More than half of Indian Women prefer joint family

The following research by one of the leading online matrimonial sites simply got me stumped because I thought the case was the opposite. released its annual survey of its members’ matrimonial attitudes, with some fascinating results.

Think about this!

54% of women prefer living in a ‘joint family’ after marriage – alongside parents and siblings – whereas only 21% want to be in a ‘nuclear set-up.’

21% Really? With the surge in young people moving to the cities and hence the rise of ‘cosmopolitan couples’, this finding came as a shock to me.

I asked a colleague Jharna Kukreja-Chauhan (married for three years) about what she felt about the nuclear-joint family dynamics. Her reponse was immediate: “I would go for a nuclear setup any day,” she said, “because couples need their own space, privacy. That way relationships with the extanded family, in-laws etc remain affectionate and don’t go sour.”

So, in a joint family setup, there are no affections at all, I ask her.

“Most often no,” she replied, “they’re forced.”

Whether these affections are forced or not, the next point is even more shocking! According to this The Wall Street Journal report, surveys Indian attitudes on marriage:

– What if all hell breaks loose in the joint family, with daughter-in-laws and mom-in-laws fighting like on those Star TV soap operas? That shouldn’t matter too much, according to the survey, since about half the respondents would marry their partner even if they don’t get along with the in-laws.

However, another colleague Rummana Ahmed, who also grew up in a 20-member joint family setup, agrees to the findings. “I think the joint family setup is one of the biggest support systems you can have especially if the other members are understanding and you don’t have too many rules that restrict you,” she says.

But where do you find families like that?

Why not debate this finding? Is the joint family setup back in vogue? Or do couples still prefer being a nuclear family?

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