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The Indian Marriage: Are We Stuck or Redefining it?

January 4, 2024

Somewhere someone is made for you. In anticipation of meeting people by chance, most people don’t focus on trying to connect. They focus more on building successful careers rather than relationships. The time spent on finding the most suitable job to build your work identity takes away from relationships. While others don’t enter relationships with the fear of rejection or fear of being hurt.

The olden era saw marriages that were bound by families of individuals assessing assets, careers, family background, and education of the bride and the groom. There probably was not much time given to the boy and girl to share ideas, understand values, and cultural differences. In the 21st century, we see the concept of arranged marriages fading away. However, we also see the proportion of divorces and infidelity rising. Swati, a 28-year-old successful marketing professional, was doing well in her company and believed in getting the best for herself. Although she had acquired the best education and training in the corporate world, when it came to her personal life, she had accepted that she was unlucky. She had hoped that like all her other friends she would find her partner through family and friends’ connection. However, nothing worked out and the pressure of tying the knot was making her feel overwhelmed. She wanted to follow the rule of being married by 30 years and having babies by 32 years. Swati gave in and married Dhirag, a 32-year-old, IT professional. Although Swati was an extrovert and Dhirag was an introverted, shy guy, she felt he was doing well in his career and seemed logical to live a life happily ever after.

Within 1.5 years into their marriage, Swati felt caged in her relationship. She felt Dhirag did not share the emotional connect that she had desired in the partnership. Dhirag was extremely dutiful and committed towards his relationship but they simply did not spend time. Sexual intimacy was limited and there was no passion or fire as she had anticipated. Swati had spoken to Dhirag multiple times about going on dates and creating an emotional bond – she felt they were two roommates living and surviving together. She was ashamed of her feelings, as her parents and family all perceived the marriage to be ideal. However, behind the ideal couple, Swati felt lonely internally. In bridging this gap between the ‘Ideal’ of what she had aspired for and the ‘Real’ of what she was living in, Swati started losing herself. She cried on most nights and had panic-like symptoms especially when she returned home from work. Swati blamed herself for not having the courage to speak up in the current situation. She had immense guilt about how she had not seen the personality clash? and differences in thought processes between the two. In counseling, she revealed that the fear of being single until 30 years made her commit to Dhirag, even though she had seen some red flags. She reflected and realized that she was initially busy setting up her career and had not considered what she desired in relationships. She now felt that she should have dated more before formally committing to marriage. The stigma of being divorced at 30 was getting her depressed.

Dhirag and Swati had not been to a relationship counselor as Dhirag would not agree. Swati tried to seek counseling for herself to handle her feelings of anxiety and guilt. She felt detached not only from her relationship but also from herself. At work, she started talking to her colleague and felt immensely connected to Akash. Akash and Swati spent time talking at work and beyond. Swati felt that she was being unfaithful to Dhirag but she enjoyed the bond she had built with Akash. Swati felt stuck in her marriage and her relationship with Akash.
With so many pent-up feelings of anger, guilt, and embarrassment, Swati was unable to concentrate at work. She knew that she had to figure out her life and her relationships. She had spoken to her friends but she did not reveal all details. Swati felt judged by her friends for not being faithful. In therapy, her attachment issues were discussed. She identified patterns of seeking validation from her parents and society. Breaking from these patterns seemed like healing but it was discomforting. Swati had to confront her own feelings and confront others regarding her thoughts. Although therapy helped her gain insight into her issues, she took 4 to 5 months to accept and break out of her patterns.

Marital therapy helped her see what she aspired in her partner. At times the fun, folic, vibrant partners that one potentially gets attracted to are not stable in other aspects of their life. Along with emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy is essential between two partners. A key element to work out committed relationships requires partners to discuss disappointments, couple goals, and communication problems in their relationships. The concept of partners having their ‘space’ is emphasized in the modern era. Some partners acquire their time alone when they travel for work. However, for other couples, partners can seek recreational activities such as trekking, farming, sports, and solo travel as well. Couple goals include creating joint savings, travel plans, and building a home or a family together. Daily goals can also focus on doing an activity together such as going for a walk or playing a sport, sharing narratives about the books or shows that one may have watched. Companionship is about sharing and healing together. In order to achieve the same, one needs to be vulnerable enough to share even if the other partner may not always agree. For a successful partnership, one needs to let go of the expectations and accept each one’s strengths and weaknesses. A lot of what the individual is in their relationship may reflect their past trauma, insecurities, and fears. Once you begin to understand the past you can unravel the present disruptive behaviors.

Courageously Connect.

Allow me to nurture, while you walk the path.