"The woman must be flawed for the marriage to break"
Divorce is burdensome and trying to start afresh and remarrying comes with its own concerns.
For instance, does a divorced individual want to remarry? Do they have the same prospects or even children to consider?
South Asian women also deal with a challenge to their personal character by those in the community.
DESIblitz explores the journey of remarriage for divorced British Asian women.
How do Marriage Prospects change for a Desi Divorcee?
Divorced women have fewer proposals if any. The family of the woman is afraid to bring up the divorce. It is a taboo subject despite the rise of rates in the UK.
Rising divorce rates show that women are more confident. They defy the notion that they should stay in an unhappy marriage, for the sake of ‘izzat’. Yet that doesn’t mean by doing so they won’t face an aftermath of critique.
Often women are blamed for the divorce. Reasoning such as “she couldn’t control her marriage” is used. A daughter that is divorced is an embarrassment to the family.
Sara says: “People look at you differently and judge you if you are divorced. The woman must be flawed for the marriage to break.”
Some are forced into remarriage explains Jas:
“Families may settle as they feel like no one else will marry their daughter. The family is no longer respected. They is more pressure on the woman to agree as they are blamed for the divorce.”
When a husband cheats on his wife, a family can put all fault on the woman for “not being able to satisfy her husband.”
They can even go on to say: “Kids should live in extended families so that this doesn’t happen.”
These illogical conclusions highlight the ignorance around divorce.
The more independent a woman is, the less likely she is to fall under family pressures. Many British Asian women are not supported by their families. Instead, they are slandered or even ostracised. Some families disassociate themselves.
Those with traditional values do not want to marry a divorcee as she is seen as “damaged goods.” Although marrying a virgin is no longer a priority for the modern generation.
Women live in a patriarchal society where men decide betrothals. In fact, even when a couple finds an unarranged marriage, they seek permission from the families. These families desire virgins as modesty is important:
“They rather go for someone who is pure,” says Rai.
Some men also don’t want to marry a woman that has kids from her previous marriage:
“I don’t think they want to look after kids that aren’t their own. If it is a girl, they have to pay for her wedding in the future,” says Hardeep.
For the older woman, it is even more difficult to remarry. They are not seen as desirable.
Some men who get divorced look to their home countries to find a new partner. Men divorcees are not stigmatised. Women’s values, however, diminish so it is not as easy for them to find the second proposal.
On the other hand, it may be easier for her to marry a divorced man. Although this may be difficult to find.
Nevertheless, he can be more understanding – he has something in common with her. Especially if they both have children. This allows them to be more accepting of each other.
Do British Asian Women want to Remarry and Why is it Difficult to start a New Relationship?
Not all women want to remarry. Some feel like they don’t need to, and their previous marriage can make them lose interest in marriage completely.
Women may feel empowered after a divorce, it is a relief to break free from an unhappy marriage. In this case remarrying isn’t always a desire.
The divorce combined with the lack of social support causes anxiety, guilt and low self-esteem. Divorces can make individuals vulnerable. The marriage could also be associated with trauma. Making it difficult to start a new relationship.
Some women may want to relocate to escape from their community or simply to start afresh. However depending on their situation this is not always a viable option. There may be financial considerations. Or it may be difficult to move children into new schools etc.
If a woman has children, they need to also consider how remarrying will affect them. Will the children be comfortable with the new addition to the family? Will the new husband’s approach to discipline align with the mother’s?
Aminah, a divorced mother says: “Another man would not be able to love my kids as their own.”
Altogether their previous relationship affects the tackling of a new one. Making divorcees more cautious. However, if they hold on to their past this can cause problems. For example, if a marriage ended through infidelity, this causes a lack of trust. The way a partner reacts can change.
Remarriage need not always be difficult. Some turn to dating websites where they can find partners that are comfortable with them. By doing so they expand their possibilities. They can look for someone outside their community. For not everyone will stigmatise divorce.
Reasons to Remarry
Cathy Meyer, a divorce support expert, listed a number of reasons why an individual should consider remarriage.
She mentions that one should only remarry for love, it is something that you want and that your finances are compatible.
Also that you need to be emotionally ready, can invest time into the relationship and that you hold similar values.
Women do not need to remarry to be happy, but for those that want to remarry it is difficult. This is because divorce is stigmatised in the South Asian community.
A South Asian divorcee loses respect, is made to feel guilty and is less desirable as a proposal prospect.
Although this is not the case for every South Asian woman, it is how many are treated. Thus attitudes need to change and women should be given social support and not demeaned.