In India, marriage is considered as a sacred bond that binds two individuals together, but today most of the current youth are suffering from Gamophobia (gamos meaning marriage)- intense and irrelevant fear of getting married or committed.
A recent study quoted that only 22.4% men and 19.2 % women who are currently in a relationship indicated they would get married. Nearly half-the population are ready to cheat on their spouse or have an open mind about it. The average age of marriage has gone up from 23 to 29.5 for men and 20.8 to 27.4 for women from 1970’s to 2017. Individuals don’t have the problem of getting married, problem is with the reality that accompanies it.
Why individuals fear marriage?
Several Research studies states the following as the common reason as to why individual has a fear of getting married.
FOMO: Individuals from this generation hold the view that Gamophobia is majorly due to Fear of Missing out (FOMO) either on their personal freedom, independence or on their single bachelor/ bachelorette life.
Bad Choices: With members of today’s generation living a multi-faceted personal and social life, they have the fear of making the worst choice i.e., making a decision without knowing the right information about their partners.
Inadequacy: Most of the individuals hold the view that they are not capable as an individual and the feeling that there is some aspect which is missing in them; this fear leads them to not make an effort, or commit from their end.
Divorce: Research states about 50% of marriages end up in divorce in today’s generation. The fear of the possibility that their marriage could end in divorce is stopping most of the individual to commit or get into wedlock.
Capstone: The view that the individuals of today’s generation hold that marriage is a capstone like the last brick that is used to build an arch. The view that their other needs and requirement must be met or satisfied before even they could think of the capstone of marriage.
Attitude towards Marriage: The attitude that this generation members hold about marriage is of two extremes which is stopping them from ending in marriage. One attitude that members hold is that should and must of ‘doing it right’ i.e.., the idea of getting married only once and make it a perfect meant to be. The other aspect is their conflictual attitude towards marriage because of the over-hype surrounding the drama around marriage and the concept of divorce.
Lowering belief in the institution of marriage: With Western influence many youth in the generation is open to the idea of living together or cohabitation than the idea of getting married as the level of responsibility and commitment involved in it is less pressurising than involved in the aspect of marriage.
Commitment Phobic: Individuals in the current generation have low tolerance for ambiguity and are indecisive about major life decisions, which leads them to a confusion that if they would want to/ will able to spend the rest of life with this same person.
Lack of adaptability: Individuals lack the mind set to adapt to and adjust to things, but rather they feel that they don’t have the ability to adapt to the changes post marriage and has the fear of transformation that would happen to their life.
Changing trend: Changing trend in gender equation, where more females are entering work-force and focus on attaining an equal position and pay as men, leading them to focus on careers than on other aspects like marriages.
Parental attitude: Few individuals have the fear of getting married simply because of witness their parent’s marital life or because of few things that their parents say like ‘Abhi chalo apni marzi, baad mein toh sasural walon ki hi sunni padegi’.
Exposure to marital discord: Witness marital discord in the relationship of significant others or in media, where a celebrity couple split or divorce or engage in a fight, this challenges an individual’s view about marriage and adds to their fear.
Marriage taking a backseat: Focusing and prioritising different aspects and domains like career, work, fame etc., leading to marriage taking a backseat.
Physical and Emotional Infidelity: In the generation of casual hook-up and multiple sexual encounters being common, individuals have the fear about their spouse’s past and their future as to whether they have or will cheat the other.
Quest for finding and living with oneself: The notion that individuals hold the strong notion that they only live once and they want to invest on self to gain and build on their self-experience.
Parents holding higher aspiration: Parents having higher aspiration for their children and rejecting and declining marriage offers as they feel the spouse doesn’t meet their son/ daughter’s standards or accomplishments.
Obsoleting concepts like Pathi Parmeshwar & Ideal Bahu: Fading emphasis to concepts like these along with feeling of inadequacy of unable to be an ideal spouse.
Multiple ways to find companionship: In those days, spouse were considered as a lifelong companion, but currently individuals have lots of friends, and others to provide companionship and individuals no longer needs a partner to fulfill this need.
Past negative experiences: Exposure to negative or harmful relationship models at an early age.
Are you suffering from Gamophobia?
Here are few physical signs and psychological symptoms which indicate that you might be suffering from gamophobia:
- Feeling of dread or terror at the thought of marriage.
- Individual goes to great length to avoid discussion on any topic related to marriage.
- Has no control over the fear of marriage and starts shivering or trembling and rapid heart rate.
- Irrational and extreme fear of marriage and commitment.
- Aggression, panic attack or ill-temper upon the though or discussion about marriage.
- Physical signs like crying, trouble in breathing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and abdominal discomfort.
Gamophobia can be cured by using a variety of ways and strategies.
Professional Help: Seeking professional help and consultation. Seeking personal therapy with a trained professionals helps the individual to understand about themselves and their fears better, the therapist will even teach few strategies to deal with the fear effectively.
Exposure therapy: Behaviour therapy technique of exposure would help the individual better. In exposure therapy, the therapist gradually exposes the client their object or idea of fear and desensitise them by replacing the negative emotion of fear with neutralising emotion of relaxation.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: In CBT the therapist identifies the negative thought associated with marriage and they challenge this negative thought in order to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Family therapy: Conducting family session helps the individual and their family aware of the fear/ phobic situation. It facilitates in the development of emotional bond and support from family members.
Support System: Building a strong social support system with family members and friends. Talking to and gaining trust and support of significant others help the individual to overcome gamophobia effectively.
Working on the idealistic expectation about marriage and spouse: Understanding and coming in terms with reality that no one is perfect. Accepting people and situation as it is rather than trying to fit them or wait for them to match the idealistic standards.
Being adaptable: Being flexible and open to make few changes and modification to have a healthy married life than being fixed and expecting the other person to change or planning to stay alone.
Change in Perspective: Looking at things from multiple angles and coming to terms with the fact that things in life are grey, not just black or white.
Simultaneous focus: Focusing on one’s career and growth but also simultaneously learning to focus and pay attention to other domains like relationship, marriage and building it rather than letting it take a backseat.
Want to walk far? Learn to walk together! The idea of individuals getting to live their life once and they having to experience everything is accepted and acknowledges. Individuals should realise that in the journey of life, if they want to walk far, they have to walk along with someone.
Hope and Trust in Self and in the other partner: Building a sense of mutual trust and hope by emotionally and psychologically investing on one another and by mutually committing to each other and providing the space and respect to the other partner to commit to you.
Going for it: Famous Philosopher once quoted ‘People know they will die someday, but that doesn’t stop them from living’. The same applies to the concept and idea of marriage, possibilities of negative things to happen are higher like divorce, marital discord etc., but that should never be an option which would stop a person to try or go for it.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times and always with the same person!