Trouble in Paradise – II

“Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak;
Sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.”

You weren’t expecting there would be a Part 2.  Well, neither was I. But the response I got offline has pushed me to talk about it all the more. And to all those people who are curious about the state of my marriage, I am sorry to disappoint you that everything is fine in my life.  However, I would still urge you to read on so that, hopefully, it makes someone else’s life a lot easier.

I believe the institution of marriage is important and needs to be respected.  And before someone decides to commit they must be sure. But to be honest, you can never be a hundred per cent sure. So let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Every marriage requires efforts and many a time even like-minded people find it difficult to get along. But, contrary to what is generally perceived about our generation, they do not give up. Yes, a majority still blames our generation for being selfish and uncompromising.  But I can say with confidence for a whole bunch of people that they won’t call it quits until they run out of options to make things work.

Why talk about divorce when you have a happy marriage?

Because I have a lot to say about it and I know a lot of people who have been through this yet don’t talk about it.  It is still a stigma in the society and instead of accepting and understanding reasons about what leads people to grow apart we want to judge them for not spending their lives together no matter how toxic their relationship has turned.

Most of us have been privy to conversations about the alarming rise in the number of divorces in the community. We do not talk about statistics. We do not understand or know the real reasons for divorce cases that we so loosely talk about. But there is just one thing we all readily agree upon that this generation is being influenced by the west and does not want to adjust. (Particularly girls, because “adjusting”  is supposedly a female trait. Don’t know which school of psychology this came from)But why should they adjust?

Why?

Why are we not okay when one decides who they want to spend their lives with? And this remains a fact even when section 377 has been decriminalized (Yay! for that). Why are we not okay when a couple decides to go separate ways? Why do we always have to look for faults in one of the partners? Why can it sometimes not be a mutual separation? What is with this gender bashing? Why do we usually blame the girl? Why is it okay to walk out of a marriage only if your husband is alcoholic, abusive, demands for dowry or if your in-laws have attempted to burn you to death? Why is it not okay when a girl takes the initiative to walk out of an unhappy marriage? Who decides whether it is an unhappy marriage or not? If the couple mutually parts ways why can’t we keep calm?  Divorces can be handled maturely and sometimes due to circumstances they do get ugly. Whatever it is, it’s the choice of the couple, not yours or mine. You and I do not get to decide what’s best for them. Why can’t we mind our business and let them be?

But we are family.

Yeah right!

I understand since you are family you might be concerned. But since this came as shock to you, you probably don’t deserve the title of family.
“How did this happen? All seemed so well. What went wrong? She seemed such a nice girl.”
Are you for real? She seemed such a nice girl! That is what you have to say? You mean if a marriage doesn’t work the girls is at fault. They say marriage is between two families. I don’t agree. I think it is between two people until everyone else decides to butt in.  Also, the degree of hypocrisy entrenched in our society doesn’t surprise me anymore. People usually blame a girl for not being able to adjust, for being too ambitious, being too modern, not working hard, being lazy in household chores, not being docile enough (The list seems endless)They also blame the girl’s family for being unnecessarily protective, letting their daughter run back to the comfort of her family when she is unable to “adjust”. These very people who blame a girl for not adjusting have an entirely different opinion when a girl commits suicide because of an unhappy marriage. They then blame the boys in general, parents of the girls for not understanding the woes of their daughter, not providing her with the comfort and confidence to confide. The families may not always be at fault. But yes, sometimes they are a catalyst too. Irrespective of the fact whether a marriage was arranged or against the wishes of the families, a family should be the support system that it is supposed to be. Otherwise, what is the point of calling yourself a family when all you do is blame one or the other or act completely ignorant as if you don’t know why that happened? I think it is the worst when a family says, “Oh we don’t know what went wrong?”  Seriously? You call yourself a family and you don’t know what went wrong? I am not saying that parents know in every case but I think there are always hints which can be picked up if you do not have an entirely biased view of the situation or when you  have brought up your kids in a way where they can open up to you with the hope that you will, at the very least, understand their predicament.

So dear friends and family, thanks for the concern but we can totally do away with the drama.

But everything seemed fine in their lives

We all post pictures and share stories that are #couplegoals. Nobody talks about their squabbling and little fights which over time start getting ugly. The pressure of maintaining the façade of a blissful marriage gets to us. And it is equally true for couples who aren’t actually facing any issues in their life. The constant scrutiny often gets to the best of relationships. (That’s an entirely different post and we won’t discuss it here) So for the ones already struggling, it just gets worse. They struggle through sorrow but put on a happy face at every social gathering pretending to lead the perfect blessed wedding life.

So why pretend?

Because since childhood she has seen her mother, aunts, grandmother do that. She has been taught that no marriage is perfect and every relationship needs to be worked upon. What she isn’t taught is that both the partners have to work on it and not just one. For her abuse is just physical abuse. She doesn’t know that silent treatment, sarcastic remarks labelled as well-intended-humour are a form of mental abuse which shouldn’t be tolerated. These are not a test of her sense of humour. The personal remarks aren’t going to make her strong and increase her tolerance level but will cause insecurities to sprout inside. The constant scrutiny and carping of her conduct are not a part of some assessment series that will get her the ideal daughter in law certificate.  Even though she has had a progressive mother who taught her to be a strong independent woman, she never saw any such examples in her own life. So unconsciously she slips into the moulds the society has made out for her without even realising how demeaning it is to her very own self. So when this strong smart independent woman realises it and decides to put an end to her misery and walks out of a seemingly perfect marriage why are we shocked?

The conditioning

This is not specifically a problem with just the older generation. This mental conditioning has been passed on to our generation. I am afraid that we might pass it unknowingly to our kids too.

I would like to share an incident here. A girl was about to file for divorce and she shared the news with her friends. They all sympathised with her.  And as soon as she was away, one of her friends turned to another and said, “Well, whatever it is, I think a girl has to adjust sometimes… I mean after all we are girls, we need to think practically… A girl has to compromise at some point or the other. So all this shouldn’t be a big deal.” When I heard about this incident, it took me some time to process the information because this was not just anyone but a really close childhood friend of that girl.  Fun fact: This young woman is a founding member of a women’s club. Like wow!  Initially, it was difficult for me to believe that someone from my generation who is privileged to have good educational and work opportunities would have such regressive thoughts. Probably this is why people say that women are the ones who pull down women more often than men do. Is #girllove #girlpower only limited to the virtual world?

Most girls are conditioned since childhood to give their everything to make their marriage work and not give up at any cost. So the next time you decide to label a girl as stuck up or not willing to adjust Stop! You probably have no idea to what extent she has gone to save her marriage. You have no idea how much courage it took for her to smile at that party right after a violent fight at home.  You and I cannot fathom how difficult it is for the couple who have kids to opt for divorce.

So please stop judging them. And most of all stop pitying them. They need your support, not sympathy. Please do not start with the ex-bashing. You do not know the reasons for the separation and even if you do it’s better to keep your opinion of their ex to yourself. They have decided to move on and so should you. You don’t need to put someone in a box on the basis of their relationship status. They are much more than that. If you can do this it would be one of the best helps that you can offer the couple.

I didn’t want this post to be gender specific but somehow it turned out to be a bit female-centric. This does not mean that only women are the victims. Either of the partners can be victims and sometimes both can be victims of situations which may be incomprehensible to us. Divorce is not a happy place for either of the partners. So let’s not judge them. Let them decide what’s good for them. This is not the time for “I told you so’s” or for formulating and validating stereotypes. Let us be the support they might need to get back on in life. Divorce is just the end of a toxic relationship. It is not the end of life.

 

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