Untying the Fine Knots by Madhuri Y is an excellent handbook for someone who is going through a divorce, and guides them through its many difficult phases.
Finally – a book about divorce that is neither a first person account, nor a lawyer’s guide badly printed on rough paper, unpleasant to the touch and even more unpleasant to read.
In any case I wonder why lawyers write books about divorce since the about-to-not-be-a-couple will have to consult one. If they list pitfalls to avoid, which they often do, the only result is to tie the confused hoping-to-divorce person into further knots, activating their fear of all that can go wrong.
That information comes in easy to swallow nuggets from a friend or acquaintance in a conversation with someone who has dodged all the arrows and come out alive. Even if they’ve been hit by an arrow or two they’ll have good advice on how not to fall into the same trap. More than anything else – the reassurance, and their understanding of all that you’re going through. Untying the Fine Knots by Madhuri Y is like that good friend.
I’ve often found that the best advice comes from books. People, specially those who have strong opinions about divorce, don’t hesitate to foist them on you, making it even harder to take difficult decisions. It may take you a while to find that living confidante who you trust. In the meantime, you have this book to refer to, offer you solace and reassure you.
Thinking for yourself and pushing things through is easier if you’re well informed specially when you come to divorce. There’s so little real information available, most of which are horror stories bandied about by judgemental people who don’t consider divorce as an option to deal with a bad marriage assuming that you haven’t tried hard enough or that you’re somehow immoral for thinking of this as an option. That’s why it’s so wonderful to have a book like Untying the Fine Knots to refer to.
The book’s title is slightly misleading because it seems to be about the legal aspects of divorce. And we all know that we have more than enough lawyers to guide (or misguide) us through the process. A quick glance, though, at the contents is reassuring – the chapters are Emotions, Dealing with the Ex, Where are the Children, The Society and of course, Courts and Child Custody and the like.
The book is full of sensible and sensitive advice, often in the form of quotes from people like psychiatrist Dr. Radhika Reddy who talks about how social interactions are full of pitfalls. Innocent questions are unwittingly asked by people who are just making conversation or trying to play the game of slotting you,
“’What does your husband do? How many kids do you have?’ There may not be a negative intent behind it. We don’t give a thought to the fact that we should not ask these questions since we don’t know whether they have a husband or kids. Answering it can become embarrassing. The notion comes out of the presumption that whatever kind of person she or he is, whether you get along or not, a spouse must be there.”
People presume a one size fits all kind of life is everybody’s cup of tea where anything deviating from an idealised norm is and aberration. Single people, whether divorced or never married are viewed with suspicion. If you’re divorced then you’re clearly a fallen angel, lacking in grit, morals, out to disrupt family life for all and a threat to children, single people, married people whom you will try to draw into your net of vice. This is the general belief about divorced people!
Sorry, had to let off a bit of steam there.
As Madhuri, the author of the book points out though, things are changing. “You’re better off in this decade than in the one before or the one before that…when I asked friends and family if they knew anyone who was separated or divorced and was willing to share their experience, each of them knew two or three divorcing individuals.”
The helpful and well researched section on Emotions references Elisabeth Kubler Ross, (On Death and Dying) Steven Stosny, The Meaning of Emotional Pain and ‘Who Am I Without You? The Influence of Romantic Break-up on the Self-Concept.’ And with the help of these stalwarts at handling emotions like grief and guilt, Madhuri gently guides you on how to feel better about yourself and your life.
I like that Emotions is the first chapter in the book because the emotional aspects of divorce are really the most difficult, however daunting the visible chaos of the practical side is.
Payments and Child Custody research is done from indiankanoon.org as well as various Right to Information answers – so there’s plenty of information there to help the as yet undecided on what exactly to expect.
The advice is sound, compassionate and useful. I believe that the most important thing in a divorce is kindness to yourself, the children, the extended family, friends and the ex. This book guides, advises and consoles, and is a wonderful handbook for anyone thinking about or going through a divorce.
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