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How to learn successful marriage tips from India

Globally, marital discords and divorces continue to be on the rise and there have always been questions whether there could be a better alternative to a man-woman relationship other than a formal marriage. However no human society has ever found a better alternative to the institution of marriage.

It is obvious that there is nothing fundamentally wrong in the arrangement of marriage, but it is only the attitude of people towards the time-tested bondage that has created problems to the institution.

 

In countries like India, unlike the western society, marriages continue to hold the traditional reverence and despite the onslaught of globalization and the resulting cross currents of cultural invasions, marriages are far more successful in India and divorce rates are far fewer than in any other developed country.

We can definitely take some clues from the Indian culture on how to ensure a lasting marital relationship. Be forewarned that some of the ideas discussed here may look archaic and unpalatable to feminists in particular.

The woman’s primary role as a mother and a homemaker

Indian culture has had its ups and downs in its vast history on the status of a woman (right from child marriage, sati, denial of education etc, to the present level of giving equal opportunities to women in education, employment, national governance, police and even in armed forces). But, even today, in the mindsets of people including a vast majority of educated and career oriented women, the woman’s primary and most respected role is motherhood and her predominant role in society is as a protector and nurturer of the household and family relationships.

Parents, grand parents, in-laws, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces — the Indian culture revolves around relationships rather than friendships. A woman acts as the binding force between all the individuals related to the family. So, in India, it is said that when a man marries, he just marries a woman, whereas a woman marries a family.

A woman, even if she is looked at as a sex object before marriage, transforms to a venerable mother once she gets married and bears a child. Even in today’s transformed culture of nucleus families where selfishness is gradually becoming a virtue, the Indian society gives the greatest respect to a married woman who never breaks families and who ensures cordial relationship with all her in-laws and other relatives.

When it comes to ensuring cordiality of relationship and welfare of children, lots of Indian women still opt to become stay-at-home moms, giving top-most priority to home rather than their careers.

Getting married at the most appropriate age

Even though man and woman attain majority at the age of 18, in well educated and cultured families in India, the woman gets married above 20 years and the man, above 25 years. It is at this age that both men and woman understand the institution of marriage better and are mature enough to face the challenges of running a family.

Ensuring adequate age difference between husband and wife

As most of the marriages in India are still arranged marriages, parents generally look for an age difference of 3 to 6 years, the boy obviously being elder. In some stray cases, age differences of even 8 to 10 years too are accepted. There is a very sound logic in this preference.

A girl attains puberty at about 12 to 14 years whereas a boy attains it at 14 to 17 years of age. There is a proportionate difference in their mental maturities too. Qualities like judging people, sense of responsibility towards one’s own life and that of those dependent on oneself, firming up of clear ideas about one’s needs, wants, ambitions etc are reasonably well developed in a woman at about 21 years.

On the other hand, a man of equal age is far more boyish, carefree and is afraid of getting into commitments and taking up responsibility. An unbridled life of freedom looks to be far more attractive to a man at that age. A man gets to grasp the importance and the responsibilities of a disciplined married life mostly above the age of 26.

Thus when a woman of 21 marries a man 4 to 5 years elder to her, the mental maturity level between them fairly matches and they will be in a better position to adjust with each other.

Fundamentally, a man, deservedly or undeservedly expects his wife to treat him as more than an equal partner. When a decent age difference exists, the woman tends to show him more respect than if he were to be of equal age to her. This psychological nuance helps in a significant way in bringing cordiality in relationship.

A woman attains menopause anywhere between her 45th to 50th age. After menopause, women drastically lose interest in sex. On the other hand, a man’s sexually virile age may extend even up to his 60 years of age. Man at around  40th of age tends to get a revived vigor in sexual cravings and a co-operative, young and a willing partner at home helps in preventing him from going astray.

Ensuring cultural compatibility

Basic human tendency is to feel comfortable and be at ease with people of their own religion, language, clan, color, sect/ sub-sect, food habits, cultural practices etc. In India, this comes through the caste system. Mostly parents insist on getting their children married within their castes or with sub-sects compatible to each other.

In India, religion plays a very powerful role in every day life. Love marriages, cutting across religious, cultural and caste barriers do not mostly succeed in India. Even highly educated people who consider themselves modern, have their sentiments deeply attached such things, even though they may deny it outwardly.

Since family relationship is a predominant factor in social relationships, arranged marriages, with a large parental influence and with due concurrence with the man and woman to be wedded, are highly successful in India when compared to love marriages where families have been sidelined.

Ensuring chastity of the man and woman

In Indian culture, chastity of man and woman before marriage is considered very important and sacred. Even in today’s highly loosened morality aided and abetted by the onslaught of globalization and westernization, a vast majority of marriages in India do take place between chaste men and women. And that’s one of the reasons why Indian culture and family structure remains intact across centuries.

Ensuring compatibility of horoscopes

In many Indian social segments, marriages are arranged after checking the compatibility of the horoscopes of the man and woman under wedlock. There is an increased resistance from younger generation to this practice; but let’s see the reality. Marital failures do happen, whether arranged marriages or love marriages. But since a vast majority of arranged marriages, done by checking the compatibility of horoscopes, is able to remain intact, despite skirmishes and petty fights between husbands and wives, there is lot of scope in believing that this age old practice does have validity.

Developing lifelong commitment to marriage

In India, marriage is considered a sacred relationship, meant for lifelongtogetherness. No marriage is ever experimented with an idea like “if something does not work out, we shall get separated without any qualms and look for an alternative relationship”.

Again, in line with global trend in India too, utter selfishness, excessive egotism and high degree of impatience have started playing havoc in several marriages. But if you consider a vast majority again, the commitment to the sanctity of marriage is very strong.

Giving top most priority to the well-being of the children

Despite the burgeoning population, Indian’s love for children is very strong. The arrival of a baby in the family is always a celebration that brings disgruntled people together. A baby cures several wounds in marital disharmony. Parents not seeing eye to eye with each other continue to live together in marital bond, purely for the sake of happiness and well being of the children. And wonderfully, this singular decision brings back fresh lease of life to the dying marital relationship in many cases.

The Indian society, despite the presence of a large number of well educated and independent-thinking women in the society, still does not treat a divorcee too gently. A divorced woman, rightly or wrongly, is somehow looked down upon as someone who is has not learned the art of adjustment, and give-and-take so essential in marriage. A divorcee getting re-married is still an uphill task, though changes are coming in this aspect gradually in Indian society.

To conclude…

The cultural glory of a country or a society is very strongly linked to the stability of marriages and relationships. A stable marriage ensures a cultured upbringing of children; Stable marriage is an indicator of peace, tolerance,harmony, unselfishness and stability in the society. Indians may still be economically backward when compared to people in western countries but, Indian culture has got certain very precious and noble things to showcase to the outer world. The Indian marriage institution is one of them.

 

 

 

Swami Vivekananda said to Sister Nivedita:  “Social life in the West is like a peal of laughter but underneath it is a wail. It ends in a sob. Here in India, it is sad and gloomy on the surface but underneath are carelessness and merriment. The West has so much to learn from the East and vice versa. The future has to be shaped by a proper fusion of the two ideals.”

Amma’s insight into man-woman relationship

On a Tuesday Satsang at Ashram – some time in August/ September 2012

On this Tuesdays’ satsang, a western woman asked question on the issue of men molesting girl children and also about wife-beating done by men. She wanted to know how such men should be treated by society.
Amma was at her elaborate best in answering the question. She touched multiple aspects of man-woman relationship, the cultural differences in India and in western countries on this issue, the status of women in the past and present and her own childhood experiences and observations. In a rare moment of slackening of guards, she hinted on her “all knowing status” by virtue of her divinity too!
Amma was unequivocally clear that those who abuse children and wife are handled as per law. But she felt that while the act should be condemned, the actor should not be. There may be deep-rooted psychological complications in men who sexually misbehave with little children and such men should be subjected to mental treatment with care and concern.
While analyzing why men always feel superior to women and by that count, resort to beating wife as a matter of right, Amma said that it all got nurtured from the traditional role of men being the bread winner and a protector of woman who are by nature physically weak and vulnerable. Women too are to be blamed for this state of affairs, since, women, in their role as mothers, somehow treated men as superior creatures over their female siblings.
Amma said lots of changes for better has happened in societies across the globe over a period of time and women too have now got ample opportunities and avenues in education and employment. Thus men are not sole bread-winners any longer. Amma felt that this reality has been understood by at least 60-70% of men.
But the feeling of one-up-manship has been nurtured in men across so many generations that it is quite deep rooted in men’s genes. So it is only a question of time that the others too will accept equality and behave better. It is a slow process and it will happen. Amma was rather against women “fighting” for their rights. The changes should come through the path of love and understanding and not by confrontational ways.

Amma was equally frank in saying that empowerment of women too has its ill effects in society; women are losing their innate qualities of loving kindness, patience and motherhood . Their financial independence coupled with lack of patience and forbearance now tend to make them too arrogant with men and in this process, disintegration marriage and family life are caused by women too in the present society.

Amma felt that while this trend is quite palpable in west, it is slowly catching up in India too.

Amma said that in case of Indian woman, she could advice them to be more forgiving, patient and forbearing, because, culturally, in India, woman have the tendency to sacrifice their personal whims to quite some extent for the sake of the family and the future of the children.

But when it comes to advising her western children, Amma felt that she needs to be more careful and guarded. In west, the idea of personal freedom and sense of rights of the women are strongly rooted. Western women may not be able to digest Amma’s guidelines in line with what she gives for Indian women.

While talking about how men were treated as though superior to women and how their egos were pampered, Amma shared many of her early days’ scenario in her household and around.
In those days, women were prohibited from showing broom stick to men. If a woman was sweeping the floors and a man entered the scene, the woman was supposed to hide the broomstick else it would be deemed insulting men.If a brother, be even a younger one, grew taller than a girl, the girl was expected to stand when the brother enters the room where the girl was seated.
If any male guests were coming to a house, the girls were expected to remain unseen to them. It was infra-dig for men to wash their plates or clothes. It was the duty of female members in the family to wash the food plates and dresses of men. The sense of superiority that males enjoyed was more or less fostered and nurtured mostly by the elderly womenfolk in the families.Perhaps since males were the sole breadwinners and protectors of the families, women extended so much extra respect for males that naturally ended up bloating up their egos.

In those days, males could not tolerate or digest verbal onslaught of women. Amma had heard some males saying, “Oh! That loud-mouthed woman scolded me so much! Should I ever live in this world after hearing those words from these lowly women? Oh what a shame; better to commit suicide!”

(Late Sri Sugunanandan – Amma’s father)

Amma’s mother Dhamayanthiamma was always protective about her husband Sugunananthan. She always displayed a sense of respect towards him and she would never accept any complaint about him if made by her children. While she herself might have some personal grouse against him, but would never allow children talking ill of their father; she would almost blindly side with her husband in such situations.
There was always a thread of love with a strong sense of duty and responsibility to the husband that women displayed those days.
To explain the type of attachment her mother had with her father, Amma narrated this amusing incident:
Hardly a few years back there was a knock at Amma’s room at one night around 9 PM. When the door was opened, Dhamayanthi Amma was standing there with a cloth bag tucked under her arm. She came into Amma’s room saying, “I am fed up with your father; I can’t live with him any more; I have packed my essential dress and I have come here to stay with you; I will not go back to him”.
Amma listened to it with a sense of amusement and made arrangements for Dhamayanthi Amma to stay in her room along with Swamini Amma (Soumya).At around 3:00 AM early next morning, Amma heard noise in the bathroom as someone was taking bath. It was Dhamayanthi Amma. After her bath, Dhamayanthi Amma said “OK. I am going back”.
Amma asked her “Why? You said you have left your husband and are going to stay with me?””Who will make tea for the old man in the morning? He is so much used to taking that tea early” so saying, Dhamayanthiamma left while Amma watched with utter amusement. That was the type of love that existed in the older generation.”

The Importance of adequate age difference between Husband and wife

Amma continued on the subject with a keen sense of ‘worldly wisdom’ that has practical relevance, not understood by the present day generation.”In olden days, it was the prevailing practice that the husband was about 8 to 10 years older than the wife. It had some real logic. When the husband is much elder, the woman naturally tends to show respect for his age and maturity. Unlike a person of the same age, husbands too were able to deal with their wives in a more matured mindset when women show their idiosyncrasies.  Biologically too, the sexual needs of a woman are keener and much more sensitive, which could be satisfied better by a more matured man. That way, the age difference is advantageous.”

When Amma spoke thus on a very subtle and delicate subject, it is quite natural that many in the gathering had their dose of wonder! Perhaps grasping this, Amma said:”When I was talking like this on this very sensitive subject in another gathering in the past, someone asked me, “Amma! You were a Brahmacharini and how on earth do you know all these subtle nuances of man-woman relationship? Even many householders like us do not know of the importance of what you said now!”
“Do you know how I escaped from this question? I said to her:  “You see, a car driver may not know what is wrong in the car when a car suddenly breaks down on the way. But the engineer who designed the car would surely know the correct cause of a breakdown!”

This reply of Amma brought a spontaneous round of applause in the gathering. Only very rarely Amma speaks openly of her all-knowing-power (Sarvagnyathvam) born out of her divinity. Those who were present in this day’s satsang caught that rare moment and it naturally triggered the instant applause!Related reading: What is the ideal age gap between a husband and wife?