>Is enough ever enough to say "enough"?

>In a marriage, that is.

It’s a coincidence perhaps that three of the six-member team I have at office are women who are separated from their spouses. Girl 1 was married for a year to a boy who made her work like a slave in the office, treated her like a maid at home and raped her at night before she walked out of the arranged match. Girl 2 was married for three years, has a two-year-old baby and has just come back to live with her parents because she was scared her parents-in-law would torture her to death. Girl 3 was married for two years to a boy she chose for herself but who she did not know was an obsessive, jealous lover.

Perhaps this is more than a coincidence; it’s an indicator of how young, independent women can think of happiness out of the box called marriage if the box gets stifling to stay within. And while I don’t condone divorces, I don’t condone the idea of living in an unhappy marriage just for the sake of putting up a sham before society. If you don’t get anything out of a relationship, not even the satisfaction of giving some part of yourself to it, what good can come out of it? And what reason is big enough to hold you back from ending such a relationship?

Which brings me to the vital question that I always ask myself when I see women stick on for no apparent reason in an unhappy marriage: do we marry for social security or do we marry for happiness?

People argue how marriages these days don’t last like they used to in the times of our parents because Generation Now isn’t ready to “adjust” and they say it like adjusting to an unhappy life is a good thing when it clearly isn’t. Why should anyone stay with an incompatible partner, a disloyal spouse, a foolhardy husband or wife? What purpose does such a marriage serve?

I know people who’ve been unhappily married for decades and if you ask them why, it’s probably because they’ve never thought of ending their misery. I know a woman whose husband, after 15 years of marriage, is having an affair with a woman he says he is intent on marrying. He abuses here – verbally and I suspect physically too. They have two adolescent children who witness their father cheating openly on their mother and hate him for it. And though the woman isn’t even financially dependent on her husband, she is keen on preserving that which is already rotten. She is emotionally tormented and knows there’s no going back to where it all started. Yet, she will not walk out. Oh yes, give it another chance, like people say, but know when to say ‘Enough is enough.’

The children for whose sake couples often live in loveless marriages don’t benefit from seeing two estranged parents live under the same roof. I come from a happy home and I know how much it means to see my parents together. Yet, happiness is not about seeing your parents constantly sparring with each other or seeing your father flirt with his mistress on the phone while your mother waits in the wings. What kind of a home can such parents give their children? Unhappiness isn’t easy to live with and if you are dissatisfied in a relationship as important as that of a husband and wife, would you have the energy to bring up your child well? If you were so busy dealing with your own emotions, would you have the time to focus on your child’s?

To me, no reason seems good enough for a man and a woman to waste lives – theirs and their children’s – on a hopeless existence. But I’m open to understanding if you can explain otherwise. Can you?

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43 responses »

  1. >When I think about reasons that can make a woman to stay back in an unhappy marriage one prominently strikes me (other than "log kya kahenge") is it is financial dependence. Sometimes it is due to lack of qualifications; sometimes due to lost confidence. It takes a whole lot of guts and courage to move out and be on your own without support systems( like parents). But one still has to try thats my opinion.

  2. >A very close relative of mine lives with a man (her husband), who is the most irritating person on this earth. Compulsive alcoholic, his wife's constant attention is on him lest he embarrasses himself and her. The whole time she keeps on giving him looks to control his tongue. Hes a real pain in the ass, and even after 25 years of marriage, he is yet to come back to his senses. Hes a perverted lech of the highest order and I just cannot understand why she still tolerates him. My Nani reasons that she has no choice…if someone is ill, you just don't leave them in the midst and walk away. Maybe she's right…but argghh.. i Just hate him!

  3. >Delurking for today.Funny thing is I saw a Kiran Manral post on a similar topic. Of why women stick with toxic relationships at times, of how they stand by trying to salvage whatever's left…and yet again, it reminds me of the Shantaram quote:"She loved the guy. She did it for him. She would've done anything for him. Some women are like that. Some loves are like that. Most loves are like that, from what I can see. Your heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat, and your self-respect and your independence. After a while you start throwing people out – your friends, everyone you used to know. And it's still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it's going to take you down with it. I've seen that happen to a lot of girls here. I think that's why I'm sick of love"- Serendipity

  4. >Nowadays, more and more parents are getting wise to the fact that its better to have a happy single daughter at home than an unhappy married daughter. In my extended family, there are 3 divorcees, all young- in their late 20s, 30s who have gotten out of a bad deal early into the marriage. One of them got remarried, one of them is happily single and enjoying her life as a teacher, and the other is also coping with her life and work and kid.But then, I also have seen another lady, who's about 55, who's separated from her husband, ( he had a mistress, but I'm not too sure my relative was blameless, she's a sour old puss who made life hell for her SIL, so divine retribution probably) but who hasn't gotten a divorce, cos some astrologer told her apparently that he would come back to her finally. What use , a husband who comes back to you after you have put your kid thru school and college, and one of them has almost grown up to be a juvenile delinquent? Am glad that the times are changing with girls opting to walk out of a bad deal, and with their parents sticking up for them. But sometimes, I wonder- things are pretty ok so long as the girls have their parents with them, on their side. But parents are so worried about who will be there for their daughters once they are gone…..so maybe society has to grow up some more perhaps…sorry for the long comment. 🙂

  5. >no, I cant explain any of it D, because I dont understand it at all. I have met quite a few women(educated,working,independent women) who would come to me at regular intervals for treatment – they were all physically battered. We have a system wherein a doctor can file a case against the defaulter in such cases(medico legal case or MLC as its called), but the woman has to testify. Not one amongst them was willing to utter a word against their imbecile husbands. And I`m talking of educated women! It makes my blood boil. I dont understand any of it at all. On the same note, I have often wondered about mental abuse as well. All might be 'well' in the M-camp, but what if there is emotional infidelity? What if everything else seems normal, but there is no line of communication really? When do we say 'enough is enough'? And for that matter, how difficult is it??? Too many qstns..alas no 'proper' answers.. Excellent thought-provoking post!

  6. >Mostly society driven…LOT of people are still stuck in the mind-set of what will people say.The other reason might be, this is bad, but how do we know the other side of the fence will be good? (Although it ALWAYS is much better, yet this doubt is always there!!!)I guess the worst is for the children. It is not even their choice whether to stay with this or not, they are not even responsible for the mess, and yet they are deeply affected 😦

  7. >It is under societal pressure parents get their daughters married (within a marriagable age time frame), and daughters under societal pressure live with a torturous marriage. They bother so much about the society and society doesn't even bother about them. It's high time that women should keep themselves before taking any decision.

  8. >while i can't explain otherwise, I do wonder at the number of people getting married and divorced. Infact a friend of mine puts it in a sarcastic way, it's like the in thing these days, get married and then divorce. I think we've made our lives so complicated and busy that adjusting just doesn't apply anymore.But it's a good point you bring out.. it makes no sense to stay in a marriage because of society or peer pressure, happiness is paramount.

  9. >I agree with all the words here.SO I dont have another explanation to give..I have never been able to understand why women(or men) stay in a bad marriage..I have seen people stay in such marriages and it baffles me..is it because of kids?is it out of some kind of insecurity that our society conditions us for?that we will not be able to 'survive 'without a man no matter how financially independent we are?is it simply because we dont know any better coz we havent 'seen' any better?no examples of women walking out of bad marriages to guide us..whatever it is , it is hard to understand..better to be out of a bad marriage than to stay in hell and bring up kids who are warped..more dysfunctional families we def dont need.there is ALWAYS a choice..

  10. >I agree with you. This post kind of struck a chord somewhere. I guess women stay on because somewhere the boundaries begin to blur, because in reality it is difficult to know when enough truly IS enough. Is it when she realises that she's no longer in love with him, or when they start arguing frequently over the smallest things? Is it when she realises that the marriage is just a drain on her and her role is nothing except for that of a glorified maid? Lots of women leave because of such issues, however some stay on. It may be because of lack of support; many parents do not, or can not, support their daughters under such circumstances. And may be it's also because we're preconditioned and taught to put up with unbelievable amounts of nonsense. "After all this happens in every house", right?

  11. >@Blue Mist: But how do you then explain the stand financially independent women take to stay on in a loveless, unhappy marriage? And believe me, there are plenty of them.@Saima: It's one thing to be irritating, it's another to be abusive, disloyal or self-destructive. I could say too that if a person is simply ill you can tolerate him if you can't empathise with him. But in other cases, I do not think either empathy or understanding helps.@Serendipity: 🙂 That's a beautiful quote and does say a lot for the situation I'm talking about.As for Kiran Manral's post, didn't read it, no clue about it.@JLT: You've brought up a very relevant point here – the astrologer's predictions. Yes, a lot of people do depend on that kin of stuff to sort out problems when all else has failed. But I wouldn't want to go back to a husband who's had a mistress, even if he came back to me! How does a woman make peace with the fact that her husband had gone astray but and repents it now? I mean, would you be able to forgive that kind of thing?@Aneri: I doubt a woman who's put herself through the misery of a bad marriage can doubt that the grass on the other side is greener. I do think it's sometimes about "log kya kahenge" and sometimes about a reluctance to change status quo.

  12. >simplyme: You're right Eram – the society we bother so much about cares very little for our happiness or existence. @J: I know what you mean – it is alarming how the number of people we know are getting divorced. But if you hear their stories, you will think divorce was a better opion than the bad marriage. And even now, when divorces are more common, no one rushes into one. The decision to quit a marriage is still a very drastic one.@Piper: I'm sorry, I missed replying to your comment before. You do make a very valid point there – how do you help a woman who insists on being the victim. I've tried it myself and it doesn't work: you can't help someone till they want to help themselves.@Indyeah: Yes, people brought up in dysfunctional families do grow up with their own set of problems. I don't know whether children of single parents don't, but I do think when people bring kids into this world, they should take the onus of giving them the best chance at happiness they can.Also, I think there are plenty of examples before us now of women who have walked out of bad marriages. And even if there weren't, it's important to stand up for yourself.

  13. >hmm..and some do it for their parents, they don't want to cause any pain to their parents by showing that they are unhappy in their marriage.That's their short-sightedness they feel they are doing a great sacrifice by hiding their miseries from their parents.Most importantly, above statement is applicable for both partners in marriage.

  14. >Thats a thought-provoking post indeed….Bad marriage – is such a defining word. I feel that if there is such a thing and the woman chooses to stay in it, then its nothing short of a crime against her own self and the children. But unfortunately in most of the cases it is not so. I believe that most of the women stay back because of some goodness that they might be able to spot in the relationship. Some hope lurking behind the dark side. And some sign of turnaround. And they opt out only when they reach the break point. For some, it is sooner than expected while others keep waiting for the sign that it would never get better for them…

  15. >@freespirit: I agree – when it's happening to you, it's difficult to tell when enough is enough. But I do not think the responsibility of providing for a separated/divorced daughter should necesarily fall on parents. Women should learn to be self-sufficient, at least financially. However, the parents' emotional support for their child in such a situation is vital, I think.@Stone: Yes, a lot of people want to shield their parents from the pain of seeing their child separated. But parents must stop thinking that the end of a marriage is the end of the world.@monikamanchanda: If women stretch themselves too much – even emotionally – they're going to snap.@pujathakur: Like I said, it is okay to give things another try but it is important to know when enough is enough.

  16. >Marriages need not be disasters just because of alcoholism/adultery. It can even involve plain incompatibility.If there are are kids out of a disastrous marriage, especially a female child, the woman usually pulls along for fear that no one will marry a single mother's daughter;But assuming that it is a kind of sacrifice on the part of the mother, it is also xtremely unhealthy for the children to grow up in such disturbed families.What happened with me is that I grew very fond of one parent and simply hated the other.With time, my parents just matured and were able to achieve some kind of harmony. It was too late by then, as my opinions were too strong to be changed.I lost their support and disagreed with them heavily, and finally decided I will have to do without them.Moral:There is no reason to palate unhappiness.

  17. >Perhaps irritating is a very nice word I used for him. Hes a maniac who has made life hell for his wife. He hides his booze in coke bottles, shouts and screams at her in everybody's presence, at weddings and functions, in front of the wife's mother or their children or anyone. He shouts at non-existent things, and says some of the most perverted things to his Sister in law's girls. He doesnt care. He tells everyone to watch dirty english movies and drools on bikini clad women in front of his wife, wife's sister and the rest of the family.Sorry for blurting it out. It pains me to see her like this.

  18. >@Edita: I agree. Incompatibility isn't always easy to live with. And what happened with you isn't uncommon. Often, the child is forced to take sides when parents fight. And while things turn out fine for some couples, waiting is a risk we take. I personally believe life's too short to spend it waiting for things to change. What if they don't?@Peenuts: Alright. That was very expressive! :)@Saima: I think there are men like these in everyone's families – near or distant. As outsiders, we can call them irritating, like you did. But for the wife, I'm sure it's harassing. I get what you mean.

  19. >Sometimes they stay because they don't know anything else. The known devil and all. It's the fear of managing outside a system they now know how to deal with. Also, i have noticed that financial independence doesn't mean much, especially in the older generation. What they lack is emotional and intellectual independence many times. It's mainly societal conditioning I feel. This may sound like stereotyping, but i feel this is a mainly a middle-class issue in India. We used to live near a hutment colony, and the women there were much more confident about dumping useless husbands. They didn't feel the pressure to conform. I guess when you are really poor, it's just a question of survival rather than keeping up appearances. Sorry, very incoherent, random thoughts. On my way to work. You got me thinking.

  20. >I agree with most of what's being said here D. There's no point staying in an abusive marriage or one where the partner is deliberately out to trouble you. Sure, talk it out, give it a fair chance and then get out asap if things don't show signs of improving…The gray area for me is 'incompatibility'. How does one take a snap decision about this? I know a couple of my friends who want to give up on otherwise perfectly good husbands who just don't share some of their interests, who aren't as romantic as they were before marriage, who perhaps don't help out as much at home… That's where the danger of divorce becoming socially acceptable comes in for me. There isn't enough incentive to 'work on your marriage'! Most married people will agree that marriages need a lot of effort. All of the above complaints can be worked on, don't you think?:( I'm sorry I went out on a tangent here D. I know this wasn't exactly your question. Just feeling really disappointed listening to my friends these days.

  21. >just one comment i have to add…Sahir Ludhianvi has said for such relations:तार्रुफ़ रोग हो जाए तो भूलना बेहतर,ताल्लुक बोझ बन जाए तो तोड़ना अच्छा…जो अफसाना अंजाम तक लाना न हो मुमकिन,उसे एक खूबसूरत मोड़ देकर छोड़ना अच्छा……i dont know how many people will actually understand it, but that's the way it shud be done…hell why dont they go for a live-in relationship if they cnt bear the responsibilities of marriage…guess they wud be a failure in that case as well…

  22. >No, no good reason to stick in a rotting relationship. And I think people get into the marriage institution only to 'fit into the society'.

  23. >@Chakli: Of course, morality is something only the middle class follows, but pray tell me, what's immoral about ending a marriage that's more of a sham than a relationship?@Devaki: Good question. If you want the easy way out, incompatibility is a good enough ruse, but when two people are incompatible not just in habits but also in temperaments, it's bad enough to call it quits, wouldn't you say?@Rajnish: Well, it's not that these people have failed at making their marriage work. It's that marriage has failed to work for them. And unhappiness isn't a responsibility anyone should have to shoulder! So the question of marriage vs live-in relationships doesn't even arise here.@Meira: I do wonder a lot of times why I got married and what purpose does any marriage serve. I married for love but I know I could have continued to be in love without the stamp of wedlock as well. So probably yes, marriage is what we do for social approval. (I'm just thinking aloud here…)

  24. >The reason why women choose to stay with abusive spouses is rather complex. Even these days when divorce is no longer taboo and most women hold jobs or are educated enough to earn a living, women endure abuses because I feel their approch to any relationship is more emotional than rational. Being that, they retain some love their husbands no matter how abusive they are and hope to reform them some day. The other major reason is that society conditions women to blame themselves for anything that goes wrong in a relationship and these women regard themselves as responsible, in some way, towards the the abuse. They think they invited it or they deserve it for having failed to live up to some perfect image of womanhood and wifely duties. There, you've made me ramble enough with your very thought-provoking post!

  25. >No reason is good enough to stay in a love-less/incompatible marriage. Thats all I can say based on my very very close experience. Forget about the future. Think about the present. We cant live like this in a rotten present thinking what will happen in future.

  26. >@Mystic: You can be emotional but don't have to be foolish. Having said that, I do agree with you that women are either blamed or conditioned to take responsibility for whatever goes wrong in a relationship. If they didn't have to prove to the world they aren't bad wives, they may be able to choose happiness. Also, that's only for women. Why don't men opt out of bad marriages?@Soulmate: Do you think it's easier said than done?@SS: I agree with that article totally. Compatibility is definitely not about having the interests as your partner. But is definitely about wanting to live with his/her interests and being able to do that. If two people are different and cannot cope with that difference, they are incompatible to me.

  27. >You know, I've asked these questions too, I've wondered too. I haven't read any of the above comments, but I realise that sometimes, when you love a person too much, you tend to give them another chance to retain the love you thought they deserved. A lot of women, stay for a while in an abusive relationship, that is, they don't leave immediately. I'm guessing that's the reason they have more than one incident of abuse to relate. Come to think of it, I think it's about the husband crossing that threshold. You can't simply go back to your parents after he beat you once. Maybe you can if your parents are understanding, but you always give him a chance, one at a time, every time. And when you have children, it's very very difficult. What will the children think, how will they grow up? What will he do to the children? Will he take them away from me? So, unless you've gone through it, you can never question the decisions of women being abused. That's what I think. They're in a vulnerable position, and each woman has a hundred other different things to think about – financial security, insouciant parents, innocent children, ruthless society, to name a few. What I do wish is, that educated women could learn to read signs that a fellow woman is being abused, and try and rescue her, or at the very least, get her to a counselor and help her see light. It's difficult though.

  28. >i'm a firm believer of, 'if it's bad, get out". there's no point living together if one can't live together in harmony or happiness or peace.sometimes people stay on, not because of need or love…but because of habit.I can and never will understand how.

  29. >@a million different people: I'm totally in agreement with most of what you've said. I'm seeing these things from very close quarters (this woman with two adolescent children I talked about is a relative actually) and I know it cannot be easy to take a decision this way or that. But I do think a woman needs to be very strong and stand up for herself and her children after a point. Some women know they don't even have to think about the support they will get after separation, yet they cannot take a stand. Which is when I think it is important to say enough is enough.@A: Yes, I do think that when life becomes a matter of habit, changing status quo is very difficult.

  30. >Like I mentioned before, I said that based on a very very close experience… Its not easy but yes, the step had to be taken when there was no choice left..

  31. >@Soulmate: I agree with you, but was just wondering aloud if what we're saying is easier to talk about than to do… It is, I think. But tough times call for tough decisions!@Monika, Ansh: True, which is why parents need to understand first that there's more to life than an unhappy marriage!@Mampi: You're right but I think these levels of thresholds exist because there are levels of consciousness about what we deem acceptable and what we don't.

  32. >Reached here through a link on my blog and realized this is D's blog! I believe marriages should make you a happy person, if they make you miserable, then we need to ask ourselves, why exactly we got married.

  33. >D we have made marriage something so sacred that we forget that it is basically a partnership and if the partner are suffering then they must have a second chance at happiness… and I feel even if the kids still prefer the parents to stay together if the parents are really unhappy, then one can still consider separation.

  34. >@IHM: I've been trying to understand what could make a woman stay on in such a marriage and I got a reply today – it's difficult to let go of a relationship such as this. Yes, you're right, we've made marriage more sacrosanct that it needs to be.

  35. >this spoke to me …. … cuz i come from a home that you provided an example of. sadly.these lines resonate 1 billion times and over:"Unhappiness isn't easy to live with and if you are dissatisfied in a relationship as important as that of a husband and wife, would you have the energy to bring up your child well? If you were so busy dealing with your own emotions, would you have the time to focus on your child's?"these help assuage my want to blame them for putting me through crap i shouldn't have been. i see them as imperfect beings who were too wrapped in their own issues …. it was nothing personal against me. they just didn't know any better. good for them. messed up my life for a good 10 years real nicely …. and i am still struggling with the aftermath …. but atleast i dont have to carry the depressingly nagging question that always asks, "why me?" It wasn't me. it was always them. They needed to get their issues resolved.

  36. >People easily forget it is one life and one chance of happiness. If by accident u slip into mud donot u try to come out of it? Same with marriage! Society never stands by you when you need them, so why waste ur life trying to pleasing them? I have seen umpteen no. of old couples who are constantly bickering, are at each other's throats, wishing each other to be dead!!What is the point of having lower rate of divorces when marriages are like this. They tell the youth,too, that 'love' flies out of window after an year of marriage.How sad!!Mainly, women were financially not indepenendent and that is the sole cause of lower divorce rate earlier. It has got nothing to do with being 'more adjusting' or 'wiser' outlook.

  37. >"Ajust" is the filthiest word in the English language, especially as used against Indian girls and women. My experience is as a South Indian woman, but I don't think it is too different in North India.My siblings and I have lucked out in the marriage lottery – my sis got married to the love of her life at age 34, my bro just got married earlier this year at 33yo. I am happily and peacefully single, at 37, and have no intentions of changing that.Not that we weren't, all of us, subjected to intense pressure to get married (especially us girls)… but my sis had the iron will to withstand more than a decade of intense pressure from family, including intense emotional blackmail from widowed mother's extended family. Sis may not have been sure what she wanted, but she was VERY sure what she did NOT want – and she did not want to marry someone just for the sake of being married, just to satisfy "society's expectations." And while everyone concentrated on her, I escaped to the US, and escaped all those years of humiliation and drama from extended family 🙂 Much easier to say "no way in hell to marriage, except if I WANT TO" from halfway across the world!Sis also finally escaped from Chennai, went to Singapore, where she met her husband, then moved to the UK. As she says "My white knight swept me away to a life of poverty!" :)All of which is my way of saying (as an outsider to all marriages): a marriage that is only sustained by one side (mostly always the woman) "adjusting" and "adjusting" ad nauseum is a marriage that is worth nothing. If there are children, what do you think girl children are going to learn by watching their mother behaving like a doormat? What do you think that will do to their self-image? How twisted will the boy children grow up to be, as they learn and internalize from observation that the emotions and feelings of girls and women are irrelevant? That only girls need to do the adjusting in any and every situation where the choice is between a man and a woman to "adjust"?First comment, and a very long one at that… Came here via "Ultraviolet", by the way. Have bookmarked your blog for further reading 🙂

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