Divorce, once rare in rural America

Divorce used to be very rare in the rural parts of the US. As rare as it is in India, urban and rural. For a long time it was an urban phenomenon only although things are changing now.  Women, earlier home makers and stay at home Moms often get a college degree, whereas many men do not and the difference naturally leads them to part company. Women are leaving, because they can, they have the wherewithal to take care of themselves. No wonder rural Indians are not keen on educating their girls beyond a very limited level. Once the girls know  better about life and have a way to earn their own livelihood, they just may leave.  After all, marriage for most girls in India is not exactly a bed of roses. Once married, women are mostly unpaid maids, who do all the housework, doing hard and thankless labour while churning out babies, preferably male. They’re also on the lowest rung of the pecking order, have no say in what is going on in the family or in the world and are expected to be silent and remain out of the way. Education would change all that.

An interesting point that has been made is that even in the rural parts of the US divorced women feel the kind of stigma that divorced women in India do. One particular divorced 52 year old would make a point to go shopping to the grocery store at the times when she knew nobody was there so that she wouldn’t have to meet anybody. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? I for one don’t like t0 go shopping on sundays, when the shops are full of couples or families doing things together, while I, the Lone Wolfess, skulk around on my own. I know other divorced people who frequently remain on the fringes of life, pariahs thrown out from the community because of their ‘oddness’ in being single.

Do read this New York Times article  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/us/24divorce.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss



About Kalpana

Trying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.

Posted on March 24, 2011, in Divorce and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Bad Indian Girl

    I came here by way of IHM’s blog, just like Wild Child did. I will be separating from my husband soon and cannot fathom my parents’ grief. I would have understood it if I was leaving a marriage that was once solid but which gradually disintegrated. Then you grieve about emotional bonds that have gradually come loose. You grieve about the love that you once felt and the life that you once had. My marriage never really took off; from the very beginning . Even after six months of being married, my husband hasn’t once hugged me or held my hand. He didn’t even try to consummate the marriage though he did make a few feeble attempts initially. His family has found fault with almost eveything I have done for the past six months and have tried to deny me the most basic of freedoms; like when to have a bath and for how long. They’ve reproached me for saying that I need a little alone-time away from the rest of the family. Apparently good Indian daughters-in-law do not spend Sunday afternoons reading novels like I do. My spineless, feckless husband ensures that he relays to me very expectation that his mother has of me and expects immediate action. The thought of standing up for his wife apparently never crosses his mind. I think he doesn’t really think of me as a human being at all. I’m just a convenience, rather like a blender or a washing machine; I am simply there to serve him and his family, no questions asked. Despite knowing all this, my parents are heartbroken. It makes me wonder about what IHM often says on her blog, that most Indian parents would rather see a daughter dead than separated or divorced. How can any parent see their child live a life of ceaseless misery and drudgery simply to stay in a marriage? And is that thing really a marriage? I have no illusions about what life will be for me after separation. But anything is preferable to the agony of being married to a man that I have come to despise; and for whom I feel nothing but contempt. So if people think something’s wrong with me, well, too bad. They’ve not lived my life; they’ve not woken up one day wanting to choose between marriage and life. I have, and I choose life.

  2. Hi Divorced Doodler-
    I got the link to your blog from IHM and I love what I’ve read so far. (I was looking around for blogs that discussed divorce.)
    Being recently separated – with no chance of reconciliation – I only just realized that I don’t know a single Indian woman IRL who’s been/is going through a divorce. Not one. But otherwise, almost every other woman I’ve met here (in the US) has been through a divorce so I was a little surprised when you mentioned divorced women facing stigma. Then I read more carefully and realized the article was only talking of rural America.
    My parents have been asking me to move back to India so I can stay with them but I can’t bear the thought. It’s just…..so much harder to be divorced in India. And I’ll be damned if I have to remain on the fringes of life.

  3. Really? You avoid going shopping on Sundays?
    Next time, tag me along.
    Cmmon, our Sundays are so happening- Tango classes, Milonga. Where do we have the time to skulk.

    • Hehehe! I certainly avoid shopping on the weekend. Always have, even when I was married. And as you rightly pointed out I’m not doing too badly with my other activities – tango, milonga, salsa.

  4. Just wondered – do you think Taslima Nasreen is a misandrist?

  5. //Women are leaving, because they can, they have the wherewithal to take care of themselves. //

    This is why divorce is seen as a cause for concern and we don’t hear terms like ‘successful divorces’. This is why ‘divorce rate’ brings out concerns for the moral fiber of the society, culture, tradition, family values etc. 🙄

    //No wonder rural Indians are not keen on educating their girls beyond a very limited level. Once the girls know better about life and have a way to earn their own livelihood, they just may leave. //
    Then who will sacrifice their happiness to save the Indian family values and Indian culture?

    • Im all for family values but not at the cost of anyone’s freedom. And that is often the case.

      • Family values basically should mean family members being there for each other. Unfortunately it often becomes an excuse to make a member do something they may not want to do.

      • Exactly! You’ve hit the nail on the head. The phrase ‘family values’ makes many women seethe because, as you said, its a hand cuff used only for them. Women are forced to heed family values twice as much as men, so that men can do whatever they please, secure that their women will uphold the values and customs.

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