Recently, I have seen a spate of failed marriages in India and amongst Indians abroad. The traditional framework of marriage is under stress and that is visible in how easily and regularly the separations and divorces are happening. Even in cases where the marriage is intact, there may be interest of a spouse outside his/her marriage. Why is this happening?
When one looks at the situation, it is fairly obvious that the reasons seem very common. The lady feels she wants more freedom and more expression, after years of taking care of the family despite once being a career woman. In cases of men, they seem to think that the woman at home is either not as dynamic or if working is too distant in terms of emotional and mental connect than she used to be.
But, I have seen woman expecting more from men and men really not stacking up to those expectations. In that there is a dichotomy as well. While a woman romantically wants a guy who “can take control”, but for a husband they want a guy who “gives them the control and freedom”. The new world has meant more freedom and openness in how a woman expresses herself. While the men have not yet grown into that kind of dimension – to let women be totally free. They somehow still expect her to be a “housewife” first. Additionally, the expectation of being a “man” or “mard” has been dogging the guys forever. Their ladies have also reinforced that through the courtship and romantic period. But suddenly, when the family starts, the men are expected to change diapers, wash dishes etc. Things, that were told to them was against the grain of “being a man”. So, while the woman went ahead and evolved from a “housewife” to a career woman to a multi-dimensional, dynamic multi-tasker – all rolled into one working machine. Man still remains a slob by comparison. Our ability and training has not been upto the mark.
But that does not mean that what is expected from us is any less. A man is expected to have a kick ass career, pay all the bills, fund the vacations, do the house projects from fixing fans to toilets, read to kids, wash dishes, and then be a great lover. While a woman can pace her career and stop and start it when she wants to, with the freedom she wants with, the man cannot “drop the ball”.
Modernity, in the last many decades has meant freedom for individual as well as fulfillment of specific needs that people have. When a woman is in a family and feels that such a structure hurts her career and professional fulfillment she wants individual freedom. At that point, usually her relationship gets strained. Some women have found that going out of the traditional marriage helps with their expression of life.
But as soon as they are “single” again, they need a man for emotional, mental and physical fulfillment. And the tough thing for a woman is that her emotional, mental and physical fulfillment are all interlinked. So, unlike a man, who can fulfill himself physically even though there may not be emotional or mental fulfillment from a source, woman cannot segregate these three needs. Its an either / or situation. This mindset and need configuration in a woman is a “remnant” of a being who is a nurturer and a housewife. For, family and its many bonds are designed to present a package of emotional, mental and physical needs to the two people in marriage. And marriage is designed more from a woman’s perspective than a man’s. A man is a hunter. He is more prone to segregate the three needs and can more readily seek fulfillment of any one of them outside; while woman cannot do that as easily. For her, if emotional needs are being met from outside her marriage, the chances are that even the physical needs will be outsourced.
Its a strange situation indeed. Women in stale marriages seek out. And when they are out they seek a package that smells and talk like marriage! Men, on the other hand, cannot first, measure upto the multi-dimensional woman and second, have been left far behind in evolution while the society liberated the woman. Men simply lost the entire race to freedom and what it entails for the world. In a matter of less than 50 years, every ownership right – from slavery to women – has been taken away from them (rightly so), while they weren’t taught how to express themselves as “men” when you have no one to lord over?
Our generation, therefore, faces a tough time ahead.