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If you look closely, the thread that winds through a husband and wife in a typical Indian marriage is of dominance and submission.
I find marriages disturbing. I fathom a lot of married women are not satisfied in their marriage and yet they endure it. Their partner expects them to be something that they wouldn’t choose for themselves. They are not free to be what they desire.
A woman simply moves from one submissive role of a daughter to another of a wife. Yet marriages last forever in this country. Is longevity of marriage an indication of its success? Or does it simply mean that people stay married because of the fear of the unknown or because this is what they’ve always known? Here are some things which I find most disturbing about marriage.
Until she becomes a mother. I’ve known numerous women, in my own family and otherwise, who were toppers in school, made it to the best colleges in the country, got professional degrees, only to leave the workforce behind after having a baby.
Majority of these women I know don’t work anymore. A few do, yet only in jobs considered ‘good’ for women like teacher, part-time, running their own business etc. Majority don’t earn. If they do, it’s less than the husband. They are financially dependent on their husbands.
Everyone, including her own parents, point to the downsides of working. ‘You don’t have to struggle for a meagre sum of money. You’ve everything a good girl can desire for. A caring husband, a respected family, amazing kids, a beautiful life.’ Her husband points, ‘You can work, but think about the kids. They are so small, they need you.’ No one encourages her to be out there and taste independence.
Her role is of a caretaker. Of husband, kids, in-laws, household. She spends her day talking to women in similar conditions as her. The husband is very much occupied with his job, staying at the top of his game socially and professionally. She has lost touch with her friends. His social circle becomes her social circle.
He is given more status at home. Her role is to make his life comfortable. Any unhappiness in his life is seen as her fault making her wonder, ‘Where did I go wrong?’
As she isn’t making a significant contribution– by earning, or by staying on the top of her game at home, or by being a perfect mother and daughter-in-law, she feels inadequate. And as time passes, she doesn’t feel as attractive as she used to before.
Any objective observer would see that there is one dominant and one submissive member in this alliance. A woman is in a submissive position psychologically. A woman is soft-spoken, doesn’t laugh out loud, and reinforces the fact that ‘he’ is supreme in all walks of life.
All of these truths about marriage are equally disturbing. But there is something which is even more disturbing— that a woman accepts all of this because this is what she has ever seen or known.
Even in the rare case where she goes against one of these truths, she is made to realise her mistake sooner rather than later, by her caring parents, supportive husband, and respected in-laws. She says to herself, ‘Wow! I almost brought this relation to a divorce,’ and reverts to her submissive role.
What I’ve written here, is radical. Marriage can work if it is comprised of two people who are self-reliant, foster independence and allow their partner to choose their own fulfilment. That would be better than men thinking for women and dictating their every step.
First published here.
Image source- Still from the movie Thappad
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