Are differences of culture and upbringing causing discord in your marriage?

Unhappy couple

“You need to stop fasting so often,” said he, his voice filled with concern. His wife was weary from working late, and refusing to go out with him.

“I can’t just suddenly stop fasting. I’ve been doing it my entire adult life.” She was not convinced.

“You shouldn’t be starving yourself if you have to work. And what is this about no salt on Thursdays? I still don’t get it. The doctor hasn’t asked you to make dietary changes to your lifestyle. If at all, it’s probably stressing you out more than usual,” said he, with a hint of sarcasm.

“I don’t want to have this discussion over and over again. If you don’t want to understand, please don’t. I don’t nag you about your habits… you cook meat in the house when I’m fasting,” she snapped.

Yes, love is blind and marriage opens your eyes! Clichéd but true.

Culture clashes no longer cute

Ritu and Amol have been married for two years. The cultural differences that were ‘cute’ during their courtship are now starting to cause tiffs. Her strict upbringing and value system are clashing with his liberal ways.

While all married people face domestic discord at some point or the other, perhaps the things our generation fights about are a little different from those our parents disagreed upon.

Related reading: How our differences make our marriage a success

In the pre-liberalisation decades of the 1970s to the 1990s, middle-class Indian couples were more concerned with making ends meet and keeping up appearances. Cultural differences were rarely heard of.

Only a superficial change?

Sad couple
Upset couple in bed

But our times are different from those of our parents. We have more choices, in both our professional and personal lives. And while inter-caste or inter-community marriages are not frowned upon anymore, let us be honest, our parents would rather prefer our friends to be in such relationships than us: “You’d best not think about it,” they seem to silently warn us with their stern gaze!

According to a survey by The Hindu, only 5% of Indians are currently part of inter-caste marriages. Hard to believe in this day and age, isn’t it?

Another survey, conducted by the Taj Group of Hotels, Mumbai, via The Taj Wedding Barometer, finds that 95% of Indians living in cities prefer an ‘arranged’ marriage.

Is it because we don’t want to have to choose between our folks and partners all our lives? Or is it because statistically, divorces have increased ever since ‘love’ marriages increased? Or is it just that we are more open to the idea of divorce now?

Related reading: When chalk and cheese fall in love

More couples asking for help

Not many sociological studies have been conducted on marriages in India. But studies by clinical psychologists point to some trends. “In the last 25 years or so, the changes have been very rapid, shaking up all the rules that we have traditionally followed unquestioningly. At the same time, no clear trend has emerged. Perhaps it’s still in the process of evolving. So are we really in that great a state of flux? I see a number of couples with a great number of issues or problems in their marriage that they are unable to work through. We are definitely seeing a lot more couples seeking help for marital problems,” shares Dr. Ahalya Raguram, consultant for the Family Psychiatry Center and an Adult Psychiatry Unit at NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences).

All was well with the world as long as you were still a cooing couple in college. But in the harsh reality of the here and now, things are way tougher. Marriage shouldn’t have to be so hard. And yet, between the baggage of your upbringing and the expectations of your partner, it all seems uphill.

How does a couple’s environment affect their relationship?

I became a wife and mother, not a robot


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