When We Talk About Marriage To Women, We Should Also Normalise Divorce

Shouldn’t every woman know that there is always a door open for her to walk out of a toxic marriage?

Rudrani Gupta
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When a woman attains marriageable age, the chatter about her wedding becomes a major part of her life. From matchmakers to friends, from family to neighbours everyone has the same question- when are you getting married. Every person that the woman meets gives her advice on the importance of marriage and how to sustain it for the rest of her life. Marriage is depicted as a bond that lasts for seven lifetimes. However, women remain deprived of the knowledge of a probable consequence of any marriage- divorce. Neither are they taught about divorce nor are they allowed to seek it.

In every conversation that I have about marriage with those around me, two things are a must. First, marriage is not necessarily a lifelong bond. And second that a woman should always be aware of divorce as a legal option so that she can walk out of an unhappy alliance. However, my take is always ridiculed as my failure to face the difficulties of managing a relationship. I am told that I have tool little experience to paint such a black and white picture of marriages that are difficult. “You can’t just walk out. You need to give it a chance”, “Do you even know how complex is the procedure of divorce in India?” I hear comments like these each time I talk about divorce.

Is it wrong to normalise conversations about separation and divorce? Shouldn’t every woman know that there is always a door open for her to walk out of a toxic marriage? Why should a woman be conditioned into believing that sustaining a toxic marriage is better than seeking a divorce? Or that she must make a marriage work, even if it is at the cost of her own mental health and wellbeing?

Women shamed and blamed if they seek divorce

Marriage in our society is considered a necessity for a woman to have a respectful life. Without marriage, it is said that a woman is not only incomplete but also incompetent. Women are taught to be patient and sacrificial in order to sustain the longevity of the marriage. Because if the marriage breaks down, the cost is to be born by the woman alone. Women are blamed more than men, if their marriage doesn’t work out. They are told that they didn't try enough, or that they fell short in some way, when it came to performing their duties as a wife.

How long must a woman bear with this injustice? How long is long enough in a toxic marriage so that they can seek divorce and move on? Don't women have the right to restart their lives? Or give love a second chance?

Interestingly, men too aren’t taught about divorce laws before getting married. But being the favoured gender, they at least have the right to complaint. Indian women do not even have the right to openly admit that they have fallen out to love with their partner, or that their marriage isn't working out. If they do so, they are ostracised, their character is scrutinised and they are labelled as self-centered and lazy for demanding more and delivering less in a marriage.


Indian women and divorce conversations that need to happen

Women now need to take it upon themselves to openly question the stigma around divorce. Be it with your friends or parents or any other family member, raise questions on dysfunctional marriages. Read up about ">divorce laws and legal rights of married women. And when you know what options you have, spread the knowledge. That is the only way we can ensure that no woman has to walk into a marriage without knowing that she always has an option to quit. That it is okay if she wants to start afresh and that there is nothing wrong with walking away from abuse, resentment or unhappiness.

Views expressed are the author's own.

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