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What Google Search Tells Us About the State of Indian Marriage

Indians are obsessed with weddings. Arranged union or love match, the message is: You’re not complete until you’ve been united with another person, another family.

Completion doesn’t leave much room for imagining a ‘next,’ but inevitably, there is an epilogue to wedded bliss – the marriage itself, the movement of two people and personalities, often supplemented by children, in orbital dances over many years. What happens then?

To find out, we turned to that omniscient algorithm, Google. We used its autofill function to find out what Indians think about their marriages and spouses, typing in the following phrases to see how we most often complete them:

  • My wife/husband…
  • When your wife/husband…
  • Husband/wife is…
  • Husband/wife should…
  • Does a husband/wife…
  • I want my wife/husband to…
  • I can’t tell my husband/wife…
  • When your marriage
  • Marriage is…
  • Marriage means…
  • In a marriage…
  • My marriage is…
  • Marriage how to…

Here’s what we found out.

There is a strong showing of searches that speak to a fairly traditional and idealised vision of wedded bliss:

  • My husband is my strength
  • Wife is always right
  • Wife should come first
  • Husband/wife is god
  • Husband is my best friend
  • Husband/wife is best friend
  • My husband is the best
  • Husband/Wife is life
  • My husband/wife is my life
  • Marriage is beautiful

But that vision isn’t fully doing it for many married Indians, who are turning to Google (if not their spouses) to explore their sexual fantasies.

We’re guessing much of this is inspired by the ‘cuckold’ variety of pornography…
And here, 50 Shades of Gray seems to have left a mark…

But if those searches show the different extremes of what Indians dream of from marriage, other searches show what they’re yearning for and missing. If Google is anything to go by (debatable), married men and women in India want the same things from their spouses — respect, understanding and support — but feel they aren’t getting it.

  • Husband/wife should understand wife/husband
  • Husband should respect his wife/wife should respect her husband
  • When your wife/husband hurts you
  • When your wife/husband ignores you
  • Husband is not supportive
  • Husband should support his wife

Even worse, they feel unable to express their emotional needs with each other.

  • I can’t tell my husband/wife how I feel
  • I can’t tell my husband/wife I want a divorce
  • I can’t tell my husband/wife I cheated
  • I can’t tell my husband I love him

And even worse, there is a strong subset of searches that speak to patriarchal oppression and outright abuse:

  • When your husband hits you
  • When your husband beats you
  • Husband is the head of the family
  • Wife is not a maid
  • Wife should do for husband
  • Wife should listen to husband
  • Wife should obey her husband
  • Does a husband own his wife
  • Does a wife belong to her husband

At this point, it’s hardly surprising that the most common searches we found about spouses and marriage are about marital trouble, infidelity and divorce.

  • Marriage how to fall in love again
  • Marriage how to make it work
  • Marriage how to fight fair
  • Marriage how to keep the fire burning
  • Marriage how to stop fighting
  • My husband/wife is cheating on me
  • When your husband/wife is cheating
  • My marriage is falling apart
  • When your marriage is in trouble
  • When your marriage is dead
  • When your marriage isn’t working
  • When your marriage is over signs
  • My marriage is making me depressed
  • My marriage is killing my spirit
  • In a marriage but feel lonely
  • In a marriage what is abandonment
  • In a marriage alone
  • In a marriage without intimacy
#perspective, right?

Which means this next group of common searches makes sense — people seeking information on legal processes, often the legalities of divorce.

  • Does a wife have to pay alimony
  • Does a wife automatically get half
  • Does a husband have to pay alimony
  • Does a husband have to pay maintenance to his wife
  • Does a husband have to pay maintenance
  • Does a wife get maintenance
  • Marriage how to change name
  • Does a wife count as a dependent
  • Does a wife/husband need power of attorney

And then there are the (presumably) ladies Googling this:

Not if he’s dead, girlfriend. Just ask the women Googling this:

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