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Contemplating Divorce

5 Challenges you will face when you break the news of the divorce to your parents and in-laws

5 Challenges you will face when you break the news of the divorce to your parents and in-laws

If you’ve taken the difficult step of “deciding” to go ahead with a divorce: That’s not the end to your challenges. Especially if you’re in India, there’s a whole lot of high-intensity drama with your parents and in-laws that you’ll have to face. Breaking this news to them won’t be easy. But once you have done it, expect these challenges. They’re as inevitable as the sunshine. So our advice isn’t to be in denial but to accept them as they come in, face them with grit and stay true to your beliefs.

 

1) The Sheer Amount of Unsolicited Advice

The amount of unwanted advice and suggestions that you’ll receive might compel you to reverse your decision. The most common ones would be:

  • Have another child. Things will be alright. You’ll get closer.”
  • “No, you can’t. Please rethink- Phir se soch lo”. (The rethink option which will make the process longer).
  • “What will society say?”
  • “Who will take care of you?”
  • “You will have to do this alone. We are not with you in this.”
  • “What if you change your mind after divorce?”
  • “What is wrong with your generation? In my day, we just coped.”
  • “I told you he/she wasn’t right for you, but who listens to us.”

They’ll offer intellectual theories and want you to stay positive. They won’t talk about the “d” word like it’s a disease.

 

Our two cents. Image Courtesy: Manisha Bhandari

 

2) Facing the Many Fears

The fear of being judged. Being lonely. Having low self-esteem in front of your parents. These fears will haunt you. In India, the accepted notion is that only death can do a married couple apart. It’s, unfortunately, a matter of shame & stigma for many parents that their children go through a divorce. Which is why you may experience guilt and pressure in breaking the news to your parents. Though taking the right step, you might feel you have disrespected your parents. You have questioned their ability to raise you to such a state that their kid can’t nurture and sustain a relationship. It will affect them mentally and physically- yes they will be hurt, they might scream for attention, become upset, but you will have to bear it all.

 

3) Prepare to Wash Dirty Linen in Public

My mother-in-law and I are in the kitchen, cooking a delicious meal of kofta curry, pulao, and rotis. In a hushed tone, she narrates to me the story of a divorce happening in the family. With expressions as vivid as any female actress. With perfect voice pitches and pauses.

Though divorce is a private event, it is a public affair in India. The moment the thought of divorce comes into your mind, it has reached your aunt’s sister’s husband, and he is already at your doorstep to offer his “expert” advice. Your privacy will be threatened, and you must maintain a certain equilibrium to go through this episode!

 

4) Handling the Double Whammy of Emotions

Divorce itself is an excruciating process. The emotional turbulence that you go through is huge. First, you are separating from your spouse. Second, if you have children, it’s going to be a massive blow for them. And third, dealing with your parents and in-laws is going to take up a lot of your mental energy.  They’ll ignore you. They won’t talk to you. They’ll be the new strangers. It would require a great deal of mental readiness to stay strong in this whirlwind.

 

 

5) Understanding Your Perspective

It will be a good deal of months before they understand your side of the story. Making them understand your perspective will be a humongous task. Dealing it with patience and calm would help you sail through this.

It sounds hard and laborious. But the fact is more often than not, once your parents and in-laws come around, they will be your biggest support in rebuilding your life. They will invest in your kids when you are caught up with legal proceedings and life in general. They will be the shield that will protect you from the unwarranted judgement and taunts of society and relatives. They will be the ones who will be there for you.

And if they don’t, that’s fine too. You are a warrior. You are the one solely responsible for your life. And you are fully capable of drawing in all your inner strength, talent and gifts to create rainbows and sunshine for yourself and your kids.

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