The cost of a divorce

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Dear Friends,

On a regular day, all my cousins met in the evening. A good movie with popcorns, chips, beverages, lots of pillows, and a dark room. A perfect combination. What else do we need!

But somehow, the small gossip turned into longer talks, and we came down to the issue of “Divorce.”

Divorce is a critical issue. It breaks down a family, their life and children mentally as well as financially. The most common reasons for divorce are abuse, lack of equality in relationships, misunderstandings, marrying at a young age, lack of education, less annual income, extramarital affairs, and many more. 

In India, the divorce rate is less than 1%. Out of 1000 marriages, 13 results in divorce. In the United States, the divorce rate is 39%. India might seem to be doing well in maintaining a marriage. But is it really an achievement?

Generally, women in India are obliged to have arranged marriages. And whatever problems arise in marriage, many women in India don’t divorce even after being abused. With lots of restrictions and inability to speak for themselves, many women do not ask for a divorce even if they are oppressed by their husbands or in-law family members. Moreover, due to a lack of education and self-confidence, many women are still dependent on their husbands. Hence they are afraid to walk away. And toxic men often take advantage of this. 

According to local news, married women suicide due to mental stress from the family. Women are being killed for not giving enough money to the husband as a dowry. As the literacy rate increases, we often expect people to support women and live a happy and contented life. But it is understood from the survey that literate women tend to raise their voices to stop the oppression they face. This is actually good. Isn’t it? Is marriage so important to live a happy life even if it becomes toxic? Divorced women don’t earn a respectable position in society; should we support this? Isn’t it important to balance our professional and personal life? Aren’t earning, exploring, travelling, and loving equally important? Isn’t a space between husband and wife important? Divorce shouldn’t be a taboo. It can be the best option sometimes to get mental peace, space, and to live life normally. Dramatic life is unwanted to mature people. Mature people believe in simple, loyal, and lovable relations. 

While women still choose toxic relationships over a divorce due to their inferior socio-economic positions, they did not even have this choice some time ago. They got this right only after India’s Independence when B.N.Rau, chairman of the Hindu Law Committee, prepared a Draft Code dealing with Succession, Maintenance, Marriage and Divorce, Minority, Guardianship, and Adoption. This code was widely discussed and was named as the “Hindu Code Bill.” According to this, women were given property rights, the right to divorce. 

According to the 2011 census data, it was found that divorce and separation rates between rural India are 0.82% of the total married population and 0.89% in urban areas. But the divorce rates differ widely in different states in India. Several states in the South and northeast reported higher divorce rates than those of the north. This can be supported by the fact that the literacy rate is higher in these states. The patriarchal norms are less, and women’s participation in the workforce is more, the divorce rate is comparatively higher. Kerala being less populated than Maharashtra, has more divorce cases than Maharashtra. The reason can be related to more women empowerment. 

Women divorce three times more than men. They are less likely to remarry than men if they have children. And many women choose to be a single mother after a divorce.

Impact of Divorce on Man, Woman, and the Child

Divorce has negative impacts on men as well as women. Lack of emotional support, constant mental stress, legal actions create an altogether different environment, change of behaviour, instability, societal pressure, family pressure; these are some of the common effects of divorce. Moreover, even after divorce, women face a lot of problems to cope up with the society. Many women in India hide that they are being divorced in order to avoid the judgemental looks of the society and any threats. A divorced woman is often a topic of gossip for the society leading to their ‘low self-confidence.’ Men are likely to get addicted to drugs and alcohol. Men also tend to remarry earlier than women in India. Divorce is still considered as a taboo in many rural places in India.

A child who gets affected by the tension between the parents is of great concern. Many times, women win the custody of the child being a mother, and hence the child is separated from the father or sometimes vice versa. It is predicted that such children lack moral support, stability, get easily addicted, face depression, and other mental illnesses, early marriage, divorce, and suicides. Divorce plays a great role in a child’s overall development. While divorce and separation are two different things, but the impacts and consequences on the family are almost similar. 

Divorce is indeed, a tragedy. And we must do something to stop it. But the efforts must be made at the premarital stage rather than the post-marital stage, where more often than not, women are condemned to suffer. In my opinion, it is very important to know the person before a “marriage.” Meanwhile, it is also important to let the other person know about your past. There must be transparency to avoid any problems in the future. Family background, behavior, nature, likes, and dislikes speak a lot about the person. Before beginning a new set of life, proper decisions must be made. This is not a subject to hurry upon. It is not so easy to end a marriage. The amount of mental torture and stress is horrifying. 

We, as adults, understand this. But I still feel that these points need to be reiterated for confused souls so that they can have some clarity and for conservatives-orthodox people so that they can have some flexibility over the issue. Our society needs to understand and accept that a happy marriage is a happy accident, and not everyone may be destined for it. And for all those who are not blessed, they should be as easily able to come out of it without the rest of the society shunning them for it.

Thank you!

Featured Image Credits: Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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