Marriage has been a point of discussion ever since Adam and Eve (who ironically were never married). It has inspired movies, books, debates and what not. It has been the cause and effect of both agony and ecstasy in all our lives.
Let us not deny the role that marriage has in our lives. Irrespective of whether you are married or single, this word has a huge significance in our life.
In our society the discussion of marriage begins early in life. A father who was blessed with a beautiful daughter once told me that from then on he would buy some gold every year for her marriage. Proud as a peacock of his foresight. What about her education? Oh that still has time!!! I just can’t wait to see him in the admission queue for nursery ;-))
All of us grew up listening to our mothers and grandmothers rant about how “this” kind of behaviour would not be tolerated in our sasural. A mother once came to me with her adolescent daughter who had “anger issues”. “I will tolerate her temper but not her mother in law!!” was her main concern.
Of course make friends with a boy and he suddenly becomes a prospective groom. Does he come from a good family? Does he have enough earning capacity? Never mind the fact that he might not have started shaving yet.
We grow up dreaming of an ideal marriage. The one from fairy tales and Yash Chopra movies. The one with romance and adventure and happily ever after. We all want a husband who loves us and respects us and cares for us but not one of us can define what those words mean.
There is no denying that things change after marriage. I have heard many men comment “She is not my girlfriend anymore she is my wife.”
So does marriage demand a price? What is the kimat of the sindoor? To begin with let us accept that there is no such concept of an ideal marriage. Secondly the concept of ideal is different for the man and the woman. Thirdly the concept of ideal is different from one house to the other.
What do we expect from a married woman? She is suddenly expected to bloom from a girl into a woman. She has to accept the new role, the new house and the new family with grace. The new parents and the extended family have to take precedence over her “old” family. The customs and traditions of this new family suddenly become the right way of doing things. Of course these are just the bare minimum expectations.
Beyond this we have to be thankful for the fact that our husbands help us at home or that we allowed to dress the way we want, that no one stops us from doing the things we want to do.
So how do I deal with the price? How do I decide whether the price is something that I want to pay?
The first thing is to accept that the marriage or for that matter any relationship comes with a price. Not just for the woman but for the man too. Let us not get into the debate of who has to pay the bigger price.
I think the root cause of most problems in a married relationship is this debate of who invests more in the relationship. Each of us talk about how ‘ I am the only one working on this marriage’ or how the effort put by me is greater than that of my husband. We can argue about this till eternity and still not get an answer.
Women have been brought up to believe in sacrifices. Our stories, our folklore, our movies have taught us that to be a woman means to sacrifice. And we get tangled in this web. We stop considering ourselves as good wives till we have a sheet long list of the price we paid for our marriage to work. What we don’t realize is that the more we talk about “how we had to do something” the more helpless we make ourselves. The more helpless we make ourselves the more trapped we feel. A trapped animal is never healthy. It either gives up the will to survive or fights back unnecessarily.
This is what we tend to do in our relationships. Either we give up and ‘accept or destiny’ or fight for irrelevant issues. I have seen many woman just rebel against something just because the husband asked her to do it. When you fight the battle on so many fronts you probably will lose the ones which are really important to you.
The other problem is the psychological jail that we have created for ourselves. Most women talk about feeling guilty using their husband’s money. Is it not your money? Does he feel guilty of eating what you cook, living in the house that you cleaned? No it does not even cross his mind. Why does it cross yours?
I am not saying that you must accept everything. Choose your battles wisely. Fight for what is important to you. If something has too high a price, don’t pay it. However this decision is not based on what feminism demands but what is important to you. It is not about what the world considers modern but what is unacceptable to you.
A relationship is not a balance sheet. What you put in is probably not going to be the same as what you get. It is more like a mutual fund which is subject to market risks ;-). But if you invest wisely you will get substantial returns.