Intimacy Undone

By Malavika Rajkotia

Click here to buy Intimacy Undone.

Once the couple are stitched together ‘in law’, they have to find their own way together. Various types of differences, such as cultural or familial divergence, may make for odd clashes but do not necessarily lead to a higher chance of divorce, just as a seamless coming together from the same background does not guarantee a good marriage. Most of the reasons why a marriage does or does not work are not even in the realm of the rational.

A marriage ‘works’ when it is structured around a settled intimacy. It may not be happy, or even fulfilled, but just settled. If this inner life in the structure dies, the courts call the standing social and financial structures left around the marriage ‘an empty shell’. 36 To force a dead marriage to continue is to keep a corpse, and the modern view is that it would be cruel.

Intimacy, by its definition, means seeing the other unmasked which thus must also include the irrational sides of that other—and of one’s own self while dealing with the other. Intimacy is unrefined and true, and thus by its very nature tests marriage, which is a house dressed in material finery. The other major tension in marriages comes from individual aspirations that seek to break away from the stifling constraints of social and family ‘bonds’. A related source of tension is the unrealistic expectation that the other partner will be a messiah for continued happiness, including, of course, romance. But romance and marriage are also fundamentally incompatible, because ‘it is the very essence of romance to thrive on obstacles, delays, separations and dreams whereas marriage is designed for constant physical proximity to the monotonous presence’.37 Incompatibility erodes the relationship daily, bit by bit, till ‘the last strands of a relationship can break from a single glance or a moment of silence’.38

The social, sexual and economic consequences of a marriage are cemented by legal rights to property and the responsibility to manage it for the family’s benefit. When only the ‘empty shell’ of the marriage is left, the court becomes responsible for the distribution of the marriage’s assets within the family. Equitable distribution is a delicate and complex exercise, given that the social equations amongst men, women and children are essentially iniquitous.

36. Naveen Kohli vs. Neelu Kohli (2006) 4 SCC 55822
37. Laurence Lerner, Love and Marriage, Literature and its Social Context, p. 124
38. Vivek Shanbagh, Ghachar Ghochar

All Excerpts

Coming soon   /   View all

Connect with us

Join the Speaking Tiger Books mailing list: