Mumbai reported an average of 22 divorce petitions daily
The city reported an average of 22 divorce petitions a day over the past decade (2011-2020), data revealed.
Last year, despite the family court at Bandra remaining closed for about six months owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, a daily average of 19 divorce petitions was recorded.
According to the statistics compiled from the family court, in the year 2011, the total number of divorce petitions filed stood at 7,515. The figure has to an extent remained constant in the next nine years. In 2019, 7,727 divorce petitions were filed before the family court. Between 2011 and 2019, the numbers fluctuated between 7,500 and 8,300. Last year, the figure, however, dwindled to 5,059 petitions, as the family court remained closed from March to August owing to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Though there is no official data available, lawyers and marriage counsellors said the court grants decree of divorce in around 85℅ of petitions.
Experts said divorce petitions are being filed more by men than women and the core issues between spouses are the rising standards of expectations from each other, lack of time for the partner and lack of communication between the couple. According to experts, this is because both the husband and wife are busy with their respective professional and career commitments, and lack of communication leading to conflicts between them.
“In the current scenario, the key reasons for breaking of marriages are increased expectations from each other. The expectations of women are to a large extent centred around companionship, helping with household or domestic chores, greater degree of freedom and understanding, because women are now stepping out of their houses frequently. However, men do not seem to have not moved on with women. They continue to expect women to fulfil the traditional goals,” said Shubhada Maitra, dean, school of social work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Maitra said women are now getting more career-oriented and have professional commitments, and at the same time they also have to look at their domestic chores.
“So, women bear double brunt, by working as an earning member of the family and at the same time also taking care of the household chores,” Maitra said, adding that, this is one of the major reasons of conflict between couples.
She also said that the dynamics of marriage has changed.
“Women are educated and also prefer either not to marry or they marry late –most often after the age of 25 -26 – as compared to earlier times, when they used to get married at the age of 20-22 years. If one gets married early, the young mind can be moulded. Women have their own personalities and expectations and when they are not fulfilled, they want to end the marriage,” Maitra added.
Marriage counsellor Ajitkumar Bidwe, who worked with the family court in Mumbai for about 25 years, said earlier marriages used to break more because of excessive interference by parents from either side.
“Now, mostly couples are independent and there is hardly any parental interference in their decision making. But that also means that there is no one else in their daily lives to sort out their issues.”
He cited an example of a two doctors who got married in 2012.
“The couple approached me for counselling. The woman was from Punjab and the man was born and brought up in Mumbai. It was an arranged marriage. The couple had issues because the woman’s mother would decide minutest of things, such as the colour of the bed sheet in the couple’s bedroom. These issues escalated to a level where the couple decided to file for divorce by mutual consent,” said Bidwe.
The situation has now changed with women getting more and more independent and joint families becoming nuclear ones. The society has undergone changes as people are now more career-oriented than family oriented, he added.
“Recently, I came across a case where both husband and wife held MBA degrees and earned about Rs2.5 lakh a month. After their marriage in 2017, they also booked a flat. Two years later, they came to me for counselling. After listening to them I realised that the two did not have time for each other. They didn’t even speak properly for about a year and mostly, they used to exchange messages through chits stuck on the refrigerator. Eventually, they drifted apart and then started living separately,” Bidwe added.
According to him, Spouses must spare at least an hour of quality time for each other everyday and in between keep the line of communication between them alive, no matter how busy they are.
“The couples should at least have the dinner together,” said Bidwe.
Dr Madhuri Singh, consulting psychiatrist associated with Nanavati Hospital, feels that the prime reason for marriages breaking is the rising expectation.
“The expectations have changed over a period of time. For instance, the space that the couples give each other today has increased today. The problem starts brewing when this freedom is misused by one of them,” said Dr Singh, adding that today people are spending more time on their own.
“They spend more time with their friends and are engaged in their respective digital worlds. Further, their professional commitments compelled them to spend more time outside and in this process they don’t even miss the other spouse. Thus, they are habituated to live without the other partner and are too busy in their own professional circles. Here, cracks start developing in their relationships,” she said.