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Does the myth surrounding marriage really stand the test of time? What is the reality once the first flush in a marriage is over?
Once the ecstasy of the first few months wears out and the reality hits you, you find yourself very unprepared for what is lying in front of you.
If you had a love marriage, it is doubly difficult. During the courtship stage both the parties stay at their best of behaviour, but it is difficult to keep your tempers and difference of opinions in check 24/7.
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I have been married for a little more than three years now. And although, as per the ‘myth’ the first couple of years are supposed to be the most blissful, I believe they are the most difficult. Teething problems you can say. Trying to adjust to a new family, living with a person all the time under one roof – there are many things we don’t really think through.
My husband and I have hit some pretty deep lows in the last couple of years but have managed to pull, push, drag, help each other up. And mind you we have known each other for more than 10 years now and among them three were passed in courtship.
The problems opened my eyes to the fact that marriage was not at all a bed of roses. Being practical enough, I had always expected a few thorns, but probably not so many. However, as more time passes I believe the mistakes and the problems will lessen and we will find ourselves on firmer grounds.
All around me I hear almost the same story from my friends / acquaintances about being disillusioned after marriage. So, I decided to ask some women from different strata / different professions what they thought about marriage. Were they disillusioned or was their married life as beautiful as they had hoped for?
I have kept their words as is as much as possible. The only liberty I have taken is in translation and for editing purposes.
“And the prince and the princess lived happily ever after.” Her mom tells her a romantic story each night and she believes her. She eagerly waits to begin her journey with the man of her dreams, her knight in shining armor who will rescue her from the demons of the evil world and deliver her from sorrow and pain.
What no one tells you is that the happiness is an illusion in marriage, especially when you are the one who is expected to sacrifice your friends, family and often forced to forgo your right to property, surrendering your fate to a man you hardly know. Furthermore, you make the compromises, you forsake your right to make choices, and you are the one expected to serve the family as a faithful servant and nothing more.
Often also if you cannot satisfy your husband in bed or for that matter, your husband’s family by producing a male heir, you have the risk of becoming their punching bag. Often the happiest individuals are those who chose to remain unmarried.
I had seen her husband beat my mother almost every day of his life and when I got married I did not expect any different. Although my husband does not beat me regularly, but I am continually verbally abused by him for giving birth to three daughters in a row. I have never expected my husband to love me!
What we think of how our life would be after marriage is a lot based on the quality of relationships of couples we see around us. When we actually enter into a marriage things become a lot clearer. Where we had romanticized a lot of unnecessary things, a hoard of mundane things becomes romantic. We grow up and so does our relationship.
The reality is absolutely different from the dream of being married. The moment you marry someone you are bound to him and his family. You need to follow the crappy norms of that family. And then starts the series of compromises of a married girl and it is a never ending process.
If you have a supportive spouse, you are lucky, otherwise life becomes a struggle. A married girl needs to fight for even a small wish of her own. As the time passes by, the bride one day at last becomes the center of her family and that is how life moves on.
I have been married for the last 6 years; I have more late nights, and more weekend getaways than I had in my single-hood. I still go for all girls’ trips and, hang out with my friends.
My husband gives me enough space; he cooks (without asking) on the days I reach home late after my Zumba Classes, treats me with bed tea on Sundays.
My marriage is more than a dream fulfilled. I don’t have in-laws to make our lives easy or difficult, we don’t have babies yet who make lives more beautiful, we just have ‘us’. And it is indeed better than the myth I believed in 6 years back.
There is nothing called a ‘happily ever after marriage’. Marriage is a glass house. A pebble is capable enough to break it. Though things did not come crashing down in my case, yet it opened my eyes to reality. I realized we don’t just marry the person – we marry the family.
Even today, the status of a daughter-in-law is no more than a glorified slave. I had always imagined that my future husband would be my best friend – the person with whom I could share whatever I had in my heart. Unfortunately, I realized that post marriage, husbands cease to be the best friend you thought they would be.
What I had imagined before marriage did not happen. I was doing my BSc when I got married. I dreamt of having lots of freedom, belonging to a huge joint family I had hardly tasted freedom. One good thing about my marriage was that my husband used to work outside Kolkata. But still, I didn’t get a chance to go out of Kolkata till I was married for more than one and half years. I stayed with my in-laws, although my husband came to visit me regularly.
At last, when I went to stay with my husband, I already had my first born child in my lap. Where was the freedom I had dreamt of? Quoting Rabindranath Tagore, “My life was caught in the cycle of cooking and eating, and eating and cooking.” Over and above, for even little mistakes I was scolded, I could not go anywhere alone. He was a strict disciplinarian. I used to feel like a prisoner in a cell.
But at last one day I decided to count my blessings instead of crying over what I did not have. I enjoyed being a mother. Laughter, friendship, roaming around might be fun, but that is not all. I started finding the positive aspects of my husband, he was a genuinely good human being. Where he worked alcohol flowed like water, but he never tasted it and I feel proud of my husband even today. I slowly fell in love with my husband. I understood that my husband is not just my husband, but he is his parent’s son, and his siblings’ brother.
My eyes were opened to his true nature. He was cautious because he cared about me. He was wise, so he thought twice before plunging into anything. He was caring even though he did not know how to show it.
The day my father in law told me he had lost his mother in his childhood, but had found her back in me, I felt I had at last reached where I had to. My husband loved me more for accepting his family the way I had. And each and every sorrow of mine was turned into happiness.
Today we are both senior citizens, our kids are married and settled away and we have lots of time at hand. We gossip like friends, we watch TV, read, and yes, we still fight, but we are happy. And I have realized I am lucky to have him as my husband.”
The way I had thought of ending this topic was something like this – Romanticizing about marriage is just an advertising gimmick and I believe if we ask the men they too would agree with us. I wish someone would write a fairy tale that starts after “They lived happily ever after”!
But after reading some of the experiences and thoughts of other women I feel maybe there is still hope, but then again maybe these words are only strengthening the myth. But then again in spite of all our problems, I can’t say my husband is not supportive at all. He cooks for us since I hate cooking, he helps me with cleaning the house, he is proud of my achievements.
So, I believe it is all about a balance. We do get disillusioned, but it is not that the dream is completely shattered for all. Happiness in marriage might be a myth, but it does become true for some in different degrees.
Image source: Indian couple holding hands by Shutterstock.
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