Healing Space | Divorce is a course correction, not failure

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#Dhanush Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth divorce, #Dhanush-Aishwaryaa separation, Healing Space, #relationships. divorce as failure, #Self love, getting a divorce

The ideal is to find someone for whom marriage means what it means to you, to walk the same track with you. (Illustration by Suneesh K.)

Note to readers: Healing Space is a weekly series that helps you dive into your mental health and take charge of your wellbeing through practical DIY self-care methods.

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South superstars producer Aishwaryaa and musician Dhanush, also the daughter and son-in-law of Rajinikanth, this week declared that they were getting a divorce and broke more than a few hearts that were rooting for the couple.

#Dhanush Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth divorce, #Dhanush-Aishwaryaa separation, Healing Space, #relationships. divorce as failure, #Self love, getting a divorce
Without knowing any of the underlying reasons for the split, of course, any divorce is heartbreaking. Splits take a toll on children, family members, and on personal self esteem, not to mention income, finances and assets.

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But the biggest toll is that we see divorce socially as a failure, something that a couple failed to keep together, and it can invite censure, blame, or shaming. This is partly because we romanticise marriage to the extreme in literature and film, which can result in unrealistic expectations from such a partnership, and partly because we underestimate how much of a social institution marriage is.

Elizabeth Giilbert in her book, Committed: A skeptic makes peace with marriage, traces the origins of marriage as a way to preserve property, inheritance, forge convenient alliances between families, pass on legacy to children, and preserve the fruits of such procreation within the tribe, community or group.

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This is true across cultures. The higher, more ‘moral’ pursuit of  spiritual life, from the Buddha who left behind wife and son, to Adi Shankaracharya who had the alligator clutch his leg so his mother would permit him to leave, all involved leaving family life behind. Marriage dealt with the mundane, not the sacred. For the sacred, you needed solitude and individuality.

Compare these to how we perceive marriage today. Marriage is burdened with the onus of all love, companionship, equality, spiritual and mundane partnership. While in truth, all marriage is not about love. It’s about serving a social need, furthering the tribe, which is why people are always expecting the married couple to have children and ‘stay together for the kids’. Happiness, love, togetherness, is an altogether different emotional union which does not need a piece of paper to sanctify it. One often exists without the other.

When they co-exist, it is precious and fulfilling, but also it is rare. Sometimes, one partner expects love and happiness, and is not concerned with the social construct of marriage. This is the Qayamat se Qayamat Tak construct. While to the other, the social aspect may be what is most important; i.e., caring for family, elders, children, what other people say, who are our friends, what clubs do we have membership to, etc.

The romance is not a ‘real’ part of the relationship and can feel ‘selfish’ and individualistic to the partner who sees marriage as serving the larger cause of community.

Taken to the extreme, marital rape happens when sex is seen as a bodily need or ‘right’ to be fulfilled by the partner, which overrides their feelings, willing participation, consent, and bodily integrity. Violence and abuse in a relationship occurs when one partner becomes the instrument to meet the other’s needs and is being forced into the other’s fulfilment.

To the partner for whom marriage is equality, love and togetherness, they can feel lost, as if their needs do not matter any more. This can create dissonance, a gap between the couple.

Both start walking on separate tracks. The way forward is simple, both have to get on the same track or begin to see the value in each other’s track. Sometimes that is not possible because we live what is ingrained in us, we arrive at what a relationship, marriage, togetherness means to each of us through our own experience of life.

It is important to be clear about which track you and your partner individually are on, whether you choose marriage to be a social framework, or an expression of your individual identity. If you choose to put the security of the social framework above your individuality, you forgo to a certain extent, freedom, choice, or even the needs of each other, and prioritse a larger community. You may then may ‘what about my freedom?’. If you choose individuality, you may then ask ‘what about my social support?’.

The ideal is to find someone for whom marriage means what it means to you, to walk the same track with you. And if you don’t find it, or you reach halfway and find that you are not on the same path, it is not failure, but course correction to realise it and choose differently. Because all that means is you now recognise and choose what you value as an individual and in your partnerships.

#Dhanush Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth divorce, #Dhanush-Aishwaryaa separation, Healing Space, #relationships. divorce as failure, #Self love, getting a divorce

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