As A Divorcee, I Am Considered Fair Game For Everything. What About MY Choice?

Posted: April 4, 2018

From the neighbour’s aunt, to well meaning strangers, I have received bizarre advice about how I should lead my life, now that I’m a divorcee and single mom.

DIVORCE… The very word is associated with some sort of social stigma in India. It sort of makes you a social pariah. And more so if you belong to the female half of mankind.

And so the real struggle began outside the court-room, once I got the final decree of divorce, after a long and arduous legal battle. Yes, I am a woman, and I am divorced. The “divorced” word has come to be known as my identity, not just confining itself to my relationship status.

Every separation, every end in relationships, every heartbreak is bound to give you pain. But divorce not only brought pain, but bestowed upon me a sense of inadequacy. As if it’s entirely my fault. For me being the wife, wasn’t I supposed to be more compromising? More adjustable? One friend of mine told me rather matter-of-factly that women are born wonderful, just because of their endurance capacity!

It always has to be the wife in a marriage who is supposed to tolerate every whim of her husband. And no, a husband is not even expected to be even a little bit compromising, because the Almighty has not blessed the male species with any capacity to tolerate. And a wife means a WIFE only, who is supposed to perform all her wifely duties, no matter how difficult the circumstance is, no matter whether the wife is working or not, qualified or not.

I was shocked to hear these kind of remarks in this 21st century. But then one of my girlfriends pointed out to me that all men expect a traditional ‘wife’ in marriage. Your being qualified and working might seem very attractive as long as you are dating. But once you settle down, all husbands have the same kind of expectations from their wives, no matter whether the wife has a good job that comes with it’s own share of responsibilities, or if she is a typical ‘housewife’.

The friend of mine who suggested this, made it very clear that she had no intention of demeaning any homemaker. The job that  homemakers do every day is wonderful, and they are in no way less than their working counterparts. But what working women inevitably possess is some sense of independence, and there is bound to be some sort of limit to their adjustment capacity. And once the marriage goes beyond that limit, they simply quit.

My friend herself is a banker in the country’s largest public sector commercial bank and unlike other women of her age, she is still unmarried in her late 30s. Given the kind of demanding profession that she has chosen, she is simply afraid to settle down. But was I wrong when I being a working woman, got married in my mid-20s? The fact is that we all yearn for a companion in our lives. Call it the folly of youth or whatever you may wish, but I chose the wrong partner.

When a relationship that was long dead got legal approval finally, I thought my battle was over. But again I was wrong. That was actually the beginning of another struggle. The struggle to raise a kid single-handedly. The struggle to face society with my ‘divorced’ tag. The struggle to take in good humour random the suggestions offered by all and sundry.

These suggestions ranged from advice about second marriage, to advice about visiting the beauty-parlour more frequently to attract more suitors, to advice about changing the frame of my glasses because somebody thought that I look like a grand-mom in them. Nobody asked about MY CHOICE, as if ‘choice’ is something reserved for the more privileged sections of the society.

A divorced woman, that too a single mother, must be more than happy if she manages to impress a guy enough to lure him into a marital alliance with her. Here it doesn’t matter whether that guy doesn’t manage to earn half of what the woman does, or if he is twice her age. All that matters is that he is doing her a favour, almost some sort of social service, by his mere approval to allow a divorced single-mother to be his life-partner.

Some men even go a step further. They assume that just because a woman is divorced, and still in her youth, means she has some unfulfilled sexual desires that can be taken advantage of. She must be readily available and at the slightest drop of a hint from a man, she will be more than willing to go to the bed with him.

But what the world fails to acknowledge is the strength of a single woman. A divorce is not the end of the world. At the end of the day, it’s just another failed relationship. If the world perceives it differently, then the real problem lies with the world, not with me. After all, I am independent and financially secure to take care of myself and my son. We don’t need your sympathy. And what I have is just the tag of a failed marriage, a failed relationship.

Please don’t assume ‘divorce’ to be a contagious disease, for it is not. It’s the struggle that I went through that has shaped me as a person. I am more mature, more strong, more calm today. Years of struggle have made my roots go deep inside the earth, making me less vulnerable to storms. And so, I rise again like a phoenix from my failure, my heartache, my pain.

Image source: shutterstock

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