Having written and spoken openly about my really difficult and public divorce, I often receive calls from friends and acquaintances when they are going through a rough patch in their marriage.
Unlike what most people in the older generation like to think, divorce DOES NOT come easy to the young folk. It is extremely hard to tell oneself that they made a wrong choice, own up that mistake and to move on. And in each instance that I have walked that path with a friend, I have seen them struggle with this decision. So the least we can do as a community, is to stop judging. Stop discussing what doesn’t affect you, stop talking about Sharmaji ka beta our Thomasji ki beti and simply be supportive. And if it doesn’t affect you, Mind your business!
And to those who are struggling with that decision, first of all, I am sorry you are going through this. It is not an easy choice and, but now that you are here, let’s do it in the best possible way.
The best divorces are when two people who chose together to tie the knot, once again choose together, to go different ways. The reasons are none of our business.
But what comes out of this, is a beautiful friendship. A person you trust, someone you can to turn to in happy and difficult times, just not as a partner but as a friend who has shared a part of your life. So let’s try and aim for this.
Sometimes you are unfortunately thrown into this position. You wake up one morning and you are still in love but your partner has moved on. I get how you feel. It is hard and let no one tell you otherwise. But trust me, it is time to let go.
Forget tying someone down, why would you want to deprive yourself the opportunity to find true happiness. Why don’t you want to give yourself the chance to be loved and respected in a manner that only someone who is truly and madly in love with you can provide. LET GO!
And sometimes you have moved on or wish to, but your partner refuses to see sense and let go.
You, my dear friend, are on the path to an unfortunate situation called dirty divorces. These ones pull you into a swamp of muck, make lives difficult for the people you love, your children and your families.
To you, my advice is Gear Up! The road ahead isn’t easy, so make sure you know what you want from this split, what your priorities are and work towards how you can make it happen.
Quick pieces of advice:
1. Find the right lawyer, someone who understands you, who you can reach out to when necessary and who will make time for you. Meet many before you choose the right person as you are going to be sharing some deep and personal secrets, and some really emotional moments with this person. You really want a person who can carry you through.
2. Divorce in India takes time. PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE. Don’t get restless and when you feel like things are not moving, talk to your lawyer and see if you are on the best route. It is easy to blame the lawyer, but sometimes, it’s the way the system is built.
3. Reach out to people who have experienced the system. Hindsight is a bitch that teaches us some hard lessons. You can learn from others mistakes.
4. Divorce costs money. Pool your funds, keep your fall backs ready. Be prepared, financially.
5. Don’t let your children become pawns.
Always ask yourself: What is in the best interest of my child?
If your partner is a good parent, don’t let the marriage cost them their child. Don’t play dirty with the kids, say nasty things about your partner. Your differences are yours only.
But as a parent, if your gut, your instincts tell you that something is amiss. Your partner is failing as a parent too, do whatever it takes to protect your child. Also, a piece of hard advice, don’t let them use the child to get to you. Don’t let them bait you with your child!
Divorce is not the same as custody. Get your lawyer’s advice about it.
6. It is alright to let go. Be objective and Prioritise.
Is money delaying your freedom? Maybe its time to count your losses and move forward.
Is it your lawyer that seems to be making you jump hoops? Let them go.
Figure out, list down what is most important to you when the battle ends – what do you want to leave with. Work on that and hey, never share that list with anyone but yourself.
7. This can be hardest of all, keep your emotions out of it.
It is extremely difficult to be calm, when people around you are throwing nasty accusations and spewing lies. I failed miserably, if it helps you and maybe you will too sometimes. That’s okay.
But overall try and be rational. Anger, guilt, hurt, whatever you are feeling, leave it at the door. Stay focussed on the outcome, not on the bickering and the words. Ignore whatever is being said.
What matters is the list in your head.
8. Build a safety net for yourself. Work, people, books, hobbies, things that take your mind off the madness and the pressure. Choose them carefully so they bring happiness to you. Take care of yourself. Talk to someone. Don’t let your mental health suffer. Depression is a dark pit you must not let yourself fall into.
9. Compartmentalise. When the divorce stretches on, it will be difficult to carry on if you do not build compartments for your life. Keep the D word separate from your home, your work and your life. Leave the stress of the court outside your home. Do not let it seep into your kids lives and your happiness.
10. Don’t get bitter. My first marriage cost me a lot. It took me down financially. I had to change my career twice. Above all, I had to let go of everyone I thought was a friend to me. I had to sew myself a safety net from scratch. It was hard and I was always worried I would never trust again.
My dear friend gave me the best piece of advise I could ever get during my divorce. It helped me move on, take responsibility of my life and let go of all that was holding me back.
I, ofcourse, married the man!
So here’s the same piece of advise (minus the dirty flies) to you.
Let go. Move on. Find your happiness.