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Every bride has to step outside her comfort zone once married; the least the new family can do for her is to accept and treat her with respect and equality.
Marriage is a ceremony that usually follows the betrothal of a young couple. The ceremony marks the unity of two individuals and their families.
The above definition of marriage sounds like a perfectly coordinated set of events, where the story ends with a ‘happily ever after’. The practicalities that entail this union are much grimmer, especially for the bride.
The coy bride,
The sweet and oh! So beautiful bride,
She leaves a loving and caring home,
What she is not told is to leave her dreams and pride back home.
The bride, in most cultures, is the ‘new member’. She leaves the comfort of her familiar home. She leaves almost everything that is her own. She not only begins a new life with the man, but more often than not, accepts a whole new family along with holy matrimony.
The new family tends to treat her as a stranger from a distant land right from the initial meeting and greeting to all times to come. The alienation begins from the moment the ceremonies begin and they continue with each passing day, barring the exceptions when the husband or the new family demands love, warmth, affection and absolute reverence! The already-alienated bride is then expected to shoulder responsibilities (sometimes more than she can chew) in areas such as household, professional and most importantly, reproductive. In this entire process, neither the in-laws nor the spouse seem to be mindful of the expectations of the ‘new member’.
From the very childhood, most Indian families begin preparing their daughters for the prospect of future alienation that marriage entails. They share anecdotes pressing hard on acceptable social behavior, norms for the new bride, and the effervescent stride with which the bride is to take everything that comes to her. If one were to view this from an optimist’s perspective, these would seem like sound advice where the lessons of patience, adjustment to new surroundings and unfaltering respect towards a ‘new family’ are preached.
On the other hand, the lessons preached to our men/husbands/sons-to-be may have the soundness of respecting your wife, respecting monogamy, but the most impactful of all advices is the one that iterates the need to ‘be a man’.
Not only is the process unfair in its outlook, but also it is sometimes pathetic in practice. The battles to be fought are too many. The alienated bride does not even have the refuge of ‘being at home’, because that’s where all the battles are lost. The abundance of duties and responsibilities mound her heart and mind alike. The stress begins to seep in and the health of the mind and body deteriorates. The bride continues to struggle to make ends meet. She struggles in her smiles. She struggles at work. But all that she is greeted with is that ‘women have it easy’!
This article does not aim to allege or generalise all husbands or in-laws. It is an attempt to give some food for thought to the new families and their distant relatives around the unfair behavior meted out to the ‘new member’. Challenge after challenge comes until the bride is either tamed or accused of not being well-raised.
The bride leaves one home to make another. The least the ‘new family’ could do is to provide the same love and respect it extends to one of their own. The nourishment of the mind and soul is as necessary for the ‘new member’ as it is for you. Be mindful. Be fair.
Image of a bride’s hands via Shutterstock
Shruti is a Sociology graduate from Miranda House. She pursued a management degree in HR
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