Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

When to get married? November 14, 2008

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,Resources,Youth — Sam George @ 3:38 am
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Average age of first marriage has gone by an year. Official numbers are out for the year. It is 28 for men and 26 for women. It is up by an year for both men and women from last year. Americans are waiting longer to get married. See the report in USA Today of the study by NFI & University of Texas.

Once people married their childhood sweethearts; then they met their future mate at college campuses and now life partners are found at workplaces. With rising educational needs to survive in a competitive market place, 20 something are more focussed on standing on their feet before deciding to get married.

The odds for a happy marriage may favor those who tie the knot between the ages of 23 and 27. Both early marriages (before finishing college ie 20) and late marriages (after 30) seems to have high rate of casualty.  Cohabitation has also pushed the age of marriage upwards. 

Marriage age has steadily climbed in all developed nations over last few centuries. Education and job pursuits keep people occupied. It also makes marriage prospects harder. Disperson of families on account of studies and work, also reduces their social circles to choose future mate from. Processes have also undergone significant change. Match makers, matrimonial columns, faith groups, arranged marriage, online profile matching etc have created confusion over mater selection process.

Is there an ideal age of marriage? I tend to say no. People are at different places when it comes to relational readiness, emotional maturity and commitment to tie knot. Average age needed not make you feel that you are doomed for a lonely life or think there are many years to think about all this stuff. How are you preparing for a lasting and fulfilling marriage? How ready are you for it?


Cohabitation – who wants marriage? June 14, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 1:08 pm
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Who wants marriage these days? Just live together and break up when you want. Why sign papers and carry the burden of all legality issues associated with it. Who cares about long term commitment anyway? Relationships are meant to last as long as love lasts. As emotions ebb and flow, so do people wallk in and out of relationships.

What a distrubing line of reasoning that is. Just yesterday my wife was sharing about a colleague who after 5 years of cohabitating just broke up and walked out of the relationship. The emotional fall out is going to last rest of the lives and generations beyond themselves. Our society seems to be so obsessed with ourselves and the present that our capacity to think holistically and long term gets severly impaired.

David Popenoe of Rutgers University has come out with a new report on Cohabitation, Marriage and Child Wellbeing in America. He calls ‘the living together’ phenomena as the strongest force altering family in modern times. Since 1970, when cohabitation was a deviant and illegal practice, this social trend has grown 10 times and now makes up nearly 10 percent of all couples!

Non-marital cohabitation has become a normal part of the life course in the eyes of more than half of young singles in the United States. In 2001a national survey of young adults between the ages of 20 and 29, 43 percent agreed that “you would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” As of 2002, over 50 percent of women ages 19 to 44 had cohabited for a portion of their lives, compared to 33 percent in 1987 and virtually none a hundred years ago. The yearly number of marriages per 1000 unmarried women age 15 and older has dropped from 76 in 1970 to 41 in 2005.

Social stigma toward cohabitation is waning. Attitude has changed to acceptance and being trendy. Reasoning like pragmatism, cost effectiveness, testrun, hooking up etc seems to dominate young adults as they view relationship. The societal approval of non-marital sex (before, outside of and without marriage), a fallout of sexual revolution of the 1960s, may be at the heart of this social development.

Moreover radical individualism of the Western world, promiscuity of the culture, delay in marriage, changing gender roles etc have contributed toward this trend. Legalistic society that the West has become with high cost of marriage and divorce may be partly blamed. Rise of divorce and singlehood are also other reasons for this social development.

More on this later.


Happiness in Marriage June 3, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 3:09 pm
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Recently a Harvard psychology professor (Dan Gilbert) came out with a book on happiness in marriage. It is called ‘Stumbling on Happiness’. See the report in New York Times or Telegraph. See his blog here.

Among the many distorted views being promoted by this researcher is that children spoil happiness in marriage. How wrong this is. It probably is indicative of the growing selfishness of adults in the western culture. Whether it be marriage or children, our culture is all about what is in for me.

A quote from the book, which gives the slant of the entire book, I guess. “When we have an experience . . . on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time,” he writes. “Psychologists calls this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage.”

Sure, small kids are lots of work and depletes all our resources – time, energy and money. Couples become child-centric and have little or no time for each other. Raising kids is also very expensive these days and involves much sacrifice. But parenting teaches us some very fundamental lessons in life, other, community, faith and God.

The American experiment is based on ‘pursuit of happiness’ and yet it evades most Americans. As long we are obsessed with ourselves and using (even abusing) others for our own selfish gains, we never will find happiness. Marriage and children makes us other centered. It teaches us to serve other sacrificially. It is the only by finding happiness of others that we find ourselves happy.

Materialism or promiscuity can never give lasting happiness. We must turn to spiritual pursuits and return to finding core of our being. Search for ultimate truth about origin, meaning, end of life. Marriage and children are fundamentally makes us to ask deeper questions about life.


Cost of Family Breakdown May 3, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 3:27 am
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Finally numbers are out. First of its kind assessment how much does it cost the goverment (hence the taxpayers) as a result of family disintegration, particularly divorce and out of wedlock childbirth. A whopping $112 Billion a year!

A very sobering reminder how family fragmentation is so expensive to everyone. The study was done by the Institute for American Values, a Washington DC based family organization and along with few other family agencies. See the reports here.

Between 1970 and 2005, the percentage of children being raised in two-parent families dropped from 85 to 68 percent. Divorce and alternative marriages continue to plague the Western society. Anti-family agenda is undermining communities and nations. Weakening in the most basic unit of the society has far-reaching implications.

This cost arise from increased taxpayer expenditures for antipoverty, criminal justice, and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals who, as adults, earn less because of reduced opportunities as a result of having been more likely to grow up in poverty.

Whatever be the cost figures, it proves there are family fragmentation has communal and national implications. When people pursue their own happiness, even at the expense of their mate and children, rest of the society pays a dear price. So they and their elected officials must come in the aid of keep it from fragmenting in the first place.
The policymakers, state legislators, and federal agencies must take keen interest in marriage and family issues. Stable marriage helps everyone. We all must resolve to committed to marriage strengthening initiatives at community level and supportive of government programs as well. Faith groups have crucial role to play, not just in conducting wedding but to help them stay married! 


Lowest Marriage Rate in Britain April 15, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 4:32 pm
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The number of Britons tying the knot has collapsed to a record low. Lowest in the last 150 years that records were kept. See the report in This is London, BBC and Charles Colson’s commentary Breakpoint.

In 2006, there were approximately 237,000 weddings in Britain. Two-thirds of all weddings in 2006 were civil ceremonies. The marriage rate for British men is 22.8 per 1,000 and for women 20.5 per 1,000. In the last twenty years cohabitation has doubled. Propotion of people living alone has double since 1971, now accounting for 12%. Divorces peaked in 1993 at 180,000 before falling to 155,000 in 2005. First-time mothers are becoming older – aged 30 on average in 2006 compared with 24 in 1971. One in four single women under retirement age is thought to be living unmarried with a partner.

A clear sign of breakdown of families in Western Europe. This trends also spell disaster for children, families and society at large. Unstable family structures results in anti-social behaviors, crime, promiscuity, state welfare etc. Stable families are the best formula for bringing up children and preventing delinquency. Somehow our politicians do not see that far or do not care what happens beyond their times and give in pleasing people by buying into certain ideologies to keep themselves in power!

There is an economic angle to it as much as a cultural and moral dimension. Advantages for married couples have gradually been withdrawn, joint taxation-ended in the 1980s and the last tax break for couples, the Married Couples Allowance, was withdrawn in1997. Benefits such as tax credits now favour individuals living with children rather than couples and the bias against couples is thought to have contributed to the growing numbers “living apart together”.

Stronger the marriage, stronger the society and stronger the nation. When the most basic bond in a society becomes fragile and shows signs of weakness, demise of a nation is inevitable.


40% divorce rate in Mumbai, India February 5, 2008

Filed under: Culture,Family,India,News — Sam George @ 4:57 am
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Three different friends of mine send me this report from TOI. It says that 2 out of 5 marriage are officially breaking up in Mumbai. No one know how many unofficial divorces takes place… those who sever the relationship and decided to separate without legal  hassles.

Sociologists have blamed it on the hyper-urban lifestyle. Often as a result of time-starved relationships. 8-10 hour work days plus 2-3 hrs of commute, leaves couples with very little quality time at their disposal in nurturing the  marraige. Other blame on extra marital relationships and some even on the influence of Bollywood culture in Mumbai. Whatever be the case, Mumbai is not financial and film industry capital, but continue to be trendsetter in new sociological upheavals.

Family is the most fundamental unit of the society. When families breakdown, there is weakening in the fabric of the society. It sure is indication of dilution of values and place of morality in the society. When a society grows weaker, soon it begins to show in the national character. Rise and fall  of nations can not be seen only in economic or military powers, but need to be seen inner moral courage of its people.


No Sex leads to Divorce January 22, 2008

Filed under: Culture,Family,India,News — Sam George @ 3:52 pm
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A new court ruling in India – married couple who have aversion towards sex is enough grounds for dissolving their marriage. After 13 years of marriage, the couple got divorced citing wive’s denial of sex. Read entire report on TOI and CNN-IBN.

Is absence of normal sexual relations sufficient reason for dissolving a marriage? What is normal, anyway? What if the husband was sexually abusive toward his wife? What if he is a sexual addict? Or what if there is plenty of sex, but no relationship between the husband and wife?

According to the High Court judge in this case, the denial of sex by the wife lead to mental cruelity and which was enough ground for divorce. Should there be any reason for marital annulments? If any one of the parties in the marriage do not want to continue the relationship, should they be given divorce? Or should they be forced to stay in the marriage superficially? Is this leading to no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce has only created a culture of divorce and marital instability in the western world. Newly married couples keeps the back door open and exihibit higher inclination towards calling if off without any societal pressures. Marriage is more than sex. Marriage is make us holy, not simply to make us happy.