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“The struggle exists, at every level”, said a friend to me.
And there began my quest to get into his shoes and understand what is going on in the man’s mind. Now, let’s be honest. Everyone thinks it’s hard to decipher a woman’s mind but I must tell you it’s no joke for a woman to understand what goes in a man’s head too. A lot of books have been written to understand the opposite gender (not sex) but to me this particular instance with a friend threw a lot of light on this aspect being never discussed.
Confused? Well. Lets reverse the story a little. I have a lot of friends who are getting into the ‘married’ tag and during a discussion with one of my friends who is planning to get married too, I realized that need for a daughter-in-law is often being challenged by the need for a wife.
With the changing times (haha! Women stepping out for work), a man finds himself being questioned at every level just like a woman does. A lot of articles have talked about how the dual burden on women is taking a toll on them, on how women are out there taking the lead while handling homes too, on how women often are mistaken and how men need to be more supportive and help empower the gender and participate in creating a gender balanced society but I have nowhere read what issues a man faces at this point where on one hand he is trying to do what he has been told he was born for (support his parents) and on the same level have a wife who has an opinion., for whom her choices and points of view matter.
My recent stints with a lot of friends (males) who are planning to get married made me realize that they want a wife who has limited exposure. And while I question this very point of view, I recently realized that the problem is very much in upbringing. I mean, imagine this: a son is born in a family after two daughters and he has been pampered like he is some God. Since childhood he has been taught that he has to take care of the family and he is also given the best of education at the best of B-schools in India/abroad.
While he gets a job, he meets this amazing colleague who is gorgeous, has strong opinions and knows how to take the lead. He likes her, but what are the chances that he will marry her? The debate is not whether the girl will do household chores or not. The debate is that for him, getting a wife who knows her rights well, into a house where girls are not even considered as humans brings him to a point where at every level he reconsiders his choices, his likes and his future.
And believe me, there are many men out there who question this every time they think about the future. It’s not that women who are homemakers aren’t being questioned, but those who are aware definitely need more energy to be moulded. The debate is, does he want a girl who will be the ideal bahu or does he want an amazing wife? And while chances are that many women will end up being both, there is a strong chance that he fails in what he decides, leading to an unhappy married life, a daily drama.
I write this article as a woman who is a strong supporter of gender balance. I have grown up from being a daughter to a rebel to feminist to a human rights activist. And, trust me, I know there is a thin line between adjustment and sacrifice in marriage, I very well know that the lines are often crossed by both the partners in order to make it work.
So, as a man, if I find myself at a point where I need to balance the beta and pati angles in my life, I know I will be as confused as any woman will be struggling to find her stand in the debate. And this, today has reached a point where the very sanctity of marriage is being questioned because nobody of the two partners seem to find their stand to it.
I give it to the Indian society again which has raised sons and daughters in a way where they have to obey their elders rather for standing up for what they feel is right, logically. I mean, I know truth is very situational and right is very personal but I don’t think that our culture or society has anyway succeeded in raising their children to be logical. We do what our parents will like, our in-laws will appreciate and society won’t consider as alien. And while we have our exceptions, a majority of us still dwindle with this ‘what to do’ w.r.t marriage.
Currently, a lot of my male friends are also married. And I know how they dwindle with the saas-bahu drama. I know that they married these enterprising young women because they wanted to and now the only debate is the imbalance in personal life, the son-husband sides are creating havoc in their lives. I also know a lot of men who are planning to get married and when they look at this situation, they are scared rather than prepared for the future they will have as choices vs. duties situations pop up.
Do I have advice? No. Do I have an ending to this thought of mine? No. Do I see a root problem? Yes. But can we solve it? Maybe. Stepping in a man’s shoes, I realized that there are a lot of struggles that even a man goes through that make him question his choices vs. his duties. But at the end, what is important? Happiness? Peace? Make your choice, take a decision, you might fail but then at least you will be satisfied that it was your decision. Finding happiness after all, which is a state of mind, isn’t that easy.
May God Bless all the men around!
Pic credit: Zion View (Used under a Creative Commons license)
A Development Communication & Social Work professional working in the field of gender, health and
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