Three additional family courts will be operational from next month.
(Divorce rates climbing…)
The heavens may be handling the rush of marriages, but back on earth, it's the family courts that are working overtime to dissolve marriages that have hit the relationship roadblock. With marriages these days having a short shelf life and couples unwilling to soldier on with a marriage that has all but gone kaput, there is a lot of pressure on family courts to deal with divorce applications expeditiously. So much so that now, Bangalore will soon have three more family courts to ensure there's speedy processing of applications so that marriages that can't wait for death to do them apart, can come undone.
But do more family courts mean that couples will become complacent about making their troubled marriages work, knowing there is an exit door close by? Or will this move fast track pending divorce applications and help couples escape relationships that have become toxic? Says relationship expert Dr Shyam Bhat, "Earlier too, there were people trapped in unhappy marriages, but divorce was a dirty word back then, and there was social stigma attached to it. Nowadays, divorces are commonplace and there's no social stigma around it, especially in urban centres. Gender roles have evolved tremendously and rapidly, and both the man and the woman increasingly want to inhabit a more egalitarian society. The joint family system of the past afforded more time to a husband and wife to iron out their issues and differences. The child was unaffected because he had others in the family to fall back on."
Dr Bhat adds, "Nowadays, we live in nuclear set-ups, where, more often than not, both the wife and husband are stressed out. Their lifestyles entail high stress. Divorce is the result of social change, not the cause of it. So, while, yes, more family courts might encourage some to end their marriages without giving it a chance, but, conversely, it might also help many who are trapped in miserable marriages to get out of them faster."
Energy therapist and Counsellor Avril Quadros, does not, however, sound very gung-ho about more family. "Having had first-hand experience with how the family courts work, (I know) they're really shoddy. When two people in a marriage opt for a divorce, the lawyers and clients hope for a speedy procedure as no one wants to hang around the courts forever. However, because they are junior advocates or legal aides who have no experience on cases, and because there's so much workload and judges come late and the court is lax, (cases) spill over year into year into year. So having 2-3 fast-track courts would be a great idea if they could do in one day what they're currently doing in three."
As to why divorce rates have been seeing a 20% increase over the years, PS Dinesh Kumar, civil lawyer and mediator, says, "Today, since most couples are working, their timings don't match, there is a lack of interpersonal communication. Most couples file for divorce with 'incompatibility' as their problem."
Should, then, incompatibility be seen as a one-way street from where things invariably go downhill? Actor and businessman, Vishal Hegde, who got hitched recently, doesn't seem to think so.
"If a couple has to get rid of each other, they will find 100 reasons to break up. If they want to live together, they will find several reasons to work out the differences between them. If you want your relationship to work, one person has to compromise. That's the only way to keep a relationship going," says Vishal.
Adds Dr Bhat, "Sometimes therapy and counselling will help, but if the marriage has irretrievably broken down and is at the point of no return, then why insist that the couple stay together. The first three years of marriage are crucial, and I think the couple must give themselves that much time before they decide they want out. But if there is physical abuse or violence in that marriage, then there's no point waiting it out for that long."
Avril's take on this is more practical. "I don't know what kind of message having so many family courts to cater to divorce is sending to people. Will they think divorce is an easy way out of marriage? The idea should be to get to the root of the problem, which is where pre-marriage counselling comes in. I know couples who haven't got married after this sort of counselling."
Shyam's three-point formula to make a marriage work
- As much as possible, try to know yourself before marriage. What kind of person you are, your values, your views, your weaknesses and strengths. Do not get married if that's the only way to address some of your core issues.
- Have reasonable expectations about and from marriage. Do not get married to seek instant gratification.
- Remember that patience and kindness go a long way in making a marriage work.