ULUWATU CASES - Love in Bali

Eat Love Pray... and Run Away!

Love in Bali

I was twenty-seven years old when I first came to Bali, carrying a backpack and looking for an adventure. I found more than I ever wanted.

I fell in love with a beautiful Balinese girl, Ni Made Jati. Eventually we married, built a home and businesses, and had two lovely children. Her family brought me into the Hindu religion, and I accepted her family as my own.

But as our businesses grew, our relationship began to deteriorate, for reasons I couldn’t understand. Many marriages fall apart, for seemingly inexplicable reasons, so nothing unusual about that. And communications can break down to the extent that talking is impossible.

And yet ours seemed so devoid of reason and so impossible to discuss, so far beyond anything I could even recognize as either personal or cultural misunderstanding, that I was bewildered.

The reasons became clearer when she surprised me with an accusation of divorce in April 2005. The accusation claimed we had been married in a Balinese ceremony in 1996. The ceremony was fictitious. We were married many years earlier, in Los Angeles in 1985.

Yet as I tried to fight against the accusation, and realized the implications of the falsified marriage date, I found that nothing in our family, and nothing in Bali, was as it seemed.

It would be over a year before I discovered, from documents Made submitted to the court, that although her Balinese marriage documents were fictitious, she also claimed that there had been no marriage in Los Angeles under Indonesian law. Through twenty years of family life she had kept her secret --- that in her opinion, she was and had always been single!

And it finally dawned on me: if she claimed there was no marriage, then clearly, this was no divorce.