Vandana Shah Author, Lawyer, Social Entrepreneur
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So the biggest shock, besides Trump becoming President and demonetisation in India, has been the breakup of the much loved up couple Brad and Angelina. The tectonic shift that accompanied their breakup jolted everyone’s dreams into a reality where fairy tale marriages come with an expiration date which cannot be extended…unless you are in India.
In India if you are married-well, you stay married. Our parents remained married till the time they were alive and divorce wasn’t in our narrative while growing up. Once you were married you just stayed put in the marriage and the option of stepping out the marriage didn’t enter your mindspace.Of course, it had its downside in really abusive marriages but by and large everyone just got on with it. All the fights that you witnessed as a child between your parents were put down to normal wear and tear of marriage and parents remained as one single family unit providing stability to a child’s life.
Besides, the pressure to stay married in India is immense and when there is a fight between spouses the first instinct is always to tell the couple to patch up rather than rush to the Family Courts to file for a divorce. The social fabric of India is woven around relationships and the general tendency is to encourage a reconciliation rather than a breakup. Everyone around you just insists that it is better to be in a marriage than to be out of it, after all marriage is the great big destination of your life. You can be an artist, painter, superstar, business honcho or the PM of the country (whose marital status is unclear) but if you’re not married then you are incomplete-by Indian standards. So it’s a double whammy-not only is there a pressure to get married but also to stay married. I DON’T THINK Brangelina could have withstood this pressure and would have just quietly decided to put away their differences all the more because they are parents.
Parents have no life besides the kids and with 6 kids they stood no chance of even contemplating divorce. Brad would have been advised to give up his so called wayward ways and go out and earn more money for the children and to secure their future as each child should have at least one property in their name and then then of course then the next task of launching the children’s career and then of their marriage. You get the gist. As for Angelina she would be too busy monitoring the schoolwork and earning her living for the kids to even focus on herself,forget Brad.There would be no chance of even contemplating a divorce.
Even if they did land up at the Family Court after consulting a divorce lawyer, let’s say even me, I would advise them to first think about reconciling and use divorce only as a final option. I am sure even the counsellors in the Family court and the judges would ask them to reconsider the breaking up the marriage. I have seen judges of the Family Court intervene during the course of cross-questioning, and ask the spouses to consider reconciliation. This would be unheard of in most divorce cases across the world.
But it does happen in India because our socio-legal ethos reflects the narrative of marriage versus divorce. It’s perhaps this reason why despite have a population of 1.3 billion and counting, yet India has an extremely low divorce rate of 13 in 1000 versus 500 in 1000 of the United States.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on December 31, 2016.