#ReachOutThursday: Finding Support During Divorce & Facing Pressure To Marry

In this edition of #ReachOutThursday with Healtheminds, experts answer reader queries on finding support during divorce and facing pressure to marry.

Every Thursday, the Women’s Web expert panel with the support of Healtheminds, answers questions from readers facing relationships issues, emotional and mental challenges and other such issues.

In this edition of #ReachOutThursday, experts answer reader queries on finding support during divorce and facing pressure to marry.

Who do I turn to for support during my divorce?

 I am a married woman – my husband wanted to divorce me, and the divorce case is currently going on in court. I have not been working for a long time, and do not really have a job to support myself or any savings of my own to depend on.

I am now staying in my brother’s home but he doesn’t want me to stay here for a long time. Every day there are quarrels at home, and I feel terribly depressed and like I have no place to go to. I don’t really have the confidence (or money) to stay by myself, but at the same time, the situation at my brother’s house is becoming intolerable. Please suggest a solution. – VS

“Dear VS,

It is unfortunate that you have been turned out of your home and are struggling with this situation – it must be very hurtful to feel like you have no one to turn to and have to handle this situation all alone.

Please know that there is always support around you, if you know where to look. If your family has turned its back on you, know that there are women’s shelters, counsellors (a lot of them who offer their services for free) and perhaps even friends who will be happy to help you in your time of need. You only need to take the first step to ask.

To answer your query, you haven’t mentioned what your legal position is. If you’re in the process of getting a divorce, then what circumstance has compelled you to move out of your marital home in the interim?

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1.My first suggestion to you would be to get in touch with a lawyer, who will at the outset outline your legal entitlements to you – you shouldn’t be left high and dry just because your husband has decided to pursue a divorce. You have certain entitlements, legally, which a lawyer would be able to explain to you better.

2.With regard to staying at your brothers place, try and explain your situation to him to the best of your ability and keep the communication as clear as possible. Which part of your arrangement does he have an issue with? Would he like you to chip in with household chores/expenses? Does he not like you to stay with him at all? Are there other family members involved? If you cannot contribute monetarily, can you handle some household responsibilities while you stay with him? (Babysit the children, if there are? Cook the meals? Etc.)

If things still don’t work out with your brother, remember you can always opt to stay in a women’s shelter (like Ashraya Women’s Center or Vanitha Sahayavani in Bangalore) till you feel stronger.

3.Reach out to your support system – parents, friends, other family members. See how they can support you in your time of need. You don’t have to handle this alone, but you need to take the first step to ask for help.

4.Lastly, but most importantly, you are the only one who knows your situation best, and from your query, your entire position isn’t clear. It would be best to talk to a counsellor one on one – who will understand your situation thoroughly and then help you chart the best course of action. Talking to a counsellor will help you express your feelings, get the emotional supported you need, and help you decide on what you need to do to take care of yourself.

I hope this helps you.”  – Ms.Krithika Akkaraju, Counselling Psychologist

I am frustrated by the constant advice to marry!

As a single woman at 30, I am finding it very difficult to deal with the constant advice of people on getting married. People seem to feel that I should be happy to get married to any man and “not be too choosy” since “time is running out for me”.

I am not unhappy about my single status, although there are times when I do crave companionship. I am meeting men through various channels, both traditional and otherwise, but haven’t yet found anyone I am really comfortable with. What makes me unhappy is the constant “well-meaning” advice from people, including remote acquaintances, on how I should be getting married and having kids soon, before my biological clock runs out.

This has started getting to me to such an extent that I have begun avoiding social functions and gatherings at times. I am not sure how to cut off such questioning without coming across as rude. What can I do? – Neha

“Dear Neha,

I can totally understand how you must feel and what you are going through right now, having been there myself many years ago. First, let us just put a few things in perspective here. All the “well-meaning” relatives and acquaintances will continue their “well-meaning” advice however much you try to get them to stop. Social gatherings are like food to their hungry, topic-less, looking-for-excitement lives and unmarried, smart and’ together’ kind of women are always the target to their ill-timed shots. Marriage and child-bearing topics are embedded in our social fabric in such a way that people find it difficult to look beyond it somehow.

Take heart. Just look at it purely in one way… like you put it yourself – “well-meaning”. It will be easier for you to handle it when you do. You cannot please them all. And trust me, even if you do, they will find another topic to discuss and irk you with, till they find another person to bother!

Don’t let what they say or ask affect you so much. If they are indeed acquaintances or people you meet only during social events, please don’t let them have so much power over your feelings and reactions. Try to politely change the topic or just smile and say, “I am looking out, if you find someone, do let me/my parents/guardians know.” If they give you the biological clock example, then do tell them that you are not comfortable discussing this and either just walk away or just smile, nod and avoid any further discussion. A tad bit of humor can also be very useful here!

It is also ok to be firm sometimes and tell them what you think. Most of the time, people don’t realize that the topic bothers you and it’s rude on their part to keep at it. You have every right to stand up to yourself and if need be you can come off strongly as well! It’s really okay.

If you matter to them, they won’t say such things, and if you don’t, then they don’t need to matter to you either!

Another way is also to hang around with someone you are close to during these events. So that they also either change the topic or speak up in your defense or help you avoid the gossip-mongers all together! You don’t have to avoid functions, because you have nothing to be ashamed of.

In my opinion, you should never get married because you have nothing better to do with your life. And the worst reason to marry is because society expects it of you or because you simply must have children soon!

If you are open to relationships, then keep at it. You seem to be on the right track. Please, never marry anyone who comes your way, like you’ve been ‘advised’. It’s not a single short trip. It’s a life long journey and it matters who it is, who will be going along with you. An unhappy marriage is so much more painful than the worst episode of being single!

If you are spiritual, I’ve read somewhere that, ‘You meet a lot of wrong men so that when you finally meet the right one, you will know how to be grateful!’ However, there are plenty of things that can complete you and help you lead a happy, fulfilling life… and it’s not just marriage that it takes to do that. Hang in there! The best is yet to come. Good luck!”

– Ms.Rohini Kesavan Rajiv, Consultant Psychotherapist

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