Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
A married woman is always in a fix. Right from the day of her marriage, she has to make a choice, and whichever way she chooses, she is left in a pool of guilt.
To escape the guilt of leaving her mother-in-law alone at home, she chooses not to go out with friends and ends up feeling guilty about ditching her friends. She feels guilty about leaving her child at home and going out to work. She feels guilty for taking even a short coffee break at work and not saving that time for family instead. If she gets burdened with work, she feels guilty for running late for home.
Not just working mothers, even SAHM and housewives fall prey to this guilt. A married woman feels guilty of not being able to make frequent visits to her parents who stay in the same city as hers, just because she is all tied up taking care of her in-laws and children. When she cooks food of her child’s choice, she feels guilty for not cooking her husband’s choice and either way she never considers her own choice to be important.
In some women the sense of responsibility and principles is deeply ingrained and others are constantly judged through a kaleidoscope of expectations. Most of the times, a married woman is made to believe that she is not doing enough for the family. Even after being available 24×7 for the family, a woman is still made to believe that she could have done more. Every minute, every second she gets to hear “Agar aise kara hota toh zyada acha rehta” (It would be better if you had done it otherwise).
The irony of the situation is that she becomes so easily available to everybody that in-spite of being an integral part of the family she is not valued enough. Her own family starts taking her for granted and her presence becomes oblivious to everyone else around. Hence it is important to draw a line between being available and too available. And here are a few steps we should keep in mind:
This is the biggest success mantra of a peaceful life. Most of the times we believe that working as per family’s desire would not invite clashes and hence a peaceful life is assured. Sadly that is not the case. Somewhere we are working against our ideologies which haunt us later in the life.
It is very important to express your discomfort in accepting something that is not being done your way. It might result in clashes initially but will help in putting the right expectations from the beginning and hence a peaceful life later on.
Every time your husband or child calls out your name, you rush down to them without realising that you were in midst of typing a message/ mail or making some curry or arranging your home. Most of the times you skip lunch with your colleagues or party with your friends, just because you were required at home for some reason or the other.
This attitude of a married woman makes her family believe that she has all the time for the family. The family in turn presumes that there is no harm if she is not informed about a plan well in advance because you will anyway tweak your schedule as per their desires.
It is very important to make your family realise and appreciate the fact that even if you are at home 24×7, your time is as valuable as anyone else’s. In fact you need to plan a lot of daily chores and personal commitments before-hand to have a restful outing. Hence, all the more reason you should be informed well in advance.
“Her work is a part of her duty and his work of earning bread is a big favour on the family.”
A married woman toiling hard at work and home, sometimes till the strike of 24th hour of the day, is just considered to be performing her duty but a man working for just 9-10 hours in office is believed to have done a huge favour on the family and hence is eligible to be pampered by mother, wife and all the family members for the rest 14-15 hours.
Please make your contribution count, if your family isn’t realising the same. Convey it to them that if you are performing your duty so diligently and making your family’s life smooth and easy, then they should also make sincere efforts towards making your life easier and happier by a bit.
Ladies are conditioned to make people happy. They make tens of dishes for in-laws, husband, children and even guests keeping in mind each one’s personal choices. But they rarely cook for themselves. Indian women are brought up with the ideology that keeping the family happy would make them happy. But we forget that in the race to make others happy and do everything as per their likes and dislikes, we forget our own choices. It is important to keep your identity intact. Make yourself a happy soul and only then will you be able to make others happy.
Don’t do something just to live up to others’ expectations. Post marriage, you suppress your desires and compromise on a lot of things, believing that it is just for a short period of time and tomorrow you can live your dream life after settling down with the new family. Trust me that tomorrow never comes. By suppressing your desires, you are just setting wrong expectations for the new family. They get used to living with a docile avatar of yours and handling clashes at a later stage in life is more painful and dangerous too.
So, my dear ladies, please learn to live by the fact that if we don’t respect ourselves, no one else on this earth will. Please live for yourself too. Stand up for yourself rather than surrendering yourself to others. Value your life and make it valuable for others too.
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Published here earlier.
Image source: By Belayet2014 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I am a mother of a baby boy, a management graduate and a multi-faceted
Excellent post! The problem is not so much with marriage itself, but with the role expectations of married women in patriarchal societies. In traditional patriarchal societies with little or no secular and scientific education among its members, the framework of its institutions such as marriage, religion etc are primarily determined by the dominant group to fulfil certain functional purposes. Therefore the role expectations of spouses in marriage are determined by the patriarchy to fulfil the perceived primary purpose of regulation of sexual relations and nurturing and continuation of family. As often is the case when power balance is skewed, the powerful are tempted to take undue advantage of the less powerful and thereby wrest unequal privileges and advantages from them. This is often the case in traditional patriarchal marriage alliances. However, things are changing with education of girls, their ownership of property and the means of property (earning a livelihood) So roles will slowly get redefined and role expectations will also become more balanced and less unfair to women in time. In societies where men and women both work and earn or own property, men and women will share the burden of responsibilities and expectations more equally. In India women carry all these burdens of expectations because for too long patriarchy has ruled with unchallenged power and authority. But, the tide is changing and educated, financially secure women will have to be the catalysts to bring about the change in defining roles and role expectations so that the balance is set right. Many of the points you make are practical and will help this process of setting the balance right to be just and fair to all.
Thank you Sonia for reading through my article and appreciating the suggestions given.
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