A broken marriage needs a glue in time

Following alleged harassment from his wife and unable to bear the separation from his son, Syed Makdoom recently committed suicide. Before he climbed up to the ceiling fan and kicked the bucket, he recorded a 10-minute video clip on his mobile. He made a final statement giving details of the marital discord, which became unbearable and eventually consumed him. He said, “I am ending my life as nobody seems to be able to understand what I am going through and my feelings towards my son.”

As soon as the stench in the locality led the police to the body, society sprung into action. Mediapersons and cameras flooded the locality. Makdoom’s final statement was played and replayed on news channels, the Organisation for Harassed Husbands protested.

Another association, which wants to ‘save families’, held a candle-light procession.
The question is where were all these people when a marriage is faltering badly. Why do things have to reach a stage where a casualty has to turn into a fatality before anyone acknowledges the gravity of the situation?

Counsellors, religious authorities and the legal system come out with simplistic answers — forgive, forget and reconcile, or else, accept irreconcilable difference, separate and divorce. End of the matter. Start life afresh.

Those who are searing in the fire of marital discord know it is not that simple. There is the anger, the rage, the feelings of betrayal and spite — all these feelings overpower the presence of guilt at the awareness of the harm that is going to quench the children of the broken marriage who are going to be more torn apart than their estranged parents.

The workplace and society, politicians and the government are pre-occupied with other things. Check the election manifestos that were released by parties contesting for power in the current elections — and see if even one of the manifestos has expressed any concern for the denigration of family life and the alarming increase in the number of divorces taking place every year (two million at last count in 2007). According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have registered the highest number of suicides during the last few years.
The wife of a pilot turned in deep despair to the authorities of the largest national airline: her marriage, she said, was breaking up because her husband was getting involved with an air-hostess. She begged them to help her save her marriage. “Prevent them from going on the same flights,” she pleaded. The informed her that they could not interfere as it was the pilot’s ‘personal affair’.

Impact on society

Personal affair? Marital discords and break-ups cause the greatest social upheaval. A pilot afflicted with emotional and mental instability can, in a rush of blood, crash a plane carrying hundreds of passengers. If a married manager in an organisation is having an illicit affair with his secretary, it gradually affects the company’s morale; employees waste a lot of time gossiping about what is happening, overall work performance gets severely affected.

American surveys inform us that most of the suicide bombers of the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack were children of dysfunctional and single-parent families; the same will be revealed of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Saddam Hussein grew up with a single parent, and was later tortured by a cruel stepfather; Abdul Karim Telgi grew up with a single mother — the breakdown of marriage and family ruptures society itself; children from dysfunctional families are in all likelihood going to be tomorrow’s terrorists.

No one institution can solve this problem alone. Marriages can be saved if religious heads, social authorities, employers, the legal system and government work hand in hand. Religious authorities can conduct seminars and counselling sessions that protect and enhance the sacredness of the marriage commitment. Instead of creating more and more courts to accommodate quick-shot divorces, the legal authorities should bring in trained counsellors who have skills to help a couple to get things right.

The greatest role in the ‘save marriage and family’ campaign can be played by employers. At least one-fourth of the yearly employee evaluation should be made through secret checks on the employee’s marital condition. If a man or woman in the workplace were to know that yearly increment and advancement will also be based on “how happy my family life is”, then few men and women would want to rush to divorce courts with the speed they do now.

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