A couple of days ago, I received a forward on WhatsApp which talked about the “divorce culture” that’s supposedly growing in India. It was basically venting out frustration on women largely and holding them responsible for the growing situation – not really surprising.
This post is for those who haven’t taken pains to understand the issue. A large part of the perception behind the divorces is based on personal biases, superficial knowledge, and cherry picking incidents that suit the desired conclusion. Like, the forward I received, blamed the entire situation on western influence, women not taking care of the house but going for a job outside, love marriages, live-in relationships and so on. Everything but the actual reasons.
It failed to recognize the changing social fabric of society with respect to gender roles and growing equality. However, while the parents have taught daughters to go out and earn, they haven’t taught sons to fulfill their fair share of duties at home. While historically, it was pretty much the set up of India and the idea was not to oppress but distribute responsibilities in a way that men took care of bringing money into the house and women were responsible to manage it in the best manner possible. Things changed eventually as the nature of jobs in the world became less labor intensive because the machines took over that part and it became more intellectual where it was a level playing field for both the genders.
Now, this is my own theory, which might be true, might not be true. But somewhere in between this change in the work nature, the importance of household work started to diminish and because now, within a single gender, we had two more categories – the women who took care of home and the women who went out and did a 9 to 6 job – it created an atmosphere where the women who took care of the house became a subject of ridicule by the other category. In addition, the new competition at the workplace made the men insecure and all the more committed to making sure that women stay at home. How do we do that? By destroying the confidence of these women. This, further, received the stamp of approval from the society who invented reasons why women shouldn’t be out at work – most commonly, child care.
It also led to a change in the upbringing of daughters who were raised to be submissive and sons were raised to be dominating. And after marriage, the status quo was maintained and there weren’t many divorces due to power in favor of one gender. Ladies knew that they’ll be the victim as well as the culprit, parents doors would be closed for them, social stigma around divorces will make it difficult for them to get on their feet alone (top it up with poor education), social ostracization would be just waiting. Hence, it was obvious that divorce wasn’t really an option when they had nowhere to go. However, as times changed, education and greater financial freedom made women more aware of their rights. And as your awareness increases, your tendency to put up with bullshit decreases.
Secondly, just because marriage hasn’t resulted in a divorce doesn’t mean it’s a success either. So many marriages get dragged for every single reason other than the fact that one of the two or both the people in the marital bond are suffering, mostly silently. While, historically, we have been successful in keeping the marriages from failing, we probably don’t realize that we’ve failed at many levels to make marriages successful. It was only a matter of time before those failures crossed the tolerance levels.
Also, not all failures mean a bad thing. Divorces have been projected as a monster and almost equated to end of life unnecessarily. Not to say that it doesn’t have a devastating effect, especially for the two people separating, but then, as Einstein once said, “There is a great value in disaster”. Sometimes distance and space give people a chance to become a better version of themselves. We, as a civilization, have stressed enough on finding our true selves and the meaning/purpose of life. But sometimes, if there is a toxic environment around us, it just doesn’t allow us the freedom to do that.
Love marriages end up in divorces as well. True, because some (or maybe many) of the marital problems aren’t exclusive to arranged marriage. It’s just that the confidence of success is greater in the case of love marriages. Sure, not all of them would be very thought through but then that happens in arranged marriages as well. Humans make mistakes all the time. While it is true for kids, it is as much true for parents. And human relationships never come with a guarantee. But using those failures to keep scores will not help anybody.