The other day I was talking to someone from my hometown. It was almost 12 years since I spoke to her. We started the conversation with some casual stuff but she had a lot to say.
She was 24 when she wanted to marry the guy she was in love with. Her parents were not so excited about accepting that guy as their son-in-law, but somehow she convinced them. That was a daring move, so to speak.
But what she did after a year was probably the boldest step of her life. She decided to end the marriage and opted for legal separation.
She must have pondered the after-effects of her decision when she was running here and there for a lawyer. She must have imagined that all those aunties are going to upset her with every ‘why’ they come up with. She must have realized that all those uncles will display “who will accept you now?” type of concerns with their frowny faces.
She must have picturized her friends and cousins whispering “was your husband a cheater?” or “were you not satisfied with him?” every time they see her. That young lady, before telling herself “I am not going to live this life anymore” must have thought of every possible instance she will be facing for the rest of her life before she signed on that divorce paper. I am sure she must have tried her best to resolve the issues before stepping into that hardest option.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking a divorce.
Tying the knot and breaking it are just two of the many decisions one makes in life. But in countries like Nepal, it’s a huge deal. Getting divorced is literally a huge deal in Nepal. Especially for women. Especially for women from middle or lower-middle-class families. That too for women who have a kid or kids. No doubt.
We belong to the society where a woman is watched and judged 24/7. More than anything people are interested in what she is up to. Regarding an unmarried woman, there are people who are always looking for what she wears, where does she go, who she meets every day, what does she do, etc. When she gets married, how does she manage to please in-laws, how perfect homemaker she is, when is she planning to produce a baby, is she an ‘ideal’ daughter in law, etc. are some common concerns people (including her own family) are always talking about.
Nobody bothers to ask if she is happy or not. Literally nobody.
In a country where patriarchal exploitation and a jillion social stigma against women have been roaring for a long time, married women are compelled to live a life full of exhaustion. They force themselves to live with melancholy because they realize getting divorced and starting a new life comes with a lot of challenges. They are not sure whether they will be able to survive the difficulties or not. This is the reason a woman thinks for a thousand times even if she wants to come out of her miserable marriage.
A few months back, a young lady who was a teacher in a private school in my hometown committed suicide. For a long time, she was physically, mentally, and emotionally tortured by her husband before she gave up on her life leaving two small kids shattered.
Every human being (or every living being for that matter) on this earth has an equal right to make the best use of their life. Living a happy life is everybody’s birthright. Married women are no exception in this.
Why would a woman keep enduring an unhappy marriage if she is letting herself die internally every single day? Just because what ‘others’ will say!? Caring about what others will say has been one of the worst diseases that has spoiled everything. As far as putting efforts on restoring the marriage, is a must, choosing ‘divorce’ is equally important if things are not working out well.
Divorce is a difficult process but it’s way better than your crushed peace and dignity. It is always better to work on fixing yourself after divorce rather than expecting your partner or in-laws to change for you.
Child and adolescent psychiatrist Mark R. Banschick, in his book “The Intelligent Divorce,” has said, “One doesn’t consciously prefer staying in an unhappy marriage, facing the situation with dignity and intelligence and deciding what is good for your mental and emotional health is always the right choice.”
So, it’s high time we stopped perceiving the word ‘divorce’ as an alien term. As a society, we need to start taking ‘divorce’ in an unexceptional (normal) way. Because the younger generation especially from urban areas are changing the way women used to live their married lives. In Nepal, the number of divorces has increased in the past few years. According to one of the records from Kathmandu District Court, 80% of the divorce cases were filed by women. This shows the concept of individualism is gradually becoming a preference among women in urban areas.
Social psychologist Bella DePaulo, in one of her articles, has said, “Divorce can be a love story when people love themselves enough to walk away from a bad situation.”
Our country will be a better place for women if each of them understands the importance of their own happiness. And this will happen only when our society stops judging them on the basis of their life decisions.