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Why do people say 'I am sorry' to divorcees? They don't need sympathy, rather should be appreciated for leaving a toxic relationship!
Why do people say ‘I am sorry’ to divorcees? They don’t need sympathy, rather should be appreciated for leaving a toxic relationship!
In every religion or society, marriage is considered a sacred institution, and a person who undergoes a divorce is seen as a sorry figure who must be treated with sympathy, particularly in the case of women.
The feeling of forced sympathy towards divorcees is so deeply ingrained in our minds that it has become our default reflex to say ‘I am sorry’ when someone tells us that they are divorced. It’s time we normalized divorce and treated it like a regular life event!
Our DNA carries a particular genome that makes us blurt out, “Oh! I am sorry to hear that” as a natural reflex to the statement, “I am a divorcee.”
Divorce is a taboo topic in our society. As soon as a person gets to know that the other person is a divorcee, their immediate thought is that of someone who has probably suffered trauma in their marriage and hence had to go for divorce.
We are so badly conditioned to feel sympathetic towards a divorcee that we lose track of our original conversation. The discussion is side-tracked to the desire to know more about the reasons behind the divorce.
This reflexive conversation always ends up with the divorcee being reminded of their trauma and ends with the listener offering a mountain of sympathy to the divorcee. Which begs the question, is it right to go into a condolence mode upon hearing it?
Instead of offering sympathy, shouldn’t we congratulate the person for showing valour and bravery in face of abuse to end a poisonous marriage?
While maximum cases of divorce involve some or the other form of physical or mental abuse, it still is not okay to offer sympathy to the divorcee. Instead, it must be appreciated that the person has walked out of a toxic relationship and saved himself/herself from lifelong trauma.
Delving deeper into reasons for divorce, it may not always be due to physical or mental abuse. Divorce might also be respectful where the couple has mutually agreed to part ways after realizing that they are no longer compatible.
In such cases, any attempt to keep the relationship alive will be detrimental to both their happiness and mental health. A person who becomes divorced in such a scenario must be lauded for their wisdom, isn’t it?
Another scenario where a divorce may not involve any sort of abuse is when a person out of his/her own volition walks out of a marriage without seeking the consent of their life partner. There might be a myriad of reasons behind such a divorce ranging from dissatisfaction from marriage, career decision, sexual issues, etc.
A person who becomes a divorcee in such a scenario does not need sympathy as they have not been forced into a divorce and have rather sought it themselves!
The above three scenarios are all met by the same response in our society and that response is that of offering condolences and sympathy. This spontaneous response is actually what forces people to not talk about their divorce as it makes them feel uncomfortable.
Add to it the judgemental reaction from the conservative elements in the society and a divorcee fears telling others that he/she is one. Such is the magnitude of this thought process that even in the 21st century, divorce stays a taboo topic and very uncomfortable truth to hide especially for women.
This brings us to the question. Why is divorce still a taboo topic in this world and what must be done about it? The answer lies in two words, ‘Normalize it’.
Yes, divorce must cease to be a taboo topic in this era. Contrastingly, it must be a normal topic just like marriage is. When a person tells someone that he or she is a divorcee, it must neither be met with sympathy nor with congratulations, whatever be the reason behind the divorce.
It must be treated just like a regular life event and a matter of personal choice. The subject must be accorded privacy and the divorcee must not be interrogated for the reasons behind the divorce.
A divorcee has already been through a lot, do not make him/her go through more with your sympathies and judgments!
The world has changed a lot over the centuries. Divorces too have become far more common and are no longer considered sacrilege by the courts and constitutions, but they are still considered as an anomaly by our societies.
Imagine the pain a person has to go through, not during divorce but after it in the form of sympathy and judgments. It is time that we introspect and change our thinking as a society.
Normalize divorce and let the divorcee breathe free in their life without having to recite their tales to a pair of prying and sympathetic eyes.
Image source: Sill from The Great Indian Kitchen
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