BE FRIENDS IN MATRIMONIAL LIFE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Counter-attacking the nagging counsel of the plaintiff who wanted every answer in just one word- yes or no, the defendant put a question to him “Have you stopped beating your wife?” An answer in any form would have branded the counsel as a wife-beater. The counsel was silenced and he beat a retreat. Jokes apart, beating a wife is an admission of matrimonial discord, besides being a social stigma. It is a criminal offence too. With a view to encouraging a homogenous home in a homogenous society, creating a perfect understanding between a husband and his wife should be the aim of social activists.
Japan is a peaceful country. The matrimonial life of most of the corporate executives is, however, not peaceful. On way back home from the office, most of the executives stop at the pub for a drink and boiled pork. By the time they totter out of pub to head for home, the thought uppermost in mind is the imminent shower of harsh and abusive words of an otherwise docile wife. It is not the middle age that has made the difference. It is the law enacted by the Diet or parliament recently that entitles a wife to 50 per cent of the pension of the retiring husband, should they go through a legal divorce successfully. The cases of divorce among the retiring executives are on the rise. The number of nubile damsels tying the nuptial knot is on the decline. Girls of new generation do not want to go through trials and tribulations of a marital life like their mothers. Boys have no such reservations. The oriental homes are still dominated by husbands, irrespective of the divorce law. It continues to be a man’s world.
MARRIAGES IN INDIA
The Vedic Vivah is a sacrament and not a contract as it is in some other religions. When the Hindu Marriage Act came into force in 1955, it changed the concepts relating to divorce that was non-existent earlier. It gave women more freedom and put financial pressure on the husband like payment of maintenance charges to the wife during pendency of a divorce suit. While grant of a divorce on grounds of mutual consent became easier, in other cases suits lingered on for a decade or more and still divorce was nowhere in sight. The divorce petitions broke homes before they could be heard as a legal case. Verbal bickering increased and broke social peace. Some eminent judges, jurists and legal luminaries thought that the Hindu society was better off without the relevant provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955.
Some socialites fond of fun and frolic used provisions of the said act to pressurise their rich but oldish hubbies to dole out more money and more money to the fun-loving wife who enjoyed the close company of younger men with facilities bought with husband’s money. Since the word “divorce”or a suit for divorce tarnishes the image of a respectable family in society, husbands continued to be blackmailed by the sadistic behaviour of their estranged wife. Perhaps the legislature could not visualise this sorry state of affairs otherwise it could have made legal escape routes for the exploited husbands. The law has made a mockery of marriage. It would be a good idea to collect and collate cases of misuse of such provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act and put legal pressure on the central legislature to amend the law suitably.
Is a marriage compatible or incompatible? Has a Hindu marriage broken down beyond redemption? There are instances where a marriage exists just in name and the erstwhile husband and wife have nothing to do with each other physically, mentally and spiritually. Yet the mutual consent for divorce is not there. Perhaps one party or the other has taken recourse to harassment of the spouse and derives sadistic pleasure. Courts of law say that “breakdown of a marriage beyond redemption” is no ground for divorce as the law makers did not make a provision for this broken marriage as a ground for grant of divorce. It is sad. The court does not go beyond this except in some rarest of the rare case where it did grant divorce saying that both the husband and wife have gone beyond the point of no return in their aggressive animosity towards each other. In such cases the courts also say that the grant of divorce in such rarest of the rare case would not be cited as a precedent. Rather unfortunate.
The remedy obviously lies with the legislature. However, it has not yet chosen to act. The long wait is perhaps for a Law Commission to take cognizance of such hardships caused by the relevant act. Another way out is to mobilise public opinion in such a massive way that the like-minded MPs choose to effect relevant amendments or just scrap the Act itself. It will depend on which way the wind blows at a given time. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the Hindu Marriage Act has caused legal and social hardships to a sizeable section of the Hindu society. By the way, the term Hindu in law includes Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Arya Samajists and so on. Thus the segment of society affected by non-provision of easy remedial measures to get out of a failed marriage is quite a large one.
KEEP OUT OF HARM’S WAY
The best way to keep out of harm’s way is to make the marriage compatible, come what may. Is it a like building castle in the air? No, not at all. Live like a good husband, live like a good wife and take care of each other to avoid a blockage or a breakdown in marriage. Let the ideas flow both ways. COMMUNICATION OR SAMVAD is a maha- mantra or a mega recipe that every married couple must learn by heart. If one of the two partners sulks and avoids the company of the other partner, that is the point when a sagacious elder in the family should step in for proper counselling. Many a time it is seen that as an individual both the husband and the wife are good. And yet they fail to reach an understanding on issues that divide them. Sometimes it boils down to matters mundane like what should be cooking in the kitchen and when. This ticklish issue may be resolved by the couple directly by what is called the principle of “give and take.”Both have to accommodate each other. When there is a lack of accommodation, there is a lack of understanding, a senior lady member of the family may intervene and sort out the matter.
The major problem arises when a third person steps in and gets emotionally involved with one of the two partners. To begin with, one should not allow such a situation to develop. In case it has developed, the most intelligent way of overcoming it is to banish the outsider who is disrupting the matrimonial life. It is easier said than done but not impossible to attain. Indeed, help of a professional counsellor who is not attached to either party must be sought and obtained. An effective marriage counsellor may succeed in putting the matrimonial life back on rails. It is a possibility. Just try it. Once the life ambles back to a near normalcy, please ensure that the element of suspicion does not creep in surreptitiously. Suspicion in the post-rapprochement period is a distinct possibility and a special on-guard is required to avoid a repeat performance of the sulking couple.
A couple leading a healthy marital life is strongly advised to beget as many children as they can conveniently afford to bring up and educate. Children are a cementing factor in the matrimonial relationship. Sometimes children play the role of mediators in a nuptial tiff successfully. Therefore, every couple must bear sons and daughters for the sake of saving their own marriage. In the long run, children will be a positive factor in promoting peace and prosperity in the family. They will keep their parents out of harm’s way. Love in this case too is a two-way traffic. Allow the traffic an uninterrupted flow on the road of life. Let the life run smoothly by assembling the extended family at the dining table for at least one meal to be eaten together. Let the elders listen to the children first and then give a piece of advice, if required. Thus children will find communication with elders quite convenient and there will be a free flow of ideas. With a view to facilitating communication in an uninterrupted manner for marital peace and family accord, Listen first, talk thereafter, says a Veda mantra “SHREUNIYAM SHARADAH SHATAM – PRABRAVAM SHARADAH SHATAM”.
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