Suddenly the 7th commandment is the most discussed topic in India today - thanks to karan Johar and his Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. You switch on the television and Tarot card reader Sunita declares "everyone cheats" and Shahrukh Khan takes on a relationship expert on the intricacies of love and marriage. You go to a party and before you know people are taking sides on whether extra marital relationships are justified or not. Every 5th Indian blog you read has a take on this or at least touches on the issue in passing.

Men have been cheating on their wives from time immemorial and in India they have done it openly and come back and looked their family straight in the eye as if it is no big deal.So why this sudden urgency and panic like the outbreak of a fatal infection? Aha....a married WOMAN is involved here - what will happen to our morals and social fabric and family structure if women start indulging in such things?After all the onus of holding up the family has been on the woman notwithstanding whatever the men have done. And this indoctrination of their need to preserve the society has been a way to ensure that they forgive their erring husbands all their misbehaviour and still fast and pray for their logevity and treat them as devta. They were not supposed to say 'enough is enough" and say "Alvida" but hang on and on and on stupidly and hope for a better husband in the next birth.

Now here is Big B himself telling a woman to go and find her happiness with another man - God sanctioning Sin! So people are wringing their hands worried about women quoting the Big B and going in search of happiness or better men. That marriage is no longer the end of one's search and fatalistic acceptance of one's partner can no longer be taken for granted. Marriage is no longer a commitment but a convenient arrangement until the next best thing arrives in your life.

I guess until now, adultery by women has not been an issue as opportunities for discreet indulgence in it have been limited. That is no longer the case with so many distant marriages and women spending longer hours at workplace with colleagues. Lifestyles of people have changed, attitude to issues like marriage and commitment are changing and the extent of influence that the norms of society can have on the upwardly mobile sections of young people is reducing.

I think ultimately you cannot prevent adultery by social sanction or even by law. It can only be prevented from within, through exercise of free will. If people are committed to their partners, to their family, they will refrain from indulgence in the face of any temptation. If the commitment is not there, any slight reason is enough.
Do today's young have a problem of commitment? (I am excluding the older generation here because in any case they still worry about societal acceptance which acts as a great deterrent against such temptation.)
or is it the feeling that everyone has one life and hence should make the most of it - so you go running from one thing to the other in an eternal search for what is better as your status in life improves? I suppose even the latter boils down again to a lack of commitment. Are we becoming less inclined to invest our energies in staying together and weathering problems and prefer opting out as the easier and more convenient solution?

Are we also on the way to becoming "disposing" - inclined to dispose of anything that no longer serves our purpose because we have found a newer, better model? Has this tendency towards possessions seeped slowly into the way we manage our relationships too?
20 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Yes! Usha, you are right. There is a commitment phobia in the younger generation of today.(not only to relationships but to many other issues)
    People now in their 40's and 50's were conditioned differently, except for a few who held high profile jobs and could afford to flit from one relationship to another.
    Whether we like it or not, the middle class english speaking generation of today has brought itself up on American sitcoms and Hollywood flicks.
    The conditions under which they operate seem to be totally alien to what the parent generation believed in. In a way it is okay, as I see that if one relationship fails, they move on to another without losing much tears over it, because that is the most practical thing to do. They will eventually make mistakes and learn I guess. My only concern is that, some may pay too heavy a price.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Karan Johar has taken a controvertial topic and glamorised it to push its saleability.The core issue that the couple are not tempromentally suited to each other is side lined and the adultry issue highlighted. The pupblic loves such hot topics to talk about as it had been kept under wraps all these days. KANK has given a platform to speak about the issue and everyone including me gets a chance to comment on it.

  3. Alapana Says:

    Are the discussions are high today about adultery because now its the turn of a women? the bird is out of the cage? Or is it the point that todays generation is lacking the patience to handle it all,try again and again? So many questions
    I feel we all have a right to be happy,a women when gets married and enters a new life,in a new role she does it with perfection,total change,new ppl,new house and complete change,but she does it all because she knows how to be happy, make others happy.When things go wrong i would say its worth giving a try,again and again,but again,there is a Limit,no one can wait forever, patience pays!!! but we all have one life,and there are limits and boundaries for everything,going seperate ways is a choice when nothing else worksout.
    Todays youth is definitely more practical,sometimes which is not worth it.,
    I know a friend who walked out of her husband in a month after the wedding,reasons unknown,but she is not ready to look back,she for sure dint do it without a reason,only a few of us know that he physically and mentally harassed her,She just walkd out,but i would have done something more,i am sure of it.Hers was an arranged marriage,her parents who were experienced and cared for their daughter chose him for her,but then she was never asked if she wanted to get married to him.never given a chance to look at it all in her way.Today she does,she took her own decision,one month was too less to judge a person,says her parents,but the marks on her body say something else.
    At the same time two ppl who got seperated because she dint like the fact that he wanted to know her salary details.
    Well,it all counts back to experiences again, if they make mistakes,they will learn to mend their ways too,afterall everyone wants to be happy,in their own way,but we just can hope it wont hurt others involved:)
    Sorry,its a very long comment,just got carried away.
    And KaranJohars flick is not worth taking also,none of his movies make sense to me mostly.

  4. Preethi Says:

    Though I didnt see this movie, I know the story coz its all over!
    My take on this is - I am not very convinced of the idea of going and marrying smeone else coz the one you are married to is not your soulmate. Well, I do believe that soulmates exist, but then I also believe that 'Marriages are made in heaven'. And if the partner is not our soulmate, its upto us to make him one. There is something called as 'commitment' which is what is considered before one takes the plunge and is something all those cheaters forget when they cheat.
    Let it be Big B or whoever, its not done for anyone to dump a partner just coz he/she doesnt feel that he is the right one.
    Its all in the mind!

    Anywyas, me going to watch this movie tonite. In spite of reading all those reviews, I still want to see how the story is treated and I wanna deserve the right to comment on it!
    Will be back with my side of the story soon.. :)

  5. Inder Says:

    adultery has always been around. it is done by both men and women.

    i think adultery is a secondary issue in kank. the main issue addressed is 'is marriage a commitment that should never be broken?'.

    our society is learning to accept breakage of marriage due to reasons pointed out by alapana. the question posed in kank is a step further - should one live with his/her spouse even if he/she is not happy with the marriage and he/she is pretty sure that there is no scope of happiness in the marriage? it is not about dumping one's partner at the sight of a better prospect.

    in kank, the characters of abhishek and priety are too good for the characters of rani and shahrukh respectively. but still they are willing to live with their spouses. the problem is with the underdogs - rani and shahrukh. should they stick around their marriages just because their partners are great human beings and are more than willing to put up with them?

    life is not about needless sufferings and mindless sacrifices. it is about living peacefully. when people like the characters of rani and shahrukn in kank want to split, people like abhishek and priety should let them go. marriage can be a commitment if both the parties are committed to each other. it should not be a compulsion.

  6. Usha Says:

    hello, hello, interruption. This post is not about the story of K A N K as I have not seen the film.
    I only mentioned it as a trigger for today's open discussions on adultery. My main concern were the motivations for adultery and the reducing level of commitment to relationships

  7. Anonymous Says:

    You are right in demurring that this is not a post on KANK but about the raging debate on the extra-marital question. You seem to have a very enviable way of driving your ideas with the perfect combo of words/expressions. Relished every bit of the post. As ever, you have eschewed the judgement trap even while speaking your heart out. I hope your counselling commitment is not seen as being unfairly slective as the focal point of the current debate on extramarital relationships is women as against "the usual suspects" (read men). To me it is clear that you posit is a generational rather than gender issue.

  8. Usha Says:

    I think the whole paradox of the mirage of happiness is that if you can't find it in what you have , you are not going to find it "out there". So this flitting may only be an eternal chase. At least the earlier generation were subjected to arranged marriages and were sometimes caught in a dilemma when they found happiness in someone they could relate to. This generation has the freedom to make choices and not the commitment to live by the decisions they make because they want everything.

    Anon: I agree. Such an inconvenient issue from the confetti man is quite a surprise. But regular KJ fans are not talking about the issue but about how gorgeous Rani looked and her jewellery!

    Alapana:Thanks for the long comment. I love them.
    I agree with you that one should not be compelled to stay in an abusive or unhappy relationship. But as you yourself pointed out the extent to which people are willing to go to make it work seems to range across a very broad spectrum. And I see more marriages breaking for flimsy reasons which is not a healthy trend and which clearly points to a commitment phobia, to borrow shalini's terminology.

    S G: No this is not a take on the film at all as I have not seen it. And I dont agree at all that marriages are made in heaven. They are made very much by us and that is why we need to be very careful in our decisions as otherwise we may end up hurting ourselves and others.


    Anon:Thanks for summing up my thoughts so well. No I am not making it a gender issue at all but I feel that this topic has assumed its importance that it has because of the woman taking the bold step and many of today's women are in such a strong position to do it. As far as I can see, I think the commitment issue applies as much to women as to men.

  9. Mahadevan Says:

    You have ended your fine post with a highly loaded question.

    Even for mere commercial organisations to be successful, Management scientists argue that relationships should be the guiding force and whereus in our personal affairs, we seek to reduce relationships to mere possessions and conveniences.

    Society has always been partial to men. If bigamy is an offence, there are numerous men who live in bigamy and the courts remain helpless, so long as the aggrieved woman chooses not to complain. Should'nt bigamy be made an offense per se whether one complains or not? Flirting by man is a virtue in the value system.

    Commitment in any sphere of activity is a demand and in marriages, it is more pronounced. At the same time, both men and women should have options open, if they find that continuance would be hell.

    Let not marriages be reduced to the level of changing jobs in BPOS - brevity, bereft of loyalty and looking for greener pastures dominating the scene.

  10. Hip Grandma Says:

    I know from reliable sources of a mother of two who gave up her love and married a person of her parent's choice.According to my source she is happily married.her 10 year old son knows of her affair and is thrilled that his mom had a 'boyfriend' -like they show on TV.Her husband merrily teases her abt. it.Karan Johar and his likes are dealing with such people.KANK was not meant for you and me.

  11. Pradeep Nair Says:

    It's a good old topic, only KJ has packaged it differently, so that the issue gets discussed.

    Adultery as we know by recent history is bad. But there were societies which practised it.

    And, many do in a win-win manner.

    The world has seen many changes. We wear dresses which were never worn. We discuss topics that were never discussed.

    We (will) also live lives that were never lived.

    I don't think there is anything "right" or "wrong". It's all about if it is okay or not OR whether we "agree" with something or not...

    When it just doesn't work out between couples, instead of brooding and cribbing, the positive way would be to find a way out.

    Despite every effort, if things don't work out, it's better to part cheerfully rather than stick tearfully.

    Two things: 1. Give the utmost try. 2. Parting should be without rancour.

    If not, the cure will be worse than the disease.

  12. passerby55 Says:

    I was so very sure you would write on this topic.

    BUt you have hit on a wonderful "the USHA touch"
    "DISposable" cannot stop thinking of so many things ... *winking*

    seriously and honestly i believe.....relationships cannot be disposed......we are humans and we carry emotions. we are the only animals who can shed tears for emotions and feelings i have heard.

    good post!

  13. passerby55 Says:

    sorry usha for using the space...had to post this, cannot stop laughing at what preeta wrote...

    is she not a sweet darling to
    "KANK was not meant for you and me"....

    Usha you are an amazing woman...can inspire people to comment so well here.

  14. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan: For me too,Commitment is near the top of the list as a requirement in any relationships. YOu have provided an interesting point to think about - the attitude to jobs and the low premium on loyalty.

    HHGMOM: I agree Karan Johar is years ahead of the likes of us - may be that is an interesting peek into the society of the future which you and I may not live to see!

    Pradeep: I agree that finally the couple involved in the relationship are best situated to decide what isgood for them under the circumstances. But is the availability of easy exits a factor in hasty decisions without commitment?

    Passerby: YOur winks made me think of a few disposable things whch oops, I wasnt thinking of when I wrote. Lol...
    As for provoking good comments, I think many times the comments are the better part of my posts. When I go through some of my old posts and comments I see how much the posts are enhanced by these insightful comments.What can I say? I guess I am plain lucky to have you people read my posts and even take the trouble to comment!

  15. Shiv Says:

  16. great title! if you think of why people cheat - is it the cheap thrill vaue or is it really that they are unhappy in their marriage? or realise that they had made a mistake by getting into it or is the other party to blame? the book 'why men don't listen & women can't read maps' by Barbara & Allan Pease talks a lot on the relationship dillema.

    I found your blog today & have already bookmarked it. really liked what you write & the topics that u pick.

  17. Will comment later, in the middle of some work, but remembered this passage from Lin Yutang:

    "..The greater the imaginative power of a man, the more perpetually he is dissatisfied. That is why an imaginative child is always a more difficult child; he is more often sad and morose like a monkey, than happy and contented like a cow. Also divorce must necessarily be more common among the idealists and the more imaginative people than among the unimaginative. The vision of an ideal life companion has an irresistible force which the less imaginative and less idealistic never feel."

    'The Importance of Living'
    Lin Yutang

  18. Usha Says:

    Shiv: Yes, checked it out and commented too. We seem to feel the same way about commitment.

    It is no longer seen as "cheating" - but as searching for true happiness.
    Thanks and will check out your blog.

    Huck: Interesting.And we have seen it happen a lot with poets and writers and actors and musicians.As for other lesser mortals, as long as the search leads to a better relationship, I can understand it.
    And I still think we are increasingly less willing to take on commitments.

  19. Shruti Says:

    hi usha..
    commitment is what today's generation is not ready to bind with..
    but love cant be fully done without commiting to ur partner..
    feelings are such that it can be aroused for any person but if you are comitted towards ur partner nothing will be better than that...

  20. Usha Says:

    Shruthi: As you yourself belong to this generation, perhaps you could throw some light on WHY there is a fear or reluctance to commit?