Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Married singles

AM an ex colleague was married for seven years. She and her husband divorced last year. She was suddenly left with a child and single hood again after nine years of married life at the age of 32.

S another ex colleague also split with her husband after three years of marriage and is single again at 27.

These two are not stray cases. My brother’s office itself is witnessing around 20% increase in divorce rates. In fact he came to know recently that two of his “single’ gal colleagues were divorcees. Both are in their twenties. I shall not go into the reasons for divorce here. But I would definitely like to draw the attention to the fact that most Indian girls and their parents do not prepare themselves for this probability. Marriage is taken for granted and divorces happen to other people’s daughters. However the hard fact is that marriages do not last forever for a percentage of couples and that percentage is increasing these days. And there is no predicting who will be a part of that percentage. And one must be prepared for that.

One of my divorced colleagues rushes to work leaving her daughter with her mom and then picks her up again in the evening before going to her home. She cannot stay with her parents as she is ‘married’ now and they have already spend considerable amount of money on her wedding and trousseau. She feels bad to ask them for help now and lives in a PG where they let her keep her daughter. It is a very sad situation. She wishes her parents had instead saved the money or invested it for her future.

And she is not alone too. There are many like her. Many girls do not reveal in office or to their neighbors/landlord that they are divorced as they want to avoid the usual questions and unwanted attention. This leads to a false notion that divorces are rare. Most of these girls rue the fact that they never prepared for the eventuality! They can be seen advising unmarried girls like me to not take marriage for granted.

What is really important today is that parents face this reality and do not spend all they saved for their daughter on her wedding but leave some for a rainy day when their daughter will be out in the cold…alone.

It does sound cruel and some might argue that this would lead to more divorces. But I think what needs to be addressed now is the future of the girls if they are faced with a divorce. When I was growing up, my Dad would always tell me that my education and career alone would stand by me at all times and nothing else. Unlike many of my peers I never dreamed of marrying a man with a big house and car and wealth because I was led to believe that what I earned only would be mine. It does sound harsh but I am grateful to my Dad for that. Because the second most heard complaint about hubbies from married gal is about their tight fistedness. I know several married gals who spend more than their husbands on the home even though they earn less. Most husbands cite saving for a rainy day as an excuse for not spending more. After a few years it is any body's guess whose bank balance is healthier!

This post was written after two of my senior colleague confessed that they were delaying kids as they wanted their marriages to stabilize. They did not want to be single again with a kid. The revelation shocked me numb and subsequent ‘investigations’ made me realize that the fairy tale ending to stories called ‘they married and lived happily ever after’ has another contender now...the “they divorced and live happily ever after”.

I am not saying that girls should enter wedlock with thoughts of divorce in their heads. But that they should not rule it out either. It won’t happen to most marriages. But it will happen to some. And there is no guarantee that you will not figure in that ‘some.’

A link sent recently by a reader!


Santhanu Nair said...

Our society as a whole is not yet ready to accept the notion of widows, except if the husband dies.
Nice post.

yamini nair said...

It seems marriage is the greatest risk any woman takes with her life. No guarantee whether it will work well or not...

Mind Curry said...

well, in the end its all the fault of the woman..whether its a bad marriage, divorce, valentines day, drinking, pubs, jeans, or whatever else. like you said, since the post is not about the reason, i wont venture into it..

on the whole its an issue that i feel very strongly about. i just cannot tolerate the way women are perceived and treated in our society.

i absolutely agree that education and a career focus is important for everyone, and there is no difference here when it comes to gender. women should certainly arm themselves with good education and a good career. it will certainly be their lifeline, irrespective of the fact that our society, and sometimes our own family is intolerant to the fact that a girl makes her own money and is now "bold" enough to voice her opinion or make choices.

on a larger note, its not just the financial isolation. i feel the social and cultural isolation of a divorcee is a bigger issue, and more cruel. it is the same thing that makes women put up with physical abuse and mental torture in marriage. when you add financial dependence to the abuse, its a dead end for women. add a kid to all of the above, and i cannot imagine the state of her mind.

at the end of the day, i am talking only out of my own understanding and from the life experiences of people i love in my family (yeah there are ones that i hate as well!) and know. i certainly do not know what a divorcee feels or goes through, or what a parent or child of a divorcee feels. i often think that its like, all of us have our own reasons and choices in life, but we just need to make sure we stand by our own reasoning and the choices we make.

silverine said...

Santhanu: Thank you! :)

Yamini Nair: Spot on!

Mind Curry: You are right! I blame the parents too for preparing their daughters for a dead end. I heard from an NGO that older women being abandoned for younger wives is on the rise in Kerala. I have seen such a case in my family too. So no one is safe!

thomman said...

@santhanu: Our society as a whole is not yet ready to accept the notion of widows, except if the husband dies.

An unintentional logical error I suppose Sir.

thomman said...

@silverine: ‘they married and lived happily ever after’ -- the usage is just for bollywood films these days.

Ashish Gupta said...

Divorce is still a taboo in our society and man/woman are not prepared to accept it. It's surprising though that husband and wives keep separate accounts and spending unequally on household expenses. It's very mean in fact. Irrespective of whose fault it is, people should be prepared with eventuality and alternate plan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anjali... So true... I had a fab career , got married , continued the said career and always imagined that if something went wrong I have the capacity to stand on my own feet.
I paid the bills , my husband invested his money for "our" future...!!

Well soemthing did go wrong and now even though I am young and have a great career.. I find that I at 27 have NO savings...!!!!

and starnge I never ever evn thought about this all along...!!!
Of course I can take him claim my share .. but its just too much emotional trouble..!!!
Get smart gals...!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anjali... So true... I had a fab career , got married , continued the said career and always imagined that if something went wrong I have the capacity to stand on my own feet.
I paid the bills , my husband invested his money for "our" future...!!

Well soemthing did go wrong and now even though I am young and have a great career.. I find that I at 27 have NO savings...!!!!

and starnge I never ever evn thought about this all along...!!!
Of course I can take him claim my share .. but its just too much emotional trouble..!!!
Get smart gals...!!!

bincy said...

I actually beg to differ on the point where parents should save for a rainy day for the daughter.

If a gal is working and is divorced she should have enough money to take care of herself (and her child). We are not our parents obligation for ever. They sent us to school, college so we can earn our own.

I agree with the whole divorce stigma that you mentioned

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

First some lighter notes:
LOL@'investigations' If only people in poomanam saw this they'd be thrilled! :))

Also, from the open-fisted girl's point of view, ironically the suggestion you make of parents saving up for a rainy day, might make them more tight-fisted in the first 20-odd years of the girls life, before marriage! :)Because now they save for two big expenditures! And THEN there's the tight-fisted husband to deal with afterwards :D

On a more serious note, while the plight of the divorced woman has always been a pitiable predicament and I agree with everything you say, I only wish to remind such women not to be disillusioned with men as a lot. They must be open to the possibility of re-marriage. Not only because it might ease the burden of managing a child or give the child a father but because it might genuinely provide an opportunity to live happily ever after.

silverine said...

thomman: True!

Ashihs: May your tribe increase! :)

Karthik: People reading Poomanam might swoon at this post! :P Jokes aside I have seen divorced gals marrying divorced guys and the guys act like they are doing a favor to the gal by marrying her. And a divorced gal has to make more compromises than a single girl while remarrying. Besides there aren't many choices to remarry when divorced men want single gals to remarry!

Anon: Thanks gal!! Great to get a comment from someone who has been though it!

Bincy: I do agree with you that a gal should stand on her own two feet after her parents have educated her. But how many parents advice their daughters to do so? Not many. Most girls are bought up to get married and nothing beyond that!

hammy said...

Two sides to every coin...

No doubt on what you said. Society should be able to accept that bad marriages DO happen, and that divorces are sometimes not the fault of either spouse, and it is certainly immature to brand the woman by default.

But looking back to yesteryears, I remember that there were a lot of situations where the woman had to endure the atrocities of her bad marriage with her stupid 'bharatiya nari' tag. A lot of bad marriages that should have been dissolved held firm because of the perceived taboo of divorce, and in many cases, both the partners suffered in silence. In most cases, the woman suffered more.

In that light, I am happy that couples are seeing divorce as an option these days. Hopefully, the stigma that the ever-idiotic society brands on divorce will fade away.

But on the other hand, divorce should definitely only come as the last option... Otherwise we run the risk of turning marriages into fads...

A few of my friends got married. One of them got scammed, cheated, and she has filed criminal charges against her ex-husband, who will be put behind bars as soon as he steps on Indian soil.

Another friend got divorced after trying hard at her marriage for eight months. She got into a slight emotional lull for a while, but she's doing fine now.

The families were able to support them at all times, and the social 'stigma' didn't really affect either of them that much. They are both happily married now.

Just because you made a wrong choice once doesn't mean you should be branded for life. You only live once, and it's not a 'one mistake and you're dooomed' situation.

hammy said...

From Silverine - "Most girls are bought up to get married and nothing beyond that!"


True... It's really sad that way. Back home, I knew a lot of girls who lived their lives as if their entire pre-marriage life was just a training ground and all that really matters is her post married life. Revolting...

But the number of progressive career minded women is on the rise. Hopefully, we can see more and more people that way. It will take some time for society to adjust to it, but dammit, it's high time society evolved.

Manoj said...

You have raised a relevant issue here.But i just get a feeling that it potrays guys in a bad light.I mean, girls could also be equally responsible for a marriage ending in divorce.Guys also go through the same trauma post divorce except maybe they would be in a better position careerwise.
I use this forum to share my view : Girls should take their education and career seriously and have a control on the family finances.


mathew said...

On a lighter married one of my colleague is like what you said "happily divorced"...they infact share a very friendly relationship post divorce that I was surprised to see why they divorced in the first place!!

anyways..i think i have put my views on it an old post of mine...and I agree with Hammy's view here as well...

silverine said...

Hammy: I think the society is more accepting towards divorcees now. It is not uncommon anymore. What I meant by saying that girls hide the fact is that girls cont like being questioned about it by curious colleagues. Anyways this post is not about the treatment of divorcees but the fact that girls and parents take marriages for granted and are not prepared for life alone if it fails!

Mathew: One of my favorites quotes is -

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then" Katherine Hepburn :)

Manoj: I am afraid this post is not about the reasons for divorce or blaming anyone for it. Its about girls being prepared for it, so that they can make the transition from being married to being single again and be able to take care of kids if any.

Manoj said...

Timely post!


More likely 'they did not marry , and lived happily ever after'.

The option of divorce is sometimes a quick solution, when couples just need to give themselves time, talk things over, and have some more give and take between themselves.

My own take is that whether arranged or not, all marriages need to be worked at to remain stable.

But then, I belong to an older generation - when couples stay/stayed together, difference of opinion or not.

Anonymous said...

As much as we all would like to live in an ideal, perfect world; this post on divorces and the hardships that females face is so very true.

It will be a long time before people start understanding this, and of course, we will have the cultural upkeepers at our back. Good post.


Deepti said...

This is a very common thing these days .. yet people always blame the girls .. even if some single boys aer ready to marry the girls and keep them happy, the families object :(

Zennmaster said...

its actually a yearly trend...the year 07 was the year where people were getting pregnant, 08 was the year of split ups and 09 I suppose will be the year of people meeting with accidents...

Dhanya said...

I am also seeing many friends coming out of wedlock and most of them are confident to face life because they have a good career and education to support themselves. But as you said some of them had this issue of "gal supporting the family" and left with no savings. But even then they are confident that they can rebuild their lives all over again. Some would say this confidence is the reason for divorce in the first place, but there is no point in hanging on to something if you don't believe in it..

Jeseem said...

very thoughtful post. divorces are messy and there is no easy way out of it. the only easy way out if both the parties have worked to keep themselves financially independent and with enough support systems.
As people gain more confidence and independence, our willingness to adjust or suffer partner's troublesome ways will reduce. so divorces are bound to increase. It is a natural evolution of society.
Increasingly it is seen that parents of girls give gifts only in girl's name, something I would welcome more.

silverine said...

@All: Sorry for the delay in responding to comments. Recession doesn't seem to have any salutary effect on my workload! :(

Manoj: Thanks!

Raji: While I agree with you completely that couples must work on their marraige, but some do divorce and hence girls should be prepared for that!

Kajan: The cultural up keepers are increasingly getting worried of the Indian women's emancipation and hence the formation of forces like Sene!

Deepti: You are so right! Even if a guy is divorced he still wants to marry a virgin. What double standards. Yuck!

Zenmaster: LOL!

Dhanya: That comment made my day. It is nice to hear that these girls are moving on with their lives! And like a colleague told me recently, if divorces increase, then there is that much opportunity for divorced people! :)

Jeseem: You are absolutely right!!

Dreamcatcher said...

Dear silverine,

That was a heart touching post.

Marriage is a double edged sword.

I think, whole divorce issue pops up because most of them are not mentally prepared to take the relation to next level of commitment.

Some get married because of the pressure of parents and relatives, unwillingly.

Those who explore the marriage after dating, will have some chance of understanding how compatible are they with their future partner.

I am not saying they will be most successful couple. But more chance of knowing whether they will be meeting each others expectations.

More over, for every relation to work out, effort should be taken to work it out.

"Familiarity breeds contempt"-as saying goes....when we get to know more and more of the person character.... the rosy picture of our expectations melt down.

Relations need 3 S-Spontaneity, Spark & surprise.- which adds spice to relation.

In the initial stage, of any relation all these will be there and after later part..... its like...thinking....”why did I …go for this bullshit mistake to make life hell”.

But i have also seen couples taking real effort to make the relations work out and maintain the spice all through years.

It is all individual decision, how he /she want to move forward with the relation and celebrating the life.

Its all about the choices we make, which determines our future course of relations

After all life is an adventure to explore and to be explored.

Sriram said...

Good post.. it's very relevant to the present day society...
damn, I made myself sound like some middle-aged fuddy duddy :D

Anyway, though I might not be qualified enough to talk much on this right now, I feel the society is kinda trying to experiment with the marry one day, divorce the next day kind of life many western celebrities seem to lead.

mathew said...

Today is 3rd anniversary of Think Pad and we need a post to mark that!!!

congrats on the landmark!! :)

thomman said...

See Anjali, learn from Mathew, and next time 'member your bosses wedding anniversary!

@mathew: I don't buy that you 'membered this. You sure used some reminder s/w. If not, well, you would make the perfect husband as well as......errrr....boss

mathew said...

no i havent written it down anywhere..but I dint forget coz was reminded about the same by this blogger for my first anniversary in 2006..;-D

silverine said...

Dreamcatcher: I feel that the traditional definition that held marriages together has now changed. The new definitions are not so acceptable to the Indian male long used to looking at wives as maids cum cooks cum housekeepers and lately bread winners. Which is leading to divorces!

Sriram: Each post here has made me feel like a fuddy duddy at times. I guess our generation has begun to question norms. I firmly feel that if the Indian male changes his attitude towards marraige we will see less divorces!

Mathew: Thank you!! I could have never remembered if it wasn't for you! :)

Thomman: lol! Touche!

Kishan said...

Stupid as it may sound but I think the increasing rate of divorces is in one way a positive sign that people, especially women, these days are taking their lives a little seriously. I always thought the rate of divorces in India were low not because of our rich culture as we were led to believe but because of the fact that we give a higher priority on what society thinks about us.

Also, the generations before us had a very simple approach towards life. Study well, get a job, get married, have kids and get them married was the life style everyone was supposed to follow. It is changing now and that is for good.

Too bad that most of parents,including mine, are still stuck in their generation's thinking and expect the same from their kids.