STAYING IN AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE or OPTING FOR A DIVORCE?
“Mend it, don’t end it!”
Since our childhood, we’ve always had a very dreamy, romantic notion surrounding the concept of marriage- a sacred culmination of two souls, till ‘death do us apart’. Surely, such eternal love is always for the keeps, and we may even derive inspiration from our parents or grandparents as our rock-solid exemplars of this fine institution. However, it may not always be pristine. A few thorns beautify the otherwise pleasant pink rose, right?
Similarly, marriage too, is a lifelong commitment; an unending journey to evolve and grow into better versions of oneself with our better halves in tow. Well, isn’t this at least what our fairy tales denote? Now, now, can we blame Cinderella and Snow White for creating this oh-so majestic ‘happily ever after’. It makes us wonder, why we are just left to assume that matrimony is full of rose petals. Why weren’t we taught to keep it real; to embrace the various ups and downs of married life?
Don’t get us wrong- we are not trying to allude you towards a disparaging view of this holy nuptial. Through this post, all we’re trying to do is to expose the harsh realities or the flipside of a crumbling union. If you’re blessed with an understanding and a supportive spouse, then exude a big thank you to the universe, and hold on to your ‘forever’ whilst enjoying your wedded bliss.
While saying ‘I do’s’ and walking down the aisle, no one fathoms that one day, they may be at the brink of ending this union of togetherness that they had so excitedly embarked upon. And you know what, that’s okay! In this contemporary era, more couples are vocal about their marital difficulties and conflicts. While adjustment and compromise are still a norm, people today, pay attention to their individual needs and wants too. No one wants to simply settle and may find it liberating to end such a loveless relationship than feeling trapped. And to all these brave heart men and women, all we’d like to say is kudos for standing up and shackling stereotypes.
Since we’re on this topic, how can we not credit luminaries who have changed the game? In an interview with the prolific film-maker Karan Johar, the uber-talented star kid, Sara Ali Khan bedazzled us with her response to a question pertaining to her parents. She said that it would have been worse to be brought up in an “unhappy environment”. “Today, I have two comfortable homes, with my parents being happy in their own spaces, leading to a more fulfilling relationship for us kids”. What a beautiful way to look at life, right?
Popular belief has it that children cannot look at their parents as two separate individuals, who operate independently of each other. For them, they signify one, strong unit. But, ask someone who has been raised by a single parent. With the world becoming smaller, you may actually be surprised by the millennial mindsets. Bringing us back to the above quote, don’t you agree?
REASONS FOR STAYING IN AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE
As a modern woman, we’d like to ask you an integral question- If you ever found yourself at such a crossroads, what would you do? Did you just nonchalantly exclaim to yourself these life-altering phrases, ‘Divorce’ or ‘Separation’? If yes, then think again. Trust us, it’s easier said than done.
And, can we just say that this claim is a hundred times more difficult to live up to in a patriarchal society like India. Since our early days, we’ve been socialized into our gender roles. Males are meant to go out into the world, while women, their wives run the show at home. Who remembers playing with dollhouses and kitchen sets as a naïve, young girl? Slowly and gradually these viewpoints are shifting, but to date, more women prefer to stay within the marital boundaries, rather than just set free and fly.
Why is it? We may have transcended to a more progressive generation, but to date, a divorcee is looked down upon. The stigma associated with separation is so flabbergasting that women tend to feel stuck in an unsatisfying conjugal. Often met with ‘What will our neighbours say?’ ‘Just have a child and your problems will seem minuscule, ‘Now that you’re married, you belong to your husband’s family”, couples find it difficult to escape from these societal and archaic clutches. Doesn’t this sound blasphemous, misogynistic and chauvinistic?
According to us, shouldn’t we let go of our ‘damsel in distress’ attitude? Smash the naysayers and squash this age-old patriarchy! We’re not liabilities, but shining assets (not in the objectionable sense, of course).
Another reason couples stay together in a marriage devoid of love and compatibility is for the ‘sake of their children’. Ironically, they tend to hamper their upbringing, rather than uplifting it. Kids today are sharp individuals. They can easily see through the unifying façade that you may be putting up because the face doesn’t lie and neither do our emotions. In case of a separation, they may feel displaced for a short while, but the benefits will unfold in the long term.
Would you rather raise your child in a toxic, abusive, or withdrawn environment, filled with innumerable fights, arguments and long, non-assumed periods of silences, or just separate amicably and really work towards healthily co-parenting your son or daughter? In fact, studies show that such children tend to be more compassionate, self-confident and respectable of other’s personal spaces. Also, children learn from their parents. Therefore, we need to decide what foundation we wish to lay for the future of tomorrow.
Coming to an ‘under the wraps’, but a highly prevalent practice- domestic and emotional abuse is equivalent to rotting in hell. Being the knowledgeable millennials that we are, most of us are aware of the debilitating and deleterious phenomena, eminently known as the ‘Four Horsemen’ or driving forces of an irreparable wedge. These are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. While the former three are self-explanatory, stonewalling is psychologically damaging. In lay man’s terms, we call it the infamous, ‘silent treatment’. It’s just horrendous when your partner stops responding to your needs and wants and withdraws from you- a classic case of having ‘nothing to talk about or cannot stand each other’. Folks, that should be your ‘out’ or a warning sign of a waning association.
Also, a precursor to emotional or physical abuse, gaslighting is the devil’s nightmare. In this vicious perpetrator-victim cycle, the latter, which are often women, undergo repeated mental torture. Wife-beating or violence still shows some form, but psychological manipulation has far-reaching effects such as having banished self-esteem, anxiety and cognitive dissonance. Actions speak louder than words, right? Feeling entrapped both physically and mentally, there is a constant battle in the victim’s head, but they feel compelled to stay put. The situation is exacerbated when the husband is promiscuous and unfaithful. Due to the lack of finances, a woman may be obligated to stay.
Lastly, a little less extreme, over the years, spouses may realize that they have evolved into significantly distinct individuals with diverse and non-compatible worldviews. The adage, “fallen out of love”, basically summarizes this notion. Followed by a lack of intimacy, they grow out of each other. Because of its unconventional potency, couples may choose to live together in a passionless marriage because it is not deemed as acceptable. If we can become distant from our once upon a time best friends due to changed perceptions, why is marriage not allowed that freedom?
STAYING IN AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE or is Divorce the ultimate freedom?
With the changing tide, several twosomes are coming to accept this norm, thereby putting their happiness and mental health first. In an opposing stance, divorce and separation are becoming fairly common. Although it may have serious repercussions initially, spouses have reported leading more content and fulfilling lives after closing this chapter. We definitely try recommending marriage or relationship therapy at the start, but it is also important to know when to ‘call it quits’.
Divorce does not always have to be messy- an embroiling of arduous blood, sweat and tears. More and more couples are going down the amicable route, splitting up through mutual consent. We need to respect the presence of irreconcilable differences and embrace this newfound reality. As shown by certain influential families, divorce has done them better than harm for the development of their children- all they need is some handholding to adjust to this new normal.
An increase in the financial independence of women makes this decision easier. Today, we do not stand for any atrocities or bullshit that men may think they can meet out to us. We’re fierce, bold and courageous. Seema (45, senior sales manager) was encapsulated in a tumultuous marriage with her husband being a drunkard and beating her frequently. Meek and docile, she stayed on, and within a few years, conceived her son, Aarav. A gruesome incident when he was just two years old shook something in her, and she immediately left the house. “With no money and support, I took shelter in an NGO, and aimed to rebuild my life. Having never worked, I was clueless, but I wanted to give Aarav everything”. Slowly, she reinvented herself and started seeking employment. Seven years later, her family of two is thriving and she is a ray of hope to all the helpless, troubled women. You go, iron lady. If she can do it, so can you! Just take that leap of faith.
As we saw, not only did she flourish, but is an inspiration to many. In bitter-sweet juxtaposition, divorce helps us break free from these crucifying clasps and live a more meaningful life. Let’s look at some of the benefits:
- Forget security, you get a new, coherent lease of life.
- Single parenting is better than demonstrating an unhealthy relationship. A happy parent is what one needs.
- You may get second time lucky, and meet your soul mate who is equally invested in the relationship.
- You can direct all your energies towards yourself- a chance to learn, experience and live.
- Allowing a platform for your ex to evolve.
- You gain insurmountable happiness and peace of mind.
So, you see, lovelies, as Al Corona quoted, “Divorce is painful but it’s kind of like pulling off a Band-Aid: The anticipation is horrible but once it’s over, it’s pure relief.” Should we say more? Breathe and live in the present, you deserve every little unbridled joy and tranquil pleasures of life in this era of equanimity. Also, who can forget the unending medical bills that are issued in the former case, due to several reasons? But if you must remain in this partnership, learn to detach yourself and build an identity outside this periphery.
To sign off, be valiant, intrepid and fight for your rights. You are the scriptwriter of your destiny. Make your life worth living!