MY PROFESSION -
COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRIC NURSE

Sudha Chavda. Hillingdon
Part 4

Incompatibility

Muslims frequently marry cousins or their relatives. Sikhs and Hindus follow the tradition of the caste system. Those who arrange the marriage are concerned about compatibility, but believe that by taking note of family background best insures it. Individual personality is not considered. Problems can arise, when one partner is in Pakistan or India. It is not uncommon for an Asian father to make a trip home to seek a bride and to send for the son to come once the arrangements are made. At this stage, even if the groom does not like the look of his bride, it is difficult to cancel the arrangements- worse if the girl is brought to England for the wedding, and if it does not take place, she is in a difficult position. She cannot remain unless she marries, and if she is sent back she and her family honour is disgraced. A bride who comes straight from a village has double set of adjustments to make - and if her new in-laws take a dislike to her, she has no one to turn to for support. The bride who is joining her husband, whom she has only met in India, may be shocked and betrayed to see him altered! He wears different clothes - smokes - drinks alcohol - says improper things - neglects his religion -speaks disrespectfully of elders -is not interested in news of the family -has dubious friends and so on.

Asians believe that the marriage is the solution to some of the problems exhibited by the youngsters of to day e.g. the rebellious behaviour, getting into the bad company, indulging into taking the drugs and the alcohol and any other unexpected odd behaviour relating to mental illness. They believe the responsibility will cure their behaviour. It is real tragic when you know that somebody is suffering from mental illness e.g. Schizophrenia and the family is going to India in search for a bride or a groom. Most of the times the full extent of the illness is not disclosed and left for the partner to find out after the marriage. The partner feels deceived and trapped in the marriage, as he/she would not get a stay in the country if the marriage were dissolved before 5 years. The ill person had managed his/her affairs by relying heavily on the family's support prior to the marriage. Married life brings added pressures and stresses e.g. having children and expectation of the partner to have a proper wife/ husband. This may cause further relapse in their mental state. In the end everybody suffers e.g. the couple, the in-laws and the children.

If the partner decides to seek divorce, than further battles of who gets the custody of the children follows. It is an ongoing saga creating stress after stress for everybody concerned. Sometimes you just can't help feeling so angry and helpless - thinking if only they had listened and considered my views, things would not have gone this far. But at the end of the day it is the patient's decision. You could put forward few suggestions but there is no guarantee that they will be followed.

Anyway folks, I have to stop writing now. Is there anything you would like to read about on mental health? If so, please let me know. Till then look after yourselves and be nice to each other. O.K.? Bye.
Sudha Chavda


Asian attitude to Mental illness Asian patient and cultural belief Gujarati Referrals
Arranged marriage Incompatibility

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