Divorce – a thorny path

I read Nimmy’s blog ,   “How easy is it to undergo a divorce?”  With due respect to Nimmy, I have big problems with the title of the blog entry – divorce never is and never will be easy – any where in the world.  It is hard, it is painful and it is lonely.  Brittney Spears had a tough time getting one, Madonna paid wagonloads of money to get hers, and these are women of stature and substance.  Men have it equally hard.  It costs, in terms of emotion, in terms of loss, in terms of stability and also financially.

Let us be practical here.  To get a divorce there are certain things I had to do:

  • Admit that there is something wrong.  The love has turned into ashes or that the relationship has become toxic.  It hurts and shakes you up.  My self confidence was down in the ditches
  • Do something about it – try to rebuild the love, try to make the marriage work, use every avenue, every leverage –  parents, in-laws, siblings, friends – yes even the kids to help kickstart the marriage.  It worked for a while – but when the centre does not hold – peripherals dont work
  • Admit defeat and go into depression – I did that.  Hoo boy – was I drama queen or what?  I wept, I moped, I wandered around like a Main Bechari.
  • Do something about it – this involved divorce.  I frankly did not have the guts.  My marriage lasted eighteen long years.  My life was in shambles and the price I paid in terms of self worth and the psychological impact it had on my elder son was very expensive.

Is it easy?  No it is not.  I never re-married.  It was not for lack of choice.  I simply can not and will not hand over the controls of my life and my happiness into some one else’s whimsical hands.  I am too traumatised and scared to do that.  That is the biggest price I have paid.  I watched my son become a problem kid.  I watched him get into fights and get into bad and violent company.  His parents were too busy settling scores with each other.  One day, he was just a kid,  he came and asked me if I would protect him if he did something really wrong like sell drugs or kill someone.  That got me out of my “self pity stupor” and forced me to act, if not for myself – at least for the sake of my children.  I walked out of my marriage.  It never was easy.  I had to rebuild life – starting with roof over my head to gas connection to furniture etc etc.

The important thing here is that one has to accept that I am in this alone. Parents are old and do not want the added responsibility of a daughter with children and legal issues.  They have married off their daughter and would prefer that she stays that way.  Friends dont want to be involved, and if they are, they hate taking sides.  So you lose your friends.  Relatives would love to gossip and if they do talk to you, they are gathering masala to fuel the gossip fires.

This is a male dominated society with laws that are skewed totally to favour the woman.  I know you are having a WTF moment here.  Bear with me.  All the laws are so designed that they give all the breaks to the woman.  The entire neighbourhood, the cops, the lawyers are products of a society that would love to favour the man.  It leads to total confusion.  In my case, this led to years and years of legal procedures.  We called it quits when one son was 10 and the other was two, were declared seperated when my elder son was 15 and younger son was 7.  We were formally divorced when my elder one was 19 and younger one was 11.

My ex wanted the divorce but did not want to come to court or get caught in the alimony and compensation web.  So he stayed out of it.  Ultimately he was declared “absconding and untraceable’ and that is what is written on the divorce papers.

You know what we did that day?  Me and the boys went out and celebrated.  We got royally drunk and ate too much!  It was such a relief.   Then I rang up ex and told him it was over.  He was relieved too.  He had remarried six months after we had broken up – yeah, when the kids were 10 and 2 years old.  His wife was giving him hell about the legal thingy.  I dont grudge him that.  I could have done the same – he could not have objected, since he was sailing in the same boat.  The choice to remain single was mine.

It is not easy to get a divorce.  It is not easy to live the life of a divorcee – where people think you are easy and available.  It is not easy to raise kids as a single parent.  But it is harder on a person to stay in a marriage which has ended.  I dont put any value on legal papers so to say.  Ex married six months after we seperated.  That does not mean his marriage is not valid.  It is more valid than ours was while the case was being fought.

Marriage is a partnership and I think it becomes null and void the day its basic tenets of love, trust and mutually shared goals is compromised.  After that one is living a lie.  The children living with such parents are also affected.  I look at my kids today with pride.  They are positive, responsible, well behaved and loving.  We have lived a good life.

No one said life would be easy – especially after the divorce.  The only thing that kept me going was the thought that “Why the hell should a 30 year old pay the price for a mistake she committed at age 17?”  It has been one hell of a ride – but damn it, it has been eventful and totally worth it.


33 thoughts on “Divorce – a thorny path

  1. Dear..

    I am afraid if i hurt your feelings..My title was ‘How easy ‘?? I meant that it is not easy as Cris said it,bcoz of fear of all what you and me said.You had the courage to face all those eyes and faces post-divorce..I am not sure if I ahve it in me now..And that was my point..I said to hang on,not bcoz of willingness,but bcoz of fear to face to post-trauma from the society..

    I hope you are not hurt and if yes,I am really sorry ((hugs))

    No Nimmy, I was not hurt. You dont need to apologise at all. I think it takes more out of a person to stay in a dead marriage. It just brought back the stupid things people say – you know, like “Its all your fault”, “Stay for the kids sake”, “But you love him/her”, “What will people say” etc etc. which is such bullshit. It does not take away the pain and the emptiness of a relationship gone sour. You wrote your view point, I just wrote mine …….

  2. It aint easy, but in our country infact I feel it is too much of a taboo….

    Lots of women actually go through too much pain and take so much abuse in our society because divorce is not a natural thing, normal thing in our society.

    Its not easy but it is necessary at times i guess ….

    Each to his/her own I guess ………..

  3. Have not yet gone down the path of marriage so am not qualified to say anything but I agree with Dhiren… It’s too much of a taboo in India. Many just stay in a loveless marriage because separation is not the ‘thing’ to do.

    Hats off for being your own person!

    Thanks Advitiya

  4. My mom didnt had a courage to walk out inspite of having a decent govt job,her sibling support and a house of her own.We were the reason (3 girls) for her not seeking a divorce.
    But god took my father when we just entered the college.I know with how much difficulty she raised us.Never made us feel that we didnt had a father.She is my mom and she is my dad.HATS OF TO U AND TO MY MOM.

    Varunavi, I dont know what to say ….. it is a tough choice to make, and there are no rights or wrongs about it

  5. 🙂 I always held you as one brave woman and looked up to you for the spirit of womanhood that you carry within yourself .It just got doubled today . 🙂 Thanks for sharing this post .

    Thank you Tikuli

    Ritu financial security is one essential factor to take that one big step and say hey I got to live with dignity and pride .I wish I had that .I understand the trauma a woman has to go through after the divorce ,socially and emotionally but the fact that you can live on your own terms is such a comfort .

    I totally understand. There were times when I felt I was selling myself out for social security and a gas connection! I had no job, no parental home to go back to …., Oh I totally can empathise.

    Those who for some reason can not get out of a dead relationship the choices are limited but I for one make the best of what I can do for myself as a woman and as a human being.learned to say NO to what I don’t want to live with and Yes to all that is important for my inner growth .

    Each to his/her own Tikuli. My situation forced me to walk away. I dont advocate it. It is tough and very very lonely

  6. I wish more people were as honest about themselves and their relationships as you are. But I guess it takes courage. I have seen too many people stay on in rotten marriages only because they fear taking that last step- despite living through hell everyday- wrecking the lives of their kids( for whom they remain in that mess- or so they say) and being miserable. Its takes a lot of courage. And I really commend you for it.

    You know, I simply lost my temper one day and took the last step. Otherwise may be I might have been hanging on to the carcass of my marriage ….. I dont know

  7. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I cannot even start to imagine how you must have gotten through those years! I think your spirit and courage is amazing. Especially in our Indian society, where divorce is not only a bad word – the woman is more often than not blamed for it. It would have fazed a lesser person! I salute you!

    Oh I have been called names, blamed, had to sell all my jewellery. One of my own male relative tried to ….. well take advantage of the situation, some of my female cousins did not like me even conversing with their husbands. Such bitches!!! My own mother refused to have anything to do with me. But you know something – all that shit was acceptable – because it was from the outside. That is preferable to having to watch your back in your own home. I never got tempted to go back to Ex

  8. You were 30 when you got divorced Ritu?!

    That gives a different perspective to the entire situation. That’s no age to be battling a divorce case in court! Life’s so unfair.

    I was 32 when the case got to court – 43 when they finally gave me the paper. One hell of a long drawn affair – and in that time, 3 judges got changed, my lawyer got a new car. Our legal system sucks

  9. Noway “Ritu”. Its NOT easy at all…
    you cited Madonna and Britney… well do check out the details on Cher and Tina Turner as well…
    they were being abused by their husbands despite being celebs but even then it wasnt easy for them to file a divorce… what to talk about South Asia where women are NOW raising their voices and now they are even a little able to remain standing even after divorce… the society would engulf them anyway…

    You know the society does not engulf a woman, unless she allows it. They tried it with me – they got bored and now keep a distance. People gossip, they try to bully and if you dont allow it – they lose interest and look for other victims

  10. I am wondering what your ex would have to say on the subject and his side of the story, if he ever does so, that is. From what you say, it seems, he wouldn’t hv even realized the kind of pain or loneliness it involves.. In one of ur posts i read that u guys are in touch… hope he is happy wherever he is, I would still say the loss was his .. you are such a brave darling with the guts n courage to take that step.. thats y a happy successful family is what you have today.
    I adore you for your attitude towards life…

    Tara, my sons tell me he reads my blog some times, and thinks I am nuts. Well, he picked his path, I picked mine. LOL I also think the loss is purely his. 😛

  11. Gotta salute you Ritu for doing what you knew was right. Too many people just ‘hang in there’ without realizing that along the way they’ve stopped “living”… Though it was one helluva long battle that you had to fight, in the end you know it was the right thing to do. Whether it’s in India or here in the west, failed marriages are never easy. And there comes a time when you know you gotta walk out. But only a very few do. Hats off to you for having the courage to “live” your life.

    Thank you Ameeta. See this was a purely personal take on the situation – its tough and may not work for another person

  12. I have no words to express how much I admire you.
    Divorce is tough and you have gone thru a very long battle and despite all the scars it might have given you, your spirit and determintaion to lead and live your life is simply awesome…

    Divorce is tough – and I don’t advocate it at all.

  13. Your post is very thought provoking. I can not imagine what it should feel like to go through ten years of getting a divorce legalized.

    Our legal system is just purely excruciating!

    Our legal system is a bloody joke – and if one of the people seeking a divorce has disappeared abroad – it just grinds to a halt …..

  14. You are brave Ritu, and you have “salvaged” (if I may call it that) your life (and your kids’) well enough.

    I have read the comments above and would not like to add anything else… its tough, yes it is. I am glad I have a good marriage going 🙂

    Lucky you – now get down on your knees and thank Heavens for it

  15. brilliant post, brave and honest… i agree divorce is painful and for both, i am seeing one of my friends going thru it now and it hurts to even see him these days and he used to be the life of the party before…

    its heartbreaking for everyone involved but sometimes better than lifelong misery…

    PS: every post of urs make me feel more proud of u and happy for myself that i know u 🙂

    Thanks Monika, I am really touched

  16. Aaaargh!!! My comment never came through!! Grrr…
    So here I go again.
    I grew up in a household where there was a divorcee aunt and this was ages and ages ago almost half a decade. Of course her family was supportive and anyway we don’t have this ‘girl belongs to husband’s family and cannot return ever to maike’ sort of thing in Kerala. Even then the neighborhood, relatives and such had plenty to say not to mention the barbs that came occasionally from her own mother, my gran. She has led a life almost similar to that of a widow in the sense that she never had a voice in anything, rarely stepped out of the house and spent her entire life ministering to the needs of the household consisting of her own parents, an aunt and her own children. She is 79 now and has never regretted her decision whatever she has had to face after walking out of her marriage.
    Personally I believe in walking out of a bad marriage, though it is never, NEVER, easy doing that.
    You Ritu are one gritty woman.

    I have never regretted it either – not for one tiny minute. In fact I once ran into ex and his current wife in a hotel lobby – and I swear my thought was – “Better her than me” phew!!! I swear I loved her for a moment there ……. hehehehe

  17. Wow…having seen a cousin go through something similar, I can see the difficulties of the process, but kudos to you for following through on your feelings, despite the lack of financial security.

    Can only hope/pray for similar courage, should something like that happen to me.


    Going back was no option – so one plodded on …..

  18. It must have been so tough! Obviously it wasn’t the first choice … they say we only know what we are from how we handle crisis and power. You handled your crisis and have made a good life for yourself, learnt (truly like phoenix, I agree)) to live and smile. And to live happily too.

    You have become a role model with your strong will to smile despite everything you have been through, and you have every reason to smile with the love and admiration of so many of us blogging friends.

    About loneliness, I know that two of my friends are going through difficulties and my loyalties are totally with them and (God forbid), if it ever comes to taking sides I will never try to ‘not take sides’. (specially after reading this). -Hugs, IHM

    Thanks IHM. I have lost a lot of friends in the process … but the ones I made later have been truly more mature and have enriched my life. I’m blessed. Hugs

  19. Phoenix could not be a more apt name!

    I have friends who thought having kids might solve the problem….it has made it worse, because now the situation is more complicated than before. They’re hanging in there, fighting all the time, and the the kids are growing up watching all this.

    Easy for me to say, but I think it’s better to let go early than prolong the agony.

    Quirky Indian

    Yeah, Phoenix means so much to me. And it is easier said than done, truly

  20. Some things are so difficult to do, and yet so necessary. And I guess the Ritu we know and have grown to love in these few months of blogging, much of her grit and courage would have been honed by facing all those difficult times. I’m glad you and your children are out of a painful, damaging relationship.

    Yeah, funny how things turn out right in the end …..

  21. Always proud of you Ritu, not because you walked out of a marriage, but because you knew what was the best path for you and kids.
    God bless you.

    Thank you Manpreet

  22. God. this makes marriage scary thing. these days everywhere i here more about divorce than marriage. i’m such a coward.
    you are really strong. salute to you, dear.

    I dont know – to me marriage is a very scary thing. That makes me quite a coward.

  23. I agree with u Ritu…Its like choosing a lesser evil. While divorce by itself is hard, I am sure staying forever in a dead relationship is even worse.

    Eventually people will make their choices, each harder than the other, if they’re unable to reconcile their differences…

    That is true Chandni

  24. “Marriage is a partnership and I think it becomes null and void the day its basic tenets of love, trust and mutually shared goals is compromised” So true . And it takes a very courageous woman to admit it and do something about it . I have seen women living in private hells in farcical marriages .
    BTW – I dont like that label”tear jerker” – your post only elicits a deep respect .

    Oh wow, Mallika – thanks a lot. I normally like to joke around on my blog – so I wondered how to classify something this serious – hence the tear jerker tag

  25. Who wants trauma in life?
    I am sure one wants a dream marriage with a dream partner and a wonderful “Happily Lived ever After ” tale in our lives. People marry on such premise hoping theirs would be another fairy tale. …..but everyone is not so lucky . The partner who we see as a demi-god become demonic along the line 🙂

    CP I disagree – my ex and I were good friends and then we got married. People dont become Gods and Demons …. its just that they grow apart and have different goals leading to clashes

    As per certain statistics Only 2 to 3 % have such dream relationships.
    Others compromise , based on severity of situation and of course the support of Parents, Society and others.

    So true

    Mostly women bear the brunt of broken relationships. In fact , I note that it is they who land up looking after the kids, either by (wrong) choice or by arrangement. The Men go scot free of all responsibility ( there are exceptions to the rule, but generally this is the case whether in India or elsewhere ). Very few men ever honour the commitments after a separation even if they were mutual and uncontested.

    Totally – we are left holding the babies … I doubt if we would want it any other way

    It takes courage to get out of a dead relationships.
    So it does to get into another relationship :)… Life goes on …..

    Each to his/her own …. I’d rather be single

  26. Oh wow! just chanced upon this post…never knew u’r a single mum too..

    “Marriage is a partnership and I think it becomes null and void the day its basic tenets of love, trust and mutually shared goals is compromised. After that one is living a lie. The children living with such parents are also affected. ” this is so true and the reason I walked out…

    I have a friend who is still in her terrible marriage for the last 8 years, simply because she cant get rid of her emotional attachment to the man..and all of us who care for her are just waiting for her to get out for her child…

    a very brave post, straight from the heart right?

    Yeah, that is the only way to blog, right ???? 🙂

  27. Nice article. My friend Silvara sent me the link to it and I am glad I read it. You gave me a lot to think about. I’m sorry about your long drawn out divorce and you are right divorce isn’t easy…Even contemplating isn’t easy.

    I agree, Naseem – but perhaps better than living in a difficult situation

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