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Senior Citizens going for Divorce

After 50 years of peaceful married life, a Bengali couple is now fighting a very bitter divorce battle. Tiwari Bhusan, aged 78, has dragged his 70 year old wife, Sharmila, to the Bengal matrimonial court complaining that he can no longer put up with the physical and mental harassment from his wife.

The Calcutta high Court, which has taken up the case, has requested Bhusan and Sharmila to settle their dispute amicably out of Court. It is senseless asking for a divorce after being happily married for 50 years. The Court ruled that they should talk things over and reach a compromise so that they can live together in harmony for the rest of their lives.

Jawahar, aged 64, has been divorced by his wife Seema, 68, after forty years of marriage. Seema’s lawyer claims that this is the first case of a client filing for divorce after being apparently happily married for four decades. Their marriage had seemed to be an excellent example of married bliss, but beneath the surface it was anything but curse.

Then there is Siddarth, a well known Bombay tycoon of 75, who is intent on divorce. His once “sweet, darling wife” now aged 68, has become a disgusting and horrible wife, according to him, just because she does not cook his favourite foods any more. He is looking for a matured wife who could cook according to his taste.

There are many more examples like those mentioned above. Is it a sign of a great social change underway in India? And is such a change causing people to value marriage much less than before? Have the religious-minded citizens of India become more demanding of marriage partnerships? It seems strange that it should be affecting the senior citizens of the country and not just the younger generation!

This craze of divorce in later life once belonged only to the western world. But the business of divorcing in later life is logical. It is the age at which the husband is retired, with a healthy bank balance. All his sons and daughters are settled. It is now just man and wife, left to get on by them through thick and thin. It is a time when they think more about themselves and their thoughts can be rather negative – after all, many find themselves with nothing much to do apart from carrying on life with each other.

Often, the disputes and differences have been there for a long time, but for the sake of their families they kept the peace and tolerated the situation. When the family responsibilities are over, the old people think only of themselves and minor issues quickly become major disputes, leading to one or maybe both partners wanting to walk away from each other and begin a new life.

If these same old married couples kept their children with them under one roof, they would never even think of separation. In other words, the departure of their children from the family home is often the catalyst leading to the divorce of their parents. Children are the glue that holds the relationship together; when they leave home, the empty nest syndrome can cruelly expose the differences between them.

More senior citizens are divorcing now than ever before. Present day children increasingly want to live separately from their parents. But the truth is that parents are safe in the presence of their grown up children and grandchildren, and have no time to become dissatisfied with their personal lives or contemplate separation.

Asking for divorce after staying together for several years is no good for either of the partners. Staying alone or going for the new life partner at the later age is hardly tolerable.


© H V Kerai


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