household. She was told in no uncertain terms that her husband’s house is her real home and she had to do what it takes to settle in it,’ says Amit Jaglan. ‘So, the girl had no option but to patiently tolerate and adjust to everything.”
So, what has changed today? “It is entirely a new ballgame. The girls are no longer the damsels that are waiting for their knights in shining armour. They are financially independent and want equality in all respects. If they don’t get that, they have no qualms about calling it quits.”

Great Expectations and FOMO (Fear of missing out)
“From the moment, they get engaged, the men and women start posting their happy pictures on social media. Every one expects a fairy tale marriage, where the groom wants a girl who can do everything from earning money to serving him food and the bride wants a man who can earn doles of money and give her a jet setting life,” says Amit. “The pressure is on from the very beginning which is further augmented by the social media. However, when the marriage doesn’t meet their expectations, the boy or the girl have no qualms about stepping out of it to find some one else.”
“This is generally because of a new phenomenon called FOMO or the fear of missing out,” says Priya Sharma, a psychologist. “ As a result of the constant information bombardment by the social media, men and women want everything that the other person or their peers have. They want the best car, best house, best husband and best wife. They don’t want to miss out on anything that their peers have. So, the moment they feel that the person they are with doesn’t have the required attributes, they prefer to separate instead of adjusting to it.”

Age Matters
Preeti Khanna is a marriage counsellor who has seen an increasing number of divorce cases. She attributes it to the shrinking age difference between the bride and the groom. “In those days, the age difference between the bride and the groom was at least 5 years or more. We all know that the mental and psychological maturity of a woman is more than a man’s at any given age. Hence, in the olden days, the groom was older than the bride by many years, so they maturity levels could match better. Moreover, since he was older than her, the bride had some sort of a reverence and even respect for the groom. These days, the age difference has considerably whittled down leading to an increasing number of ego clashes and fights amongst the couples.”

Bicholio – Mediatory Responsibility
“My daughter is 40 years old now. Her husband comes from a well to do family”, says Hanuman Shekhawat, a retired IPS officer. “The alliance was initiated by my best friend, Shyam who knew the boys family very well. After about 5 years, there was a lot of friction between my daughter and her husband. At that time, it was Shyam who helped to diffuse the situation because he knew and could prevail over both the families. Thankfully, as a result of his mediation, my daughter’s marriage could survive.”
“Mediation is a very important aspect of helping a marriage to survive,” says Amit Jaglan. “Earlier, whenever there was a problem between the couple or in the family, they sought guidance from the village elder or someone elder and respected in the family whose word was law. Now no one wants to take that responsibility. In many court cases, it is the judges who become mediators for the husband and wife because they too don’t want marriages to break up.”

Matter of Honour
Bhupinder Singh, 28, a resident of Bikaner says, “My mother got married to my father at the tender age of 18. Her mother (my maternal grandmother) just had one piece of advice for her. She said, “Whenever your in-laws or other people in your husband’s house say anything rude to you which you may find offensive or insulting, just imagine that they aren’t saying it to you. They are saying it to a person who is standing behind you. Don’t react or try to reply to anything that they say; because if you do, people will not question you but raise fingers at us (your parents). So, as our daughter, it is your responsibility to guard our honour and esteem.”
“Earlier, marriage was a bond for which was cemented not just between two individuals but also two families,” says Priya Sharma, a Delhi based psychologist. “These families generally lived in villages or small towns where everyone knew everybody. They were quite conscious of their social reputation and maintaining appearances. This meant that in case of any dispute in the marriage, the entire families strived to solve it. However, today, it’s a different ball game all together. People live in cities where the social circle is quite limited and every one is busy in their lives. Moreover, divorces have become so common that they are no longer a taboo now.”

Saving face
“According to a recent survey, besides tolerance and incompatibility, extra marital affairs are also responsible for the break up of marriages,” says Amit. So, weren’t there extra marital affairs in the olden times? “Yes, there were affairs that mostly men had. However, they led parallel lives. They had affairs but those affairs were never in the public eye. Moreover, if the husband wife weren’t compatible enough, they stayed together for the sake of appearances and led parallel lives because divorce would mean a loss of face and image. Today, people are no longer bound by such notions. For them, it is all about their life.”

‘Women have changed’
“Earlier, women were generally told to keep quiet,” says Sonal Singh, a resident of Churu. “Though they could speak to their husband or sometimes even the mother-in-law but generally they were told to keep mum and their opinions did not matter. Now, as more and more women are getting educated and earning for themselves, their mindset has changed. Now they not only want to marry the person of their own choice but also be equal partners in their marriage. My daughter has asked me to find a groom who believes in equality of men and women.”

His daughter Mrigakshi, 28 agrees. “I believe marriage is for life and I do want a partner who is not just a partner in the bedroom but also in life. I am an educated and accomplished woman. So, why should I be the one to keep quiet or tolerate all the idiosyncrasies of my in-laws or husband? If they can tolerate mine, then only can I tolerate theirs!”


This article by Shailaza Singh was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit Section on 7 October 2021.

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