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If you want to secure your life, you should stand on your own legs. You should have the confidence that you will survive in the world without anyone providing for you.
Dear girls, you might have heard these lines a hundred times in your life.
You are a girl, you should be careful.
Don’t forget that you will be going to another house soon.
Your wedding is our biggest dream.
Don’t go alone, I will drop you.
Even if your parents are educated, wealthy, and kind, they might still consider you a fragile thing.
“Girls need support and protection. Getting married is a mandatory milestone in a girl’s life. You should happily transition to a different life after the wedding.” This is the narrative you must have heard while growing up. You might be conditioned to believe these.
Parents believe that they should ‘protect’ the girls till their marriageable age and then do a ‘transfer of responsibility called wedding. This is exactly the reason why some parents feel ‘relieved’ after their daughter gets married. But, think about it. Don’t you find it ridiculous that someone needs to ‘support/protect you’ all your life? Doesn’t it feel insulting?
I am not saying marriages are inherently flawed. It’s great to have an equal partner to share your life with. The companionship is beautiful and adds a lot of happiness to our lives. But, the keyword here is ‘equal partnership.’
Marriage is not a master/slave relationship. There are no inferior or superior roles. The husband is not a caretaker, protector, or provider of the wife. If someone makes you think otherwise, don’t believe them.
Marriage should not be a way to make your life ‘secure.’ If you want to secure your life, you should stand on your own legs. You should have the confidence that you will survive in the world without anyone providing for you. The only way to gain that confidence is through education.
I have seen many girls abandoning education when a marriage alliance comes. Parents often force girls to quit college and get married, as if their whole life had been a preparation for this. You should have the courage to say no, even if your parents ask you to quit your studies.
Sometimes you might feel that it’s better to get married and take care of the house. This is not your fault. For generations, women are conditioned in such a way to consider their careers inferior. That our careers are just a ‘supplement’ or a ‘side business’ or ‘something to pass the time.’
Get this straight. Your job/ education/ career might be your only saving grace one day. It’s the only thing that will be on your side no matter what. So, never ever abandon your education for marriage.
Even if a girl has a job and financial independence, it doesn’t guarantee that her married life will be heaven. I have seen women working hard in a job, only to hand over all the financial decisions to their spouse. They have no idea about how to invest their hard-earned money, or sometimes, they don’t even know how many assets they have. This has to change.
If you work hard and earn, you have the right to know where the money is going. Don’t take pride in saying, “I have no idea about finances. My husband takes care of everything.” Having a solid education, a well-paying job, and savings will give you the power to choose.
I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t make adjustments in the marriage. Sometimes you fight and forgive, make amends. But, you should have the freedom to draw the line. You should have the freedom, ability, and courage to set boundaries.
In an unfortunate incident of things going bad, you should be able to take the decision to leave and shouldn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.
Divorce is not a crime. But dowry and domestic abuse are. Divorce is a personal decision- no one, including family, friends, relatives, and society, has the right to judge. You should internalize this fact.
If the divorce was wrong, wouldn’t it be a crime in India, just like dowry and domestic abuse are?
It doesn’t mean that divorce is easy. It drains people of their emotional, financial, and even physical well-being. But, if a marriage harms you emotionally or physically and threatens your life or well-being, you should have an option to leave.
Your wedding might be your parent’s dream. It might be a matter of your family’s honor. All your sisters might have got married at a certain age. You might be getting older. None of this is a valid reason to push you into a marriage that you are not comfortable with.
You should marry when you absolutely feel that you can take care of yourself, no matter what. This not only needs financial independence. It requires confidence, courage, and emotional maturity.
Good education and a job will help you build an ecosystem around you. This ecosystem might be your job, friends, colleagues, professional connections, parents, or well-wishers who will help you create a new life for yourself. Even if you have all of them or none, you should have the confidence to support yourself. Having a good education, life experiences, and bold worldview will be your saving grace during difficult times.
Image source: a still from the film Tu Hai Mera Sunday
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Salini Vineeth is a fiction and freelance writer based in Bangalore. She has worked for
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