Nowadays while meeting someone after a lapse of a few months, and with a gap in updated information, following the customary exchanges there is hesitation to pop the question, “How is the wife?” If he is alone, she could be somewhere around or at home or abroad or, unlike you, minding her own business.
“Jamai koi?” one usually asks after quick looks sideways and a high-necked shot of the eye behind her. Men will be men. The wide grin fizzles when the husband’s guffaw is heard from the next room. Or, to further intensify his unsolicited interest, the lady may reply sardonically, “You should know about your friend”. He wants to shout, “He is not my friend any more”, but considers walking away safer, the woman’s gaze burning the nape of his neck.
For many of us busy on the social networks, it is not difficult to ascertain the status of most relationships. Well, we think. (Imagine here an emoji of your choice.) A picture tells a thousand words, but then a few worlds also spill the beans. However, whether a couple is happy despite sticking together and big pouty smiles is another matter.
It appears that a large section of the social structure has been falling apart gradually over the past several years. The situation is frightful by the old school yardstick, but welcome from the freedom point of view of the empowered and learned woman.
In May 2017, Dhaka Tribune carried a story, “Divorce rising in Dhaka as women seek way out of troubled marriages”. Well, other urban areas were not lagging behind. Yes, by far more women were filing for divorce.
Some will go to the extreme: A nice, calm and respectable lady went into the pharmacy, right up to the pharmacist, looked straight into his eyes, and said, “I would like to buy some cyanide.”
The pharmacist asked, “Why in the world do you need cyanide?”
The lady replied, “I need it to poison my husband.”
The pharmacist’s eyes got big and he exclaimed, “Lord have mercy! I can’t give you cyanide to kill your husband! That’s against the law! I’ll lose my license! They’ll throw both of us in jail! All kinds of bad things will happen. Absolutely not! You cannot have any cyanide!”
The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist’s wife.
The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, “Well now. That’s different. You didn’t tell me you had a prescription.” (unijokes.com)
The Daily Star reported mid-2017, “Divorce doubles, separation triples in one decade”. Living separately is perhaps not a solution, at best it is a painkiller. One may regard staying in two districts and in two countries also as a form of separation despite technology facilitating daily aural and visual contact. Not everything can be heard and not all is in view of the camera. They rarely do 360 degrees. Apologies for sowing seeds of doubt.
According to psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher in USA’s Elite Daily (October 2018), “We all have certain things we need, to feel loved and satisfied in a committed relationship, such as quality time, affection, emotional intimacy, adoration, sexual contact, etc.”. There you go. He is not talking about animals.
Prothom Alo (August 2018) quoted the two Dhaka City Corporations that at least 50,000 divorce applications were filed in the city in the past six years, meaning “on average about one divorce application was filed every hour.” The matter is of grave concern, especially if children are involved.
Under the unhappy circumstances, happily though we are not alone in the world. Globally there seems to be no economic logic or religious judgement working behind the divorce-to-marriage ratio. Some of the most peaceful and economically vibrant countries have a high ratio. The relation (different year in different countries) gives the number of divorces in a given year to the number of marriages in that same year.
While in Cuba, Denmark, Finland, and France 55 percent of wedding bells end in silence, Portugal (71 percent) and Luxemburg (66 percent) top the list of countries recorded for divorces against marriages in a year. At the lower end of the table are Vietnam (seven percent), Tajikistan (10 percent), Syria (12 percent), Malta (12 percent), Bosnia and Herzegovina (13 percent), and Ireland (15 percent). Bangladesh’s percentage is 34, and I can already see hands being raised that many cases in the remote rural areas are not recorded.
Sociologists consider positively the rising number of divorce applications and successful petitions because “it means that more women are willing to overcome their fear of social stigma in order to build a better life for themselves”. (Dhaka Tribune, May 2017)
Awareness among women about their rights, opportunities to be more well-read, increasing scope of justice (although not always ensured or delivered) and desire for independence as opposed to being shackled meaninglessly in a disturbed wedlock will continue to pave the way for more married women to seek legal annulment of their vowed relationship.
While no one will advocate either partner to live in “hell”, if it comes to that, but for the sake of the children, if any, both partners should try to find happiness despite their differences. Opposite poles attract, come on!
For the sake of growing old together after finding each other through love or ledger, sacrificing attitude of both, sometimes more by one than the other, can indeed blossom into a lasting wedlock. A marriage is finished if it is taken in the spirit of a competition. If it works, there are two joint winners. No one wins if it fails.
Mutual tolerance should be the vehicle to find joy among each other. No one human being is perfect. Little gestures of affinity and forgiveness can become beads to sew a wreath made in heaven; and marriages are.
Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is a practising Architect, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.