The Big Fat Indian Wedding is something that we all know about. But does anyone understand or care about the emotional and mental well-being of the couple, who enter this new phase in their lives?
Whether it is arranged or love, each marriage comes with its own set of problems and issues. In such scenarios, how prepared really are couples, taking wedding vows? The lack of a comprehensive platform in India to address the concerns of men and women who are engaged or married led Sophia Mary Philips start The Little Things-Foundation for Relationships.
“In India, once a wedding date is fixed the bride-to-be is normally subjected to numerous rituals pre and post wedding. Although numerous queries plague her mind, she has no time to address them,” says Sophia.
Little things which can be sorted out in the beginning of a relationship, are often left unaddressed. “When things worsen, couples either get separated legally or suffer with each other silently. There is a mid-way called psychological counselling but there is a social stigma attached to it and couples hesitate to approach such counsellors,” says Sophia.
Life lessons serve as inspiration
Deriving inspiration from her own life and that of people close to her, Sophia started the organisation in 2018 after equipping herself with a course in Psychology and Counselling (Certificate Course from Christ College supported by NIMHANS) and Indian Institute of Psychology and Research. She also became a certified relationship workshop facilitator for life coaches.
“When our marriage went through a rough patch, my husband Roopak Nedumpilly and I sought professional help and guidance to make our relationship work. Ten years ago, when we got married, we felt invincible. Like many others, we felt that no force could tear us apart. But life together as a couple brought us face to face with the realities, a dangerous concoction of vulnerabilities and struggles,” says Sophia.
“We were one of the lucky few to have access to expert help when we needed it the most. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for millions of individuals, who are part of diverse relationships,’’ she adds.
With the good fortune of professional guidance and counselling, they were nudged to re-think their relationship. While they worked hard and learnt what went into making a resilient partnership, they also watched helplessly their friend’s marriage falling apart. “He was a software engineer. While his wife had dreams of settling abroad after marriage, he didn’t want to leave his widowed mother and sister and moving abroad,” shares Sophia.
The couple who has not communicated before marriage, suffered, as things turned ugly and they eventually parted ways, to the dismay of their parents and friends. “When a marriage falls apart, it does not only break two hearts but many around them. The scenario is worse when a child is involved,” says Sophia.
The Social Problem Addressed
About 1.36 million people in India are divorced and more strikingly, the number of people separated is almost three times the number of people divorced. Thousands of divorce appeals have piled up in family courts across the country and Bangalore is now called the ‘divorce capital of South India’ by clocking in at least 25 divorces cases every single day.
“Our venture hopes to bring about a significant change in the Indian marriage and divorce statistics scene, by preventing trigger weddings and trigger divorces. And by helping couples navigate through matrimony as mature partners, we help create a harmonious world with better interpersonal relationships,” she says on a confident note.
We got a chance, everyone should
“I strongly feel that like us, every couple deserves a chance to rebuild their relationship,” says Sophia. To do this, The Little Things-Foundation for Relationships has roped in experts from relevant fields to design experiential workshops for engaged and newlywed couples to help lay a strong foundation in their marriage – thereby reducing the chances of despair and discord which arises in the first few years of marriage.
“Our team of counsellors, psychologists, educationists, doctors, financial and communication experts strive for the emotional wellness of people by providing online and offline support structures and systems,” says Sophia, who has a vast experience in the corporate, NGO and advertising world.
Invest in the marriage more than the wedding
Sophia urges parents, who spend huge sums on weddings, to shell out a few thousands on such workshops to emotionally and mentally prepare their children before they start a new journey. “Parents don’t hesitate to spend on destination weddings but forget to think beyond that.”
The organization provides couples with access to counsellors, doctors, financial, communication and gender parity experts through online and face-to-face meetings and also ensures safe spaces for couples to connect through online and offline interactive and participative workshops held in eco-conscious environments. It also addresses topics unique to Indian couples like joint family living, arranged marriages, inter caste and inter religion marriages.
Be proactive than reactive in relationships
It is worrisome and a cause for concern when couples choose to do nothing to better their situation by silently suffering a corroding relationship. For centuries, in India, we were asked to ‘adjust’ in a marriage and taught not to ‘adapt’. “We realize that through campaigns and strategic partnerships with matrimonial sites and community influencers, our venture will help wake up Indians to the fact that we can be more proactive than reactive in our relationships.”
The Little Things is one of the top 100 ventures selected from across India by the Indian Institute of Management (IIMB) for the incubation at NSRCEL as part of Women Start-up Program, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Goldman Sachs. To know more about the workshops, visit the littlethingsindia.com
Relationship coach Sophia Mary Philips shares how a happy relationship is a result of little steps, taken together, with proper support
By: Geethalakshmi R