Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Defense is paper thin, just one touch and I'll be in.

I'm in such a foul mood. I got a total of 2.5 hours sleep because the combo of a new vitamin coupled with some cold medicine kept me hopped up all night. The only advantage of being up at 2am was I got to chat with old blogging friends across a few continents. I even got a head start on work when the UK office signed on around 3am. The UK staff thought I was really dedicated but I didn't bother setting them straight.

Read this post which really touched my heart. I live in a country where divorce is more or less widely accepted. (Note: I'm not making a judgment call. I 'm just pointing out a fact so if you're going to comment that I'm some sort of pro-divorce zealot save us both time and bite me.) However, if you are of a certain ethnic background there is still a major stigma associated with a "broken marriage". I recently saw a rerun of the Sopranos where Carmella tells her mob boss husband Tony that she has proceeded filing for a divorce to which he responds "We're Italian. We don't believe in divorce." I know plenty of divorced people. One of the guys in our circle of friends dated a girl for 6 months before he popped the question. It seems that as soon as the ring was placed on her finger the true Liz came out and the true Liz was a control freak. Liz was more concerned with the idea of getting married rather than the marriage itself. The planning of their lavish wedding took a toll on their relationship. Our friend kept downplaying her emotional swings as "wedding planning pressure". Seriously folks, the wedding ceremony is supposed to be symbolic rituals followed by a party. It's one day (or up to 2 weeks depending on your religion). The wedding is the easy part whereas the marriage is in the everyday good and bad. Anyway they separated 6 months after they got married. He's now happily remarried with a son while I believe she's still complaining that the roses in her bouquet were the wrong shade of lavender.

My cousin AJ is a wonderfully nice guy. He's 30, friendly, smart (surgeon). When he was in medical school in Europe he would spend his summer breaks with my parents in Chicago. AJ is also a sensitive guy. Tragically his 18 year old brother died when AJ was 11 and I think an event like that stays with you forever. AJ's mom has had some issues with depression which I think has, for the most part, gone untreated. His brother's death broke an already fragile marriage. My uncle barely came home after that and about 10 years ago married an Indian woman who worked with him in Saudi Arabia. My aunt seemed oblivious to it all and her mental health took yet another nose dive. There were stories of her giving away stuff from the house to leaching friends and relatives. It would start with little trinkets brought back from the Gulf and at some point escalated to the all the dishes in the house disappearing. AJ says he doesn't want to get married but I know the truth. He doesn't want to relive it or explain it all to some Ammachi who's trying to marry off her ultra-fair niece.

My cousin L and I got married right around the same time. The nitty gritty of it all as told by my busybody aunt is this: Aiyo! Minty mol is going to marry some white man she met somewhere (through friends). No, he doesn't have his Master's Degree. I think his family is farmers (Yeah. Wisconsin automatically meant farming). Thank God he's Catholic (ha! I went to church way more then D ever did) so their children will be saved. (just got the ring on the finger and she was planning out my off-spring). In comparison L had an "arranged marriage" (i.e. her relatives introduced her to someone they thought was suitable). She's an accountant and he's a doctor. They had checked this guy out and he looked great on paper. Unfortunately paper doesn't show stuff like overbearing mother-in-laws and the grooms increasing penchant for drinking with the boys. A few years ago we heard L got a divorce and people mercilessly speculated that it was all her fault. When L came down for my sister's wedding when we went out one night she confided the whole sordid story to me. Her high paying job at some multinational company was being phased out so she received a great severence package that included 6 months of pay and benefits. She goes home to India (mind you she was raised in London) and was relentlessly badgered by a few relatives about how old she was (26) and how she owed it to her parents to get settled down (her dad wasn't in the best of health at that time). She refused but after about a month she started believing it all. Now anyone who knows my cousin L, knows she's the life of the party. She is EXTREMELY outgoing and affectionate with everyone, including (gasp) men. She said the first few guys (or their moms) were completely scared off by her use of direct eye contact and her knack for conversation. By the time her future husband came along, she was beginning to believe that this was her only chance at a happy life. She ended up marrying a guy who was the biggest momma's boy on the planet. She couldn't have a drink without being referred to as an alcoholic. All of a sudden her shirts were too tight and married women don't wear shorts (even in 90 degree days in London). The friction between them intensified and it all came to a head one night when he hit her. She says hit but from the scene she describes it sounds worse. They're divorced now. L refuses to explain her reasons to the random people that ask. The height of it was her ex-mother-in-law confronting her saying she has forever disgraced her father and no one will ever want her. I'm stunned when she tells me this. I'm even more stunned when I realize she actually believes it.


Blogger Grafxgurl says...

sigh. this is so depressing.. when im on the brink of a wedding.. you know what ive noticed Minty...Prayer changes things... my parents still pray together before they go to sleep every night.. and i have never seen a more beautiful marriage like theirs...i want a solid marriage too.

hope you get some sleep tonight

Wed Feb 01, 03:01:00 AM CST  
Blogger AB says...

Especially the one about L is so depressing...By the way, this is about your last post. Loved the view from the room with the much talked about chair. Can I drop in to your and Jay's 'down there' house someday?

Wed Feb 01, 05:18:00 AM CST  
Blogger Rat says...

These stories made me very sad and extremely contemplative of love and marriage in general. Why is everything so complicated ?

Wed Feb 01, 06:41:00 AM CST  
Anonymous moth says...

Wow... really made me think... thanks, Mint! I'm days away from getting married and the goddamn wedding preps are feaking me out so I'm now repeating "The wedding is the easy part whereas the marriage is in the everyday good and bad" to myself. Thank you :-)

Wed Feb 01, 09:58:00 AM CST  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) says...

Thanks mint for the mention and also being on my blog. I couldn't agree with you more on the way society decides to play a role in everything that we want to do. Seems like people around us and even the ones miles away have a say in the most intimate details of our lives. It is sad and what is sadder is the way this influence can ruin somebody's life.
Your story about L reminded me so much of a friend of mine who recently got divorced for sort of similar reasons and cannot dream of finding her life back in India for social issues. So she struggles on over here although she'd love to be back with her parents in Delhi.

Wed Feb 01, 10:51:00 AM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous says...

I think it's surprisingly easy to end up in L's situation. There are plenty of 'educated, independent, and high-flying' girls here in the UK, but if you are not in a serious relationship by your mid-twenties, the questions start flooding in. I'm 27 now and it has been years of relatives in Madras telling me it's time to settle down, that I'm getting too old, that its for my own 'good' and get this - that I'll have trouble conceiving past 30!! I can deal with relatives fine - it's when they make me feel like I'm dissapointing my parents..and God, I hate doing that. There have been so many times when I've thought - surely it'll be so much easier if I just said yes and I might even be happier. This marraige issue has bugged me so much, not least because older cousins who used to be fun can now no longer talk about anything else. I can't take the emotional strain especially when I go to Madras on what I think is a "holiday" - so the sad fact is that I have stopped going. Although my mum recently freaked out over my recent 'white' boyfriend (now my ex), I think, rather hope, they might be finally coming round to the idea that I have to do things in my way in my own time.

Wed Feb 01, 10:53:00 AM CST  
Blogger nemo says...

i guess the good old problem with the typical indian psyche is we try and compartmentalize our life: 12-18 study hard in school, 18-22 concentrate on ur bachelors, 22-25 try and save money cos money is precious, 25-26: relatves ask that peeeping tom bilion dollar q, 27-30: shaadi.com,sex,hoenymoon,love et al, 31-36: kids, 36-? : less said the better

Wed Feb 01, 11:27:00 AM CST  
Blogger Primalsoup says...

I suppose there are certain things that shall always remain the deal-breakers in any relationship, and when that happens, divorces might also happen. The problem is that the deal-breaker is not a universal thing… so different things don’t work for different people. And therefore all this stigma type things happen.

On a lighter note, one of my neighbors whose daughter’s marriage is on the verge of ending her marriage is forever ticking me off on my singleton status. So on one such occasion I pointed out to her gently that, ‘May be some of us girls might be happier as single than be married to moron types! And you of all people ought to understand!’ Aunty was most dismissive of my veiled (also below the belt I concede) insinuation and told me, ‘Just get married beta, that is all people want to see… not your happiness!’

Heh! At least she was honest, I suppose.

Wed Feb 01, 11:32:00 AM CST  
Blogger Jay says...

I had an Ausssie colleague who was on something like her third or fourth husband. "We don't take any bullshit," she declared.

I absolutely think she's got the right attitude re: divorce. Screw the stigma - if it doesn't work, get the hell out.

Wed Feb 01, 01:40:00 PM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous says...

That post made me cry - esp with 3 of my cousins going through divorce at present. Sigh.

I live close to Whole Foods - in a high rise condo :-D

- The Evanstonienne

Wed Feb 01, 06:11:00 PM CST  
Blogger Wandernut says...

Sigh. Scary.

Thu Feb 02, 04:06:00 AM CST  
Blogger Jane Sunshine says...

It dawned on me after reading this that Indian aunties the world over are the absolute SAME-I wonder if they have secret conventions to decide on best methods to inflict pain on unmarried/divorced family members.

Thu Feb 02, 05:03:00 AM CST  
Blogger Zufikar says...

Same boat - same story...

1. steady boy friend i loved dumped me because his parents didnt agree.
2. younger sisters hooked.
3. got desperate and agreed on an arraged marriage without giving it enough time and thought.
4. got engaged, quit the most amazing job to give the arragement a better shot.
5. realized a litte too late that even though everything else is great..we didnt 'click'.
6. fled india to get away from pretending that things are going great.
7. engagement is cancelled and am now comtemplating whether to go back to india and to the same amazing job or to stay away for some time.

I know i am commenting on an old post but I just discovered your blog recently and enjoyed reading it.

Mon Jun 05, 09:33:00 PM CDT  

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