How to avoid divorce: 10 Lessons from Indian marriages

How to avoid divorce? What is the cause of divorce: A look at Indian marriages and why they work so well – maybe you can learn a thing or two from your brothers and sisters in South Asia?
I was browsing a few websites the other day and came to the not so surprising realization that the United States has one of the highest divorce rates in the

No divorce for Indian marriages
Indians don’t get divorced; wanna know why?

World – about 54% – while countries like Italy, India (only about 1% of India’s marriages end in divorce) and Japan have some of the lowest divorce rates. Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg and Belarus are also countries with extremely high divorce rates – with Sweden said to be giving the United States a serious run for its money – with over 50% of marriages ending in divorce. (These numbers are a little bit exaggerated, but you get the idea.)
What accounts for the huge disparity in divorce rates around the world, especially between countries like India and America? And how do so many Indian couples routinely avoid divorce while America couples are having so much trouble hanging on to their marriages?
I was reading some of the comments on this website and came away with a few thoughts about how Indians actually avoid divorce in such great numbers. Now, I am not necessarily advocating their recipe. After all, I am not Indian. All I am saying is that I read some interesting things on this website and I have noted that only about 1% of Indian marriages end in divorce while more than 50% of American marriages end in divorce. So I think it would be apropos for me, as a divorce attorney in New York, and a divorce blogger, to share this information with my clients and readers.
Just some food for thought, to provoke you a bit. Here are the ten rules for avoiding divorce (oh, and don’t shoot the messenger. I am just repeating what I read and observed!):
First of all, love marriages do not work. And why? Maybe because most of us don’t have a clue what love is. So, give up on this notion of “being in love” and marrying someone because you “love them” because, how do I say this? Because…it is bu__sh__! Love does not have anything to do with a successful marriage – not if the Indians are right. A successful marriage is all about sacrifice and putting the other person first. It is not about that pitter patter in your heart and your sweaty palms. Marriage is a very pragmatic and deliberate and unemotional thing. Well, it should be. Marriage is an arrangement, an agreement, a contract. It’s not about your heart. So get over that nonsense. It’s a recipe for DIVORCE.
Second, let your family arrange your marriage and you are all but guaranteed to stay married forever, aka, no divorce. It is far better to get feedback about your mate from your family and friends. Sometimes, you should even let them do the choosing for you; if like me, you have really bad judgment in picking men, all the more reason to ask the village to assist you. Accept that individuals don’t marry each other. Families marry each other. So make sure all the family is on the same page before going ahead with the marriage. You hate his family? They hate you? Don’t get married. This is true for friends, by the way. If you hate his friends or his friends hate you, or his kids hate you or there is any hate whatsoever? Eschew the marriage. It will end in divorce. You hate your own family? Then maybe you can skip this step since they probably won’t count in that case, since you will move as far away as possible as you can from them, and probably only show up for funerals…
Third, you should not marry outside your race. Yes, I know. Very unpopular thing to say, very incendiary. I personally find this very controversial if not slightly gross to even think, but this is what I got from reading some of the comments on this website, and when I thought about it, I realized that it is true. Most Indians I have encountered only marry other Indians, and they do stay married forever, so they must be on to something? Which is no fun, because I love me a Polish or Russian guy. But that could spell big trouble for marriage, if the Indians have this thing right. And think about it: what percentage of marriages that are inter-racial last till they grow old and grey together? How many “old” inter-racial couples do you see walking down the streets holding hands with the look of graceful aging on their smiling faces? Not for nothing, just asking…
Fourth, do not marry out of your class. This, once again, makes me a bit nauseous to say. But this is what they said on this website. Indians, by and large, adhere to their caste system and marry people of a similar socio-economic background and caste. It wouldn’t surprise me that as a result, they would generally have more to talk about and more in common than someone who is from a different background and caste. Right or wrong, it is what it is.  Now, it is often difficult to figure out the class system here in the U.S. but use things such as educational background, financial status and such variables to see if you have a good match up.
Fifth, do a horoscope before you marry. No, I’m not joking. Sure, I understand that you are probably a highly accomplished, educated and intellectual being and that you do not believe in horoscopes, astrology and all this nonsense. But this is what Indians apparently do. They run a horoscope of the boy and the girl to assure compatibility, and they even do a sexual compatibility horoscope so that o_ga_ms are guaranteed- no Karma Sutra required. And, once again, the marriages are lasting forever!
Sixth, no premarital sex. (Now, this is totally hypocritical, though, because I’ve had a few Indian friends over the years and they were all “doing it” before marriage but definitely don’t admit it if you do, and be sparing in your dabblings, and if necessary, consider reconstructive surgery of relevant parts to make up for any inefficiencies, if you know what I mean) But the commenters on the blog I linked above are suggesting that one of the reasons American marriages don’t last is that Americans are “promiscuous” compared to Indians.
Seventh, marry someone who shares your religious beliefs, customs and culture. You would be surprised how much this matters. Interfaith marriages don’t have a very impressive success rate whether in India, or elsewhere.
Eighth, make sure that your mother in law likes you, and prepare to be humble enough to be at her feet throughout your marriage. Think: “I was born to serve this woman and be her slave and I love it.” As a matter of fact, don’t get too hung up on your rights and independence. Submit yourself and humble yourself to your husband and his family, (or your wife if you are the husband) and to the expectations of your society and you shall have a long marriage.
Ninth, love your spouse more than you love yourself and you will avoid divorce for decades. Sacrifice for the marriage and the relationship. Fight for the marriage. Don’t give up just because you are unhappy. Fight through the unhappiness and eventually, you may be rewarded with hard fought for happiness.
Tenth, don’t date. Or if you do, date just a little bit to make sure the person doesn’t have offensive breath and little things like that. Once that is ascertained, go full fledged into marriage and spend your marriage dating and getting to know one another. Dating too long takes away all the mystery and by the time you get married, you are bored with each other and the marriage won’t last very long.
So, what do you think? Think this could work for you?
Originally published January 1, 2009.
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