From a Men’s Therapy Session One Afternoon

by Thomas Larson

It’s Monday, 1:45, and six men and I sit in a circle with our German-trained psychotherapist, an imperious woman who reminds us that she is here to help only if we get bogged down or offer guidance and that we men need to find our own way through our turmoil, which is the point of the group and the point of each of us paying $3000 per year. I’m fairly new, so before I speak, I’m seeking some level of comfort or commonality among us, and every week I come up short. I’m not yet adjusted and unsure what I should be adjusting to.

Obviously, I don’t know these men. And I doubt I’d associate with them outside this forum or be in a social situation where we’d meet. Case in point, the tanned man (our real names cannot be shared). The tanned man has the time-clocked sadness my father had at fifty-five, the greying hair above his ears, the loyalty to a global corporation and the ease of leveraged investments about him, a man who regards his goldenness as some golf-cart anhedonia, with his deck shoes, and his velour pullover, and his browning legs and white ankles and baggy, bluish shorts, and his marriage run aground, whose chassis has been scraping the gravel for a couple years now.

He says everything he’s tried won’t move the needle, that is, between him and his wife. The strangely placid woe he wears into our sessions I find disturbing; he always sits in the room’s lone hard back chair, best, he says, for his sofa-ruined back, telling us, as he did last Monday, that he’s still sleeping on the leather couch in the basement where she sentenced him (hard-on in tow, an adolescent bit of humor) and where nailed above the foot of the stairs a little plaque reads, I’m not kidding, “Man Cave.”

His tortured spine is no better, he says, even after a beach-walk and the treadmill, and yet he seems relaxed becoming, I presume, accustomed to us commiserating with his fraught condition, we his brethren therapists, though there’s wariness and worry in how often his legs cross and uncross as if this is a job interview: Why do I notice all this? Why can’t I concentrate on my own shit? I’ve got plenty of it, guy-wired in me and my partner, a problem with medications. Read more »

Public Display of Divorce

by Tara* Kaushal Heart-Break-Sahil-Mane-Photography

Breaking the taboo of divorce in largely conservative India. Conceptual image by Sahil Mane Photography.

A Bit of Background

Last year, I put up this status message on Facebook: “Today, the 15th of February, is the 10th anniversary of my first wedding. It's interesting how far both of us, my ex-husband and I, have come since our divorce in 2006. And how different life—lives—would have been if I had stayed. Oh, thank god!”

People have always asked me why I talk about my divorce, including this article featured in Mirrors across India a few weeks after I got remarried two years ago. I have several reasons.

I got married to Shiv when I was 19 and he was 30, back in 2003, when the world was different, I was different. After one failed attempt in July/August, we got separated in December 2005, when I moved to Mumbai, and divorced 10 months later.

First, a caveat. I spoke casually about being divorced much before I got remarried, much before I found love with Sahil. I spoke about it when I was down, devastated and broke; when I was single; to friends and strangers; and at job interviews. I even spoke about considering one the very first time I met a woman who is now a friend—a young divorcee herself, she said (and I remember this vividly), “Are you sure, Tara*? I find now that I am perpetually ‘ the Divorcee'.” I put that in right upfront, as I realise it could seem convenient to talk about it now, when all has turned out okay. For instance, though there were many years in between, my grandparents didn't tell anyone in Dehradun, the small town in North India in which they live that I was divorced until I got remarried (the veritable ‘happy ending').

[I realised this when I had gone for my granddad's 80th birthday celebrations a few years ago, only to be startled by questions of “Shiv kahan hain, beta?” “Aapke husband Indonesia se nahi aa paye?” (“Where is Shiv?” “Your husband wasn't able to come from Indonesia?”) That's when I pieced together the story they had been telling, or letting brew, partly grounded in the truth—my ex-husband is, indeed, currently in Indonesia, just with a different wife.]

Because of this, I've been asked this over and over, from the curious as well as the concerned ‘what is the need to wash dirty linen is public', I'll tell you why I speak about it.

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