Unlike Indian divorce, our marriages involve so much pomp, celebration and joy.
Color, jewelry, family, food, elaborate and exotic celebrations.
Our marriages create happy tears and celebrate love. They involve so many traditions, so much culture and sentimentality.
Indian culture CAN handle death well too.
We have respectful ways of mourning and celebrating dead relatives. We have done this for generations. We have rituals, remembrances, memorials, ceremonies galore. We have Ganges River cremations that leave a permanent imprint on the souls of the mourners. We know what to say, what to do and how soon to complete each step.
We can die and mourn the dead like no one else can.
Indian divorce, on the other hand, is a whole other story.
While we have mastered marriage and even death, we are terrible at divorce.
Indian divorce scares Indians, even if divorce is on the rise throughout the Indian community. This has made my own divorce difficult to manage and cope with.
Imagine you’re going through the most stressful experience of your life and the people you love most are isolating and shaming you because of it.
People run from you like you have Valley Fever, the mumps or Ebola. Indian divorce is filled with shame and stigma.
To the normal and rational person, the theories and myths Indians perpetuate about divorce are nutty and odd.
If you think you’re going through a bad divorce, consider Indian divorce and feel a little better about your situation.
18 unhealthy and kooky myths about Indian divorce:
1. You’re at fault.
It doesn’t matter what happened or who did what. You’re at fault. You caused this divorce because of your behavior, your attitude, or your plain and simple desire to bring great shame to your family. No one in your inner circle cares about the reason or rationale. Keep your excuses and your tears to yourself, mate. No matter what you say, you’re the one who caused this divorce.
2. You can’t “adjust”.
You were stubborn and bull-headed growing up. Speaking to you was like speaking to a wall. No one could convince you to do anything then and, sure enough, your partner can’t rationalize with you now. You refused to listen, to compromise, to give in and give way. Your family is convinced that not only are you the problem but you can never change your stubborn character or strong opinions.
3. You’re an alcoholic, wife beater or cheater.
If you’re a man divorcing, you’re definitely going to hear that you are one of these things. You either drank, beat your wife or cheated on her. Having a drink at a holiday party will make you a drunk. Covering your body as your partner throws dishes at you will make you an abuser. Talking to another woman – any woman, be she a colleague, supervisor or friend – will make you a lying, cheating demon.
4, You’re sleeping around with other men, most likely an ex-lover.
If you’re a woman, more than likely you are getting a divorce because you are still in love with an ex-lover. You married your current husband only so you could get to America or Canada, where your previous lover was waiting for you. If not one lover, you have many. Your insatiable appetite for sex OR your lack of desire for sex led to the divorce!
5. It’s the woman’s fault.
If you’re a woman, no matter what happened, it’s your fault. You are the divorce-initiator, home-wrecker, reputation-ruiner. You’re the outcast.
You had the power, ability and wisdom to give in, adjust, compromise and make it work. You chose not to make any adjustments because you wanted to punish your poor parents. Your divorce is simply a way to get back at your family, who raised you with love and affection.
Oh, and not only is your parents’ happiness gone but your dad’s chest has been hurting of late. You might be the reason why he develops heart issues, diabetes or any other health condition within the next 20 years.
6. You married only for the green card.
This is not a joke. This is probably the first reason I hear when anyone in the Indian community gets a divorce in America. Oh, she married him for the green card. She married him to get to America. Once she achieved her American dream, she let go of her marital nightmare. Marriage was just a way to get what she wanted. A marriage certificate until citizenship certificate. When you get one, you let go of the other.
7. Your karma is at fault.
You were likely a royal torturer in your past life. You raped and pillaged cities and countries. In your former life you were a terrible human being, the lowest of the low, and you were reborn as you in this life. Now you are going to pay for your past sins. You were so bad in your last life, you were likely a lawyer, dictator, murderer or evil-monger of some sort. What goes around comes around.
8. Your fate is at fault.
You’re cursed and your fate is the reason why you brought suffering upon yourself. This isn’t so much karma (which you can do something about) but fate (which you have no control over). The Gods have written your life story and determined that you are going to suffer. They pre-destined you to live a lonely, sad, depressed and tragic existence. They have cursed you with a contentious, non-mutual consent Indian divorce! You have no hope and no future. Lunch, anyone?
9. Your astrology and your time are at fault.
You got married at the wrong time, an inauspicious time. Neither you nor your parents listened to the temple priest, pandit or family astrologer regarding the right time and day to have your marriage. Therefore, the Gods have cursed you. Also, it wasn’t the right time in your life to get married. You were in your cursed and inauspicious 7-year circle, when the demons were out for your head. Of course this marriage didn’t last. When you ignore the stars and the Gods, you’re on your own.
10. You didn’t marry the person your parents wanted for you.
How can anyone trust you to find someone? Why did you think your own decisions would be the right ones? If you’re going to start doing wild things and thinking for yourself, you deserve the consequences of your decisions. If you had married the nice boy from the orthodox and wealthy family your parents had desired for you, everything would have worked out fine. If you had listened to them, you would have succeeded. Because you didn’t heed their advice and marital selection, you’re doomed and will fail at everything you do.
11. Your divorce is contagious.
Your behavior and actions will influence anyone who crosses your path, especially people who are getting married. Your rebellious nature, your disrespect of tradition and culture, your hatred of the patriarchy will not only doom you but spread these ideas to anyone who crosses your path. People in your life, especially those who love you or claim they do, will ensure that you have no contact with the innocent, the single, the ambitious or the good. They will keep you in a cell, away from productive and good people.
12. You’re a bad omen.
The rain falls, the stock market tanks and all the calamities you or your family now face are because of your bad omen. You are the cause of that drought, hurricane or terrible agricultural season. Sorry to say but you’re bad luck to all those you come in contact with. If someone is betting, they should stay away from you. If someone is celebrating an engagement or a baby, they should stay away from you. If someone is walking down the street, they should travel on the other side so a bus doesn’t hit them.
13. Your family didn’t raise you correctly.
While your family will blame you for your divorce, don’t fear. There’s plenty of blame to pass around. For example, everyone else you’ve loved, known or trusted your entire life will blame your family for raising such a useless, destructive and rebellious child. People will begin to wonder about the mental health and parenting skills of the parents of divorcees. You will become a bad reflection of yourself and your family, your culture and your community. If there were an Indian hall of shame, you would have a prominent place in it.
14. Your family members can’t show themselves in public.
Every person your family sees in public will take a swipe at you … or so your parents believe. Every question about you will lead to more shame and resentment. Your parents, and possibly your extended family, will tire of their association with you, tire of answering questions about you and tire of hearing your name. You live far away and don’t have to see the community and people you’ve known your whole life. They, on the other hand, must remain in solitary confinement, hiding from the people and places they’ve known and visited their entire lives.
15. You’re a bad example.
You must remain locked up and far away from younger siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins and all impressionable people. Others might notice your wicked ways and get strange ideas about divorce or being happy. Per your karma and fate, you must suffer in misery rather than find happiness. You got married for your family and must make all life decisions for your family. You shouldn’t set bad examples for future generations. We need mentors, academic superstars, spelling bee champions and heart surgeons … not divorcees.
16. You’ll live in abject poverty and sadness and die alone.
Our parents really do believe this about our lives after divorce. If the best potential partner for us, our former spouses, could reject us, who else could possibly want us? You are destined to live in sadness, and in that sadness you will find loneliness. In that loneliness, you will find poverty – either material, emotional or spiritual. Your world, as you know it, is over.
The rest of the world will be happy, celebrate festivals, buy gold and watch Bollywood movies but you will not. You will be sad, depressed and regretful, and will live in misery.
17. The only thing worse than what you’ve already done is therapy.
Nope, not only are we not going to support you and be there for you in your darkest hour, we want to let you know loud and clear that we don’t want you to seek additional help. Please don’t shame us more by getting a therapist and talking to a bunch of nutty mental health people. That’s a Western thing, and we don’t do it. You’re not as crazy as we think you are. Well, you are crazy but don’t go to a therapist and prove it to everyone else. Let us preserve some dignity and respect. Don’t visit a therapist and confirm to us that you’re a nut job.
18. Your only hope for redemption is … another marriage.
You have caused us so much shame and suffering. You have embarrassed your family, your community, your ancestors and your country! You have only one way to redeem yourself: a second marriage (Shaadi.com, please) You can continue to be the disappointment and failure that you are or you can say “I do” to the partner we choose and get married on the date we pick.
Now, who’s ready for a
big fat small lonely Indian divorce?
For my books on healing from heartbreak and divorce, visit my Amazon link here.