Monday 8 October 2012

Splitsville train continues to steam roll down the track

Times are changing and the thoughts of people too. Everything happens quickly, be it wedding or divorce. Decisions are taken quickly, as quick as sometimes we wonder when people got married and when they got divorced and the splitsville train continues to steam roll down the track.

Sorry, I’m not talking about some film stars, their life is like that. But I’m talking about aam admi, people like you and me. I used to often wonder during my teenage how Elizabeth Taylor, the undisputable queen of divorce, had so many weddings in her kitty, not one or two, but eight weddings and eight divorces!

Then in 2005, I remember Shobhaa De coming up with Spouse: The Truth About Marriage. Oh, yes, Shobhaa, married twice, analysed the institution of an Indian marriage through a span of about 40 odd years in her book.

Not because I had a love marriage (I was not married in 2005 and didn’t had any idea of having a love marriage), but as an Indian, it was rather easy to relate to the book. I agree that she has an impressive writing style and yes, I must admit that sometimes I’m allured by her blog. Her book took me through the wedding debate and how it is full of issues, how some marriages last long and how these days weddings are taking a back step over live-in relationships.

And anybody who reads the book can understand that Shobhaa believes in the beauty and sanctity of wedding and it’s easy for us to relate to that concept. Plus, the tongue-in-cheek and familiar conversational style of the book made me to go through the book without any boredom. Each and every chapter not only gives insights into her day-to-day encounters with Indian socialites, her children and her own experience, but also takes up an angle like, talking to partner, handling mother-in-law, dealing with fights, infidelity, differences in love marriage versus arranged marriage, long-distance marriages, importance of sex, talking about children and other trivial yet important issues.

Before I meander too much into that let me come back to the point. Even Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes recently split after five years of wedding. Not to mention Kim Kardashian who ended her knot within 72 days!

These days, divorces happen for silly reasons. I agree sometimes there are serious issues for the break-up, but sometimes I wonder if there’s more to the split or just those silly, trivial issues, as the reasons look so funny! Here, let me give some three instances which I have seen myself.

In the first incident, I came across the divorce of a friend – let me call her as Anita. When enquired, sisters of Anita’s former husband told me that Anita was not doing the household work and her husband was fed up of doing the work even at home, while she leisurely spent time at home. Is that all, I wondered. I have seen my dad helping my mom in household work and my hubby does that and what’s wrong if a man does household work? Wait, let me clarify here. Anita had a baby, less than one-year-old to take care of, so obviously she couldn’t manage the work and the baby. And if that was what bothering him, couldn’t Anita’s husband hire a nanny or a maid to do the household chorus? Is that the reason why he married? A woman who could do all the household work, no matter what else other than that she does? I don’t know. Should I mention that Anita is still single looking after her child and her former husband is on the lookout for another bride for himself?

My friend’s sister – let me call her Sujata – divorced her husband very recently. Her divorce process took her through literally a hell, as it was not mutual. Sujata moved away from her husband’s house within three months of her wedding. She was two months pregnant and she couldn’t take it anymore when her brothers-in-law started calling her by names. It was too much for her to bear when her husband also supported his brothers. After a legal battle for years together, she got her freedom from her husband and today, she lives independently with her daughter and I have heard that her former husband is planning to get married again.

Then, one of my best friend’s brother – let me call him Manu -- had a divorce within six months of his wedding. I was taken aback. They made a wonderful pair and I was surprised about what happened. But the reason was too silly. The newly wed girl refused to go to live with Manu. The very second day after the wedding, she returned to her parents’ house and later sought divorce. When Manu’s parents asked if she had anybody else in her mind, she said no one, but confessed that she was forced to marry by her parents. It’s another fact that she’s still single and Manu married for the second time, but don’t think his second married life is a bed of roses. Will share about what happened to him and generally about the second marriages in another post.

Then, there are my greedy uncle and his wife who saw the divorces of both the sons, my cousins – one a lecturer (let me call him Naveen) and the other a doctor (let me call him Prashanth) -- within three months of the wedding. The first daughter-in-law said on the very first day in my uncle’s house that she doesn’t want to live with my lecturer cousin. Then mutually agreed, my uncle paid Rs 40 lakh as compensation to the girl. They didn’t even bother to take back the jewels given to her during the wedding, as they feared her curses for their family! Then, instead of telling the world that the bahu refused to live with Naveen, they put the entire blame on the girl and told everybody that she was in love with someone else and so she divorced my cousin! No need to tell that the girl is still single and my cousin Naveen got married for the second time, but this time in secret, a poor villager, who is humble and quiet, no matter what my uncle’s family members do or say to her!

Coming to the other cousin, Prashanth, who is a doctor. Prashanth was in love with a girl, who also happened to be a doctor. But things were not in his favour, as her father was an influential officer. My uncle and aunt didn’t shirk back to ask dowry openly this time. And even though the girl’s father knew that giving and taking dowry is illegal, he didn’t bother about it, as all he wanted was happiness of his daughter. The officer gave one kg gold to his daughter and offered Rs 20 lakh in cash, but my aunt was adamant that she wanted to buy a Mercedes car for Prashanth and need Rs 40 lakh in cash, and yes, she indeed got all that she asked for. My aunt bought him a car for Rs 20 lakh and gave other Rs 20 lakh for interest. It was not even three months into the wedding and my aunt’s avarice increased, leading to the divorce. This time also, they didn’t go behind in putting all the blame on their bahu. They told everybody that bahu had the habit of taking drinks! They mutually agreed for the divorce on a condition that my uncle would pay Rs 1 crore as compensation and my uncle sold some of his ancestral property to get the cash and my cousin divorced his wife. Now, they are searching for another suitable bride for him.

One more interesting case is of another distant relative of mine who fell in love with a girl in Bangalore while studying, opposed his parents to get married to her. When everything looked fine after 3-4 months, suddenly a heartbreaking news came that his wife had disappeared with one of her former boyfriends. But it was too late for anything to be done, as by the time, my relative had transferred lakhs and lakhs of money to her account and had bought lot of immovable property in her name. Later, she agreed to divorce him only on the condition that he would forsake all the money and property in her name. God knows if she married her boyfriend or not, but my relative married for the second time, but this time a girl shown by his parents!  

Then, there’s a divorce in my hubby’s family too, which would be redundant if I mention it in this post.          

My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary a few months back and I keep wondering how they have managed to be together for so many years, when I’m seeing so many of my friends and relatives going through splitsville within a short span of their wedding, majority of them within one year! I must admit here that even I had a couple of rough patches and had thought of calling it quits. Seeing divorces has become so common these days. Why? Is it because of the financial independence we women have these days? Maybe.

I keep asking my mom if she would have divorced my father if there were any such circumstances, and she thinks twice before answering. She feels women were literally dependent on their partners in earlier days and they had no other go but to have a compromised life, no matter how the partner was. But now, women are more confident, but have very low resilience levels. It often leads to compatibility issues and domestic problems, she convinces me, making me feel comfortable and drop any such ideas, if I have any! Moreover, bad marriages lasted long in the earlier days, but now there’s no need for any such tolerance. As women are financially independent and divorce is socially accepted, bad marriages end very soon.

I agree, priorities for homemakers which used to revolve around family, children, husband and home have been taken over by careers and active social life. And as such there’s no wonder that there’s always a sort of comparison, a sort of ego clash between husband and wife.

Whatever advance we may have made, men, society still expect women to be ideal housewives, taking care of homes, even if it means after a hectic day at work, having children, looking after in-laws, being obedient to them, not questioning the financial aspects, etc, etc.

There are couples who go in search of wedding counsellors, maybe they need one, a good one to save their weddings. But they fail to see that their own parents had a good wedding, if they had one and had not set a bad example. Maybe they should look for their parents to see how weddings work. If both spouses sit and think and stop chasing their careers, they can definitely enrich their life, not just keeping it from falling apart. The question is will people, including me, keep their egos at bay and find a solution and find a blissful life?!

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