#Personal Stories

Life Doesn’t End With A Failed Marriage, I Can Vouch For It

Failed Marriage
Failed marriage: We both got married. It didn’t work out, and we both were getting separated. How was it that it spoiled only my life?

Most Indian women will be able to relate to the girl that I once was. Hailing from a typical conservative Sikh family, my parents always had very defined boundaries for me. I wasn’t allowed to stay outside of the house post 10 pm, but they let me go to London to attend summer school alone. And I, like a good kid, maintained the 10 pm curfew even when I was miles away. I had been given the freedom to follow my dreams. However, within the set boundaries, and I always felt it was a reasonable negotiation.

One of the ingrained rules in my being was my five years of studying architecture meant I was late in settling down in life, aka getting married. And I have been the obedient child who believed that parents always know the best. In September 2014, I graduated, and in November 2014, my parents arranged for my Roka. Three months following that, I was married.

As naïve as I was back then, I was all set for a new life, set to build my life with a man who felt like he was the perfect fit for me. Two months into the marriage and what followed was something that I wasn’t expecting. Unfortunately/fortunately, we separated in a year of getting married.

Anyone who has gone through this process in India will agree on how difficult it is. I was surprised at everything I heard about myself –

She has an affair

She is mentally unstable

She is a gold digger

She is characterless (isn’t that everyone’s favorite blame for a woman?)

But the one thing that changed my life ultimately was when my relatives and friends would visit our house to come and see me like they would when someone passed away. It felt like they are visiting a family that was mourning a loss of a loved one. Though it was out of love and concern, some remarks made me highly uncomfortable, and the one that stuck with me was, “he spoiled your life, Teri Zindagi Khatam Kardi.”

The one thing that changed my life ultimately was when my relatives and friends would visit our house to come and see me like they would when someone passed away.

And I thought to myself, we (me and my ex-husband) were both going through the same thing. We both got married. It didn’t work out, and we both were getting separated. How was it that it spoiled only my life? How was it okay and ‘brave’ for him to get up and go to work every day and face his team and work the whole day while I sat in my room meeting people after people who would come and tell me how a woman’s life had no value now that she was DIVORCED?

After months of crying, I knew, in the end, I had to be there for myself. I had to build my life where only I can choose what stays and what doesn’t. I had to have an environment where I NEED to show up, where a relationship did not define my life. There is more to every human being. You are more than just your work, more than your relationships, more than your friendships, so why would a failed marriage be the definition of my life?

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Our separation hadn’t been finalised yet, we had signed the first motion, and the final signing had a gap of six months. After about three months of the first motion, I heard that my ex-husband was remarrying. I didn’t know how to process that. Until that point, I thought we both had put in the effort to make it work, and it just didn’t happen, and that we were equally hurt.  But I was wrong; he decided to get married to the same woman who my gut had been screaming to tell me that something there was not correct. And I always ignored that, but here it was, proving the little girl in me who believed in soulmates and love wrong. That felt like a betrayal that I NEVER wanted to think. The next day, my father’s s factory started at 9:30, and I was in the factory at 9 am, sitting in a makeshift cabin I made for myself that same morning. That was it. I would be blasting music and dedicated all my energy to build something that would only grow if I put effort. I put the same effort and zeal into my marriage, wanting to make it work as desperately as I wanted that one relationship. I knew it would give me back more than what I give it, and like Lady Gaga says, “your work would never wake up and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore,” I decided to love what will love me back equally. Before signing my final divorce papers, I had registered my company and was all set to launch a studio that bagged numerous awards in the first year itself.

My endeavour made a place for itself much quicker than I had planned. I do still have days that turn into weeks of self-doubt. Was I meant for this? Was this a reaction? My sales are down this month, is this work for me? But then I remind myself – we have come this far, there’s a long way to go. After all, with all its highs and lows, all I wanted was a place where I NEEDED to show up and love what loves me back equally and more. Because who says your life ends if your marriage did? It doesn’t. And I can vouch for that.

A lighting designer and a former architect, Dillraj Bhatia is the founder of DBEL Studio. The views expressed are the authors own.