Is Marriage Considered “Free Rehabilitation Facility” By Indian Parents And Their “Problematic” Sons?

Why do Indian families feel that if a man has lost his purpose in life, is abusive, or suffers from any addictions, the best thing to do for him would be to get him married?

Is it a reasonable expectation? Is it fair? Is it not outright deceitful and selfish?

The one who smoked

A colleague of mine told me about someone we know, in hushed tones.




Him:“He got married finally. Now at least his smoking will get controlled!”

Me: “He is a 45-year-old man! He needs someone to tell him what to do?”

Him: “The wife will try you know. To make him quit. She will at least ask him to cut down.”

Me: “He has been smoking since he was 16! He is a chain smoker! 30 years! I don’t think he is at an impressionable age!”

“If he continues to smoke, that means wife is not taking care of him!” He said, very seriously.

I resisted the urge to argue further.

But this man is not the only person who thinks this way. In India, there are multiple roles expected of a wife. I am not talking about the ones you know. What did you think –  Cook? Cleaner? Baby maker? Washerwoman? Iron lady? Appointment keeper? PR manager who should please his family, friends, neighbor, dog? Punching bag for failures?

Nope. I am talking about one of the most underrated and least talked about roles – The Therapist!

The one with anger issues

I had the misfortune of witnessing a horrible fight between a husband and a wife while I was living with them. The husband came back from office. He was irritated and quiet. I do not know what transpired between the couple as I was in another room. Suddenly, I heard a loud noise. Apparently, he had thrown the plate in which the wife was serving hot food, on the floor. He yelled at her and called her names. The wife also yelled at him. His mother defended her son, as if he was a toddler going through the terrible twos.

When husband comes from office, and is quiet, means he had a bad day. Did you care to ask him what happened? Did you try to look into his heart?

She is not a psychic. I was tempted to say.

“He slapped me. He threw the plate. He also called me a*****!”  the wife blasted the mother-in-law.

“He is a man! Men are by nature aggressive! You being a woman lost patience! Women should be calm. My boy is gentle! You provoked him! Haven’t you heard so many women say, ‘Mere husband ko yeh pasand nahi hai. Unko gussa jaldi aata hai.’ Once wives learn husband’s mannerisms, they behave accordingly. Have you ever heard a man say what kind of nature his wife has? No. Because a wife had to mold herself according to husband’s nature. You should have waited for him to cool down. But no! You made him so angry that he had to slap you to stop you!”

This lady was so wise! It is a pity she gives such advice for free. If she documents all her thoughts, she could be a best-selling author – The Secret: Indian Wife Edition!

The one who was a drug addict

Another friend of mine is married to a drug addict. It was an arranged marriage. The man’s family had given up on their son, who had once tried to even hit them. They thought the best thing for him would be to get married. Why?

Shadi ke baad sudhar jayega! (He will improve after marriage!)

Nothing changed. They had a better idea…

They convinced the couple to have a baby.

Bachche ke baad sab theek ho jayega! (Things will get better after a child!)

Ek se bhale do! Do se bhale teen! (Two better than one! Three better than two!)

The philanderer

A school friend’s elder brother was very good-looking and charming. He used to get a lot of attention from women, and he made the most of it. He had lots of girlfriends. He cheated on most of them. He got married. Old habits die hard. His wife got sick of his extra-marital affairs and divorced him.

The shameful part was that his mother felt that this was a “natural male trait.” She said that her daughter-in-law should have been understanding because a man by nature has a “wandering eye”. But a woman should “hold him through the thread of her love so that it can pull him back”. Sorry I can’t even translate that. Something to do with kachha dhaga and pyaar ka dor.

Whatever BS that means.

Special cases

I would put under this men who are homosexual and are forced by parents to marry as they believe marriage would “cure” them. Or men who are unfortunate victims of mental illness. A family friend’s uncle suffered from schizophrenia. His parents felt that once he got married, his sexual needs would get satisfied. Once satiated, he would stop “acting up”! Thankfully, in those times everyone knew each other’s janamkundali in small towns. They were not able to find a bride although he “almost” got married a couple of times.

In these cases, the men are not at fault, and parents should know better than to subject an innocent woman to such a nightmare, as these relationships are bound to be.

The most popular rehabilitation program

Our society does not believe in rehabilitation or seeking any kind of professional help. We have a better program for all wayward, obstinate men with erratic temperaments and self-inflicting habits. It is a program where you don’t have to spend a penny. Rather you may end up getting some money to moti tagdi rakam (large amount of cash) depending on the ‘ladki wala’s status. Through this program you acquire a non-suspecting, lifelong therapist who will have an on-the job training. Once you manage to fool this woman, it is her responsibility to either change this man with her love, dedication and charm or learn to live with him. It is the easiest available correctional facility he could possibly find. The unfortunate woman who has been chosen for this mission impossible can terminate this program only by going to court.

To all existing and prospective applicants, and their guardians

Dear concerned colleague: If a man is a literate adult who does not understand, ‘Smoking is injurious to health,’ then what makes you think his wife would be able to make him understand? Is it her responsibility?

Dear wise Aunty: If your son yells, hits or pushes a woman he is abusive. Why should his wife tolerate such behavior?  Do you understand the term PARTNER? When a woman seeks a partner for marriage, she is NOT signing up to be a full-time attendant in the psychiatric department.  You failed to correct him as a child and raised him wrong. Do not blame his wife.

Dear parents of drug addict: Your ward should seek professional help. Those people are trained to handle him, and more importantly they get PAID to handle him. Some people do this work voluntarily. And no, they are not called wives. They are called NGOs. If your daughter-in-law had interest in acquiring such a skill-set, she would have studied for it, received training, and would be making money treating people.

Dear mother of philanderer boy: Love is one of the most powerful emotions in the world. I agree with you. But for it to work, it should exist both ways. You seem too enamored by ek tarfa pyaar ki taaqat (the power of one-sided love) which flops even in Bollywood!

Dear wannabe “curers” of homosexuality: It is not a disorder! Who will cure your ignorance?  It is bad enough that you refuse to accept your child’s sexual orientation. The fact that you would go out of your way to marry him off to make him ‘change’ or fit into society is beyond stupid. You are ruining a woman’s life, and your son’s too.

Dear people who do not understand mental illness: This is very serious and what the person needs is empathy and treatment, not sex! You are taking ‘Sex is magical’ and ‘Sexual healing’ literally!

Header image: Youtube

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16 Comments


  1. Oh my… this is something (endorsed generously by movies) I have often thought about. Even I know someone who is married to a druggie – but she knew of this beforehand and hoped to ‘change’ him. So much stupidity around this M-word.

  2. Kudos to you Tanvi. This is bang on

  3. Anandita Gupta -

    Not to mention “Cure for unemployment” , cure for mental diseases, cure for lack of motivation in life, even as much as cure for being StupiD

  4. I have always enjoyed reading various write ups but this particular one touched me like a perfect bull’s eye shot. It is not only apt in content but also brilliantly expressed in writing. God bless your talent and may you and your pen get mightier day by day! Kudos!

    • Thank you so much Puspita. It is so kind and thoughtful of you to leave a personal note. With the support of encouraging readers like you we will get stronger and mightier! Cheers! 🙂

  5. Excellent post….I really like to read all your articles… It’s simple and upto the point. I remember watching a news wherein a lady was married to a mentally challenged husband and later sexually harassed by her brother in law so that she could bear a child and the people would not question their boy… Poor girl….. Rather Irritating mentality by some parents…

    • Thank you so much Anusha. I am very happy to know that you like to read all my articles. Very thoughtful of you to let me know that. The story that you shared is so sickening. People can be such monsters and more than encountering them on the streets, women end up encountering them through marriage. And then we flaunt our low divorce rate!

  6. After each example hear, I heard myself saying WTF. IF reading could do this to me, what about the plight of women who have to undergo such ordeals. Its just sad but so so true.

    • Yes Deepali. A lot of women who write to me tell me that they are so angry. I wish I could make them understand no good can come out of continuing with such a marriage. It is just a false sense of security that society has fooled us with.

  7. Tanvi spot on! The problem is the ignorantly patriarchal society we live with obstinate belief that marriage is a cure it all Baba Ramdev type healing 🙂

  8. Loved reading your post. We really need to get over this marriage-cures-all-mindset!!

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