Violence is No 1 divorce trigger

Incompatibility and adultery are the two other grounds for marriages breaking up in Bengaluru, according to counsellors working with the police

Extra-marital affairs

Psychiatrists and family counsellors are witnessing a rise in the number of couples seeking divorces in Bengaluru. Domestic violence, incompatibility and extramarital affairs (see box) play a big role in couples calling it quits, they say.

Every week, counsellors at Parihar, the family counselling centre attached to the office of the Commissioner of Police, see at least three couples seeking help for disharmony.It takes several sessions to get the couples to reach a compromise, says Rani Shetty, in charge of Parihar.

Their numbers may not reflect the overall pattern of divorces, but do represent cases where police intervention is sought. Typically, couples with complaints of domestic violence end up going to the police, while those with problems of incompatibility directly go to a family court. In less affluent families, drinking, domestic violence, and money problems lead to divorces. The middle class battles with problems related to joint families.

“Ego clashes are the main trigger in upper-class families,” explains Rani Shetty. Financial independence and the #MeToo Movement have given women the confidence to stand up for themselves, says Kala Seetharam Sridhar, professor and head, Centre for Research and Urban Affairs, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).

Access to information, communication and technology (ICT) also makes it easy for couples to go their separate ways. “You now have so many dating applications where you can find dating partners. Couples spend more time at their workplaces than at home and end up spending more time with their colleagues than with their families,” she says.

Women are increasingly asserting their rights and don’t want to stay in unhappy marriages, Kala observes. In sociological terms, two other factors that indirectly contribute to a rise in divorces: agglomeration and density.

“Agglomeration benefits a large number of people at once and brings them together. Bengaluru has a lot of migrants and the population density in cities adds to the problem,” she says. In other words, men and women living in big cities meet a huge variety of people and it is easier for them, than for their rural counterparts, to strike up new relationships.

Psychiatrists see a rise in marital discord, and the resultant emotional problems. “Domestic violence has always been around but women were putting up with it as they had no source of income. But that has changed. Women are earning and the taboo of being a divorcee is slowly fading. This has led to them stepping out of unhappy marriages,” says Dr Divya Shree K R, consultant psychiatrist, Aster CMI.

Adultery is also leading to marriages breaking up. “Sometimes husband and wife don’t see each other because of their shift timings,” she says. “That leads to a gap in their relationship.” Men and women are now emboldened to seek compatible relationships outside marriage. They want to have more meaningful relationships, she says.

What role do social media play?
S Girish, DCP (Crime),says greater awareness of rights has led to increasing divorces. “Even an uneducated person is adept at using a smartphone and knows how to access information,” he says. The police are more accessible too, and this has led to more people coming forward to register cases of domestic violence and seeking divorces, he says.
Two other causes: Social media friendships turning into extra-marital affairs,
and friction within joint families.

Major triggers, as seen by a doc Dr Divya Shree K R, consultant psychiatrist, Aster CMI, cites five main reasons for divorces in Bengaluru:
Men not accepting that women need to be respected. They are stuck in a patriarchal mindset. Spouses don’t hesitate to seek love outside marriage when they don’t get it at home. The trust is then lost. Men and women are giving up on dysfunctional marriages; they don’t worry too much about what others might say. Financial independence of women is more widespread than ever before. They can walk out any time.

Class differences
Poor: Domestic violence, drinking, money problems.
Middle class: Difficulty adjusting to joint families.
Upper class: Ego clashes, financial independence of women.
(Patterns observed by a counsellor)

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Violence is No 1 divorce trigger

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