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Calling the wedding off over a political divide is thought of as bizarre is because we in India do not expect a woman to have a political position and stand by it.
Recently, a couple in UP called off their wedding, because the couple differed over their politics, something they realised only when the bride and groom happened to meet over some arrangements. While the groom was a supporter of the current government, the bride believed that the govt has fallen short of doing its best for the country.
What is interesting to me, though, is that the news item that I came to know about this from called it one of the “bizarre reasons why marriages have been called off”, while citing other reasons like not having an indoor toilet, and the groom not being able to do math as similarly bizarre reasons.
Is it really all that bizarre though? And why should anyone consider this bizarre?
Marriages once fixed can break over many reasons, and to be fair, not all reasons have to do with the groom’s side being stuck in a mental rut, no matter what those who know me will think I’m going to talk of. I personally know of marriages that have in the past been broken before the wedding over
~ the bride having glasses, something that might not have been ‘revealed’ to the groom’s side earlier as she had always worn contact lenses until then,
~ or the amount of dowry that can be paid, even if dowry is now illegal,
~ or over how a wedding ceremony can be conducted – whether to go in for a small ceremony with close relatives or have the entire neighbourhood of the groom eat the marriage meal,
~ over the (too small) number of wedding sarees that the bride was given by the groom’s side (yes, and this is the one case I have seen where the groom’s side was genuinely not in the wrong, but the bride’s side was being greedy!)
Let’s also look at why some marriages broke up in the early days – I’m not going to list here marriages that broke up after a reasonable amount of time, because that’s beyond the scope of this article – I’m talking mostly of cases where the couple didn’t yet know each other well enough.
There can also be supposedly ‘bizarre’ reasons that break a marriage in its early days – which of course a patriarchy like ours will consider bizarre.
Listing a few scenarios I have seen among friends and extended family, so I know what I am talking about.
Imagine a newly wed couple breaking up
~ because he cannot get it up,
~ or because now he expects her to stop working,
~ or because she is expected to live with an abusive marital family,
~ or because the groom’s side hid the fact that he has a mental illness that means he is emotionally unavailable, highly suspicious of whatever his wife does, says, thinks, and even abusive. The rest of the family were very nice to her, because she was supposed to be the ‘solution’ for his problems. And yes, they were all ‘nice’ but she wasn’t being allowed to step outside home by herself because she might escape, and a friend of hers managed to get her out one day, and take her straight to her parents’ home, after which things went the legal way.
I mean come on! Surely marriage should be only about a woman ‘adjusting’ to whatever circumstances her ‘fate’ has put her in, right? (insert eye roll)
In the past few years, we have seen that even long term friendships and families have seen a divide over the politics of the country. Many have been torn apart in a way that might be irreparable. Why, then, should a couple continue with their marriage plans just because it has been publicly fixed if their politics is sure to create trouble after marriage? Better they call off wedding rather than they suffer later.
WHY is it considered so ‘bizarre’ as the news item says?
This is thought of as bizarre is because we in India do not expect a woman to have a political position and stand by it. We expect her to be “guided” by her husband. We think she is not capable of thinking for herself. It’s infantilisation that I have seen in my own marriage, so I know how that works.
It is also because an Indian marriage by definition isn’t supposed to be about intellectual companionship. It is supposed to be about begetting kids, especially boys, for providing heirs for the family. Who cares what the woman feels or thinks or believes in? Of course people are going to find this bizarre.
I wish I had been half as smart when I was younger.
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