Some people say that relationships are like that piece of glass that cannot be fixed again if it shatters into pieces somehow, no matter how much effort you put into it. In the altered perspective of post-modernity, this axiom holds water as more and more couples are now locking horns and filing divorce petitions.
According to a report published in a leading Bangla daily a few months ago, as many as 39 divorces are happening in the capital every day, followed by Chattogram with 18 divorces a day. Between June and October in 2020, 5,970 divorces were reported.
In 2019, the number of divorces was 920 per month during the same timeframe mentioned earlier whereas the rate was 1,194 in 2020. Staggering, right?
The report is a bellwether for our current relationship trend. One thing is clear – the rate of divorces is shooting up while the very fabric of our relationships (between couples) is tearing apart. But why? Riding on my myopic insights, I can point out a couple of points.
First, couples nowadays do not have time for each other, especially in families where both the husband and the wife are job-holders. Some couples are too emotionally frozen, while some others are too ostentatious. The latter consider posting all those flashy pictures taken in the flamboyant marriage anniversary party as if it is the only parameter to evaluate their success as a couple.
Everyone is a busy bee in this era. People are largely characterised by how successful they are in their careers. As a result, they develop a yen for reaching the zenith of their career as envisioned by others and society, even at the cost of their marital happiness.
The share of time that is supposed to remain reserved for each other is blatantly dedicated to other activities; the weekend that is supposed to be a date to invigorate lost romance is shamelessly spent for professional meetings.
The truth is that post-modernity has reshaped our lives, changed our priorities and even redefined our family life. The American social historian Edward Shorter, in his book "The making of the modern family" (1975), was most probably the first writer to point finger at the emerging post-modern families. Out of the three points he noted, one significant one was the rising level of instability in the lives of couples, followed by increasing divorce rates.
We should remember that just like you need to work your fingers to the bone to get the desired success, your marital life also requires time to weather the bumps in the road. If you do not put time and effort into it, you will never be able to hear those murmurings of discontent brewing inside your partner.
Second, an inability to balance between traditionally-expected behaviour and spouse's expectations cause problems and hiccups in a relationship, especially among couples living in a united family.
Many men, many minds - a wife cannot really be the same person to all staying together in the family. To someone, she may sound a bit cacophonous. To others, she may seem like an outsider trying to poke into every family decision. This results in a feud and in some cases mini world wars within the family as to why the wife is not behaving the way they (other family members) want.
In families where the husband fails to put himself in the shoes of his wife and the wife at the same time cannot make head or tail of the causes of differences or fails to draw the slightest concern from her counterpart, the couples run out of steam to carry on the relationship. The situation in such families gets further complicated by derogatory and sometimes mendacious remarks by relatives and acquaintances.
Third, with the passage of time, we actually turn into humans full of ossified ideas. Consequently, we fail to recognise the fact that people change over time. Someone cutting loose in his twenties will not behave in the same way once he/she steps into his/her thirties.
This is the truth because the journey from the songs of innocence to the songs of experience presents before someone so many moments of epiphany, all of which morph him/her into a changed person (widely termed as 'mature' in our society).
This metamorphosis is very common. This is where the problem arises, especially in the case of couples who were in a romantic affair before marriage. For instance, a romantic boy at the age of 25 will buy a bunch of flowers and chocolates as a Valentine's Day gift to sweep his sweetheart off her feet. But, the same person at 35 may buy a chic comb and beauty essentials his beloved needs on Valentine's Day.
It may happen because that person has grown to be dry behind the ears and experienced other practical aspects of life which have forced him to learn how to kill two birds with one stone. Now, it gets quite difficult for his counterpart to accept such change in many instances, leading to acrimonious confrontations and divorce as well in the long run.
Fourth, there is a common tendency among many of us that we want our wife/husband to be just a reflection of ourselves. It means we want them to have the same preferences and even develop the same kind of habits.
Couples sometimes do not understand that every human is unique in his/her own ways. It is our differences where lies the recipe for a spicy relationship full of torrid romance and flames of passion.
A wife might have some kind of obsession with K-pop culture, but it may turn out that the husband does not like it. It is absolutely okay to have different choices. In that case, it will not be really prudent on the part of the wife to engage in arguments over her husband's failure to like what she likes. Such forceful pursuits widen the gap between couples.
Last but not least, when all these feuds and misunderstandings push a relationship over the edge, many including close relatives often put their two cents in with great alacrity, and suggest the couple to have a baby.
Such a decision as a last resort to save a relationship just adds to the confusion and increasing misapprehension. Because taking babies is a whole new level of responsibility, accompanied by increased levels of stress hormones and disorientation, which may frustrate the couple further.
If you as a couple do so, you will be barking up the wrong tree as taking a baby requires a sound mindset and different kinds of planning and orientation. So, a decision to produce a baby to save a marriage most of the time goes in vain and the relationship gets back to a square one.
If it does not work, couples find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place as they cannot redress the balance anymore, lead the relationship to a perilous state and to cap it all, the baby's future just gets jeopardised.
Well, there seems to be something terribly wrong with the way we consider and maintain our marital relationship. Couples need to take some time out, put their finger on it, work their way around to find out the Achilles' heel in their relationship and zero in on those with an intent to iron out the wrinkles. Instead of being quixotic and living in never-never land, couples need to set realistic relationship goals that they can pull off together happily.
Md Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a philomath.