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So What If Malaika And Arbaaz Are Breaking Up? It's Good For Them!

30/03/2016 8:15 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Arbaaz Khan with wife Malaika Arora Khan during Ganpati immersion ceremony at his sister Alvira's residence, in Bandra on September 10, 2013 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

So it's official. Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Khan are 'taking a break' from their marriage after 18 years together. In their joint statement they mention that they are currently only separated and have not yet filed for divorce. They want to figure out things. They also emphasize that reports of Malaika approaching a lawyer is rumour, and that there is no third person in their marriage.

Now, whether or not you take them at face value or continue with the speculation is beside the point. What I want to say is that who are we to judge them? I was reading some Twitter reactions and found that not only were people shocked at the separation, they were shocked that it had happened after almost two decades of marriage.

This, of course, is part of a pattern. Every celebrity split, especially if the couple has been together for a while, is greeted with much tut-tutting and disapproval. Ending a marriage is a bad thing, most people think. They like to pretend that as long as a marriage survives on paper, all is well.

The truth is that nothing in life is permanent, including marriage. Marriage is a social contract, and every contract has a termination clause. While a life sentence handed down by a judge may have to be served until the bitter end, the same does not hold true for a marriage.

Ending a marriage is a bad thing, most people think. They like to pretend that as long as a marriage survives on paper, all is well.

A separation after two decades does not necessarily mean that the relationship was weak from the start and that the couple only figured it out now. I bet the couple had a true, loving and beautiful 18 years but with time things change. People change. Dreams, desires, expectations change. The best course then is to put to an end to a relationship that is getting stale and move on.

Saying that divorces signal towards a failure of the very institution of marriage is like saying that changing a job after several productive years at a company is a failure of the institution of employment. Yet, when CEOs of a company move on to do bigger things in another company, we celebrate. Why can't we look at marriage the same way?

A separation does not reflect loose morals. Cheating on your partner, subjecting your spouse to abuse, using marriage to uplift your social status--these are loose morals. Living in a stale marriage as a facade and sleeping outside of it signal loose morals, and countless couples do it. Just because a marriage does not end in divorce does not mean that it was a successful union.

A separation does not reflect loose morals. Cheating on your partner, subjecting your spouse to abuse, using marriage to uplift your social status--these are loose morals.

Divorce is dignified and legal.

It is little wonder that the two men insinuating Malaika is after money and this separation is merely an opportunity to chase a richer man are 'men's rights activists' and 'proud Hindu nationals'. Both waste no time in showing their blatant sexism on every possible occasion. If anything, Malaika is a far more successful person in the entertainment industry than Arbaaz. If money was on her mind, why would she waste 18 years in figuring out better prospects? Thanks to our great culture a divorce is always an occasion to judge and insult the woman, never the man.

There is nothing wrong in looking for a change in life, as change is the only constant. It is sheer madness to imagine that just because the state has put a legal stamp over a relationship it is beyond the scope of change; that it cannot evolve, improve, deteriorate or become boring. To use love and relationships as a social security, an investment scheme, a safety net in old age, is what is obscene and immoral to me.

Unless we change our attitude towards divorce in India we'll never have gender equality, because it is always the woman who bears the burden of a dead marriage...

Unless we change our attitude towards divorce in India we'll never have gender equality, because it is always the woman who bears the burden of a dead marriage in fear of being judged. A man in such a marriage feels free to move out without getting a formal divorce and enjoys other relationships, while the woman continues to take care of the children and lives a life of celibacy and sacrifice.

Finally, marriage is an institution to control property and women's sexuality. There is no great value in trying to preserve it. As long as it works, great. If it doesn't work, move on.

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