Thursday, February 28, 2013

Divorces on the rise

The other day I came across a news item regarding divorces. It said that our family courts are witnessing a growing number of divorce cases among the newly weds and couples who are married for a few years, irrespective of whether it is an arranged or love marriage.

While infidelity and extra marital relations in the work place by both men and women is contributing to the breaking up of several marriages, the number of marriages which break up for other reasons is also growing. Incompatibility with the spouse or the spouse`s family are often cited as reasons by girls who want to get out of a marriage. Harassment for more dowry is another contributing factor. Invariably it is the girls who are increasingly initiating divorce proceedings.

What is the main reason for this phenomenon? Undoubtedly the empowerment of women. Today, thanks to the government’s programmes more and more girls are getting educated in all stratas of society. Every girl who comes out of the portals of a college has a dream of her own and has a clear idea of what she wants her life to be. She is also conscious that she has the ability to bring additional income to the family kitty. When she finds that the expectations of the family she is married into are different, she starts rebelling.

If her husband is understanding and respects her feelings then there is no issue. It helps to some extent. But when she is not in a joint family and has to manage a separate house, while also working to support family’s income, she wants her husband to be an equal partner in running the household. She wants him to help her in the kitchen, in the maintenance of the house and also looking after the needs of the children. She is also not willing to tolerate a husband who cannot provide her physical satisfaction.

If the husband turns out to be a person who comes with a traditional value system then there is trouble. Because unlike a traditional housewife who accepted her role as a 24 x 7 x 365 days bonded labour of the family, the new generation woman refuses to be treated like a doormat. She has her priorities, strong views and identity of her own which she would like to preserve at any cost. Even if it means sacrificing her marriage and irrespective of the impact that it will have on her children, in some cases. While in the past women were willing to be the suffering partner in an unequal marriage for the sake of the children, today’s women are increasingly becoming intolerant and are willing to break a marriage to pursue their own dreams

On the other hand men, even those so called modern youngsters who claim a progressive outlook towards life in general, expect their wives to be traditional at home. They refuse to lend a helping hand and often hold the woman responsible for any problems in the family be it domestic issues or problems related to bringing up children. This often leads to conflicts in the family.

No wonder, the number of eligible boys finding it difficult to get life partners, is also growing because girls today are demanding and want to be absolutely sure of what they are getting into when they agree to a marriage.

The other day I met a friend who is struggling to find a bride for his well employed 37 year old son. He expressed shock at the kind of questions the girls ask the boy during their informal chats. They want to know all about the eating, drinking and other habits of the boy, whether he knows cooking , what is his salary and also how many baggages he will bring with the marriage (ie.) a joint family and if so the number of family members who can be a liability. Unlike in the old days when girls shuddered at the thought of being rejected by the boys, today it is the turn of the boys who fear rejection by girls for some reason or the other. If the boy is earning less than the girl he is rejected. If he betrays any sign of being conservative he is rejected. The agony that the parents of girls go through to find grooms for their highly demanding and independent daughters is also a reality today.

Today`s youngsters should know that a successful marriage calls for a lot of adjustment and compromises by both the partners. My generation understood this basic tenet of marriage because of which our marriages lasted for several decades.

If youngsters have king size egos and an uncompromising attitude towards life and are unwilling to make even simple adjustments then surely they are heading towards early divorces. This is the price we have to pay for aping the West. While Westerners are discovering the merits of our family values, by blindly following the West, today`s younger generation is endangering the future of their insecure and often confused children.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lies , white lies and fibs

English is a peculiar language.  There are many words which have more than one meaning.  Take the word ‘Lie’.  Generally it refers to untruth but is also  used for describing a person stretching out  or a thing (say a bag) lying on a chair.  This article is about the first form of lie.

Lies are also known as fibs, falsehood, falsification, half-truths.  Even exaggeration is considered a form of lying  which many of the advertising guys indulge  in when they are promoting products or services.  Sales people are known not only for exaggeration but also  telling white lies while trying to sell their products.  There is an interesting saying in Tamil which describes the salesman  as a person who has a pye (bag) in his hand, tie on his neck, lie on his lips (kaiyile pai, kazhuthile tie, vayile poi).  A friend who was a successful marketing man in his lifetime described the job of a salesman as one who can tell white  lies with convincing logic.

Apart from ad guys and sales people, others who have to tell lies as a part of their profession are lawyers and politicians. The latter`s  election promises are most often a bunch of lies.  And there are , ofcourse, ordinary people who are congenital liers, who tell lies through their teeth, for no rhyme or reason.  The most common among them  are the habitual borrowers who will tell a  hundred lies to borrow money and equal number to justify why they cant repay.

There is  another saying in Tamil according to which a family can tell a thousand lies to conduct a marriage (Aayiram Poi Solly Oru Kalyanam).  In real life,  however, it does not work. I know of a friend`s friend  who divorced his wife within a couple of months of his marriage when he discovered that his wife who was supposed to be a graduate had not even entered the portals of a college. He refused to live with a lie!

On the other hand a fib is a harmless lie, which all of us use to get out of tricky situations.  Like the fibs that husbands tell their wives or what the students tell their parents or teachers.

I learnt the word from one of my bosses, early in life.  I was a Management Trainee with an NGO before I got into advertising.  The boss was a great disciplinarian who tried to instill  the importance of systems, procedures,  time management and honesty in me.  He also exposed me to the futility  of telling lies to get out of situations. 

This boss  had the habit of visiting the  tables of his staff  once in a while as it happened to me within a month of my joining the NGO. Sitting on my  chair,  he asked me to take out my personal things from the drawer.  Then he  started  pulling out official papers from the drawer which related to items on which I ought to have taken action but had not.  However, I had lied to him that I had taken action.  As I stood  shivering at the exposure and waiting to be fired  he  invited  me to his room for a chat.

Instead of admonishing me  he told me that what I had done was not lying but fibbing. He said,” A fib is a harmless  lie.  But when you get into the habit of fibbing regularly, it becomes a white lie, which can lead you to messy situations”.

I  realized early in life that one  must be extremely clever to tell  a string of lies to cover  up the earlier lie.  The policy of not lying had helped me win the hearts of hundreds of clients that I have serviced  during my long career as an advertising man.  Instead of lying to cover up a mistake,  I would be the first to inform  the client about my  mistake and seek his understanding. He will invariably appreciate my honesty and help me  get out of the situation.

Even if you are not living a lie or lying through your teeth the fact is that all of us tell lies, to save ourselves from tricky situations, sometimes leaving the guilt of our lies, lying heavily on us.