The Inner Thoughts of A Child Of Divorce – Kimmi Taknotyourwife1214
I’m 27 years old, a British Punjabi woman, I have a degree in business and economics (not relevant but my dad would never forgive me if I didn’t state the biggest thing he’s proud of)… and I’m a child of divorce.
I know, how dare I mention the forbidden D word (get your mind out of the gutters) but it happens. Divorce is actually pretty common worldwide, and even in Asian communities. Yet, for some reason, it’s still viewed as being this tragedy that we must avoid at all costs.
My parents had an arranged marriage in the 90s and were so totally mismatched that they were divorced 5 years later. The expectation that you were supposed to be with someone that you thought was just okay, but weren’t in love with, is baffling to me. But I guess that’s just how the Indians did it.
I was 2 years old when my parents split so the divorce never really phased me growing up. I spent every two weekends with my dad and all the time in between with my mum. It was normal to me and I only started to notice the differences when I got to my teens. Everyone assumed having divorced parents would be magical because it meant two birthday parties and two Christmas’ but in reality it was more feeling guilty over who I’m choosing to spend my birthday with and always upsetting someone in the family because I won’t be seeing them on Christmas day. The pressures of having to “pick” even when there’s no real choice, definitely taught me a lot of life lessons that I’m now grateful.
Although divorce is beginning to be talked about more in Asian communities (I hope with more empathy, and less gossipy tones), the idea of being a child of divorce is rarely discussed at all. When I hit the ripe marriage age at 25, I had a conversation with my mum, where she wondered if a potential Punjabi man and his family might not consider me as I’m a child of divorce even though both my parents are happily remarried and had been for some time.
My initial thoughts were “well fxck them” if they don’t… but then sure enough, I questioned it to. What if they had a problem with my parents being divorced? What if they accepted my mum and step-dad but weren’t so accepting of my dad and his family? Would my future partner be okay with splitting holidays with his family, as well as both of mine? As much as I’d like to say I’ll find a man who will love me with all my extra-baggage, I wonder if, in an Indian household, would he even be allowed to?
Although I’ve touched on the topic with dates, there is never a real answer. And I get that. It’s so foreign, how could they even know? One guy I dated said that his parents will probably have a slight issue with it but if we got to that stage, they’d have to accept it. I appreciated the gesture but how could I be sure that a family would be open minded about it? Do I want to be something that a family would have to be “open-minded” about?
Being a child of divorce is not something I’m ashamed of. I have been asked, more times than I can remember, if I could have my parents back together, would I? And the answer every single time is no. My parents are two great people. Two great people that were never meant for each other, other than to create me. I accepted that a long time ago when I began to view them as people, not just as my parents. And they’re so happy and content in their lives now, why would I want to change that?
However… if you gave me a magic wand and asked if I would go back and change certain situations? Absolutely. Although a divorce is between two people, it has a huge effect on all people involved, especially children. It shaped my view of relationships, of marriage, of myself and of men. And it’s taken a lot of much-needed therapy and coaching to overcome the hurdles.
Yet I am forever grateful.
My life experiences have only ever taught me things that help me become a better person, and with all that therapy, I’ve been able to see the perks. Guess who’s super sociable and can fit in all different social groups and settings as an outcome of having 4 immediate families and extended families? Guess who learnt empathy and how to implement healthy boundaries in her early twenties from all the coaching, which now helps with friends, family and in business?
(Side note: For those of you that are curious, my parents don’t speak unless they have to and, even then, it isn’t often at all. I did have one amazing super awkward 21st birthday dinner with my mum, step-dad, dad and step-mum all at one dinner table. I love that I had that experience, but I don’t ever want to go through that again).
So with all these questions and all these discussions, what’s the usual outcome that is suggested? Marry someone who isn’t Indian at all! And I get it. Other cultures are becoming more accepting of divorces and in some cultures, it’s not alien to be a child of divorce. But do I really have to give up my culture, heritage and traditions to find a man who will be okay with a choice that I had no say in?* Does this one thing mean I have to change the ideas of what I’m looking for in a partner? I’d like to think not.
I am a product of a two great people who just didn’t work out romantically. But I’m hopeful that there will be someone out there who will see me and my family for the loving, sometimes crazy, people that we are. I’m hopeful that I’ll meet my Punjabi man who will sit through two Christmas dinners (maybe even three) and do the rounds on Diwali because we want to make sure we eat a samosa at everyone’s house. Who will keep a mental (sometimes written) family tree to remember everyone’s names and who will embrace the beautifulness of having 4 families to laugh, love and argue with. I hope that he’ll see how my parent’s divorce shaped me into this person that I love so much today and without them, I just wouldn’t be me.
So here’s to hoping!
And if my future partner happens to be reading this, I have a copy of that family tree waiting just for you.
*there’s absolutely nothing to question about marrying outside of your race or religion. Love is love and if you’re happy then be happy. What more can you ask for in life? My preference is just what I want for myself and isn’t an indication of anything else x)
By Kimmi Tak