marriages are based on partnership"
Dr Vijay Nagaswami
qualified as a psychiatrist from the Madras Medical College in
1984. He has had wide experience in schizophrenia research,
corporate therapy, individual psychotherapy and couples therapy.
He has written four books, Courtship and Marriage: a guide
for Indian couples, The Splintered Mind: Understanding
Schizophrenia, The 24x7 Marriage, The Fifty-50 Marriage:
Return to Intimacy. He is currently working on his next
book, provisionally titled 3’s a crowd: Understanding and
Surviving Marital Infidelity. He conducts workshops and
seminars for business corporations as well as individuals and
couples on marriage and personal relationships management.
How are modern
marriages different? What has been the paradigm shift in the
factors that define marriage then and now?
of the New Indian Marriage by both partners is higher. At least,
in urban India, it’s more likely to be two people getting
married, not two families. As a result there’s greater
consciousness, mindfulness and therefore, expectations from each
other and the marriage.
nowadays seeing a shift in gender-specific roles?
Only in part.
Although women have started sharing the ‘provider’ role, men
have not been so ready to share the ‘homemaker’ role. But
things are certainly getting better in metros with more sharing
Young men have also changed and are accepting and tolerant of wives who work full time
How has the
invasion of technology affected the modern marriage?
In a variety of
ways. On the one hand, it has enabled partners to stay in touch
with each other. But it has also enabled extra-marital
involvements. However, it has also enabled the detection of
extra-marital relationships. It has also ensured that the work
space constantly encroaches on the marriage.
How can a
counsellor help young couples? Is there lesser inhibition among
younger couples in visiting counsellors?
people don’t feel stigmatised about seeking help. However, as
in the rest of the world, Indian men find it harder to take help
than do women. It’s more of a ‘guy’`A0thing’ than a ‘stigma’
thing. Counsellors can and do help, not by giving advice to the
couple, but by helping them understand the dynamics in the
relationship that they’re not aware of and helping them make
How would you
define the "new Indian marriage"?
beginning to look more like a partnership, based on
companionship and intimacy, though the process is very slow.
More divorces do
not merely mean the boat is being rocked it could also mean
lesser hypocrisy and unwillingness to live under the same roof
despite deep differences.
Very true. More
often than not, the "emotional divorce" of yesteryear’
couples are being converted to "legal divorces" by
today’s couples. So`A0the rising divorce rates are no
indicator at all of the stability (or lack`A0of it) of marriage.
After all, the remarriage rates continue to remain high!
Is the concept of
space over-rated? How is the fiercely individualistic
personality reconciled to the demands and diktat of parental
control/authority because in India the umbilical chord is never
actually. By not recognising or being in denial of the need for
‘I’ as well as ‘We’ spaces, many couples ensure that
their umbilical cords stay looped around their necks. However,
those who understand and implement the technology of cutting the
cord, end up having not just better marriages, but better
relationships with their parents.
Are the tolerance
levels very low nowadays? Is that why the youngsters do not
really think twice before splitting?
levels are low, and sometimes the reasons for which young people
seek divorce (sometimes within weeks of their wedding) are quite
shocking. However, fortunately, a majority of our young people
do hang in there and give themselves a chance to get it right.
perception is that women have changed and men have not and that
is why the equations are more rocky. But since an entire
generation of boys has seen mothers working, is it so that they
are more accepting and tolerant of wives who work full time and
do not expect to be waited upon?
absolutely right. Young men have also changed, perhaps not at
the same pace as women have, but since they now have role
models, who are less of "sacrificing moms" and more of
"pragmatic mothers", they find it easier to relate to
girlfriends and wives, who approach marriage with the object of
What tips would
you give young couples for a happy marriage?
The main thing is
not to put marriage on the backburner. It’s a live entity and
needs nurturing. And this can happen if both partners stay ‘connected’
to each other. — AN