Doesn’t mean cat calls in streets aren’t still rampant — by married men
Doesn’t mean two married people are even living together anymore
Doesn’t mean casual sex is not happening outside of marriage”
Doesn’t mean a spouse is feeling sexually fulfilled and not resenting his/her marriage
Doesn’t mean people are not putting on a “nice marriage face” for society and parents, but living very alternative lives
Doesn’t mean spouses do not feel resentment or regret about not pursuing the dreams or careers they want
So before everyone screams boo-hoo dirty controversy, lets just get one thing straight. Saying a country has a low divorce rate (even though it may start to be on the rise, but still relatively low compared to other countries) does not equate to a moral standard everyone should live up to. It does not mean couples, men and women, are actually fulfilling the ideals of marriage. Please note that this post is not even trying to say that every marriage is bad and every person is suffering and does not have a healthy marriage. It just points out a paradigm people point to when defending one country or culture on its commitment to marriage.
The things I wrote above are new ways to work around bad marriages or not the most ideal situations of marriage. Please notice here I am not attributing any of this to “love” or arranged marriage – in fact it cant happen in both. But I find it troubling when people say “this [usually Western] country has a high divorce rate because of its loose morals”. While, marriage is taken too lightly in the US, for instance, and is a major commitment that many have not understood the meaning of, it could be something more.
It is easy, for example, in India, Pakistan or really any country with patriarchal structures still in place (does not have to be lower or middle income), to say that modernization and urbanization is the culprit for the divorce that is now happening. A woman is now working and handling the home, and the latter just cannot be asked from a man. We accept that his nature and biological make-up is not meant for it, many times without knowing it. We do all of this while constantly reading in newspaper columns about women being fundamentally unhappy even after so much fighting for the right to work alongside men and after gaining other rights in the public sphere. It really is puzzling, and many feminists just do not have the full answer.
So the typical backlash solution against those “darned” feminists who have ruined the order and stand at a roadblock: give back men their traditional breadwinner roles and accept that some things are just natural. Of course, it is too late for that. More importantly, it just does not make sense to go back to that just as much as it does not make sense to ask women to continue to remain the bearer of traditions and social norms of the home realm (which they tend to be), all while participating and performing well in the outside world. Kicking them out of the outside world also does not make sense economically, as many emerging markets where women are participating more have now understood the value of including women in the workforce. I do not care how resilient, amazing of multi-taskers women can be, it just is not human to ask for near-perfection in both realms. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that women of all cultures continue to either fall victim to without knowing it, or simply give up and just accept.
We really are a generation that is less willing to compromise everything the way our mothers did, particularly many of us Desi women who grew up independent and are used a degree of freedom that many of our mothers could have never imagined. Many others of us may have been good, obedient daughters who did not rebel or protest our parents much, but it does not mean we did not hold our thoughts and opinions about what we were willing to compromise in a marriage. And when we do compromise on things in the name of love or in the name of just wanting to make our parents happy or just never wanting to be alone, we can develop a resentment. Such resentment can be projected later in marriages to the extremes that I talk about above.
Still, let’s hope none of us have to ever get to that point and are willing to communicate our issues before its too late. Yet, let’s also realize that those extremes exist for reasons other than “good versus evil” (though I do wish that explained everything sometimes). Compromise is important, and of course neither person can be hell bent on only doing things their own way. Acknowledged. I just wonder how different things would be and how much silent resentment one can avoid when addressing these issues early on. As much as we ask our daughters to be ready to accept and embrace the flaws of their future husbands with patience and compromise (and to some extent, sacrifice), our sons need to also do the same. Luckily, there are sons who do so, but when a woman continues to fear staying single and having less options, we unknowingly are perpetuating bias against her through such phrases and terms. We inherently damn her to such states by citing her stubbornness as the culprit, when the general craving is just a two way street of compromise.
Either way, I would rather two people not be together than hold a marriage for social or economic ties or because society is not “comfortable” with seeing single women (spinsters – we even get a dreaded name). I would rather people bring those not so comfortable things “to the table” when thinking about marriage in the first place than be shy or worry about offending someone. After all, it is a marriage, and arranged or not, showing only our good sides to seem like some sort of “filmi” match does not always work out too well (which can certainly be the case in dating too).
So back to my low divorce rate point. Here’s yet another lesson in where numbers do not tell the whole story about a situation. In countries where divorce rates may certainly be low, the misery of a bad marriage may not be written on paper for official legal records or quoted in statistics. It may very well be written on the unfulfilled faces of many couples.