Till Snoring Do Us Part!

[ Wednesday, April 19, 2006 08:43:51 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

A study conducted by an American university cites snoring as one of the leading causes for divorce. And the situation in Mumbai is not very different.

Indrani and Sujoy Sen (names changed) are on their third visit to their marriage counsellor in two months. The couple has been going through a rough patch in their oneand-a-half-year-old marriage.

Before you begin to mentally enumerate the problems usually plaguing a marriage - like infidelity and sexual incompatibility - let us clarify that the couple is facing none of the above. Sujoy has a snoring problem so severe that Indrani claims that she spends most nights sleeping alone in the hall of their 1BHK!

What many might dismiss off as a marital hiccup is actually a far more serious problem. A recent study conducted by the Rush University Medical Centre in Illinois, USA has shown that couples who struggle with sleep apnoea (snoring) have a high divorce rate. So how severe is the problem here?

"I wouldn't say that here in India the 'snoring-leading-to-divorce' situation is as pronounced as it is in the West, but I do have the odd wife coming to me trying to seek a divorce from her husband who has a snoring problem,"says family law practitioner Rajni Ahuja.

"I, of course, rationalise with the wife and help her understand that snoring is a medical problem and not something that can or should be a ground for divorce. Although, I do get wives arguing with me that lack of sleep as a result of their spouse's snoring amounts to cruelty."

But according to divorce laywer Yezdi Pastakia, couples seeking a divorce on grounds as flimsy as a spousal snoring is not at all uncommon.

"I would say that on an average, around two in every five cases coming to me cite such 'frivolous' grounds. The chief being snoring,"says Yezdi.

Snoring is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to, says marriage counsellor Dr Sampat Kothari.

"Snoring is often dismissed as a joke, but it can lead to a breakdown of relationships because partners cannot endure the disturbed or sleepless nights caused by it,"adds Kothari.

However, countering this view is consulting psychotherapist and counsellor, Dr Minnu Bhonsle in whose opinion such 'minor' issues are simply excuses.

"If the couple is already facing some marital problems, something as innocuous as the husband snoring or the wife spending too much money on clothes can exacerbate the problems, thus adding to the negative inventory. There has to be communication and empathy between the couple who can then rally together to surpass such barriers."

And what do individuals suffering from this problem have to say? "I know my snoring is a major issue in our marriage,"says Sujoy.

"But I have unsuccessfully tried all the remedies there are to abate this problem - right from hypnosis to visiting a sleep clinic. I'll do anything for our marriage to work,"he says.