Fixing a broken marriage
If we look at the history of marriage, it appears that back in the 18th century, marriage was mostly an economic arrangement. Marriage was used to manage wealth through merging properties of two families and then ensuring it through inheritance laws. Marriage also played a vital role in maintaining social class and adhering to the same social group (e.g. Brahman marrying Brahman or rich marrying rich etc.). In the 19th century, a wave of change started to happen when it became apparent that people from empty marriages could not or would not stay loyal to this contract. Multiple marriages, keeping mistresses, and marital discord started to challenge this social institution and the hollowness of marriage became unacceptable to younger generations. Love, connection, and chemistry started to get higher importance in choosing a marital partner. A king leaving his throne for an ordinary woman or a princess marrying a blue collar worker (theme of most romantic movies!) started to set a social trend that changed the path of marriage. Initially, it took a while to break social resistance, but society finally somewhat yielded and as a consequence, we see marriage for love has become the trend.
In last few decades since women’s liberation has gained momentum and women empowerment has become the central stream of social change, marriage has started to face a new challenge again. Gender roles of traditional marriages do not apply to modern marriages anymore. Financial independence has given both men and women the option to work on personal growth towards self-actualization. This has created a new friction and some social scientists believe that modern marriages have been overburdened by unfulfilled economic expectations, romantic love and personal growth needs. Nevertheless, some people enter into marriages at a deficit level with an unrealistic expectation that their spouses are in surplus situation in all the areas mentioned above and starts feeling frustrated when that bubble bursts!
Fixing a broken marriage is not an easy job unless both partners are equally determined to make changes and willing to compromise for a happy mutual future. Some find this work too hard and quit. “No fault” divorce is on the rise because some think life is short and don’t want to waste time if they feel hopeless.
Unfortunately, misogynistic ideology uses this unsettling situation to take advantage and resist women’s rights. Women’s liberation has faced many challenges, after all freedom is not free of cost! It takes harder work to maintain freedom than to achieve it! On a broader scale, I would say hope lies in future generations who would believe, practice, and uphold gender equality. It is important to ensure enough healthy families in a society to instil these values to their children who would eventually move the society forward.
Trust and respect lay the foundation of any fulfilling relationship. Losing trust or respect for a spouse is a serious indication that the marriage is in trouble. Financial stress, in-laws (who act like out-laws!!), communication problems, sexual incompatibility, division of chores and conflicting parenting styles are some of the most common causes of marital problems. Qualities like readiness to change, commitment, compassion, ability to take responsibility of individual share in a conflict- are all immensely important in conflict resolution. Marriage counselling works for some but it also enhances dissolution of marriage sometimes by making the partners aware of the issues at hand. People moving too fast from one broken marriage to the next without even doing any self-reflection is often disastrous.
It is probably helpful to remember, conflict is inevitable in any relationship. Effective resolution of conflict empowers the relationship, whereas suppressing or avoiding it makes it more complicated. I won’t hesitate to say, in present context, staying married seems to be harder that getting married! It takes attitude –sometimes it is wiser to lose a battle than to win a war!