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I AM OK, YOU ARE OK BUT WE ARE NOT OK

August 29, 2009

Few days back I read a novel where the husband and wife separates after 2-3 years of marriage. So before leaving they divide the things bought by them. As the husband had paid for the bed and mattress minus the pillows, the TV, the music system minus the high power speakers he took all of them whereas the wife was left with the pillows, speakers and TV trolley as she had paid for it

Then the other day I was talking to a young working couple. They described their house purchases to me. “Aunty I bought this and this and aunty other things he bought”.
Surprised at the way they were describing their shopping I asked them what did they mean by I bought or he bought.
Prompt came the reply, “for half the things I paid and rest he paid. Look aunty, suppose things don’t work out between us in future and we decide to separate then we don’t want to fight over petty issues over physical possession. That is why everything is divided equally between us. Household expenditure, shopping, outings etc etc

I was shocked here was a newly married couple just on the verge of starting their new life and they were already planning for separation. What happened to lifelong commitments, marriage vows, faith and confidence in each other? Have these values become thing of past or only to be read in the books?

No doubt what they were thinking was very practical and realistic. After all both of them are financially independent, educated, progressive young people belonging to this modern era and they have equal rights over the way they spend their money and if things really go out of hand and they are not able to live together then no one should face financial loss or be in a vulnerable position BUT

Aren’t they starting their life on shaky grounds, on doubts, with preset apprehensions about the permanency of the relation,? Any thing started with negativism will surely bring about more negativity in the relation. They are already preparing themselves for separation.

That means no thought is given by them on concepts like understanding, endurance, adjustments. It sounds more like a contract to me. If things work out we will remain together else TATA BYE BYE
A little argument, a little difference of opinion and they just go their own ways.

What happened to feeling of US. It is always you and me.

Isn’t marriage supposed to be union of two persons, two families from two different cultural values, backgrounds who try to come together as one being?

By giving too much emphasis to one’s own individuality, independence they are deviating from the basic foundation of married life which rests on trust, belongingness, feeling of togetherness, feeling of being WE.

I agree that by maintaining separate financial accounts, each one is free to spend as one wish and don’t have to account to other person for the expenses. Especially in Indian society many a times when the girl wants to do something for her family, there are objections from the boy or his family. This way she can support her family or gift them without facing the wrath of the inlaws.

The young couples practice these thoughts not only in financial matters but also at each step of their married life. My relatives your relatives, my dreams your dreams, my life your life and so forth. Till the realization of being as one unit, as being We or Us sinks in them the marriage will remain on rocky grounds.

I remember there was a dialogue in old hindi movie Kora Kaagaz, where after a long separation due to lots of misunderstandings when the couple meet suddenly , the wife asked, “was it was only my mistake “ and the husband replied, “ No, some of it was yours, some of it was mine and some of it was ours”

I am neither running a moral brigade nor am I in a position to pass value judgement on any body’s behavior ( after all we live in a democratic society) and every one has a right to lead his life as he wants.

But these were some of my doubts may be from a mother’s point of view or may be from a different generation (How I hate to be called as old fashioned or from different generation) but I just can’t help it. I am unable to adhere to these values, philosophy and thinking of individualism.

I strongly advocate that one should maintain one’s individuality, one’s privacy but not to such an extent as to jeopardize the institution of marriage whose basis is togetherness.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. manju permalink
    August 29, 2009 9:18 am

    Thought- provoking post, Anju!

    I agree, It does seem that the newly married couple you have described, are starting their married life on shaky grounds.

    On the one hand, it is good that both partners are nowadays economically independent.

    On the other hand this also means that the marriage cannot be taken for granted.

    A balance has to be found between independence and the 'us' factor in marriage, I think!

  2. hitchwriter permalink
    August 29, 2009 9:47 am

    I saw the film Love Aaj Kal and kept saying this is over practicaly.. there cant be such people in real… !!

    Dont shock me please… !!!!

    are they turning so practical ???

  3. Butler and Bagman permalink
    August 29, 2009 10:26 am

    Marriage is not a 50-50 propositio. It is a 80-20 proposition with each side giving 80.

  4. Apanatva permalink
    August 29, 2009 10:45 am

    Education,independence in some cases has shaken very foundation of the institution called marriage.

    ham bhee to ab apanee betiyo ko yeh kahkar vida nahee karate ki betee us ghar se tumharee arthee hee uthegee ?

    patience and adjustment has gone with wind .
    ( the real MANTRA for successful marriage ) .this is just my opinion .

  5. Durga Nandan permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:15 am

    I+ YOU = I + YOU now.
    Unlike the I + YOU = US before. 🙂
    Pseudo independence and pessimism.

  6. Zeba permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:40 am

    I TOTALLY agree with you. Gone were the days when Marriage meant Pathar ki Lakheer and divorce was not even an option. Mind set has changed.

  7. Queenmothermamaw permalink
    August 29, 2009 1:15 pm

    I totally agree. I think couples go into marriage with that idea of if it doesn't work, we'll just spit up. That was never a thought in our minds when we married. It was to be forever. We celebrate 50 years in April of 2010. It ain't been easy either, but a forever vow is forever.
    I am of the older generation obviously.
    QMM

  8. Deepa permalink
    August 29, 2009 2:10 pm

    I think I'll disagree with popular opinion. Agreed marriage is about togetherness. But I think there is need for a change in the way we look at things. Look at the positives. Where earlier women were taught that there is NOTHING for them except marriage and that they should stay in a marriage no matter what – today, women (and men also) have the guts and the gumption to speak out when a marriage is not working. Divorce is not an easy decision at all – at least in middle class India.

    I think perhaps we are taking a pessimistic view that just because couples like to preserve their sense of independence, it means that they do not have a sense of love and hope for their union. The institution of marriage is centuries old. The values on which it is founded are strong. I do not think that it is threatened or at risk just because couples like to point out that this is mine and that is his / hers. Maybe for them it is a symbol of their personal space and not an alarm bell that their marriage is in trouble.

    And I really do not subscribe to this doli-coming-in-and-arthi-going-out line of thinking mentioned in one of the comments. This is the 21st century. The burden of a good marriage does not lie only on the shoulders of women!! It is a shared responsibility.

  9. Gayathri permalink
    August 29, 2009 5:54 pm

    Yeah tolerance and endurance is at an all time low..people give greater importance to live-in than marriages these days just due to this fact,.there's always this exit open..no need for a compromise or adjustment..you wear the shoes only if it fits you well these days,unlike how it was earlier when a small amount of looseness or tighness seldom mattered !

  10. AnjuGandhi permalink
    August 30, 2009 1:38 am

    Manju I am in complete favour of both the partners being financially independent. It is just that in recent past I have found the WE OR US factor missing in newly married couples.
    It is always his or hers. The feeling of OURS is most important in a marriage for it to remain on firm grounds( this is not the only factor for cementing the marriage relation )but yes, it is important

    hitchwriter some of the couples have become very practical. There is no place of emotions in this relation only practicality and rationality.

    Butler and Bagman I never thought of this new proposition. With your experience I am sure this new concept is really workable. But please tell me who is responsible for the 20% of it?

    Apanatva I don't agree to the saying of arthee hee uthegee. If things are not working properly, if our daughters are not happy, if they are being subjected to abuse ( physical or mental) one should not subject the girl to go on suffering because age old traditions and our culture promotes this.why should the girl be the only one to be subjected to such irrational thinking.
    Yeah, but both the sides should put in their best, should try to their upmost to see that once they have entered into matrimony then they should make it work but not at the cost of self esteem or life of any one of the party.

    Durga nandan very apt equation.

    Zeba
    I TOTALLY agree with you. Gone were the days when Marriage meant Pathar ki Lakheer and divorce was not even an option. Mind set has changed.
    Yes Zeba times have definitely changed. Some of the tradition bound parents are showing courage to bring back their daughters if the going is difficult for them. But still majority parents do teach their daughters to view marriage as pathar ki lakheer and force them to go on tolerating their exploitation and torture.

    QMM from what I have heard and seen couples don’t even try to make the things work. None of them is ready to bend down even a bit and come to a compromise. The common thinking is that if both the partners are earning equal then why should the girl be the only one to adjust or compromise. Whereas I think marriage means little bit of compromise, adjustment and understanding but from both the partners. The girl should not be the only one to change her self.

    Deepa whatever you have said is absolutely right. Marriage doesn’t mean encroaching upon each other’s privacy or intruding on each other’s personal space but I have found in many recent marriages the feeling of US or We missing. It is always I or You. Which according to me is doesn’t provide a good base for future relations.

  11. BK Chowla permalink
    August 30, 2009 10:03 am

    You are comparing the scene when it was the husband who would be the working partner,thus resulting into wife being the dependent partner.Times have changed,girls have become very independent,more confident,with a mind of their own.And why not??Actually,there is nothing wrong in their maintaining separate identities.I feel,the couple can still maintain a fantastic relation and feel independent.

  12. The Panorama permalink
    August 30, 2009 8:47 pm

    It is a common practice here in Norway where the couples share the household expenses. But I agree with Anju, the concept of we or us is vanishing. The divorce rate here is 50 %, which is only for the couples that actually tie the knot. It would be even higher if one includes the ones who are in living in relationships. So am not sure if this new trend generates the right kind of attitude among the newly weds. You don't start a relationship thinking back p plans already…it's doomed to fail, then…I could be wrong….

  13. Swatantra permalink
    August 31, 2009 4:57 pm

    I think in many of the things we are not different from developed countries… we are just behind them.. Nice written post!!

  14. Ms. Neha Gandhi permalink
    August 31, 2009 6:12 pm

    its right when u say that they are starting with the very doubts of separation…but the world is moving towards practicality …and its a good thing to keep ur finances separate…since both the partners are financially independent they should not be answerable to each other for their expenses…but ya… to do things because u r not sure of the future…is definitely a wrong approach
    i dont know if the concept of "us".."we" is diminishing…but it is being taken over by Independence and practicality…

    now if its a bad thing or a good thing… that varies from relation to relation and also is different for each individual…

    by the way…i see ur walls stacked with awards….u might need another blog for ur awards 🙂

  15. workhard permalink
    September 4, 2009 6:24 pm

    Hi.. thats a very nice post

    I believe that the Indian culture revolves more around what others think that what an individual thinks..

    Web hosting india

  16. Stupidosaur permalink
    September 4, 2009 9:51 pm

    Well, at office, when making design for a new computer program, or making the design document, we also setup a 'contingency plan', even before starting with the actual design.

    It involves deciding answers to questions like

    "What the heck are we gonna do if this program does not work as expected and the whole thing bombs?"

    We take back-ups of exiting program/data etc, as we see fit.

    Of course, after doing all this, we do the design and implement the design with full commitment! We don't slack around letting/making things bomb, just because we have a contingency plan in place. In fact things hardly go wrong once in a few hundred times!

    So what you see in the young people may not necessarily be cynicism, pessimism or coming together with daggers drawn. It may just be pragmatism, a worse-cast scenario contingency Plan B! After having the option sorted out they will go into the marriage with full commitment like we do in projects!

    In fact, if we hadn't made the contingency project plan, thinking it a cynical way to begin a project, we might have to sit and cry, frustrated, with lots of personal blames, desperation and losses. Similarly, in absence of things clear-cut, such as who-paid-for-what, couple may separate (if at all they do) in one fierce dog-and-the-bone game, with hard feelings at separation. But if things are clear, they have the possibiity of separating more amicably maturely, without feeling of injustice, and may remain better friends in future.

    Hadn't got to thinking anything like this before. Just a knee jerk response to your post.

    Kaisi rahi?

  17. indianhomemaker permalink
    September 8, 2009 7:25 pm

    This is an extreme case I guess. Most people still marry with the hope that it would last forever.

    But these days one has prenuptual contracts abroad which are also fine. Cathrine Zeta Jones has a clause that her husband will divorce her, pay her certain million, and her children's custody if he is ever unfaithful!

    I feel prenupts are a sensible thing to do (Muslim have Meher and a model Nikahnama, where actually one can (but nobody does)add conditions including a girl can ask for a right to divorce, or children's custody or insist against Polygamy. I have blogged about this.

    Some people are afraid of writing their Will – it makes them think of death… same way a fear of even thinking that a marriage might break can be traumatic… but I agree that if we marry with divorce in your mind, there are stronger chances of that it will be seen as just one of the options. For Hindus prenuptial are not allowed… maybe it is better, otherwise seeing our system they might be misused. (rambling…)

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