Posted by admin at Lifeline Legal
Marriage is the very foundation of the family and civil society, a legally and socially sanctioned union, usually between a man and a woman, that is regulated by laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that prescribe the rights and duties of the partners and accords status to their offspring (if any). An institution solemnized by sacraments, rites, and ceremonies.
The universality of marriage within different societies and cultures is attributed to the basic social and personal functions for which it provides structure, such as sexual gratification, economic production, consumption, and satisfaction of personal needs for affection, status, and companionship. Perhaps its strongest function concerns procreation, the care of children, education, socialization, and regulation of the lines of descent.
The persons in wedlock have different life-related experiences they must have had while growing up in social and family situations. These goals keep changing throughout the life of individuals, which may align with that of marriage partnering. This leads to disagreements over how the marriage should function. Those disagreements give rise to envious attitudes, suspicions, and strife. Here, a person’s priorities, self-interests, and concern for their partner play a crucial role that may hinder resolving differences between them. Besides, unfulfilled needs and desires lead to marital issues, which can develop into severe disputes and divorces.
Marital conflicts are inevitable. They are not just a difference of opinion; instead, they are a series of poorly handled events that deeply damage the marriage relationship. Everyone has their personal preferences and self-interests. For a successful marriage, relationship principles of compromise and sacrifice are to be practiced. A marriage relationship becomes more robust and healthier when couples lovingly share and discuss their interests and are willing to sacrifice for each other.
In India, from time immemorial, marriage has been considered to be an eternal and sacred bond.
Marital Discords & Changing Trends
Lack of communication is a prime reason for initial discords. Couples who are newly married and haven’t learned how to resolve their differences successfully try to settle things by avoiding confrontation. They never try to discuss issues but rather prevent the problem. This pattern persists for a long time, and eventually, the attitude progresses to the following stages.
Individual demands are the second stage. After a considerable period, couples realize that this attitude has contributed to their misery and suddenly begin demanding the fulfillment of their needs. They start voicing their thoughts and opinions at every opportunity. But this creates further strife between husband and wife.
Gradually couples tend to try compromising and negotiating. As the couple begins to face other pressures and demands due to the nature of a marital relationship, such as time management tensions, hectic schedules, stress from their parenting responsibilities, financial burdens, etc., it coerces them to negotiate and compromise.
Then, it is heading to giving up and counseling. It is natural to feel exhausted due to such unending conflicts and also feel hopeless about resolving these conflicts. It is at this stage that couples feel the need to go for expert marriage guidance or counseling. Later, the aggravated stage tends to seek legal remedy.
There seems to be a transformation in the concept of marriage which was considered a sacred and indissoluble tie between the husband and the wife. This change is due to growing discontent among the younger generations, communication-gap, changing roles of husband and wife, tensions of fast life, and emerging strains and challenges. These hurt married couples’ relationships, leading them to seek legal help in solving their marriage problems.
With time, the very concept and meaning of marriage changed. A large percentage of women joined the workforce and became financially independent. With the breakup of joint families and the advent of nuclear families, the pressure on working couples grew tremendously. An increasing number of marriages ended up with disputes and divorces.
Conflict in marriage is inevitable; whenever two people get together, eventually, some of the belief systems and personal habits of one will annoy the other, regardless of the degree of love. In healthy relationships, couples learn to accept and resolve conflicts. But in the case of unhealthy relationships, marital conflicts arise due to several reasons. A conflict between role performance and role expectations of the spouses leads to maladjustment of husband-wife relationships and marital disruptions as a consequence.
Couples complain about sources of conflict, from verbal and physical abuse to personal characteristics and behaviors. Marital dissatisfaction, extramarital sex, problematic drinking, or drug use are other reasons for conflicts. Infidelity, which is the involvement of another man or woman in a partner’s life, shatters a committed relationship between partners. Other reasons are domestic violence, unmindful dictating to partners, financial instability or mismanagement, and Lack of Commitment or communication.
The term divorce comes from the Latin word ‘disodium,’ which means to turn aside, to separate. Divorce is the legal cessation of a matrimonial bond. Earlier, divorce was resorted to only in extreme cases where there was intolerable cruelty, desertion, mental illness, impotence/infertility, and infidelity. But it is no longer so. The social stigma attached to divorce is also vanishing. Divorce is no longer an undesirable word. Divorced people are no longer looked down and judged by society.
Judicial separation: It was added by the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act of 1976. It merely implies legal separation without divorce. It is a sort of a last resort before the legal breakup of the marriage.
As soon as a decree for judicial separation is passed, a husband or a wife, whosoever has approached the court, is under no compulsion to live with his / her spouse. The aggrieved party to the marriage may present a petition on any of the grounds stated in the provisions for divorce. Suppose there is no resumption of cohabitation between the parties to the marriage for one year or upwards after the passing of the order for judicial separation. In that case, the couple may apply for divorce.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights
The right or entitlement to the consortium is the most significant component of a marital bond. When one spouse leaves the other or withdraws or abandons the company of the other without any reasonable cause, the aggrieved spouse may seek court intervention. The idea behind relief by way of restitution of conjugal rights is to aim to restore a relationship that has got estranged for whatever reasons.
Matrimonial Dispute Resolution – Family Courts
The family courts are specialized as civil courts, which deal exclusively with the dissolution of marriage; declaration of the matrimonial status of any person; declaration of ownership of properties of the parties concerned; interim order of injunction arising out of marital relationships; declaration of the legitimacy of any person, or guardianship of a person, or the custody or access of any minor and suits for maintenance. The family courts entertain the applications for grant of decree of divorce under the various Acts.
Matrimonial litigation is a traumatic experience in the lives of parents and their children. It creates many legal, social, and practical complications besides emotional problems. It is unfortunate; however, the only way available to parties to obtain “relief” from an unhappy and intolerable relationship sometimes is by subjecting themselves and their spouses to the hazards of ordinary court procedures.
The prevalence of gender-biased laws and oppressive social practices over centuries have denied justice and fundamental human rights to Indian women. The Family Courts Act of 1984 was part of the trends of legal reforms concerning women. The Act was expected to facilitate satisfactory resolution of disputes about the family through a forum supposed to work expeditiously in a just manner and with an approach ensuring the maximum welfare of society and dignity of women.
Alternative Remedial Methods
1. Mediation aims to assist two or more disputants in reaching an agreement. The content of that agreement is determined by the parties themselves rather than accepting something imposed by a third party. Mediators are those impartial professionals who use appropriate techniques and skills to open or improve dialogue between disputants, aiming to help the parties reach an agreement on the disputed matter.
Divorce is a potential minefield regarding its impact on the parties, their children, and extended families.
2. Marriage Counseling is also an excellent way to figure out what to do. The marriage counselor will help the parties communicate better and provide innovative ways to resolve conflicts. Counseling should be one method to overcome the problem of marital disputes, as the study showed that after counseling, couples became more confident and had a greater sense of responsibility. In divorce counseling, the initiator is provided with a safe setting to tell the other spouse why her decision is irrevocable. And the spouse gets a safe place to tell the initiator his feelings about the divorce and the relationship.
3. Premarital counseling is a specialized type of therapy usually provided by marriage and family therapists; the goal of premarital counseling is to identify and address any potential areas of conflict in a relationship early on, before those issues become serious concerns, and to teach partners effective strategies for discussing and resolving a conflict.
Impact on children
Divorce is a very painful arena for someone’s life as it disturbs the life of both partners and is even more painful if they have children. Unhealthy relationships and marriages have significant negative consequences for each member of the couple and a considerable impact on their children.
More importantly, the stability, security, loving and understanding care, guidance, and warm and compassionate relationships essential for developing the child’s character, personality, and talents will be badly affected.
Marital conflict happens when the couple’s needs, desires, and wants to remain unfulfilled when one of the people’s self-interests becomes their only consideration. Marriage disputes leave a profound impact on parties and their families. It also jeopardizes children’s futures as it is the most painful event in their lives. So, the main aim of the legal system should be to minimize divorce situations.
Problems come to make us strong, so it’s up to us whether we give up before them or take a stand to bring positivity into our lives. Adjustment and willingness to sacrifice for each other will lead to the re-establishment of a friendly relationship. Thus, the preservation of marriage should be considered a priority, for it is the basic and one of the essential institutions of society.