What would you do if you were in a bad relationship? Would you walk away? Or would you stay and work out the differences that have crept in between you and your partner? And what if it is a love marriage that we are talking about, an alliance that you forged out of love, going against the wishes of your parents and family members? Would you rather stay in a bad love marriage, defending your choice, or would you walk out? Are any of the two choices easier for a woman stuck in a bad marriage?
- Are parents and society at large more accepting when an arranged marriage fails than when a love marriage doesn't work out?
- Could this blaming and shaming of women who challenge conservative outlook towards matrimony be the reason why women defend their failed love marriages?
- Does the society realise that it could be endangering the well-being of so many women by refusing to extend sympathy towards them when their love marriages don't work out?
Every woman who is stuck in a bad marriage, love or arranged, deserves social and familial support. All of us have made mistakes and taken poor decisions in life, but the support of our loved ones makes it easier to move on.
Relationships, they say, are complicated. Every marriage has different issues and aspects to it that not only define it but also put it on the path of being a good or a bad one. A good here being where both the partners are happy in each other’s company. There are many women though, who are stuck in a bad alliance, but they cannot afford to walk away from it. The reason being they married for love and if they walk away from it now, they’d have to endure a fair share of blame and shame. This is something that I have observed in more cases than one; the outlook of parents, relatives, social circles is different when an alliance they do not approve of doesn’t work out, as compared to the one that they did, or in fact, advocated.
So if you married within your caste/religion to a person approved by your parents, neighbours and matchmaker, then it is comparatively easier to walk away if things don’t work out. After all the blame here lies with all the parties involved. This is the person they approved of and while separation and divorce are still not wholeheartedly accepted, you get credit for listening to the elders in the family and trying your best to make things work.
This attitude of rejecting marriages forged out of love also resists alliances with intercaste/interfaith and socio-economic differences by extension. And in turn, rejects every individual's right to have a say in who they spend their life with.
On the other hand, I have seen people be spiteful and snarky to women whose love-marriage haven’t worked out. Any misfortune that befalls such a woman is quickly traced back to her decision to not “obey” or “listen” to her well-wishers. This mindset has a very unfortunate side-effect; it prompts women to be defensive of their marriages that have gone bad. They chose to stay with abusive, unsympathetic partners, with whom they cannot simply see a happy present or future, but because it was their decision and they must live with the consequences. The blame for the failure of a relationship here lies solely with the woman who challenged the traditional beliefs of her community and chose a life partner for herself.
Which is why women often do not speak about their marital problems because they know that they would be shamed instead of being offered support. This attitude of rejecting marriages forged out of love also resists alliances with intercaste/interfaith and socio-economic differences by extension. And in turn, rejects every individual's right to have a say in who they spend their life with. It indicates how deep-rooted the orthodoxy still is.
But do such people realise what their attitude is costing a woman who is stuck with a physically or emotionally abusive partner? Haven’t we all taken bad decisions in life and survived them because we found a way to get out of the situation? Social acceptance and empathy paves the way of exit for such women and encourages them to walk away from a toxic marriage, that too with their heads held high. At the end of the day, the choice parents and society have in front of them is very simple. What bothers you more, your bruised ego or the distress of a loved one?
Picture Credit: mehandi-designs.blogspot
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.