To marry or not to marry...a divorcee!
IPSHITA MITRA | Nov 24, 2011, 12.00AM IST
To marry or not to marry…a divorcee! (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
There was a sweet silence in the house. Kids were away for a vacation and the domestic help was out of sight.
I was busy arranging the champagne glasses to celebrate the romantic evening, my wife surfed TV channels in the meanwhile. The moment of 'cheers' was not far away when she shrieked "Arvind, do you remember how much we loved this TV show?"
Anurag was the new husband she had married after she divorced Arvind years back. This inadvertent forgetfulness left the rest of the evening hostage to an awkward silence.
Second marriages in India are ridden with complexities hard to rationalise sometimes. Marrying a divorcee is a tough proposition, but does it always conclude in bitterness?
Do/Can we trust each other?
Trust is the building block of the institution of marriage. Dr. Kamal Khurana, Relationship Coach at Purple Alley Institute of Relationships, Delhi, explains: "In a marriage where one or both partners are divorced, the couple has to deal with blame games, suspicion and contempt."
Research shows that 75 per cent of second marriages can end up with couples seeking another divorce in the first two years. Second marriages are more vulnerable and fall prey to a web of hostility and quick separation.
Things can get worse if infidelity is the cause behind the first divorce. Elucidates Dr Kamal Khurana: "There was a case where the husband felt that his divorced wife wanted to patch up with her ex and was not clear of her emotions for either of the men." The fear of illicit relations born out of dissatisfaction in the second marriage puts the divorced under constant scrutiny of the other partner.
"The present partner in that case suffers from paranoia and an over-possessive behaviour towards the divorcee he/she has chosen to settle down with," adds Dr. Bhavna Barmi, psychologist and marital therapist.
Dumping the emotional baggage
For a clean slate beginning, the past needs to be wiped off; otherwise the marital union stands at risk. Comparisons with ex-partners are detrimental to a positive development of the second marriage. It is not easy to replace a new face with the old, but an attempt to look for similar qualities or traits in your new life partner can be pressing. Dr. Khurana says, "Loving and respecting the individuality of your current partner will help the marriage flourish."
Bhavna Barmi speaks of an interesting case where a divorced man with kids was not ready to marry a divorced woman because he was insecure that the new mother, (p.s. without kids) would not be able to accept his children fully. Says she: "As the man came from the high end of society, he wished to marry someone without marital history, and thought it easy to come his way, thanks to his affluent status."
The apprehension of a past getting carried forward to the present makes a lot of individuals wary of tying the knot with a divorcee.
So are these marriages based on 'love' or utilitarian in character?
Gender psyche is not an easy study. The above case for example shows us men's psyche which fails to distinguish between a wife and a governess. Psychologist Bhavna Barmi and Sociologist Reeta Brara feel that "men are self-centred and more often than not try to find surrogate mothers for their child that does not promise a healthy husband-wife relationship."
However this is not a universal conclusion. Even if the second marriage begins on a contractual note of an immediate need, it cannot hold for long without love and affection. "It has to grow into affection and respect for each other; strengthening the emotional bond between the spouses," adds Dr. Bhavna.
Will society accept your marriage?
There is still a stigma attached with an individual's 'divorced' status in the matrimonial market. Families and friends perceive them as 'second hand merchandise'.
After suffering an abusive marriage, Reena, 38, gathered courage to move out of her first marriage and begin a new life with another man. She was happy but her new in-laws could not accept her. She laments, "My in-laws feel that I may lodge a police complaint anytime, the way I did in the first marriage. They are a little apprehensive towards me."
Many a times it happens that someone who gets married to a divorcee faces adjustment issues in a social circuit that hesitates to change loyalties with the earlier partner and perceives the current with resentment and hostile behaviour. As a new member he/she gets subjected to embarrassment and neglect.
From a 'nuclear' to 'unclear' family
Asha Prabhakar, aged 52, government employee and a mother of two entered a new alliance 12 years back and was content, until the time her kids (from first marriage) grew up to a level of maturity and wisdom. "My kids have never addressed their new father as dad. I married him out of love but my kids could not see another dad in him. There is still resentment and I don't know how to resolve it."
Family scenario is such that the mother has lost all authority over her children. Dr. Khurana says, "The wife has to go through a period of agony in such cases. Kids would call their father by first name to register their objection to the marriage."
Reeta calls this trend a movement from "nuclear family to 'unclear' family" where kids from other parents find it difficult to adjust with new parents. She, however, believes that second marriages need not be strenuous all the time. "There are remedies too. Send the kids to boarding school/hostels or grandparents' place. This way the present matrimonial phase can develop into a stronger bond."
The day our mindset nurtures positive thoughts and learns to be receptive with a changed outlook, things would definitely change for better.