Almost all of the narratives touch upon the pressure put on them by their families aside from the pressure by their partners, and occasionally portrayed their families as the support group of the man who doesn’t want to get divorced.
Back door of the nest
It might be more accurate to conjure up the metaphor of a female bird digging up a second door at the back of the nest rather than the one destroying it, if one takes into account Delphy’s point that divorce is not an act of dismantling marriage as an institution but instead one that takes place in its presence.
While emphasizing women’s oral history, Gluck (1977) mentions that each woman has a rhythm of her own. The narratives revealed the rhythms that are unique to each woman, without setting aside the “social rhythm” (Vaughan, 1990) that influences all the steps in the process: how they decide to get divorced, how they get divorced, what kind of reactions they get and how they cope with these reactions.
Almost all of the narratives touch upon the pressure put on them by their families aside from the pressure by their partners, and occasionally portrayed their families as the support group of the man who doesn’t want to get divorced. As a matter of fact, we can say that the divorce experience has transformed into a field where the private and public patriarchy unite against women. I believe that, in a society where traditional patriarchy continues to define and weave the web of ideal relationships, shedding light on women’s struggle to attain divorce is as valuable as expressing the disadvantages it raises for women. In fact, each narrative emphasizes the importance of understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each decision as an individual as well as demonstrating that marriages can generate a second father figure which is embedded in the person of the husband. But some narratives describe divorce as a field of confrontation with the father. Above all, this reveals the importance of understanding how women make meaning out of the divorce experience as actuators and their efforts to get divorced.
Confronting the father and divorce as a success story
Women who came to know their fathers as the sole decision-making mechanism all their lives, had confronted their fathers instead of their partners during the divorce process. Even though divorce is seemingly an experience between the partners, it can also be the only way of confronting the father’s role as the decision-maker. Meltem Mahinur’s story is a distinct example of this possibility.
For Meltem Mahinur, the psychological development of her children who were scared of her fights with her husband constituted one of the most important factors while making the decision to get divorced. When she shares her decision with him, he suggests separating their rooms. She rejects this offer saying “Am I going to perform the same wifely duties? I will. Will I cook for you? Yes. Will I be fulfilling my duties as a mother? I can’t do this Tahir. We need to end this.” When her husband’s family finds out about her decision, they take her to some clerics, and she doesn’t oppose, because she hopes to convince them in a way that they can understand. When she starts looking for a lawyer, the situation she is faced with is similar to her husband’s family’s reaction:
I came here, looking for two lawyers. It was very interesting that one of them said take this girl home, doesn’t she know how hard it is to be a divorcee at twenty-eight in this society, when you’re at an age to get married. He said take her home, and he wasn’t saying it to my face, he was saying it to the relatives who accompanied me, take her home… I’m an individual, right there, just say it to me, tell me what the difficulties are, and I’ll tell you why I made this decision. Yet, he didn’t, and he was talking to the others who were with me, I left there and went to find another lawyer. (Meltem Mahinur)
This was a striking memory since it illustrates that the recognition of a legal right can be rendered irrelevant if the appropriate setting for its implementation does not exist. Meltem Mahinur described her experience with another lawyer later as follows:
He sat me down and talked in a fatherly manner, he said, my dear girl, you’ve decided to get divorced, it is a very difficult decision to make, but even the worst decision is better than indecisiveness, it is very difficult, do you have the courage to stand behind your decision? I asked, how, what do you mean? He said, I mean, it’s 1988 and a woman wants to separate from her husband, and also wants to get it done here, in a province, you’ll get a divorce, it’s not easy to be a divorcee. He asked; besides you have two children, do you have the courage to overcome these challenges? Because you’ve made a hard decision, he said. I said, Ahmet Bey the anxiety I feel at home is worthy of fifty divorces. It’s worth it, I’m miserable enough to go through fifty divorce cases, I said. Then it’s up to you he said, he was the only one that understood me that day. (Meltem Mahinur)
While Meltem Mahinur tries to realize her decision, her husband’s family invites her stepfather to convince her to back down. But before that, her uncle who is also her father-in-law tries to convince her:
[Father-in-law] said please my dear daughter, imagine that I asked you to drink a glass of poison for my sake. They expect me to drink poison to sustain my marriage. I said, my dear uncle, I have never been disrespectful to you so far, but you forced me to get married even though you knew that I didn’t want to, and yes, I ended up having two children, and I’m determined to end this marriage, I would have ended it even if I had ten children, because I can no longer stand being in the same room with your son, not even for one more second. I said, I’m at a point where I can stab your son just for asking me to sit somewhere else. I asked; will you be able to bear the responsibility; will you be able to say that, yes, I asked her to drink the poison, I’m to blame for this. He was petrified, of course he had nothing to say. (Meltem Mahinur)
Her stepfather arrives following this conversation and this time she has to confront both her stepfather and father-in-law (who is her biological uncle ):
They invited my stepfather to sit me down and convince me, so he came. And I still remember that day vividly, I’ve taken a Diazem, because I was a nervous wreck; imagine you’re filing for divorce and you’re up against all your family members, the whole society. I took some Diazem and told them half an hour later that I could talk to them. I went up to talk to them, meaning to my father-in law and stepfather, and by the way we were again in that house in the village, the wooden house. There’s a portrait of my [biological] father and mother taken at their engagement ceremony on the wall; and we would always take that down prior to my stepfather’s visits out of respect, so that he wouldn’t see my mom with my biological father, we would hang it back after he leaves. This time, I didn’t allow them to take that picture down. I said, it’s going to stay there. The picture was up, I sat them down and said, now we can talk. I said daddy, yes, you’ve raised me, and my God bless you for that, but when I was eighteen you quit being a father by taking your paternity cost from these people. He asked, how come. I said, yes, that’s what they told me −my uncle was there as well−, they said that you’re no longer my father and they’ve paid for my paternity cost, and that this guy (pointing to the picture) was my father, he was petrified at that moment. I asked them; didn’t you say you’ve purchased my father’s paternity rights, and he has no say on me, why did you invite this guy, who is the guy here? Is he here as my father? Is he here to perform the fatherhood you’ve already paid for? Both men were dumbfounded. They started to talk amongst themselves, saying that I didn’t need a lawyer since I was doing a good job at defending myself and they threatened me. They were saying they could shoot me down with half a bullet, that a whole bullet would be too much for me; my stepfather had a gun in his hand since he was a police officer. I said, honestly, go ahead, I don’t care if you need a half or a quarter of a bullet, this is over… I’ll be building my own life from now on, I’ve lived to please you father until I was eighteen, according to your values; and you got me married, saw it fit. I’ve been living to please this community, this family for the past decade, from now on I’m going to live as I want. Sorry about that. (Meltem Mahinur)
It’s important to note here that Meltem Mahinur did not confront her husband but her own experience with fatherhood. Considering her living circumstances, the only way she could do this was through her decision to divorce; she challenged fatherhood, the decision-making mechanism that has shaped all her life. Furthermore, we can also consider other authority figures −for instance as a lawyer figure in this narrative− appearing in different forms in other stories as the social representatives of fatherhood.
Just like Meltem Mahinur, Halime was struggling to get divorced; but we can say that she was sustaining her marriage to end it at a convenient time. She had decided to get a divorce years ago, when her first child was borne; but her mom convinced her not to do so:
My family had already abandoned me, I was on my own, living my fate. They were thinking that I’m better off getting beaten by my husband, raising a child as long as I didn’t come back to their household… I said, I can’t take it anymore because he is beating me, then they advised me and said you should behave like this and that. I said, he is treating me badly, he is making my life miserable; they said we’ve also suffered because of our mothers and fathers in law. My mom said, what about children, abandon your child and come back here. What kind of a mother says that? How could I leave my child behind? …. I thought to myself, anyway, my mother doesn’t look after me, my father doesn’t look after me and imagine I’m their daughter, anyway how upset I was with them, I still am. I don’t know if they were looking out for my happiness, or I don’t know what they were thinking, but they didn’t want me to get separated. I still didn’t figure out why they didn’t want that, but I said to myself be patient Halime. (Halime)
But she makes the decision after years −which by then she had to give up on− upon meeting an old friend who was working as a civil servant. She starts making crafts and voluntarily paying for her insurance upon her friend’s recommendation:
I told my friend about it, and she said, you should start by insuring yourself, you can get health benefits and retire, and it was like I suddenly had an epiphany… I retired thanks to my friend Müşerref, may God give her a long life. I was making crafts until three, four in the morning, and I was having the shakes every month, I was making ends meet with that limited money and paying for my insurance. (Halime)
She decides to get divorced a while after she retires, on a day that her husband uses violence against her once again and she leaves home:
Then I came to my family home, said to my mother and father crying… I can’t take it anymore, I’ve had enough of it, I don’t want to live this life, I decided to get separated, we’ve led separate lives under the same roof for thirty years over a dysfunctional marriage, but I don’t have the strength anymore daddy, I said. My father said, ok my dear daughter if you decided to do so, get separated … I swear to God, I was crying every night, my pillow was always wet. I was going to educate my children, I was determined, I decided that I’m going to do it on my own, that my husband was no good, then I got public insurance, and I had promised God that I was going to get separated after I retire. I was telling God that I will eventually get separated, meaning I was talking to him …. saying my dear God… I will retire, send my children off to school and then make the decision to get separated. I’ve realized all my plans, one by one and was successful in the end. (Halime)
During our interview, I felt like especially those last words were reminiscent of a business meeting. Just like Halime, a lot of women had sustained their relationships to end them at a convenient time. Besides, considering that Halime was sent back home by her family every time she had left, we can surmise that her having personal income such as a pension might have influenced her family’s acceptance of the divorce.
Aysel decided to get divorced over a complicated process laden with violence, however the situation turned into a confrontation precisely because of its characteristics. After her husband sells each and every single item in their household, they move into her mother-in-law’s place, but then her husband decides to sell that apartment as well. Following a fight her husband had with his mother, Aysel tries to calm her mother-in-law. Her husband scolds her for interfering in his business, and Aysel decides to get separated that night:
[So after all] … I wasn’t recognized at all. I mean if I were, I wouldn’t be beaten so many times, subjected to so many offensive comments right in front of my child. He was saying such nasty things to me while my child was around. Aydın was asking me, mom what does that mean, and I wasn’t able to explain him. So, after he started school, the first thing he did was to get a dictionary. He found that word in there, told me, see this is what it means … And as a matter of fact, after he uttered that word that day, I filled my essentials in a bag −not even in a luggage−, put them in there, and decided to leave … He took all my stuff, my underwear and threw them down the staircase, my underwear was spread around. I was so ashamed, so ashamed, I felt like I immediately had to take them away before anyone saw them, as if I did something immoral. I rushed down the stairs, picked them up, filled them into the bag, and when I came up to the door, it was locked. They didn’t open the door for me, his mom was begging, saying let the door open … I was locked out, but I didn’t make a lot of noise, because I was worried that people would see me at the door … I was waiting in the dark, thankfully there was no one around in the building, because it was late, there was no one around. Yes, as I said, it was really late, around one thirty-two at night, the door opened slowly, I knew it was his mom. She said, come in my daughter, he fell asleep … anyway, I spent the night there and left the next day, and that was it … I filed for divorce, apparently, of course, he was enraged when he received the summons … he came to my work, said that he wants to meet. I said that we can’t do that at the workplace, there is a park nearby, you should go and wait there, I can only come during the lunch break, I can’t talk to you at work right now. I sent him off, went there during my lunch break, asked, ok what do you want to talk about. So, he said, let’s get back together, this time everything will be as you wanted; but I never wanted anything. I only realized it when he said that; I never asked for a thing until that day. I didn’t ask anything from him, even though he was beating me, I never even asked why he was doing that. I was only making it a matter of pride while breaking down inside, developing a grudge, saying to myself, I will leave him one day and that will be it. I thought that I’ll be punishing him by leaving him and as if that would make us even. I didn’t ask him until that day; he was drinking a lot. I used to ask why he was drinking that much when we first got married, and he would get mad at me, then I stopped doing that as well, I was no longer asking why he was drinking that much. I would get beaten up, not talk to him for days, but I should have talked about him behind his back. Why were you beating me? I was only asking that since I kept hearing really, really nasty things from him, I was saying that I was hurt because of his nasty words … So, I asked him, what will be as I wanted, he said, everything, I said, I didn’t ask for a thing. I didn’t ask for anything from you till now, neither for clothes nor for food, because he would never bring anything home, not even bread … He said, we’re selling the house, finally they also had to agree … and let’s put my share into your account. As you wish, let’s rent a place, and you decorate it as you want. It was really weird; I was shocked at that moment … I said that this was our last fight, you told me that I can’t get involved in your business, that I had no say in this household, who are you to get involved, and that was the reason behind our breakup, I will never accept that. I said that I made the right decision, I’m divorcing you no matter what, you threatened me so much until now, perhaps you can do some of them and can’t do some, I have no idea, but I’m ready for anything. (Aysel)
The participants expressed the heterogeneity of the emotions and reactions caused by divorce in manifold ways. For example, Yaprak described her first divorce experience as follows:
I got married and divorced, and I was proud of that … I enjoyed something about announcing everyone that I got divorced. My mother was asking; you are only twenty-two, really young, why do you keep telling everyone that you got married and divorced? I thought that there’s nothing more important than that, it’s something you would even put in your CV, that I got married and divorced, I was married for a while and got divorced … So even though I wasn’t sharing the details, I started sharing this fact with people … I wove a story … as if I’ve been through an onerous ordeal just like the War of Independence … I declared myself my own hero. (Yaprak)
Reyhan shared a similar anecdote:
I didn’t regret my divorce, not even for a second, I even feel very fortunate that I got divorced, every day … After that [the case], I immediately went to the registration office, imagine that we got divorced at half past eleven, I was at the registration office at twenty to noon, it was right next to the courthouse anyway, I was there, at the registration office. I told the guy that I wanted to change my id, that I got divorced, they said OK, and immediately started the process, but I wasn’t listed as divorced. I was asking how come, I got divorced. He finally asked when I got divorced, I said around ten minutes ago, everyone in the room burst into laughter. They were like, how come ten minutes ago, that my documents had to arrive first. We got divorced on September 11th, and I received the papers declaring my divorce on December 7th. The first thing I did that day was to change my id. I mean, it was like that. (Reyhan)
These narratives show that the impact of the divorce and the reflections on it may differ; and it might turn into a celebratory occasion or a field of confrontation.
Convincing the husband to get divorced and receiving the children’s support
Another common point between these narratives is that participants had to convince their husbands, and one thing the participants underscored frequently was that they had dealt with this process through their ability to pretend.
Buket’s narrative is only one of the many that epitomizes this situation. When she started talking about her divorce process, her first sentence −after self-reflecting− was “What do I want from a man, what do I expect from a marriage, I got married without asking myself these questions.” Afterwards, even though she realized that she can’t sustain this marriage from the second day, she said that she wasn’t able to step back and get divorced because she was afraid of her family’s reactions. When she decided to get divorced years later, her son first reminded her the motherly duties and stopped her because he didn’t want to change his set-up since he was studying for the university exams. Thinking that she won’t be able to find the opportunity to implement her decision to get divorced any other time, she got legally separated with her husband, but decided to stay in the same apartment until his son’s university exams:
I said, don’t worry about it, we’re the only couple to leave the courthouse hand in hand after a divorce case. Honestly, I convinced him by humoring him, keeping on the right side of him, providing him everything including sex even though I was disgusted, and pretending. Then after the court’s decision there is a period for fifteen to twenty days when you can waive the decision, and a following reclamation period, so I waited patiently for those to end … I wasn’t able to stomach and get over the fact that I was treated like a slave, if I could, I would have sustained that marriage until I died (Buket).
It appears that the pretense to be a happy wife, one among many of a woman’s duties
can turn into an effective tool for convincing the husbands during the divorce phase. But we should also note that husbands who know that they’re the party to be convinced, demand various things. For example, Reyhan was only one of the many women who got divorced through this kind of agreement:
It was really funny, so we got divorced and left the courthouse, he gave me some money to go to the market. We lived in the same house for a month, that’s how we actually got divorced. His brother was about to marry his eighth fiancé, so they didn’t want our divorce to be out in the open, of course thinking that Fatma would also leave Aziz [her husband’s brother]. That was our agreement for the divorce. We danced during that wedding, performed, it was like that. (Reyhan)
It might be absurd to imagine a woman −who got divorced for being subjected to violence− dancing joyfully with her ex-husband at a wedding right after. But considering that domestic violence is a notion that is normalized by the state and society, we can realize that women don’t have any other means of coping with the life-threatening situations aside from their own resources. Thus, what we find absurd is nothing beyond bleak reflections of dire deficiencies and corruption.
Another aspect that stood out was the children’s active role in women’s planning and realizing the divorce. Unlike the case in Buket’s narrative, most participants stated that they have received a lot of support from their children during the divorce: For instance; Hale’s process of making the decision to get divorced and telling it to her husband is an explicit example in this regard:
We sat down at the table, Gökhan said; dad we want to talk to you … I wasn’t speaking at all … he said, dad, this is it, I don’t want my mom to cry anymore. Because lately I was crying right here, by this window every night from two-two thirty till the morning … I forgot about it, it’s in the past, but I never forgot Gökhan’s words, because I was so nervous, concerned that he [the husband] might do something to start a fight … he talked and talked, all was well, it was over. I said to him, let’s give each other some time, maybe I’ll feel better after a year, because right now I’m shaken, I’m constantly crying. I was crying over everything, unable to do anything by myself, in a state of panic, I was nervous, constantly afraid that he might pick a fight … then I said, maybe we’ll get back together in the future, I was deluding him. (Hale)
The interesting thing about Hale’s narrative is that most part of the confrontation was had by her son, who was an adult by then, starting college. Considering that her ex-husband respected her son the most, it’s not surprising that he was the best person to express the pain the marriage was causing Hale. As a matter of fact, he was the only one able to stop his father from getting angry, at least to calm him down. If we take into account that Hale was unable to do anything by herself due to her severe anxiety, it’s understandable that she resorted to the support of the person she was closest to, as well as to pretending.
Just like Hale’s, in many of the narratives, we see that children openly support women’s decision to get divorced. For example, Nur also found the strength to deal with the process through her son leaving for the military service and his financial and emotional support. She makes the decision to get divorced and takes the necessary steps to realize it upon her husband refusing to send their daughter to college, asserting their financial difficulties. She stands against this, in a way confronting him. Nur makes plans to cover her daughter’s education expenses, and starts attending KOSGEB trainings secretly, she succeeds through her son’s support, and leaves home:
I had five thousand liras at the time, I hit the road with five thousand liras, and, I attended the classes at KOSGEB. I didn’t tell him; he was sleeping at home. But I had so much rage in me, so I told him that I’m going to İŞKUR classes, to İŞKUR, that’s where I’m going. I said, please, I’m begging you get a job, I’m going to send my daughter to school, she’s going to go to college. I mean, can you get by with a pension? Is it possible? We had a decent living standard, we were never too rich, but it’s not easy to send a child to school, because I knew what it took to send one. Anyway, he wasn’t responsible, he was careless, untroubled, he has been carefree all his life. If Nur took care of things, it all worked out, but he shouldn’t brag about doing things, sending children to school just because he gave me some pocket money. Then I received the necessary support from KOSGEB. By the way my children are my best friends, they’re my team. So, my son knew everything and so did my daughter, she was there at home. My son graduated from college, immediately went to military service, and decided to serve as a third lieutenant. He said, I’ll get you an investment loan, but please mom, start this business, please … I didn’t have the strength, had no money, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent. I found a very small place, seventeen square meters, I rented it for six hundred liras, this was as much as I could get from KOSGEB. I didn’t know anything about stores, I worked really hard, like crazy; so many details flooring, walls, lighting and KOSGEB wasn’t covering those. I didn’t know any handymen, the neighborhood, I lived outside the city for twenty five years, I had never set up a shop in my life, never did any of those things. Then in all this hustle, I renovated that store. Then I said, I’m going to Istanbul, my sister and her family were headed there, I said I’m going with them to visit. I went there, looked at the products, of course I was observing things while going around with them, making observations, thinking what I can do, I had to do something, I was thinking about opening a café or a call center on paper, because of my previous job. But when I found out that these would be more costly, people around me started saying that there are a lot of chubby women having a difficult time finding oversize clothes, that there is such an industry. I researched online, wanted to make a special place just for them and made this decision … I rented the shop, my son took out an eight thousand lira loan for me while he was at the military, that’s how I opened that shop with that eight thousand, then I got as much as I can from KOSGEB, as a donation of course, they covered a few thousand. Meanwhile, my daughter got into college with a fifty percent scholarship, it was in Istanbul just as she dreamt, And then I invited him [the husband] to the opening of the shop, and can you imagine that we were living in the same apartment? We were living in the same apartment, I was running around every day, but the guy had no idea. The man had no idea! Do you know what he told me? How many days did it even take you to do these, that’s why I don’t know. I broke up with a person like that. He said, now it’s done, I can sit by the cashier. I divorced him because of his unlovingness and selfishness … I opened this place, sent my daughter off to college, we were still at the same apartment, and I made the decision to get divorced, why would I keep bearing him? Because by then I was also reading a lot of books, I knew what that unhappiness was doing to my interior, I believed that I was going to die because of my troubles, but my two children needed me, he was no good for them. I knew I had to start a new life, it was like a volcano erupted in me, I hit the road to get my lost years back. They stole my life; it was all because of my mom. An unhappy marriage was built, they stole my ideals, my whole life and I decided to get it back at age forty-five, forty-six. I’ve been carrying on this struggle for the past four years, when I decided to get divorced, he came down with guns, I said, ok if he’s going to hit me, he will hit me; I’ll be gone with a single bullet, I didn’t care anymore. Because I did two great things that I wanted to do, I made my children graduate from school, handed them their inheritance. First, I went to the doctor, told him that I can carry on with my marriage once this rage is over … we had nothing common, not a thing! My doctors confessed what I couldn’t confess to myself, prove to myself. When I told him, there was an uproar, but I was so clear. Obviously, you had to consider your mother and father, we were living in a small town, but I was at a point where I wouldn’t listen to anyone, because I was never happy with what I’ve heard, I decided to go ahead without listening to any of them. I gave them an ultimatum, I told them I’ll never talk to you if you meddle with my life, including my mom and dad. My son had come back, my daughter told me to end it, that it was enough when he tried to beat me and my daughter. This was three or four years ago, he said, end it please end it, but of course I had no social security, neither in life nor in the law, I wasn’t recognized in the law, I had no place (she takes a deep breath and exhales), and this is why women sometimes can’t get divorced. They have nothing to hold onto. The first thing my son said when I told him was, mommy you are worlds apart, I also know what you’ve been living through over the years; my daughter was already saying, go ahead and end it immediately. But I still considered her to be young, she was eighteen, whereas my son had come back from the military, he said, mommy end it, I know why you’ve stuck around for years, don’t think about us, now we can recognize these things. Then one day I told him −things were clear by then, obviously the doctor visits, therapy sessions took months− that my decision was clear, and as of the next day either he had to leave the apartment, or I would, but one of us had to go. Of course, he said, why would I leave, what would I do, where would I live, who would take me in, I can’t live on the streets. I had put up with him for twenty-six years. He said, I can’t go anywhere, everything belongs to me, where would I live. Which one of us was the man? I realized it was the right decision once again, I was sick of being the man of the household. I said, if I were the man of the household, if he had loved me, I would put up with him. But it didn’t make any sense for me to stick with someone that didn’t even love me. I said, then I’ll leave in the morning and next day I took my bag and left. He came by the door to say goodbye.
-Where are you going?
-To my work. (Nur)
Sevil was one of the few participants whose children were at primary school when they made the decision to get divorced, but she was happy to receive her son’s support even though he was very young at the time:
I got divorced at the first hearing, because I was right … my son was very happy about it (more than anyone), we shouldn’t forget that; he was so happy, why would a child enjoy her mother and father getting separated? My older sister told him because I couldn’t … she asked him, would you be happy if your mom and dad got separated? He said, honestly aunt, I’ve been here for ten days, and I’m rejoiced over it; my father is not breaking stuff, I don’t see him. He was a smart kid he said, ok he’s my father, but at least I don’t hear nasty words around here, at least I sleep with a peace of mind, not with fear. At least my mother doesn’t take me to the neighbors when he shouts, she doesn’t go somewhere else, my mom leaves in the morning, she goes to places she wants, whenever she wishes, she leaves again to go to work, but I’m peaceful here. If my father were to take me, then things would be bad, I can’t make it there, please tell my mom to take me, he said. (Sevil)
This is very important considering the presence of a popular wisdom asserting that divorce is bad for children by nature. According to the long-term research conducted by Furstenberg and Kiernan (2001), divorce’s impact on children is shaped through factors such as timing, children’s gender, and parent’s behavior. Thus, the two scholars warn us against putting the blame on divorce completely and underscore the importance of differentiating the consequences of the conditions prior to the divorce and the conditions created by the divorce. As a matter of fact, couples who hurt each other during the marriage might have also hurt the child’s development. The theories inherent to the economic, psychological, and sociological perspectives Furstenberg and Kiernan emphasize argue that children can only be hurt when the marriages in which parents collaborate to raise the children end. But none of the narratives included such a collaborative relationship between the parents. Furthermore, two participants praised their husbands’ fatherhood for not meddling with the way they raise their children. In fact, one can say that all of the narratives affirm Delphy’s (1976) arguments. If we had to briefly summarize Delphy’s arguments, we can say that he considers marriage and divorce as two sides of the same coin when it comes to childcare, and he emphasizes that in both cases men are exempt from these responsibilities. At this point I would like to note that according to the research conducted on violence with the support of Bernard van Leer Foundation in 2014, men take less responsibility both in terms of domestic work and childcare. Thus, we can argue that this situation is not particular to the participants’ cases. As Bernard (1982) points out, having a child transforms the marriage into a family. Thus, popular wisdom serves the institution of the family which can enable violence in the name of protecting the children and mask it behind the veil of its sanctity.
I find it fruitful to end this part through Bohannan’s words that invite us to question ideas that seemingly serve children’s needs:
There is a traditional and popular belief that divorce is ‘bad for children.’ Actually, we do not know very much about it. […] if the child’s way of dealing with the tensions in the emotional divorce if his parents is to act out criminally, he has turned to delinquency. But other children react to similar situations with supercompliance and perhaps ultimate ulcers. The tensions in divorce certainly tell on children, but the answers the children find are not inherent in the institution of divorce. The more fruitful question is more difficult: ‘How can we arm children to deal with themselves in the face of the inadequacies and tensions in their families, which may lead their parents to the divorce court?’ At least that question avoids the scapegoating of parents or blaming it all on ‘society’ – and it also provides us a place to start working, creating new institutions. (Bohannan 1970, 48-49)
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For the original in Turkish / Yazının Türkçesi için:
Translator: Gülşah Mursaloğlu
Proof-reader: Müge Karahan