Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
I am at a stage where half my friends have just settled into married lives and the rest are busy bride/groom hunting. A few exceptions include people who married early and have just begun enjoying motherhood. Therefore divorce hasn’t come visiting my immediate circle yet. That is until quite recently, when I heard about S. Although I had met a few divorced people, mostly it used to be some distant relative, some friend’s friend or a random colleague. This is the first time that MY friend ended up with a shattered marriage.
I first met S around 6 years back. Bright, bold and beautiful is how one could describe her. She had the ideal combination of both beauty and brains. She was well educated, independent, intelligent, friendly, helpful and hailed form a pretty well-to-do family from a relatively conservative city and a relatively conservative community. Being attractive and confident, she was often the cynosure of all eyes and there were many men who were smitten by her good looks and wit. But she was already engaged to a guy and therefore never gave in to the attentions of the other man at our office.
She had met her fiancé, V at a family wedding and as with everyone else, he immediately took a liking to her. His parents then approached her family and since they came from similar backgrounds and S being of “marriageable age” her parents saw no reason to disagree. V was also quite well-off, well educated, good looking and was working abroad. They used to meet whenever he visited India and they used to chat/talk quite regularly. Although she didn’t “fall in love” with V, she liked him and had no objections to her family’s wishes. Initially.
V and S had a mostly-long-distance courtship period of more than 2 years. During this time as she got to know him better, she gradually started having second thoughts about the relationship. She could not pinpoint anything specifically and attributed it to the physical distance between them. As her wedding date approached her niggling doubts began to grow stronger. But by that time, all the arrangements had been made, family and friends had been notified and everything was confirmed – and so she thought that if she were to say something simply based on her intuitions, she would spoil everything, including her family’s “reputation” and in the process her’s too. She thought it was just pre-wedding jitters and that things would get sorted out soon.
Her wedding was celebrated grandly with a lot of fanfare and feasting. She stayed for a short while with her in-laws and then joined V in a foreign land. S was brought up in a full household and she did not like suddenly finding herself alone in a strange place, throughout the day, waiting endlessly for V to come home. She decided to start working again and after a few tries, based on her qualifications and experience, she landed a plum job. We stayed in touch but then as it so often happens, life got too hectic and slowly we drifted apart. She was not active on any social networking sites either. I simply assumed that everything was fine and it never occurred to me that something might be amiss. At the worst, I sometimes wondered offhand if they had any fertility issues, because they did not have children even 4 years after marriage. Little did I know that things were much worse.
When S went to live with V, she found out that she had married a very weird person. Although there was no physical abuse, he hardly ever spoke to her. If he did, it would primarily be to pick up arguments and to curse her and her parents for no reason at all. All he was interested in was her paycheque, which he took without any hesitation and yet never bothered to pay the household bills properly. He was never there for her to offer any kind of emotional or moral support. He simply continued to live his life, neglecting her emotions and ignoring her presence. They were just 2 strangers living under the same roof. All she did was go to work, come back home, do the household chores, eat and sleep. She occasionally spoke to a handful of friends but being a very private person and being conditioned not to air our dirty laundry in public, she hardly ever mentioned her inner turmoil. This continued for years until eventually, he emotionally tortured her enough to file for divorce. Her parents tried their best to talk with V and his family to try resolve things, but all it resulted in was more blaming and accusations. As always, she had no “proof”. She could not show any concrete evidence of abuse in her defence. She could not display her mental scars, heart-break, crushed dreams and all the wasted time, energy and efforts. Finally she came back to India and the court granted their divorce.
Today S is living in a different city and working in an enviable position at a leading MNC. Although her mother is devastated, her father has been pretty supportive. She lives with friends and has a relatively peaceful life between work, friends, family and personal time. She is slowly getting back in touch with all of us, although understandably she is doing that at her own pace. She might not have completely forgotten her bitter marriage but on the whole, she is a much more relieved and free person now.
Your dark days are well over. I am so glad and proud that you found the strength to walk out of a useless and emotionally abusive marriage, no matter what other people thought about it. You are one of the most remarkable persons I have known and you deserve better. Much better. I pray that the worst is over for you. I have no doubt that the best is yet to come and I am sure that you will go places, both professionally and personally. Rest assured that you did the right thing and you have absolutely nothing to fear. Bury the dead and keep smiling that charming smile of yours! You go, gal!
Your friend, always.
Anne John plays with words for a living and would probably do the same even
It happens so very often. Long distance courtship is no courtship I feel. A girl known to me went through similar mental abuse. She was punished because some distant relative said something objectionable to an equally distant relative from her husband’s side. He did not even come to receive her at the airport when she landed in USA.However in her case after 4 years of persuasion by the girl’s family he relented and they are now parents to two adorable children. But the abuse does leave a scar and the initial days of marriage her dreams were crushed.
It’s heartening to know that S could come out of a relationship that offered her nothing but abuse. It is true that emotional abuse is the most difficult to ‘prove’.. but it is also most devastating.
(On behalf of http://vawawareness.wordpress.com/ )
what a touching story…..and so well written with such sensitivity. Each divorce story, at least in India, hides a history of systemic and personal abuse. Marriage is sacrosanct in India…..if not more so in urban, elite, higher-caste communities that simply use ‘modernity’ to heighten their bond with tradition. Marriage forms the crux of this kind of Indian society. Breaking that marriage…..that gift from god….made in heaven….whatever one’s husband does to one or is as a person is a situation of inviting social death and ostracism. I got divorced 4 months back. And I cannot tell you how devastatingly difficult it was. And believe me….there needs to be a substantial reason for initiating such a huge step, at least in India. I believe that each divorce story in India involves not just negotiation failures…..Indians can live with that…..but ‘invisible’ personal and systemic violence.
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@HG: True. Sad state of affairs indeed…
@Puja: Thanks for providing us with an opportunity and a platform to talk about such sensitive issues.
@Deepra: I admire your strength Deepra. I can only imagine what a difficult situation you must be faced with. What I have written to S, I say to you too. Hang on! Life is bound to get much better and one day you will look back and feel proud about your courage.
I have to say that S is truly blessed to have a friend like you. I went through a divorce 10 months back but now I am on my way to creating a brand new life. My friends were my HUGE support group and my biggest cheer leaders. Continue to support your friend S!!!
Thanks G. I am sure you will go on to make a wonderful life for yourself!
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