When the news came a few weeks ago that Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Khan were headed for a split, I was intrigued. Not because I am a fan or a Bollywood aficionado but because of how this news contrasted with the usual rosy media coverage of their family vacations, joint enterprises, TV appearances together and generally blemish-free life. They seemed to have it all--chemistry, reasonable success, money, family support--so what could have led to such a strain? What's more, they're not the only long-term couple breaking up in the recent past. The recent divorces initiated by Sussanne and Hrtihik Roshan and Farhan and Adhuna Akhtar also came as a surprise for most people.
I recognize that most couples move apart because they realize after years that they are simply not meant to be!
Now, I'm aware that the choices made by any couple in the context of their marriage are caused by factors that no one but them can understand in their entirety. It's a personal decision, for personal reasons. And yet, I've had so many people I know wonder and ponder over this situation--"Why on earth would any couple want to break up after being married for so many years, and having spent the best years of their life together?"
Very valid question, but no easy answer.
Why do couples part ways after spending such a significant chunk of their lives together? It does not seem to add up in the mind of a common man/woman. Simply because it has not been the norm in this country. Most couples find their equilibrium after a couple of years, and tend to accept the good, bad and ugly as a way of life.
Somewhere it comes back to the fundamental question on why people get together in any relationship, and when and why they decide that they don't want to be together. Both are important life choices, and can change any individual's/family's life trajectory significantly.
In my own personal network I have friends who have parted ways after years of togetherness. When I discuss their decision to part ways with them, I recognize that most couples move apart because they realize after years that they are simply not meant to be!
The single most important catalyst which fuels this decision for a woman is financial independence.
"What do you mean by not meant to be?" asked a wise old aunt when I shared this theory with her.
It was tough to verbalize my thoughts, but this is what I said: "It could really mean that you two want different things out of life or that you simply don't connect with each other at any level (physical, emotional, intellectual, financial or social), so you have the strength and courage to let go and let it be."
Trust me, taking this decision is probably one of the hardest because almost everyone you know will advise against it. I mean when nothing is "really" wrong, then how can moving apart be right? But maybe it is because in the long run it is best for the couple and their kids.
The other interesting observation was that in a lot of these cases, it was the woman (or mother) who was asking to move on. The single most important catalyst which fuels this decision for a woman is financial independence. So two decades ago, if a woman was in the same situation she'd really not even think of moving out because she didn't have the financial resources, and that was the mental conditioning. And god forbid, if her family refused to support her, she'd really have no place to go!
Second was the social stigma associated with staying alone (or without your spouse). Today, no one really needs to know or even cares on your marital status, unless you choose to disclose it. And apart from it being the topic of gossip for a few coffee breaks, the stigma has significantly dwindled. Lastly, women no longer shy from putting themselves at the centre of their universe (a few years ago, she was a distant planet at best in everyone else's universe). With this newfound assertiveness and self-esteem, it is easier to make a life-changing decision.
You can be two great individuals in your own right, but just incapable of creating magic as a couple forever.
So here's the thing. You can be two great individuals in your own right, but just incapable of creating magic as a couple forever. So either you live lifelong without this magic, or you create your own magic by moving on. Now, whether that decision takes one year, 10 years or 20 years for a couple to make is entirely their choice.
And so as outsiders, we need to respect that decision, and let them be!
And as I sign-off, I'd love to hear your views on why there is an increasing trend for the shift away from "till death do us part". Is it the people, the opportunities, the society at large or something else? And what do you think any average couple can do to keep the magic alive?
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