NON DIVORCE By Dr. Pradnya Jayant Ajinkya
Ridhima, 42 met Shankar, 39 about 20 years back. Ridhima embarked on a trip after she walked away from her unhappy two-and-a-half year old marriage twenty years back. She was a young divorcee looking for a direction in life. Shankar was a bachelor and a tenant in her parents home. Ridhima found Shankar who was an ideally good friend and partner that could take her out of her unhappy marriage, as she desired.
Shankar remembered his early life as a roller coaster of change. He never knew his birth father. He lived with his aunt who raised him. His mother was an abusive alcoholic and drug addict.
Ridhima craved stability and sought refuge in Shankar. They got married in a small and private wedding. This is the 13th year of their marriage. Slowly and steadily Shankar refused to lavish Ridhima with attention, closing all doors to a thrilling life together. He was talking and meeting other women. Shankar began making excuses for coming home late, sometimes staying all night out partying and drinking with his family and friends. Stranded in her own home wiating, Ridhima burned with resentment and hurt. Later Shankar became very possessive and conditonal about Ridhima's earnings and assets. If she made an opinion, he would needle her about how he felt awful in her company, calling her cruel and suffocating and telling her that she's lucky to have him. She remembered the many activities they did once upon a time and the good friendship they shared. Shankar demanded Rs. 50,000 from Ridhima every month towards an allowance. It was almost like a brain washing and Ridhima began to believe it and also paying him, fearful that he might leave her otherwise.
Often Shankar decided that he should leave Ridhima since she was not able to decide about his financial insecurities and future. Ridhima lost both her parents who were ailing for some time. Shankar treated them with contempt. However, Ridhima always wanted every ugly moment to end, and make the hurt, humiliation and fear go away. And although she knew she did nothing wrong, she would apologize. There is no physical relationship in the marriage since nine years. The couple were living together under one roof, more like passionless roommates than spouses. In spite of all the above, Ridhima wanted to make things work out.
Recently, she stopped paying Rs. 50,000 to Shankar due to inadequacy of funds which led to Shankar fighting with her and leaving her alone. According to Ridhima, everytime Shankar left, it was so perfectly orchestrated and it involved so much help from his friends and family members.
1] Every time the couple came to counselling, they were reminded about their marriage vows and they were encouraged to work things out.
2] Though Ridhima still loved Shankar, she was not sure how to fix this problem about his need for financial security.
3] Ridhima has come to think that this is what love means, and this is what you need to tolerate in order to be loved.
4] Each time Shankar returned to Ridhima, her decision was confirmed as a good one. She was rewarded with temporary peace and the return of the man she had fallen in love with.
5] Hope is what kept Ridhima then, She has become a prisoner of her own feelings.
6] Shankar seems to have got familiar with abuse. That is the only way he knew how to take control.
7] However, such modelling of abuse encourages domestic violence to span generations.
8] Over the years the level of demands and emotional threats have grown which is a horrifying experience for Ridhima.
9] The few years of counselling have helped control her Post Traumatic Stress, but scars remain. She remains trapped in the horror to know that love is not free.
10] The couple are seeing more of an unromantic phenomenon. Both are regular in counselling.