I got divorced and remarried, but that is not the problem, the society is

Published: July 15, 2015

The most ironic yet painful situation occurs when a divorced couple, especially two divorced individuals with children, move on and get married and how they tend to face the challenges set by our society in Pakistan.

A lot had been said and discussed about the stigma attached to divorce in our society, even on Express Tribune Blogs; hence I do not need to delve much into it.

The most ironic yet painful situation occurs when a divorced couple, especially two divorced individuals with children, move on and get married and how they tend to face the challenges set by our society in Pakistan.

I have been divorced, but lucky for me, I got married again and have been for the past five years.  He has a son and I have a daughter from our previous marriages. Both of us are educated, independent, and mature adults, thus we decided to move in together.  I’ll admit that the first five years were tough and it’s still a long road ahead for all of us. It’s not an easy task to merge families, especially when you have kids from the previous marriage; it was not easy helping our two children comfortably adapt to a new environment. We had to opt for co-parenting with our son’s biological mother. Furthermore, our cases regarding legal custody of our respective children were still pending in court.

But lucky for us, we had unconditional support from our close family members. Moreover, we decided to read some self-help books on how we could help our children adjust in new surroundings in the best way possible to help us nurture our own children.

Even though all the books we read about blended families were written by western authors, they addressed the challenges that our children were currently facing. The authors also discussed the problems stepparents can encounter in blended families, thus helping us understand each other and our situations better. These books also helped us resolve the issue of sibling rivalry amongst our children and enabled us to deal with the differences more efficiently.

But our family structure is not the problem here.

What these books failed to teach is how to deal with the perception and the attitude of our society, especially their curiosities. When one gets divorced, people in our society consider it their God given right to interrogate, judge and inquire the ‘real’ reason behind the divorce. They are never satisfied with reasons provided such as the couple weren’t compatible or one was emotionally/physically abused by their former spouse. Even if the divorce happened years ago, people still try to suggest measures that could’ve been taken to prevent the divorce in the first place.

Hence, how were we to function like a ‘normal’ family, after being labelled as an ‘unusual’ family by the people around us?

According to my personal experience, I thought managing the house was a challenging task, specifically blending two different families to make one cohesive unit. Nevertheless, the toughest part was and still is dealing and socialising with people, and by people I mean my old friends, new neighbours and even certain relatives. Making new friends is almost impossible now, as most of the women I come across do not accept us as a ‘normal’ family unit. The moment our domestic structure is revealed to them, their attitude completely changes towards us.

They inquire about the reasons behind our previous divorces, if we reminisce the past and miss our former spouses, even to the extent of inquiring about our former spouse’s life, whether they remarried or not. One of the most common statements we come across is,

 “Oh, your poor kids must be suffering.”

No matter how firmly we assure them that our kids are perfectly fine and have a loving and stable atmosphere than they would’ve been in our previous marriages, they are still not convinced.  Some even claim that my husband is a na mahram to my daughter and to satisfy their doubts, I end up quoting from the Holy Quran (Surah Nisa:23) to ease their objections. Even when it is proved that he is not an ‘evil stepfather’, they retort by saying,

“A real father is the biological father, no one can replace him.”

In such instances, I am forced to recall my past, how my former husband and in-laws were unhappy with the birth of my baby girl and the way they neglected her.

Furthermore, the common notion is that every stepmother is evil.  Hence, I assure them on how I’m aware that I’m not my stepson’s real mother, but I am a part of his life, a part that helps him become a better person and a part that treats him like a biological son. I can delve deeper on the fact that a stepmother can be loving and affectionate too, but that is not the notion being discussed here today.

People even tell us that we will not be rewarded for raising kids that aren’t ours respectively. To which we respond,

“No one gets awards for raising kids.”

Furthermore, it’s perceived that if we had failed marriages, we are proven to be fools incapable of marriage and the society has every right to teach us what we should do.

Our society needs to realise that a blended family can be as ‘normal’ as any other family and in some cases, even better than their own ‘normal’ families. They should understand that a step-parent in some cases can be more loving than a biological parent because he/she has made a choice to love the child like their own when they’re not bound to. Love, respect and care matters much more than sharing the same blood.

Most importantly, they should not apply their preconceived notions to every situation. One should learn to be non-judgmental, respectful, and open towards aspects which are not common to their knowledge.

Ayesha Ahmad

Ayesha Ahmad

The author is a homemaker who loves to cook and paint.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Abeer

    Our society has a sink mentality and nothing can change their idiotic conceptions.I hope you and your family have a blessed life together and there is nothing wrong in having a family even if it is not biological. If there is trust, love, understanding, maturity and compassion then your family is complete. Alahmdullillah.Recommend

  • Anon

    Very god article. Unfortunately the attitude in our society to divorce and remarrying is very counter productive, narrow minded and borderline criminalRecommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    The solution is to ditch all your old friends and make new ones. Why desis need so many nosey friends in the first place puzzles me.Recommend

  • Ramna Iftikhar

    You are right, here people are very curious in a negative sense which is very irritating, but just believe on yourself and do good.☺Recommend

  • anon0912

    The truth is we live in a society where children aren’t raised well in the sense if that he/she does something wrong,they get punished physically but they are never taught what they have done wrong and what they could do to rectify the situation.Eventually they grow up to be adults unable to differentiate between right and wrong.In our society you are probably seen as damaged goods and to be blamed for your failed marriage as the men here can do no wrong.The only thing you can do is keep your distance with these people and make new acquaintances who are more understanding.You seem like a good mom,don’t let these people drag you down.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Delicate subject nicely handled.Recommend

  • x

    Most people don’t have the courage to face or solve their problems so they prefer criticising others and advising them on their, real or perceived, problems. good on you guys, and believe me, even if you or your husband or daughter or stepson make mistakes or have problems, that’s just the way life is and families are. We make mistakes, learn, grow, have problems with each other, get over them. As long as a family is together and love and support each other =, that’s all that matters. Ignore the haters, for your own sanity and betterment.Recommend

  • Commemtator

    Time has come to admit it openly that Pakistan is a sick society that needs an urgent treatment. People here love to interfere in domestic matters of others as if it is their moral duty.Recommend

  • Shajia Zaeem

    In my point of view parents(even step) are the mentor of children they teaches everything.. Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    good for u girl. it’s time we teach men their place in life.Recommend

  • Annie

    Oh people do not spare anyone. My brother got divorced a few months back and relatives share things with us like ‘we’ve seen his ex wife somewhere and she was looking really happy as she had put on a bright lipstick’. They never leave you alone, they never let you move on.Recommend

  • Sane

    Forget what people say, do what is just and right for you. You and your family shall be successful. We are generally sick minds and enjoy even suffering of others.Recommend

  • Qiko

    People who claim that there’s no reward in raising your stepchildren could be referred to this:

    You will be rewarded for taking care of your stepchildren

  • Saj

    This was lovely.. “No one gets awards for raising kids.” Raising children is an often thankless task and the only reward one can hope for is to see the love reflected in their eyes.

    Its reassuring to know that at least some find joy in a life after divorce. What ever our circumstances or marital situation, to be happy, we must learn to immunize ourselves against what the society thinks. ‘They’ will never be happy, even if you do everything exactly as they ask you to do.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    The problem is we people are sick !! We refer to certain culture as Western, even if Islam address the problems straightforward. In such cases Islam is no more important to our people and their own brain becomes the judge. Although I love my country and its culture but we have very dark issues in our society. A raped girl is no more a victim. A divorce couple is completely no right to live any more. Every Aunty is going to nose around your personal problems……..In any case best of luck and good article…with an advice…do wht is important for you and don’t waste time explaining people…every time you will find that some one remains unhappy…..!!!Recommend

  • Anon12

    Our society is a huge problem due to various factors. One of which includes the upbringing of children. Yes children, not just girls. Our mothers do not train their sons regarding familial issues like they train their daughters. This is a serious problem. children should be trained about familial issues the most because they make up the society in the future.Recommend

  • Siraj Bashir Baloch

    After reading your splendid blog, I would like to say that we’r living a society where we don’t have any right to take decisions-better- for ourselves, but we appreciate you for this watershed. Day by day we’r going backward with stupid arguments. It’s the time to resist against such dull mindsets. If we continue silence then don’t expect for any positive change. Being as an educated citizens, its our responsibility to mobilize people toward favorable directions.Recommend

  • Junaid

    where the hell did she mention that men was the issue ? Society is the issue…read properlyRecommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    We are also in a similar situation, my wife has a daughter and I have a son and a daughter from our previous marriages. Interestingly we have no complaints from our society because we don’t try to explain or justify our situation to one of them. No need to explain to those who need explanation because they will never understand no matter how much you try to explain and those who understand do not need any explanation. Simply we are too busy in our lives, loving each other and our children that we do not have time for those who have all the time in the world. Be cool, live light and be happy. Recommend

  • Sudesh

    If you seek appreciation from the uneducated people who are incapable of understanding problems outside their own small world, then you are going to have a hard time. Make new broad-minded and educated friends who perhaps are in similar situations and can better understand what you are going through.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Don’t you think looking into a printed book with alien words, specifically meant for certain barbaric nomads in desert in itself a sign of utter in-confidence in oneself, ones own native culture, ones native ancestors? Ones who are completely in present moment will definitely make right decisions. Otherwise most of decisions are based on jugglery of ‘word” thoughts in superficial mind. When one transcend this superficial mind or mind itself then one makes good choices.Recommend

  • http://naveedtaji.wordpress.com/ Khawaja Naveed Haider

    That’s very interesting article. If we are one day able to cop up with this issue, i hope we would be very near to responsive society.Recommend

  • http://naveedtaji.wordpress.com/ Khawaja Naveed Haider

    You need to read before commenting…Recommend