Since the past few years, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been organising an event in which newlywed couples are advised on how to raise families with traditional values. According to Mumbai Mirror, this year, some 20 couples have enrolled for ‘Kutumb Prabodhan’. In this program couples will be advised on how to bring up ‘good’ children, not to delay procreation and organise family dinners once a week, during which films, cricket and politics should not be discussed. But in modern times, is it even fair to burden couples with ‘traditional values’? With more and more women and men realising the value of personal fulfillment and contentment, perhaps it is time to upgrade the institute of matrimony to meet those needs, instead of urging couples to go back to basics which are clearly failing them.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • RSS will be advising newlyweds on how to raise families with traditional values in an event.
  • But focus is on personal fulfillment, among most women and men today.
  • The reason why the patriarchal family model is resented today is that it binds us with stereotypes.
  • Relationships are falling apart because they fail to bring happiness to women and men and individuals.

Yes there has been a visible disintegration in the institute of matrimony, but no one can say that is it essentially bad.

Mumbai Mirror reports that the official pamphlet of the event says, “So far our family system has served us well, but growing urbanisation and growing trend of nuclear families have posed some challenges to this system. Unhappiness in relationships, divorces, and loneliness among senior citizens is increasing and through this program, we try to find solution to these problems.” Yes there has been a visible disintegration in the institute of matrimony, but no one can say that is it essentially bad. Indeed, more couples are opting for divorces, urbanisation has led to nuclear families, but that doesn’t mean the traditional family system of India wasn’t flawed. All these things could also mean that personal happiness has emerged as a major priority for modern Indians.

The traditional family value system being advocated here is trying to offer us solutions, which are nothing but issues which led to our problems in the first place. The reason for rise in divorces and unhappy marriages in India isn’t because we have given up on traditional values, but because we have realised how this system has failed us. Our patriarchal family structure tells us that men belong in offices and women in kitchen. That couples should prioritise needs of their family members over their own, and that a healthy marriage is the one rooted in adjustment, with the motto to raise the next generation of ‘good’ Indian children.

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It forces us to embrace roles in family and marriage not on the basis of our interests, talents and capabilities, but our gender. It tells us to sacrifice all that we can for the sake of our family. Over centuries, many so-called happy Indian marriages have been nothing but hollowed relationships kept intact by family structure, stereotyping of women and men, and practically no escape, due to social stigma. We have long-lasting marriages, yes, but is longevity a correct parameter to measure success here? We have children making adjustments in everything from their career to love life for the sake of appeasing their parents, but are they doing it happily?

The traditional family value system being advocated here is trying to offer us solutions, which are nothing but issues which led to our problems in the first place.

The thing is Indians have grown to prioritise personal fulfillment and happiness over sustaining the traditional infrastructure of society. To one group it may seem like apocalyptic disintegration of family values and our very own social system. They feel intimidated by the rise in number of divorces because they have been conditioned to associate happiness with it. But to others, it is liberation from an archaic system which doesn’t seem relevant to their lifestyle and mind-set today. Besides who said divorces are a tragedy? The culmination of a matrimonial bond could in fact be saving two individuals from a lifetime of unhappiness. It all depends on the perspective.

Also Read: Forcing Estranged Couples To Cohabit: Law Can’t Mend A Marriage

Going back isn’t the solution, adaptation is. Indian matrimony has to adapt itself to modern times, if it wants to stay relevant and functional. Which means, let a couple decide what kind of marriage and eventually family life they want for themselves. Who works, who cooks, when do they want to have children, if they have them at all, are the decisions a couple should be able to make, because their entire life is going to unfold based on it. Conservative sections in our society need to accept that it is unfair to burden a modern couple with traditional values, against their will, because it will only bring them unhappiness. Marriage now needs to be more of a personal equation, than a social one.

Also Read: Intercaste Marriages: Love Always Calls For Acceptance

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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