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Friday, March 11, 2011

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Facebook a top cause of relationship trouble, say US lawyers

March 9, 2011

When Facebook gets involved, relationships can quickly fall apart – as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi have discovered. But dictatorships are not the only ties being dissolved by social networking sites: now Facebook is increasingly being blamed for undermining American marriages.
Even though the rate of divorce in the US has remained largely stable in recent years, American divorce lawyers and academics have joined Middle East analysts in picking out Facebook as a leading cause of relationship trouble, with American lawyers now demanding to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before the start of proceedings.
"We're coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook," said Dr Steven Kimmons, a clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor at Loyola University Medical Centre near Chicago.
Yet while the US media has been quick to trumpet any evidence of Facebook as the country's leading marriage-wrecker, the truth is "It's complicated," as the site's relationship status would have it.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that four out of five lawyers reported an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites in the past five years, with Facebook being the market leader.
Two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said that Facebook was the "primary source" of evidence in divorce proceedings, while MySpace with 14% and Twitter with 5% lagged far behind.
Those statistics included not just evidence of infidelity but other legal battles, such as child custody cases in which parents deny using illicit drugs but boast of smoking marijuana on their Facebook pages.
Photographs harvested from social networking sites – including those posted by friends or colleagues on their own pages – are a particularly rich source of damning evidence, according to divorce lawyers.
"This sort of evidence has gone from nothing to a large percentage of my cases coming in," Linda Lea Vicken, a member of the divorce lawyers' group from South Dakota, told Associated Press.
Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the AAML, said the openness and sharing of social networking sites left their users' public and private lives more exposed.
"If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence," said Moses.
Statistics for January from online analysts Nielsen showed 135 million people in the US visiting Facebook during the month – nearly 70% of the country's internet users. On average, users spent more than seven hours a month visiting the site, far longer than the less than half an hour spent on visits to Amazon or the average of two hours and 15 minutes on Google, America's most popular web destination.
The overall rate of divorce, however, appears to be unaffected by the advent of social media. The most recent published data – from 2009 – shows the overall divorce rate declining, slightly more slowly than the shrinking percentage of Americans who get married every year.
It is little wonder that negotiating "Facebook divorce" status updates has become another unhappy event for failed romances, over when to launch the site's infamous broken-heart icon out into the glare of the world's news feed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 7-year itch is now the 3-year glitch

Mar 9, 2010

LONDON – The "three-year glitch" has replaced the "seven-year itch" as the tipping point where couples start to take each other for granted, according to a new survey.
Weight gain, stinginess, toe-nail clippings on the bathroom floor and snoring are a few of the passion-killers that have led to a swifter decline in relationships in the fast-paced 21st century, said the study commissioned by Warner Brothers to promote the release of comedy film "Hall Pass" in UK cinemas.
The survey of 2,000 British adults in steady relationships pinpointed the 36-month mark as the time when relationship stress levels peak and points to a new trend of "pink passes" and "solo" holidays away from partners and spouses that many Britons resort to in order to keep romance alive.
"Longer working hours combined with money worries are clearly taking their toll on modern relationships and we are seeing an increasing trend for solo holidays and weekends away from marriages and relationships in order to revive the romantic spark," said pollster Judi James who oversaw the survey.
The poll compared feedback from those in short-term relationships (defined as less than three years) and people who were married or in longer-term partnerships.
The findings showed that 67 percent of all of those surveyed said that small irritations which are seemingly harmless and often endearing during the first flushes of love often expand into major irritations around 36 months.
More than half of the Brits surveyed (52 percent) who were in younger relationships said they enjoyed sexual relations at least three times a week, compared to just 16 percent of those in relationships older than three years.
This suggests that as we get older together, romance gives way to day to day practicalities, supported by the fact that 55 percent of busy people in longer-term relationships admit that they now have to "schedule" their romantic time.
The report also said that those in the first flush of love can look forward to an average of three compliments a week from their partners - a figure which falls to an average of a single weekly compliment at the three-year high tide mark.
The prognosis gets worse the longer we stay in relationships, three in 10 of those surveyed that have been in a relationship for five years or more said that they never receive any compliments from their partners.
The findings also showed that more than three quarters (76 percent) of all people surveyed responded that "individual space was important" within a relationship and pointed to a rise of individual activities.
A third (34%) of those who have been seeing their partners for longer than three years have at least two evenings a month defined as a "pass" or a "ticket" where it is accepted that they can pursue their own interests and 58 percent of the same sample group enjoy regular holidays without their partners.
The top 10 everyday niggles and passion-killers: 1. Weight gain/lack of exercise, 13 percent; 2. Money & Spend thriftiness, 11 percent; 3. Anti-social working hours, 10 percent; 4. Hygiene issues (personal cleanliness), 9 percent; 5. In-Laws/extended family - too much/too little, 9 percent; 6. Lack of romance (sex, treats etc.), 8 percent; 7. Alcohol - drinking too much, 7 percent; 8. Snoring & anti social bedtime habits, 6 percent; 9. Lapsed fashion-Same old underwear/clothes, 4 percent; 10. Bathroom habits - Stray nail cuttings etc., 4 percent.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

India: Divorces Become More Common As Romance Gains Importance

April 23, 2009

NEW DELHI -- In India, love is in the air. Unfortunately, so is the raucous noise of lover's quarrels and the soporific drone of the court judge.
The flawed, but familiar, bonds of tradition are fading away. And there's nothing to replace them except for what Danny DeVito identified in "The War of the Roses" as the "two dilemmas that rattle the human skull: How do you hang on to someone who won't stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won't go?"
For thousands of years, Hindu society had the first problem licked. Marriages were contracts of servitude that sent a daughter off to her husband's family home with a hefty dowry and the injunction not to complain, because it was a one-way trip. Now, though, India is working on DeVito's second dilemma.
Women are gaining independence through education and a more important role in the workforce. Divorce laws have been made more liberal, and progressive legislation has been adopted to curb "bride burning" to extort dowries. Women no longer have to suffer psychological or physical abuse. More couples live in nuclear families instead of with the husband's mother and father, which ought to make things easier but has instead resulted in a relaxing of the unofficial ban on a wife's family butting into the couple's business.
And, perhaps most significantly, a new cultural obsession with romance and personal fulfillment has raised the bar for a happy marriage.
"If people have to be romantic and romance has to endure through thick and thin, the idea can be that if romance withers, the marriage is ended," says Patricia Uberoi, a New Delhi-based sociologist.
India does not track a national divorce rate, but some analyses of the number of divorce petitions filed in municipal courts indicate that divorce has doubled since 1990 in trend-setting Mumbai and Delhi.
"Statistically the number of cases on the docket has exploded," says Prosenjit Banerjee, a Delhi divorce lawyer. That means that even though the number of courts devoted to divorce proceedings has grown to around a dozen over the past 10 years, up from just four or five, there are still more than 30 cases listed before each court every day.
The phenomenon has already spread beyond the cosmopolitan centers.
Though the broadest available figures, from the National Family Health Survey, still place the figure much lower, some estimates now peg the (once negligible) national divorce rate at close to 6 percent. The statistical discrepancy that can probably be attributed to the glacial pace of the Indian courts, since the NFHS counted the number of divorced people and other estimates focus on the number of divorce cases.
At least among Internet users, the problem knows no geographical boundaries. About 60 percent of the 50,000 customers who have registered with, an online matchmaking service for divorced Indians that launched a year ago, live outside India's five largest cities; more than a third live outside the 20 largest cities. "In a few years, we may not even be talking about divorce and remarriage as a stigma anymore," says Vivek Pahwa, the company's chief executive.
For men and women trapped in bad marriages, that's wonderful news. Rani, a 23-year-old woman from the provincial town of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, for instance, applied for the courts after her husband sent her back to her parents a year into their marriage with a demand for a dowry supplement of 50,000 rupees (the equivalent of a year's salary in these parts). And when she gave birth to a daughter, her husband didn't even come to look at the baby. After three years of legal wrangling over the dowry -- prohibited since 1961, though the law is widely flouted -- she now says, "I want to be divorced this minute!"
But the state is flailing helplessly as it tries to balance tradition with modernity when it comes to the legal and law enforcement responses to marital discord.
Because a court-ordered divorce can take 15 years, women's attorneys often advise them to file dowry or domestic violence cases against their husbands instead, says Geeta Luthra, a lawyer who works on divorce and other women's issues. The criminal courts are equally slow, but the threat of being arrested and spending time behind bars while their lawyer argues for bail exerts pressure on men to settle. That's unfortunate, Luthra says, because the "eight false cases" are making the one genuine dowry petitioner more difficult to believe.
The domestic violence act of 2005 poses another kind of threat: An abused wife can be awarded any "matrimonial home" that she resided in during her marriage -- whether or not her husband holds the deed. "The idea is that by scaring the husband and his family they'll force them to settle. And the settlement basically means money," Banerjee says. "The law is certainly being abused. That's not my assessment, that's the assessment of the high court and the supreme court."
For men like Rakesh, a middle-class Delhi resident, this means almost weekly trips to court and the police station's special cell for women.
After he refused his wife's demand to move into a second home that his family owned and rented to tenants, his wife filed a police case against him and threatened to have him, his aging mother, his two brothers and their wives thrown in jail for dowry violations he maintains are completely fictitious. He tried to come up with a compromise -- he even rented a house for the couple to live in separate from his family. But when nothing worked he filed for divorce.
Now when he's not at the special police division devoted to women's issues suffering verbal abuse in the guise of police-enforced couples counseling, he spends his time wondering whether today is the day he'll get the warning he's going to be arrested and should seek anticipatory bail.
Still, the terms of the debate over dowry and domestic violence cases sometimes suggest what's at stake is a disagreement over the traditions of marriage.
For instance, a web site designed to help men victimized by false cases asks, "Wife forcing you to live separately? Wife does not respect you and is discourteous to your parents?"
This sort of thing cuts both ways, says Luthra. Perhaps understandably, women are less tolerant and more demanding than ever before. But it's not uncommon for a man to sue for divorce on the grounds that his wife refuses to do the housework, fails to play the good hostess when his friends drop by, or is impolite to her in-laws. On the other hand, Luthra says that these days, among couples who don't live with the husband's parents, the wife's mother may call with advice 10 times a day.
That's a problem any culture -- traditional or modern -- can understand.