Life can be testing. A few years after marriage my wife had a miscarriage. A blood loss-induced depression followed. I didn’t know how to deal with an ailment that was taboo. I couldn’t confide in family or friends and they remained on the periphery. Not much written advice was available. Only later did I find others breaking the silence, sharing their experience for guidance. We had lost a decade of our lives by then. Just like people are grappling for divorce counselling we were lost without marriage and psychological counselling.
Last year, I was associated with a colleague who wrote a book on “How to Deal with Divorce”. The attempt was to break the silence surrounding the event and to help those caught in the strife of breaking marriages. It was in striking similarity to what I had undergone. As we spoke to people during the course of writing, we realized that this was again a taboo. Many stayed away. Some refused to see that the marriage was troubled; they felt that couples can, if they tried, overcome the issues.
In those who faced a divorce within their families, the relief of being able to talk about it, even if in private, was evident. Most were suffering in silence. Little was available in the written domain as well. This was a sure recipe for lives being wasted.
Once the book was published, I was part of the book launch in three cities. The discussions at the events encouraged some to break their silence. I could feel their anguish as well as the relief of being able to speak out during the question-answer sessions.
It was at the third launch that I met an old friend. I had invited him over mail, not realising that I had not mentioned the subject and he came as a friend would. After the event, he broke down and shared the pain of his daughter’s troubled marriage. He said that it was a God-sent opportunity that he was part of the launch. The discussions at the book launch would serve as a guide he said.
Divorce and Separation: Where can I get help?
My friend’s anguish made me realise the importance of ‘breaking the silence’. I decided to find books about divorce in the Indian context and present the ones that I feel can be of help to others.
Untying the fine knots: How to deal with Divorce by Madhuri takes you through how best to deal with your emotions, the ex, children, family, society, courts and legal matters, payments and child custody, negotiations and your very identity. It tells you how to convert your separation or divorce into a fresh start to your life. (Ed. note: Bonobology has an excerpt that you can read.)
To D or Not to D: Working Towards an Amicable Divorce by Vijay Nagaswami talks of the facts of divorce, when to seek a divorce and the things to do before taking the decision. It speaks of accepting changed feelings for each other with equanimity in addition to speaking of the things one needs to understand to make the process painless.
Dealing with Divorce by Leela Kirloskar speaks of the legal, financial and emotional realities of the divorce process. It talks of the legal aspects, what to expect in court, children and custody and of emotions.
Leaving Home with Half a Fridge: A Memoir by Arathi Menon is an account of the author’s journey from the unhappiness of a failed marriage, the subsequent divorce and her evolution as a happy independent person. (Read an excerpt from this book on Bonobology.)
The Ex-Files by Vandana Shah is the story of a woman, who despite her best efforts to save her marriage, finds herself facing a divorce petition. It speaks of the author’s hardships and joys of moving through emotional upheaval and emerging stronger.
Breaking Up: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Divorced by Mrunalini Deshmukh and Fazaa Shroff-Garg answers the legal questions of how to file for divorce, grounds for divorce, alimony and child custody and similar issues.
Guide for Men on Divorce, Cruelty, Desertion, Annulment by Vivek Deveshwar offers guidance to men on the legal aspects related to cruelty, desertion, adultery, mental disorder and false allegations as grounds for divorce and annulment of marriage. (Read an excerpt .)
Separated and Divorced Women in India: Economic Rights and Entitlements by Kirti Singh examines the economic rights and entitlements of separated or deserted women in law and practice in India.