By: Zara Maqbool
Divorce! A double-edged word that is a painful choice taken by a person; male or female and judged and scorned by the society at large. My friend Uz Abbasi rightfully says, “ This word society is misleading and in this day and age seems passé”. Touché! I am guilty of using this word more often than once for a lack of a better word. But by society I mean anyone’s circle of family and friends that influences that person’s locus of evaluation to some extent.
Why is divorce still a taboo in our society? Or is it no longer a taboo? I firmly believe that no matter how evolved we have become and progressive blah blah, the word divorce is met by disdain and raised eyebrows with the implication for many that they gave up too soon. Marriages of more than a decade ending in divorce get more or less the same reaction as shorter marriage cycles. The first question that anyone asks if a woman decides to end her marriage is, ‘Why isn’t she trying harder? Why cant she compromise?” and not unexpectedly its the women more than the men that prosecute these women judging them for asking for a dissolution of marriage. If children are there then these critical remarks are intensified and the woman’s sincerity as a mother is questioned. How can a mother do this? A man on the other end does get more support by people around him. I am not discounting that men are also discouraged but the accountability is definitely more for women. Somehow a widow will get more sympathy than a divorcee which is beyond my comprehension as in both cases a woman is alone leading her life with almost the same probability of getting remarried.
Mostly women who are financially independent or supported by parents are able to take this step with more confidence. Many others continue in unhappy marriages dragging their feet through life. The sad part is that even those who get support or are financially empowered are shamed in many ways for taking this “ bold and brazen “ step. Having closely seen a very close friend go through divorce, I can truly empathize with divorced women. The society, which includes the family mostly, thinks that a woman has not thought through this choice that she is making for herself. The reality cannot be further from this truth. It’s not an easy decision to make for anyone male or female but harder for a female and one who is a mother too.
Then comes the question of remarrying especially for a young divorcee. Would a single man marry her? Would he take responsibility for the children? It’s quite common in the west but still very rare here. It goes for a divorced man with children too because most probably a so-called ‘spinster’ will marry him.
I am not discounting that raising another man or woman’s children is not hard and not every one feels up to task. But even if the man or woman is ready, the family and society puts a stop to it.
Divorced women are called ‘desperate’ by many which is probably the most judgmental thing I have ever heard. As if a person who has ended one bad relationship is dying to enter another one without any thought to it. And even if they are desperate to get married out of fear of being alone, why in the world not? Aren’t we all desperate for something in our lives? And work on getting them?
My friend Asma thinks it s changing but still not completely acceptable. “Instead of improving the society we create one that sets us up for failure, making it easier to sin than to follow the right path. Even the ex husband makes it more difficult for a woman to remarry but if that same man has to remarry he has the society’s full support.”
Live and let live! It’s high time we adopt progressive and modern thinking beyond just looking the part but actually internalizing this thinking in ourselves. Non-judgment and positive regard for others is something that we have to teach ourselves again and again to make our world a more tolerant place to live in.