Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why Do Women ‘Stay Put’ In Marriages?

Any literature on marriage speaks of marriage as an ‘institution’.

Institution?” I used to wonder. The word institution typically conjures up images of a physical structure of concrete and steel which has a physical connotation, a specific ‘name’, a history and a legacy to boast of – and of course, people.

So what does ‘Marriage’ have in common with these? Well, most married couples live in houses made of concrete and steel (which are just as physical as you can possibly imagine) that they call ‘homes’ (there are exceptions, but then that’s a minority few); most of them usually co-habit in the same physical environment. They are supposed to live, love, care, share, laugh, grow and pro-create (!?)

But sometimes (just sometimes), you don’t let each other live, you claim to hate each other (or say that love no longer exists), you hardly care for each other, you don’t share every little detail of your life; and also sometimes, you laugh at the other. At times, you also hurt each other. At times, you cry together, for each other or because of each other. At times, you give and sometimes you receive. And therein form the ‘cracks’ in the marriage. The thing about cracks is that as much as you try, you can probably not make them fully disappear. Some cracks can be ignored. Some cracks can be restored. But over time, some cracks start paving the way for permanent ridges.

Until a few years back, I used to ponder about, “Why is marriage so important for a woman?“ especially in India. Trust me, IT IS! If you live in India/have any connection with India, you’d know.

But over the past few years, I’ve seen so very many ‘paper marriages’, i.e., marriages which are pretty much confined and restricted to the marriage certificate. The couple have no real physical relationship, no emotional connect, are not really there for each other to provide any kind of mental support – and they are definitely not soul-mates. There is some level of financial dependency, some level of dependency on every day operations and functioning and some pseudo-masks worn to put up a decent face in front of society. But behind closed doors, its another story! Rather a sad one…

Then why do women (irrespective of social standing, economic background, education levels, financial independence) stay put in shockingly unhappy marriages? A few reasons top the list:

(1) Children

(2) Society

(3) Financial Dependence

(4) Parents

(5) They don't know any other way

For full reading, click here

Why do you think women stay put in marriages? Leave a comment below.


  1. Very valid points, Nischala! I think it is a very complex issue. The deciding factors range from social conditioning, children, society's approval, financial independence and fear of harassment in a society that guns more for single women.

  2. a thought provoking write up with many valid points :)

  3. It is generally social conditioning....then comes children. Even a financially independent woman thinks 100 times before walking out of marriage. In some ways this is good, as divorces do not happen over petty issues or in fit of rage, but in many other ways this is really damaging for a woman....

  4. The reasons you've listed out explain the problem quite well. It's really hard for a woman to live alone in India, even if she's financially independent. I guess it's just the easy way out of all the intrusive questions and societal interference. Get married and be done with a huge task; then just get along as best as you can. I have seen very, very few people who actually invest in their marriage and put in extra efforts to make it a wholesome relationship. In most cases, the mothers cling to their children, the fathers to their jobs and then we have another generation of Mammas who can't let go of their adult kids.

  5. I'm a Westerner married to an Indian man, and I am very family-oriented and don't believe in divorce.....but I also don't believe in putting up with crap. As a generalization, I find many conservative Indian women more tolerant to crap - due to the societal pressures and from their family. I read a survey that on how the re-marriage market is totally engineeried towards men, while women with kids have very little chance in comparison. But I feel times are slowly changing....
    In a marriage it is very easy to take things for granted which is why one has to continually "date" one's spouse and keep strengthening the marriage. A lot of Indian guys get lazy and expect the girls to do all the work! My husband is different though, thank god.

  6. As someone who knows a few people in her extended family who did walk out of bad marriage even with kids, I think the single most reason women stay in bad marriages is because they don't think they deserve better. Once they embrace the fact that they are worthy of a much better life, walking out of marriage becomes a no brainer.

  7. There is a lot of fear: fear of rejection, fear of not making it, fear of society, fear of family...