Prelude: This post took a lot of "shud i or shud i not" , for I know it concerns many of my close friends.. But then, the intention is not to hurt any of their feelings, who may be regular readers of this blog, but try to address an issue that I believe is snowballing into one with serious implications for the generations to come, in addition to of course a personal interest I have to see it to that it be addressed in the best possible way ....
I was at my cousins place in south Jersey the last weekend and a mention came up about a distant relative of ours who was divorced after 6 yrs of marriage, in Mumbai .. the reason ? "it just did not work out" and then the conversation hit upon divorces in US.. they were telling me case after cases of NRI marriages that broke up..
Some one married his cousins wife.... bunch of other close friends of my cousin got divorced or are seperated... about second marriages .. and unfortunately, the last few months saw some of my own close friends in similar situation... "falling out of love" and hence seperating, after 5 or 6 yrs of marriage,... marriages leading upto the verge of divorce within 5-6 months.. another case of divorce of someone after about 20 yrs of marriage (and who has a young kid now...) ....
To the extend that almost every 1 in 4 married Indian in US whom I know seem to have some serious problem with marriage ..
Alarmed, I look up some statistics and it turns out I am just being a live victim of the percentages... There is in fact an entire blog/website on NRI divorces and I quote
Between 10 to 15 percent of all Indian American marriages culminate in divorce or separation. ( http://www.nridivorce.com/index.php?p=50 )
There are around 18 million NRIs in the US, including illegal immigrants. For about $500 one can get a divorce in the US in less than a week. The total number of NRI divorces in the US is over 15,500 ( http://www.nridivorce.com/index.php?cat=5 )
These may not be accurate to the dot, but I look around and things seem to correlate. And what could be the reasons ? Well, may be increased career oriented lifestyles, may be effects of being product of nuclear families, may be the effect from the near 50% (??) average american divorce rate ...... In India too, may be in the Metros the rate is on the rise, but then I think overall it has still not reached such high numbers. Perhaps the "society" aspect in India - be it a little bit of pressure or be it the consoling hands of the society around may be one factor still keeping it low
But then, isn't this an indication of a more "liberal" Indian Amaerican soceity ? Well, well, I am not sure if liberalism should be at the cost of one of the most important values that we as Indians have cherished - that of family. I have even heard Americans say, (yes, told me ) that some of them like to marry Indians because they think the family will be more stable
No, this is not to say that those who are "suffering" from unadjustable marriage should continue to suffer.. but at the same time, such high numbers makes me feel that there has been a huge change in the "tolerance levels" .. and adjustability factor.
So what do I propose. Well, I haven't given much thought to it yet, and those with interesting thoughts may post them in the comments section, but some of them that I can think off
1) I think there is a huge "old generation" Indian couples , many of whom are now leading a retired life. Many have their kids married off... Perhaps they can form some kind of a collective, to address the issues of the young married couple... before it gets to the stage of divorce
2) Seminars and workshops on the issue... ummm .. with a sincere motive..
3) I think institutions like temples and other religious missions (like chinmaya mission) too should take up an active role.. be it by providing counselling centers or even a bit of philosophy...
4) And of course, all the necessary "getting to know each other as much as u can" before the marriage ,....
Well, at the end of the day its too personal an issue.. and with a 1 : 6 chance of an NRI marriage breaking down , anyone... yeah, pretty much anyone could be part of it... One can just hope that with some community level efforts, the ratio can be reduced, in a natural way !
sarve bhavantu sukhinAH