‘The husband’s father’s wife (who is not his mother, but the father’s second or third wife) also happens to be the wife’s mother’s sister. Their children are a sum of their children as well as the children from their previous marriage/s. So apart from being the step siblings, they are also cousins.’ This is how a couple’s background/history read when presented for analysis on my last trip to London. Every time I go to the UK, my tendency to point out the differences between the country I visit and the country I live in, gets into an overdrive. The variances are aplenty and highlight the cultural, social and psychosexual differences. Deciphering such cases while trying to register these multiple relationships at various levels can certainly be taxing as opposed to the cases in our country where relationships are STILL at a much simpler level. Of course with the rising number of divorces, relationships are getting compound than they were earlier.
The afore mentioned case always makes me wonder about the nature of the problems faced by couples abroad compared to ours. Cultural differences can pronounce a problem so differently. While over there it can be anything ranging from a non-supportive spouse who is not lending a hand at home, to parenting problems, teenage pregnancies causing friction between the couple, same sex couple conflict to sexual dysfunction. Although the underlying factors affecting a relationship would more or less be the same, the kind of relationship problems we face in our culture are so very different. It is generally related to gender inequality, in-laws related issues, extra marital affairs and relationship distress due to internet addiction. It makes me marvel how similar issues faced by couples living across borders could have a different impact on the relationships purely based on cultural differences. So many things taken for granted in one culture can spell problems in another. Ironic indeed!!
With mutual consent, all it takes is eight weeks for a divorce to fall through in the U.K., justifying an increasing divorce rate. Whereas in India it can sometimes take a lifetime to come through. Seeking companionship after a certain age without a legal endorsement is common to counter loneliness. Seeing someone in one’s fifties, sixties or even the seventies is very normal. Older people are not frowned upon by the society to fall and feel in love. I admire this openness to express one’s feelings at any stage of one’s life. To accept this kind of a reality in our country is still a distant dream. Things are changing but only in certain parts of the country. It is a paradox that the sacrifice couples make for the sake of their children by continuing in a dead or a stuck marriage in our society is something completely incomprehensible in the west. Seeking relationship support services over there is a given at the slightest indication of a relationship malfunction – simply showcasing the significance of having a healthy relationship unlike in India where it is still considered a social taboo.
I couldn’t take my eyes off two of my co therapists – both doctoral students, in their sixties and head over heels in love with each other. Love has no age, no limit and no end… The same world but different tones.