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Divorce isn’t the problem. Staying in bad marriage for the sake of kids is

Dhanush and Aishwaryaa ending their marriage prompted many Indians to invoke the responsibility they have towards their kids. After all, divorce in India is everyone's business.

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Indians are having a collective meltdown ever since superstar Dhanush and filmmaker Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth announced that they are parting ways.

In their statement, the two requested their fans to respect their privacy. But in India, there’s nothing ‘private’ about a marriage. And divorce is everybody’s business too.

Indians have started posting photographs of their children, in order to talk sense into Dhanush and Aishwaryaa — ‘if nothing else, stay for your kids’ seems to be the common sentiment. Everyone has turned into the neighbourhood auntie and uncle, trying to save their marriage. You think Dhanush and Aishwaryaa wouldn’t have thought about their kids already at least a thousand times before the decision? Seemingly not for those who call divorce a ‘modern trend’ with evil western influence wherein ego and selfishness wins over love, or the will to sustain a marriage.

But is a divorce the worst thing in the world? Should you sacrifice your personal happiness for the ‘greater good’ of your family? Can people really work things out? Should ‘children’ be the biggest reason why parents should stay together and find the spark again?

No, no, and a big no. The societal as well as religious resentment towards divorce is nothing but a monogamous society’s will to assert itself and reign supreme. Marriage is the foundation of a patriarchal, monogamous and heteronormative society. And it’s not surprising that those who want to protect these foundational pillars, bat for couples to stay in the marriage — happiness or the lack of it is no factor.

But believe me you will, a happy parent > sad parents. Let me tell you why.

Also read: Does India’s low rank on global divorce rate indexes mean happy marriages or social pressure?

Divorces save lives 

In a country where many believe the concept of ‘soulmate’ extends to not one but seven lives — Indian culture is monogamy on steroids, really — divorce has always been an uncomfortable subject.

India has historically had the lowest divorce rates in the world. The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released last year showed that people chose dying in a bad marriage over the path of divorce. Between 2016 and 2020, an average of 20 people daily died by suicide due to marriage problems in India. Of the total 37,591 suicides because of marriage-related problems during this period, only 2,600 were due to divorce. So, while bad marriages might kill you, a divorce will most certainly save lives. I am not the one saying it. Data is.

Women are the biggest victims of the national obsession with ‘saat janam ka saath‘ philosophy. The number of women who died by suicide due to bad marriage between 2016 and 2020 was 21,570, while 16,021 sought to take their lives due to marital problems.

Women also sustain a lot of domestic and sexual abuse because of the societal pressure to stay married — no matter if they have children or not. There’s not even data to tell us if such women are sexually satisfied in these marriages or not, or how many people are suffering from depression due to a bad marriage.

Divorce rates will naturally be less in a country where people don’t generally exercise the freedom to even choose their partners, since a majority of marriages in India are arranged. This makes it difficult for women to get out of violent marriages, because parents don’t let them back in their family.

Also read: Do your duty — The D-word that Goa really doesn’t want to hear in a marriage

Bad marriages don’t keep children happy 

One thing that emerged from all the hullabaloo over Dhanush and Aishwaryaa breaking up was — what will happen to their children?

I’ll tell you what will happen: they’ll lead happier lives than they would have if their parents stuck together reluctantly for their sake.

While children would obviously wish their parents stayed together for life, what they also don’t want is to be brought up in a toxic environment, where their parents either talk down to each other or don’t talk at all, have affairs outside, or beat each other up. No child wants to see that.

A bad marriage is absolutely not an acceptable or a conducive environment to bring up a child.

While resentment in the beginning is understandable, especially in young minds who don’t understand adult relationships and think they were gifts dropped by gods on their parents’ doorstep, eventually they’ll grow to realise that divorce was for the best.

I am not a child of a divorced marriage to say if one gets over it or not. I don’t imagine it to be easy on anyone. But I am a child of a bad marriage, and I can say with complete confidence — choose divorce over an unhappy marriage, please.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Prashant)

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