We women are conditioned to view marriage and the family as ‘sacred’ institutions to be cherished and preserved, if not for us then for the children. “Its for the children” is too common a refrain and often times it is said by women who suffer marital violence and surely one cannot say that these women do not realize that their marriage has more then soured. Yet, if they cannot see that the end is nigh, is it any wonder that the rest of us go on thinking that our marriage is blissful long after it has turned into nothing but blisters.
Take me for instance. Having fallen in love at a very young age to a good looker the problem of accepting a failed marriage is near impossible. A handsome man is a trophy. Imagine winning the World Cup, would you be able to let it go quick? And, two good looking sons do not make things easier. What you do actually want to believe is that you live in a fairy tale even when you are more than aware that it is wearing thin at the edges and well frayed at the centre.
However, is not denial an effective tool of survival? The issue before us then is how to get over the denial phase calmly and begin grappling with the inevitable – separation and ultimate divorce.
Now, what is a bad marriage? One definition which cannot go wrong is when the marriage is killing you slowly: mental and emotional pressures tantamount to torture. We all know that her bad marriage made Diana bulimic. Are you married, bulimic and/or neurotic? Do you not love yourself, that is, you let go? Your hair is tousled; you look like a sack of potatoes. In short, you lack self-esteem. Not all such cases is caused by bad marriages, of course, but a good marriage, one would have thought, is the best defence against encroaching fears of self-worth.
Another indicator that all is not well is when a wife fears a husband’s censure. Where fear lives there is much unhappiness. Whether a wife submits or shouts back is not the point. The fact is that this cannot be a happy marriage. And, if that mockery of a marriage is sustained only so the children can have a stable family then we are much mistaken. A child needs a healthy family so he or she can thrive. Remember, the buzz word here is HEALTHY; stuff the stable. A good single parent or step parent is better than a couple of lousy natural mother and father.
Seldom do bad marriages end up as good divorces. There will be recriminations and revenge and Asian women are most at risk from vindictive husbands. So, good planning is essential once we can admit to ourselves that it is over; that we made a horrendous mistake.
Such questions as who gets custody of the children (Muslim women should not bother with wanting guardianship because this is a man’s privilege); to whom will the marital home be given; what alimony quantum or will there be any alimony and so on and so forth, must be faced squarely
Trust me there is life after marriage. The aim is to make sure that it will not be a matter of coming out of the frying pan only to fall into the fire. For a working woman income is probably not too much of a bother, but child support should not be forfeited in the name of freedom. Try not to make custody a battle because it could tear the children apart. They are loyal little people, our children. Few know how to hate their parents even when they are bad. Every attempt must be made to ensure that a child’s love for both parents is not tested at all, where possible. A good divorce, therefore, is about staying totally engaged – you and your would-be ex.
Of course, this is the ideal situation. Who could be so lucky, you may ask. But persevere you must and this is indeed for the children’s sake.
When there are no children things are much easier, but be sure not to go about your divorce willy-nilly nor should you avenge yourself. The thing about it all is that getting out of a bad marriage is about preserving a healthy spirit, even when you are the dumped and not the dumpee. Stay sensible, no matter how difficult. Remember, change is a breath of fresh air loaded with gifts.