Battle of the sexes

 Love, money and importantly, friendship — all these elements seemed enough to keep the potion of marriage heady and nice. But (of course, there is always a ‘but’) that was not to be. Ten years later, they separated and eventually divorced. From DINK (‘double income no kids’) status they were relegated to DASA (‘divorced and single again’). Talking to Sridevi, one side of the story unravelled. “Dinesh has always been supportive. When we got married, I spoke of concentrating on my career and he agreed. He got posted to a different place and for sometime we managed well. Slowly, he started putting pressure on me to shift base. I had got a huge promotion and we decided to wait for a while.

Before one knew it, four years went by. But things went wrong when he was insistent that I move. I didn’t want to make the move although I would have easily got another job. I suppose we had drifted apart and even though eventually efforts were made by both of us, it was really not worth the trouble. We separated and soon divorced,” she said.

Once quite rare in India, divorce is changing the face of urban families. Incompatibility, infidelity, ill treatment by the in laws, cruelty – these still remain on top of the list but another reason showing up is adjustment issues. How much give and take is a couple willing to do becomes the moot point for an urban marriage to work or dissolve.

“Earlier, certain issues like domestic violence and incompatibility remained within the four walls. Today, women realise that violence is not to be accepted. They know that they can end a marriage without losing their standing in society. The fact that they economically independent gives them a backing but it is not the reason why they opt out,” says Brinda Adige, director of Global Concerns India, who spearheads programmes related to women’s rights.

That divorce can end a bad marriage and give two people a chance to move on is quite liberating. One no longer needs to deal with the stigma that was once attached to this word, men included. “My ex wife was not comfortable with following me wherever my job took me. She refused to join me and concentrated on her career. I am in a specialised field and would not get a job in the city where she was working. Whenever we met we fought. There was really nothing in the marriage, not even kids. So, we divorced,” recounts Neil Jacob, who is in the defence services and has since remarried. 

Here is what a young lady from a conservative Sikh family had to say, “I had been working in the HR department of a MNC. I took a sabbatical when I delivered a baby. Hardly a month had passed when my husband got retrenched. This meant that I had to start work again. There were taunts from my husband but I continued. He would not settle for any package lesser than what he earned before losing his job. I had to fend for the three of us but his mental torture made life hell for me. I decided to separate from him. I have filed for the divorce and am confident that my two-year-old son will be with me.” She adds that her family is supportive of her decision. The last word goes to Kalyani who at the time of marriage, had finished her graduation and was working in the administration department of a small company. “It was a love marriage and I had convinced my parents. But I found out only after marriage that he was not responsible enough. He would drink and would beat me often. I had a daughter but when she was three months old I decided to end the marriage. Divorce came later and in the meantime I started a small-scale factory and continued with my education. Today, I am pursuing a post doctoral degree and supporting my daughter who is now 13 years old,” she said. Her take on economic independence, women and divorce is insightful. “Being financially independent should not work against your husband; it should be a support for him. But when things turn sour, it gives you the courage to face the world on your own,” she declares.

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