A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

I believe “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office).

Another comment from ‘Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?’ in response to Mr GV’s comment. My response in red.

How would you respond to this comment?

Comment: Sir, first let me assure you, that you won’t get a ‘thumbs down ratings’, as views expressed here by ‘some’ women are not universal, they account to a very fewer section of society. Being a woman myself, I do feel for my rights, but at the same time I also do know my duties and so I don’t hold these views as held by some of the women here !

IHM: Getting Married and Staying Married is not a duty. Seeing it as a duty is what makes Indian parents and women agree to give dowry and stay in abusive marriages.

Not getting married unless one wants to get married and to the person one is marrying, is a duty mainly to the person one is marrying.

Being self reliant is a duty to oneself.

Comment: //Mr GV – But it is optional, isn’t it? Where is the legal compulsion to marry? The compulsions you and other readers are referring to are social compulsions and these can be resisted by those who are convinced that marriage is not for them. Every reader of this blog, I believe is sufficiently educated and empowered to resist any social or family compulsion to marry. By all means, stay unmarried, or get out of your unhappy marriages, but please do not berate this institution.//

This is one valid point, I don’t know, what stops these modern ( I say western) , well qualified, highly educated women to say no to the societal pressure of getting married. They can simply say NO.

IHM: Unfortunately, many in our society see Getting-Married and Staying-Married as a duty – which is why even though there is no legal compulsion to marry, women are pressurized to get married. 

Comment: Personally, I am 24 yet to get married, I am a post-grad and have a chosen not to pursue a career and be a homemaker after I get married (people around me are amused when I tell them about this decision, but getting up in the morning, getting ready for work and slogging for 9 hrs, coming home tired, sounds too exploitative to be true).

IHM: Often women (and men) do not have this choice. Men and women work for various reasons, the Henpecked Husband and Neeti felt women should work if they don’t bring a dowry.  

What do you think makes women work at home and outside ‘slogging 9 hours, coming home tired’?

Comment: Infact I sympathies with all my men folks who have no other option but to go out and slog for hours to make money. I don’t see any delight in this new empowering tool women have embraced.

IHM: Men should be able to have a say in whether or not they wish to be the sole earners in the family, many men might choose to be full time dads and homemakers.

Comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

IHM: This is a common situation for many Indian women…

I think everybody owes it to themselves to be able to support themselves – and marry only because they want to live with the person they are marrying.

Comment: But since I believe “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office). And so I will get married.

 IHM: One problem here could be that housework is not really acknowledged as work, many homemakers struggle to prove they are needed. Do read the related posts below.

Comment: But what reason do these women who are opposing marriage but still getting married have ? Does it not sound more of hypocrisy ?

IHM: If one is not able to fight back against a wrong, or is not a victim, does not mean they should not acknowledge the wrong. The first step to any change is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

One benefit of such discussions is that women realise that they are not alone to notice the double standards and unfairness.

Also, today more and more women are able to choose to marry or not to marry.

Comment: Accepting something you don’t believe in only shows how weak one is !

IHM: If one is weak one needs strength. Strength and support can be found through learning that one is not alone.

Related Posts:

The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?

Were Indian Women Better Off As Homemakers?

People tend to put down home-makers or view them in a rather poor light. The way the elite view the proletariat.

How much are you needed? – starsinmeyes

The ‘home maker’ stereotype – Sangitha

Never! I don’t want his money! – Preethi  (Women’s Web)

Of Housewives, Beggars and Prostitutes.

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117 thoughts on “A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

  1. This is depressing.

    I don’t have time for a full comment, but for now, I’m just going to say to the writer: PLEASE educated yourself about the realities of being married, as well as the realities of being a homemaker. If slogging at an office sounds exploitative, try slogging at home with no appreciation and very little support. The latter is far more difficult. I do not say this often, but you really are living in cloud-cuckoo land, and need a reality check.

    Will come back to post some more.

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  2. “Getting Married and Staying Married is not a duty. Seeing it as a duty is what makes Indian parents and women agree to give dowry and stay in abusive marriages.

    Not getting married unless one wants to get married and to the person one is marrying, is a duty mainly to the person one is marrying.

    Being self reliant is a duty to oneself.”

    IHM , love you for these words. Exactly my thoughts.

    BTW, in my comments what has conveyed the impression that I believe women who do not bring dowry should work??? I believe in self reliance and I would ideally like all women to be self empowered taking responsibility for their choices in life. Dowry, marriage , legalities are in fact non issues to me.

    My responses have so far been only in the context of amusing views that condemn dowry seekers as devils while ignoring completely the fact that dowry is sought when people are available to comply. no one can be forced by another to give dowry. Its easy to condemn another calling them greedy etc. etc. while failing to introspect ownselves. I glanced a comment that called for equal sharing of expenses citing how parents spend their life savings on the wedding expenses of the girl. What makes a girl and her parents agree to spend so much in the first place , i fail to understand. A girl can stay single comfortably, No?

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    • I wish the last statement for true! “A girl can stay single comfortably”. Neeti just guarantee this in our environment (probably even in western society) and you will have solved all problems that have been discussed in this blog! You have no idea what it means!! Yes, this comes from a male. I have been seen atleast two of my sister and the world around me in friends & friends of friends and contacts and elsewhere.. staying single for “girls” if they wish to – just make that simple!!

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      • Agree with Anil here. If only it were that easy. I used to wonder why our maids bothered getting married when most often the husband ended up drinking and beating them up. Then I realised it’s because if they are single, they become prey for all the men in the basti. By getting married, there’s hope (optimistic I know) of a peaceful life and if their own husband beats and rapes them, at least he’s a known devil and can protect them from the advances of the others.

        In middle class and upper middle class society, the situation is better but still hard. Financial independence makes the path easier, of course, and the more money the better… but even in the metros in India, it’s hard for a single woman to rent a house. You don’t really see single women eating in restaurants alone. At social gatherings, single women of a certain age are viewed with suspicion and are slightly the odd ones out. It’s still necessary in India to get someone to drop you home if you’re a woman, and if you’re single and of a certain age, you’ll find yourself relying on someone else’s husband. These are just a few of the things I can think of.

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        • If these reasons are true, then isn’t dowry justified? The boy’s side know that they have an advantage and therefore ask for it.

          Anyway I would humby disagree and feel these are more fears that stop us from making choices that we would have made, had these not held us back. Its really not all that difficult if the woman’s parents/family are supportive to her. Talking from experience :-).

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        • These reasons are why dowry exists not why it is justified. Being in a position take advantage of a group of people because they are in a socially weaker position doesn’t justify anything.

          It’s great if you have been able to buck the trend. But because you have had the courage – and I would also say privilege – of doing so doesn’t mean it is easy for every woman, even educated women. As you said, parental support is important but not every parent is in a position to offer that support. I think a lot of factors come into play that make it possible for someone to go against the current, and to say just because I did it, why can’t everyone else is to ignore a lot of complexities. Agreed that are parents and women who should and can resist the pressure but there is also a big pool in between for whom it might not be so simple.

          We have had a similar discussion on domestic violence. Why don’t women just walk about of abusive marriages? And if some women can do it, why not others?

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        • If these reasons are true, then isn’t dowry justified? The boy’s side know that they have an advantage and therefore ask for it.

          Uh, since when is it “justified” to screw people over just because you’re in a position to? I must have missed that memo, because the last time I checked, people who did that tended to be called by rather unflattering epithets.

          Whatever happened to ethics in relationships?

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        • //If these reasons are true, then isn’t dowry justified? //

          There is no way dowry can be justified. Its existence may be inevitable in the extremely patriarchal society we have, and it may look like it will continue to be the norm as long as arranged marriages keep taking place, but that does not by any means make it justifiable.

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        • Ethics are valid in relationships. Marriage is a legal arrangement. Dowry exists in context of marriage, not in context of relationships.

          The reason why something apparently wrong still continues to be practised is only because one side sees it justified for all the reasons that have been cited . (using the word justification does not mean I am justifying it)
          As long as the reasons exist, the practise will also exist. Mass practices are rarely based on ethics- more on self interests.

          I think fear is not a matter of privileges or lack thereof, it is of mind. A better word perhaps is social conditioning. When I look for women free of it- the empowered women, I see them already in hoardes all around – single women, widowed women, women managing households with husbands away. all facing very similar day to day issues that test them as individuals with little regard to their marital status.

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  3. I think there is some serious misconception about the very idea of what an institution of marriage implies in first sense. It isn’t solely the solution to the issue of finances to help you sustain for a lifetime and meet with your material requirements.

    I think the commenter here needs to educate herself about the basic purpose of getting married and understand the importance of the same before even thinking in terms of deciding whether she wants to get married or not.

    I will come back for more but at the moment I see something very wrong and disturbing in the whole comment altogether. The one thing I’d like to point is the commenter needs to see marriages in a bigger and definitely better, educated perspective than just from financial view-point.

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    • I have been married and am currently in the process of moving out of it with my infant daughter.
      I have been financially independent and since I was living overseas I have had a good experience of handling work (8 to 6) along with managing household tasks like cooking, cleaning, et al.
      Irrespective of the reasons that didn’t make my marriage work I did share a bond of mutual respect with my husband as far sharing household responsibilities goes.
      We both used to sweep and mop in turns and help each other in various ways as far cooking went, that included setting up meal boxes for both of us for the working day.
      I am pointing out those chores because they are often seen as work in a household and considered different from what we do at workplace, but in fact they are part and parcel of life and since marriage is just a part of life, they too like any other task are part and parcels to be done with mutual understanding.

      No work is big or small, but comparing household chores with work done to make a living is berating the institution of marriage. Marriage is not only a social bond but more importantly an emotional bond where two individuals out of love, understanding and respect decide to spend their lives together.

      It isn’t a synonym of slavery or paid labour where you get paid in form (gifts,jewellery, clothes,etc.) for the work you do.

      i wish to ask, if your beliefs were to be considered correct for an instant, would you call parenting too a task worth a salary? would our parents expect us to repay them in terms of finances just as we expect our employers to do so?

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      • “…would you call parenting too a task worth a salary? would our parents expect us to repay them in terms of finances…”

        Aren’t many Indian parents guilty of exactly that? Do they not expect to be rewarded for birthing a son and raising him.

        Completely agree with you BTW. :)

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  4. Dear Comment Writer

    I am married for SIX years.

    One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married. –
    Let me tell you one thing, marriage is not about providing financial support to a needy woman .Marriage is about two people liking to live with each other providing each other emotional support. People who get married for financial support, shouldnt be doing it. (In India though you may not have a choice!)

    Marriage is a phase in life, its not the end of life.

    Tomorrow if I start earning more than my husband enough to support the family expenses, he is more than ready to quit his job and stay at home taking care of my child. I dont think men HAVE to work forever and they are not given a choice. Its just that they dont have uterus and breasts to deliver a child and feed a child. So they just continue working! As a woman despite of having a baby and feeding her for nine months, I would love to continue working because I like it.

    I have taken my three months of maternity leave and trust me, I would rather be a working mother than a SAHM. I think being a homemaker is one of the toughest jobs on earth. I would rather work than stay at home. Does that mean, I love my husband less? no, it just means that I dont have it in me to be a home maker, I will never be successful and will drive everyone crazy around me!

    I have always maintained that marriage is definitely an over rated institution, and despite being married to a wonderful guy for six years, I maintain it. Its definitely NOT the end of life.

    you say that you would rather be ‘working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger’ – this saddens me because as spouse, you dont work for your spouse..its just a horribly negative way of berating a home maker. My husband doesnt ‘work’ for me when he hangs the clothes, keeps the dal or cuts the vegetables just as I dont ‘work’ for him when I make rotis, make the subji or wash my daughter’s bum, we do it because we are trying to make a marriage work, trying to help out each other so that there is no ‘working’ for one other involved

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  5. eh? So basically you want to stay at home with your husband to look after your financial needs. In exchange you’re willing to keep house. PT is right “cloud-cuckoo land” for sure. Tell me again, why are you in a post grad program?

    So many questions – coming back to this discussion as soon as i can

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  6. ok, I swear I had a WTF moment when I read this: “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office). And so I will get married.”
    So, when I decide to cook something nice for the husband, am I ‘working for him’? Or when He massages my hair every night, is he working for me?!!! I mean, we seriously need to think “hard” why exactly we are getting married!! I mean, how can you even compare working for your boss and being married to be comparable things?! When we work in an office, we are a bonded laborers. As simple as that. Whether you love your job, whether you hate it and still work, all that is irrelevant. You are getting paid for your wages. But when you are in a marriage, you are an equal partner in it. You are not working for (or getting work done from) the other partner. You always work ‘together’ towards the marriage. I totally respect if someone wishes to be a homemaker. To each their own. But I do wish the reasons behind any decision are a bit more logical.

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    • Hmmm but a homemaker is working at home no? Technically, she should be paid and the “support” of the husband is in effect that payment. So I don’t see the illogic there. The only illogic is that actually working as a homemaker often turns out to be harder than “slogging” in the office because its 24/7 and underappreciated.

      When you cook for your husband once or give him a massage occasionally, that’s a treat. But if you do it everyday, it’s work.

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      • Working at home is not the same thing as working FOR your husband. It’s not an employer-employee relationship.

        It’s more like running an organization together.

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        • Ideally, yes.

          In practice, I’ve met men who put their wives on the level of a bonded slave, and I’ve met women who not only put up with it but actually boast about it (you know, something like “my husband can’t even make tea for himself, and I tie his shoelaces for him, and last night, I accidentally burnt his dinner, but he even forgave me for it! He’s so nice heh heh heh”, spoken in a high-pitched, sugar-sweet tone that immediately makes you gag).

          Forget equal partners, even an employer-employee relationship would be a lot better than what we have today.

          An employee has rights. You cannot hit an employee without being severely punished for it, as well as facing a massive amount of criticism. You cannot charge money from an employee in exchange for letting her join your organization. You cannot force an employee to respect people you personally respect. You cannot invade an employee’s privacy just because you feel like it. An employee is free to leave without fear of any kind of social sanction. You cannot sexually harass an employee. You cannot rape an employee. You cannot humiliate an employee. You cannot hold back an employee’s salary. You cannot completely ignore her issues.

          In traditional Indian society, absolutely none of these considerations apply to wives.

          Yes, we’ve got a long way to go.

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        • Loved your comment on employee- employer equation PT. I fail to understand how can anyone decided, even before meeting their prospective husband, that they prefer to ‘serve’ him as opposed to a stranger-boss. How can they be so completely unaware of the realities of our society or they prefer to live in a make believe world…

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      • The illogic is as PT explained in the difference in the type of relationship that is employer-employee and husband-wife. And also, we often talk about monetary payment for homemakers ‘because’ their work in a marriage is undermined. And in most cases only monetary contribution is considered a contribution. And the contribution of homemakers for working at home is neglected. Which is of course not the case. In an ideal marriage each partner can decide mutually what “role” they want to play and how they want to contribute and both mutually respect each other as equal contributers in the marriage.

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      • PT, that’s why I would rather err on the side of treating marriage as an economic, contractual relationship than the romantic, we-love-each-other-so-we’ll-serve-each other because the latter generally turns out to be very onesided with the woman largely doing the serving. Viewing it in economic terms makes the injustices clearer.

        However, as you and others have pointed out, ideally marriage should be a partnership rather than an employer-employee relationship.

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  7. Reading this right after Baby Afreen’s death is extremely depressing. Every one of us women, who has the freedom to do anything we want, and yet reinforces stereotypical gender roles, is responsible for the belief that girls are a burden. That is the reason people dont want baby girls. And that is the reason the baby’s father killed her.

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    • Sure enough.. if the folks on this blog can .. they should atleast make this letter writer see the point.. when will we stop yearning for a boy child..and welcome every baby home with the joy of creating a new life !

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    • Yes, I was heartbroken when I saw a picture of her little body wrapped in a shroud.

      What have we become as a society?

      It’s an image I’ll never forget — the tiny corpse of a 3-month old killed for having the wrong gender.

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  8. Dear IHM,
    I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I wish I could convince myself that this is fast one you’re pulling on us but I suspect you will tell me otherwise! I agree with PT that this is depressing.
    I don’t know whether to attribute it to the worldwide streak of conservatism in response to very fast-paced socio-economic change or to a deteriorating education system that has a narrow focus on technical learning and results at the cost of teaching people to think for themselves and challenging received wisdom. But all or any of these will probably still be simplistic explanations.

    Dear Comment-Writer,
    This made me think back to when I was 24 and wonder if I ever thought then (or even now!) that I should give up working and ‘work’ instead for ‘the man’ by tending house. Luckily I didn’t because the man I was then dating made the outrageous comment that even when we were married he “… would allow you to work outside the house because I understand how much it means to you.” He never did manage to understand that my working or not had nothing to do with his allowing me or not to do so…. and, needless to say, we never did get married. I was reminded of that because of the tone of your comment.

    Sorry I digress but more to the point, I have no quarrel with women making choices about working/ not working/ running the household (which is bloody hard work!) as long as it is an informed choice. What strikes me in your comment is the contradiction between calling working outside an ‘empowering tool’ (though something tells me you’re trying to be ironical) and the fact that you would not get married if you were financially independent. I don’t understand. There is nothing to prevent you from being financially independent even without working for a boss outside the house as you put it. It comes across as though you are getting married for purely instrumental reasons (i.e. you will tend house in exchange for the man bringing home the bacon, or paneer as the case may be).

    For all your sympathy for men who have no choice but to work long hours to earn for the family I wonder whether you realise that your unilateral choice (since you’re not yet married) perpetuates this choicelessness for the man who does end up marrying you? And, of course, it also by implication perpetuates the choicelessness that women face when they would like to work outside the house and are not allowed to. And believe me working outside is very much the empowering tool that you suggest it is (ironical or not)!

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood your comment entirely (I suspect not) so help me here!

    S

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  9. //“working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office). And so I will get married.//

    This made me laugh. Your thinking is skewed on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin.You really do need to do a reality check.

    Having a job is by no means equal to slogging for a ‘stranger’. For heaven’s sake, you do it for yourself and you get paid for it. It is something you choose to do. You can get out of it any day you choose to. The boss is only just a supervisor, whose job it is to see that his/her subordinates’ work conforms to certain norms, standards and expectations. He benefits from making you follow those norms, but that takes away nothing from the fact that you work for yourself and nobody but yourself.

    And now about working for somebody you ‘love’.

    Well, you are entitled to your opinion that being a homemaker is better than doing a job, but you’ll do well to remember a couple of facts. One, it is terribly naive to suggest that homemakers work only for their husbands/loved ones. They work primarily for themselves, just that by virtue of being a ‘jobless’ homemaker they also have to take on their husband’s share of the housework.
    Two, being a homemaker is tougher than you think, and not least because it is unpaid work. For all the slogging, you are left high and dry financially. I’ve known homemakers who have had to ask their husbands for money to buy undergarments– I don’t suppose they were at all happy about this state of affairs.So it aint such a bright idea ‘working for someone you love’.

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  10. Came back to add: My husband is a few years senior to me, so he earns much more than me at the moment, but he cant wait for me to get promoted rapidly and get to a point where we wont need his income – coz he wants to retire and be a stay at home husband. I completely agree with “s” above – when you choose to work, your decision doesnt really affect your spouse – but when you choose to stay home, your spouse is forced to be the sole breadwinner and is deprived of the freedom to choose. If “working for a stranger in an exploitative job” is so bad, I bet our men wouldnt want to do it either – and they should have the same freedom that you think you have, to opt out of it. Our patriarchal system is very unfair to the modern, sensible, normal man, who thinks of himself and his wife as people, and not man and woman.

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  11. I didn’t get surprised or shocked by this post. It is what most of us have always been told to believe and accept. Reminds me of one of your old posts (something about marriage being over rated and sold to women in glossy cover).
    Marriage to some women is that wonderful point in life after which they can be blissfully happy. Unfortunately their happiness is tied to wishes (call them whims) of another person (and his family). They are taught that this is the sole purpose of their lives, and that they should be happy (or atleast pretend to be) under all circumstances.
    Afterall, they are the Goddesses and the entire universe depends on their abilities to run a smooth household. Such romantic (foolish) image of marriage – thanks to social conditioning, media portrayal, etc is what makes these women say such things like “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger”. See, this person doesn’t even know the difference between ‘working for someone you love’ and ‘working for a stranger in office’.If I do something for my husband (paying bills etc- the stereotypical male domain), I am not doing him a favor. Neither is he when I am sick and he cooks for us. It is called as mutual understanding and love. We do it to for sake of each other. In my office, I am working to satisfy my creative and financial needs.The two things are too different to be compared!

    I feel sad when I see women nursing such romantic images of marriage as they gets shattered soon and then such people end up being sad and frustrated and pass it further to their children.

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  12. Errr!! Somebody has really written this?
    Sorry to say but the comment writer seems to be living in a dream world. She believes that she will get married to a dream man, will leave her job and will “work” for him, in the name of love of course!!!
    But has she thought about a scenario where they might be living in a big city and there might be a situation where they would want to buy a dream house (or for that matter for any reason) and the situation MIGHT be such that she will have to work. Will she come back here & eat her words? And of course will she work for that stranger???
    I have been married for 5 years been working for 10 and no I do not work for any stranger bole to BOSS I work for myself, i work because I want to, I work because I want to be independent, I work because I feel that if I want to give a decent lifestyle to my Son we need a double income, I work because life is usually not so rosy when you come out of you perfect dream world. BUT I am not creating an issue of working my ass off at home & office, nah! no I am not that sacrificing that I feel it is my duty to do all this. I am happy in my situation because I don’t judge people and I do not live in a dream world. Both me n hubby are practical people who help eachother in the daily chores. Guess what you need not be a slave nor you need to make others slave to live a happy life.
    You need to be happy in the siuation you are in and stop judging people. And yes Never say No you never no what you might end up doing. Because it is life and it takes its own sweet course.

    And yes one more thing, I was Financially independent before mrrg and never wanetd to get married. I tried my level best to stay out of it but finally sccumbed to parental pressure, does that make me a hypocrite? No! It is the society that forces you to do things & sometimes you do not have the heart to see your parents suffer and that is why you give in. But I know one thing, if my son comes up to me in future and says “Mumma I don’t want to get mrrd for the heck of it”, then trust me I will be with him in his decision.

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  13. Okay, here’s how it stands.

    Some people enjoy the stay-at-home lifestyle. That’s completely fine – different people get fulfilment from different things in life and if you can afford a lifestyle that gives you fulfilment, you must go for it.

    What is not okay is harboring the notion that it is substantially easier than an office job. It is not. This is a complete myth, on par with the myth of the ‘hen-pecked’ husband in Indian society.

    When you choose to stay home, you are pretty much expected to do the lion’s share of the housework by yourself.
    I’ve NEVER, in my whole life, met an actual SAHW who told me that her job was much easier than her husband’s. When you meet such women, they look visibly hassled and harried, much more so than any career woman. And the fact that you do not get paid (or otherwise appreciated) for what is essentially a demanding, tedious, never-ending job can end up causing major self-worth issues.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be a homemaker. I’m saying that you must KNOW what you’re getting into.

    As for “weakness”, perhaps you should consider yourself fortunate that you haven’t been subjected to the full extent of pressure that Indian society can exert on an individual. Unless there is some support, it is more than enough to make the strongest individuals crack in a surprisingly short period of time. I have the highest respect for people who can hold their own under that strain, but most people can’t and that’s a fact. It’s incrediby hard to hold out against an entire society.

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  14. Dear young lady,
    You have got the very concept of marriage wrong when you say that you’d rather get married and work for someone you know than pursue a career and work for a stranger. Let me tell you marriage is not about working FOR some, rather it’s about working WITH someone you know and love as an equal partner. You say you sympathize with men who ‘slog for hours to make money’, what makes you think that by choosing to be a homemaker you’re going to slog any less? Being a homemaker myself let me burst your bubble then( as PT said, you do need a reality check). NO, you don’t slog any less. You slog as much, you put in as much effort and care as the earning-spouse into running your household. So I’d advice you, if you choose to get married and stay at home, to command as much respect and acknowledgement from your husband.

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  15. I have a question in my mind. Does any one of the commentators actually have a stay at home dad (SAHD) as their partner, or is himself a SAHD? Heard enough opinions about how people will be fine with a SAHD, but is there really anyone out their, among the commentators of this blog, in such a relationship?

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    • If you would call a man who never worked all his life and stayed at home without doing any household chores with exception of some odd jobs (brokerage) at times, drank every evening and at old age is ruining himself with alcohol .. wife had a regular job and put her children through school…Yes. And please don’t worry about just the readers of this blog.. you will find plenty of stay at home men, just look around.

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      • just to add — such men are stay at home for sure.. just choose not to be stay at home husband/dad. Oh that is so beneath them you see.
        In India,we have enough women being wives/mothers and the principle breadwinner, yet not the ‘man of the house’ so to say.

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    • Hi B, my husband is not yet a stay-at-home dad but it is his great ambition to ‘stay at home’ and he hopes to in four to five years time. He is saving and investing money so he can “retire” at 45. I plan to keep working. My kids are 16 months and 3 months so they will be about 4-5 years old when my husband quits work in the traditional sense. He may start some kind of business that doesn’t require much work or he may do something purely fun, like farming! I’m sure we will have household help but a lot of the parenting tasks will fall to him. Recently, there was a spate of lay-offs at his workplace and all this nearly prematurely became a reality.

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      • @Madhu, Actually i would be interested to hear about stories of people you know closely as well.
        @Bjgiya, Of course there are many women who are primary bread winners. And there are many drunk men. I would like to hear about men who actually take care of home And are appreciated/not resented by their wives for it.

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        • I am sorry if I went overboard. Your insistence on SAHD being the blog readers’ husband/dad had irked me, now that you have broadened it to people we may know closely as well … it sounds like a more genuine question.
          My close friend(Indian) recently finished her PhD and will be soon starting in a faculty position. Her son is about 9 yrs old, once she starts in the faculty post ..her husband will then retire and be a SAHD/H. Needless to say, this was his idea (which both of them agreed upon by mutual discussion) and he had been waiting for her to graduate! He is a classical music enthusiast and also looks forward to spending some more time at this passion/hobby too. Not related, but I would just like to relate another fact about this wonderful man .. he does not brook his mother’s interference into his wife’s activities,child-rearing practices and other things (like which set of parents should be visited for how much time etc. ), he does not wait for his wife and mom to sort it out among themselves, he makes sure these talks don’t even reach his wife. His mom can’t complain too much as out of 3 sons, he is the only one who has always kept aside a certain amount of money for his parents from his monthly salary for their old age.

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    • I know of one such man- my ex-husband.
      In a nut shell, he quit his job soon after our marriage coz I was earning more than him and conveniently stayed at home doing odd ‘computer’ work which as actually just an eye wash. However he saw no need to help me out with the household chores or our baby and didn’t bother to intervene when his mother would shout at me for not taking care of the house and being away most of time. Publically acknowledging that I was the breadwinner was out of question. It didn’t occur to his mother that I need to be away as I was the only earning member in that house of 4- my ex husband, his retired father and SAHM. Thank God I didn’t want to give away my financial freedom as that’s the only thing I have and could have relied on all these years.
      THIS is the distorted version of Stay at home father and I personally believe there is no dearth of such men in our society.

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      • I had in a way experienced (but not exactly in full responsibility) what it would be like a SAHD because I was a entrepreneur for about 2 and 1/2 years. In the last six months of which when the product was done and we din’t have much work to do in office and where kind of whiling away our time. I would end up spending away a lot of time at home and also depended on my wife’s salary in a way. I had the luxury of being in a wonderful relationship with an understanding wife and we never had to argue about any kinds of expenses or even work at home about who does what or taking care of the kids- well during that six month period and even before in life. YET! Now, here comes the important part. I found it difficult to live a life of SAHD/H and it just taxed my mind. I really wished that I had some money in my account that I could call mine, and I really wished that I had something to attend to where there was some goal in life and I could use my time to something beyond doing house hold work. While I enjoyed (in a way) that so much free time I had but deep down I wished I had a job..

        While I had always emphatized with housemakers (ladies) [mother, wife, sister, friends] it was for the first time an experience that really justified the feeling I had. And it really amazes me how any women would choose to be homemaker if she wasn’t respected for what she was doing, etc. But unfortunately, it is much easier said than done. My father is now kind of retired- and he whiles away his full time sitting at home – doing philanthronpism! While Mom is still isn’t retired from hous & work, she is still taking care of the babies of son (who stays with her) and works the whole day.. Believe it or not, only recently when she learnt to do meditation, her biggest worry was how she will get an hour to sit for meditation! So, the ladies concern about SAHM is very genuine.. I personally very very strongly support that 1. Girls should be financially independent *enough to be assertive* to the diktats of parents/in-laws..ideally not have in-laws at the first place- if the situation so warrants..

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    • Hi B,

      The “dad” part remains to be seen, but I am fully intending to quit, or at least drastically cut my working hours, in the near future. The time frame is contingent on economic factors, but at worst, I’ll be free to retire in maybe 15-20 months.

      This is something that has been on the back of my mind for a long, long time, and me and my wife have now spent 19 years building an asset column just for this. It is time to reap the benefits.

      My wife does not really want to quit right now, but due to health reasons, she may well be forced to. Obviously, This isn’t really be the conventional SAHD scenario, considering that neither of us will be working (beyond watching portfolios and property prices), but it’s close enough.

      I’m looking forward to it.

      I do know a couple of people who are SAHDs proper, but none of them are Indian or even Asian.

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    • I personally know a man who is a SAHD. He cooks, washes clothes, sees to the needs of the children (they are school going now) while his wife goes to work outside. He is happy and extremely good at his work (cooking and housekeeping) though he tends to nag a bit about keeping everything clean. Yea, he is a cleanliness freak. Relatives pity him and talk in whispers about him. But he is not bothered, at least I have never felt he is.

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    • My cousin brother is a stay-at-home Dad. When they had their kids he made a conscious choice of taking a work-from-home job just so that his wife can pursue and stabilize in her career. He went back to working again but somehow because of his over-concern for his kids he has managed to find jobs that allows him to work from home. He does almost everything to his kids, from dropping them at school to being a soccerdad to helping them with homework. He cooks, cleans and also does his office work from home. I see him working almost 24hrs a day. Also, he was never been financially dependent on his wife, though her earnings he says is a back-up. He is also enterprising and plans to make enough money very soon so that he can retire and have enough money for his kids education and future.

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    • Well, we don’t have children, but as of the beginning of next month my husband is going to be a SAHH (Stay At Home Husband). He doesn’t want to work in the office anymore and wants to pursue photography. So come May, I will be the only earning member.

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      • WoW!.. echos my life only a few months back.. I was almost doing that :) …maybe you can introduce him to me – we can share “photography” . . IHM, hope this comment can appear despite being out of context . Thanks.

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      • Dear All, Thanks for your feedback. Recently I realized that I am sort of a SAHD. Would share my experience in the comment, if any body is interested. But way too busy for next few days. Ciao.

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  16. There are so many things wrong with what the comment writer is saying here. The biggest issue for me is to take marriage as only a means for financial stability. Marriage is so much more than that. It is a partnership. Why would one consider to be an ‘employee’ and the husband the ‘employer’ ? It sounds so very wrong. All children, boys and girls should be brought up to be financially independent, so that nobody has to enter a relationship for the wrong reasons.

    Having been a working woman for 9 years and chosen to be a SAHM. I can vouch for the fact that SAHM(and SAHW)s slog away at home as well, and it can well be a thankless job if one’s partner is not supportive. It can be as stressful as working outside home. I have worked for 9 years before I decided to take a break, and have been married for 11 years, and I loved my job. I decided to take a break, because it seemed right at that time(still feels right), but loads of my friends have managed to balance both work and home – with support from their partners, and I am sure they are doing it, because they are happy doing it.

    As long as women continue to believe that they need to ‘serve’, need to ‘sacrifice’, we will continue to have the gender imbalance, the yearning for a boy child, and everything else that goes with it..

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  17. oh you young child – what a weird idea of marriage you have.
    you may not agree but anyway let me ramble on…

    Marriage can be the BEST phase of your life. IF
    and when you find the right partner ( soulmate they call it) ,are self reliant ( not marrying for security), you find passion and love and joy in being with each other.
    It’s a warm feeling to love someone and accept their love in return, It’s a pleasure to see happiness on their face and accept happiness. Kids, security, housework etc., etc., are all by products of this .

    I did a 3 month stint more than a decade ago abroad – studying ( why i didn’t do that in bombay?? cause i was a young and stupid) at that time we had 5yr old twins and bang in the middle of the school yr i got this chance and told my husband and he booked the tickets ( that’s it no drama) , my husband was an investor enterpruner who decided to cut back a bit and manage the kids and join me for the last week abroad as a vacation.
    we had a cook , drive and helper) and here’s what we learnt
    1. Both of us were miserable apart. I hated feeling lonely inspite of having a ton of friends and activities.
    2. My husband took care of the kids, got them ready, dropped them off and took lunch at noon ( why ,i don’t know) and was back home whenthey showed up ( again why with so many people i don’t know) , he didn’t cook, clean or anything and EVERY night he would tell me he was tiredbut more than that he was miserable and alone.

    so in all the lessons we learnt were, dad’s can stay home and be better than mom’s , kids didnt’ care either way , but we decided never to try dumb things like this ever again. we travel together , live together and spend our life together, you never know how short your life is going to be, do WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY .. that’s it.

    marriage can be heaven or hell, depending on whom you marry and there are tons of men who don’t see women as a cook or security – trust me men today understand and and accept woman as equals you just have to be patient and find the right one.

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      • No absolutely Not, you can achieve all the above without marriage, To me marriage makes it more fun, I prefer to have all this with a partner, I NEED to share my joy and passion with a partner, for me the best one is my husband, for someone else it could be a friend, partner, live-in relationship whatever works. whatever makes you happy do it.
        I was just letting the lady know that marriage is not duty and drudgery and security only. It is much more, it is living with your soul mate and enjoying life.

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  18. The idea of not working because a full time job is ‘too demanding’!! I would just say that there are plenty of women who work full time and keep their homes in order. Being a housewife is not a privilege. It shows that either you have problems with finding a job, or your husband has ego issues, or you take the idea of house keeping too seriously, or you jut want to slack around.

    With an exception of maternity leave or having a few little kids to take care of without external help, being a housewife is neither something to be brag about nor is it the best deal to make.

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    • //”It shows that either you have problems with finding a job, or your husband has ego issues, or you take the idea of house keeping too seriously, or you jut want to slack around.”//
      Couldn’t it also be that someone prefers the housework to other jobs?
      And how is brag-worthiness a criterion for anything? What is brag-worthy for you may be utterly meaningless to me and vice-versa.

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      • Housework is not a job. It is something you do for yourself – so that you have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a room to stay in.

        Housework is not a mission. It can and should be done by everyone.

        Comparing housework to having a job is a huge misunderstanding.

        Maintaining a proper household does not require exceptional skills or great devotion unless you make it look like a journey to the moon.

        As I said, in the whole Western world women work and maintain their homes without any problems. It’s not a rocket science.

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        • As I said, in the whole Western world women work and maintain their homes without any problems. It’s not a rocket science.

          Um, no.

          In the whole Western world, FAMILIES work and maintain their home together.

          If you don’t see the difference, you might as well give up on this topic right about now.

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        • That’s what a family is SUPPOSED to be about.

          That’s not what reality is like, at least in India.

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        • Yes, that’s exactly the difference that I pointed out like 3 comments above. Maybe it’s time for you to give up on the topic.

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      • I think I’d disagree with that.

        While I support a person’s choice to be whatever they want to be in life, all options are not equal. Some options are more likely to lead to a happier life than others.

        Depending on what you value in life, some options are indeed better than others. While we all value different things, it is possible to point out factors that the vast majority of people do generally value. Things like being appreciated, having your contribution acknowledged, being seen as an equal partner, having an equal say in major decisions and so on are important to most people and if one falls in that category, being a homemaker from the very outset is not a good idea.

        I actually think that everyone should work, at least for a while, and if circumstances permit it, everyone should maintain a cash reserves. The amount of self-confidence that this builds has to be experienced to be believed. If you think back to your first proper paycheck, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

        Apart from the confidence boost, having some money of your own at the beginning of your relationship gives you power to exercise your rights as a stakeholder in the marriage. It gives you power to dictate the relationship dynamic on equal terms with your partner. When you are financially dependent, you are sure to lose that power, simply because your partner is the only one keeping both of you afloat. In the initial stages of a marriage, this can be disastrous, and can end up in your marriage being molded into something that you are entirely uncomfortable with. There are other ways through which this may happen, but being financially dependent is one of the most common ones.

        As a lifestyle, I’d recommend being a homemaker if and only if your partner is supportive and can respect you just as much even if you don’t contribute to the household income – this may seem like a no-brainer, but sadly, many husbands in India fail this test.

        While one must not look down upon homemakers, one must also take pragmatic decisions for our own well-being. It is rather like being a Uranium miner – they are as respectable as anyone else, but it is not a career one would recommend to anyone who hasn’t carefully assessed the risks and issues. It is not a career you’d really want your own children to go into.

        Being an accountant or an entrepreneur or a historian or whatever is a better option for most (but not all) people.

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        • That’s your lookout, EM.

          If you can’t see any, try looking harder.

          Try thinking about why people work in the first place. Is it because they enjoy it? Some people do, yes. For most people, though, a job is little more than a means to make a living.
          Given a choice, most people would love to quit, and spend more time with the people they love, spend more time on themselves. This applies to both men and women.

          In finance circles, one of the most common ambitions that people have is to retire early, and set up some kind of trust fund for themselves and their kids. Most people don’t make it to that point, and it is considered a prized goal. Why do you think that is?

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        • Your explanation does not make staying at home look any better.

          Why should a wife be granted to stay at home and enjoy jobless life, not a husband? What, is she too good for that?

          Obviously people work to earn, and they earn so that they can live. People have different jobs and they contribute to the society in different work areas.

          Who do you think will work for our pensions? Our kids. Would you want your daughter to slack around at home and then get let’s say 50% of your retirement benefits? Just because the working men didn’t pay enough taxes to support a national pension plan.

          As I said, maternity leaves and childcare are understandable reasons not to work (periodically).

          The rest is just a poor excuse.

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        • Who said that a husband should not be granted that right? I’m all for husbands staying at home if they want to. I’m planning to do it myself.

          Who do you think will work for our pensions? Our kids

          I don’t have kids.

          *I* will work for my pension, not my kids. My kids will do whatever the heck they want with their lives.

          The rest is just a poor excuse.

          Why?

          If I can afford to not work another day in my life, why is it so wrong to exercise that choice? It’s my life, my money. I have the right to spend both the way I want to.

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        • You either do not understand how a pension system works, or you mistake it for a personal savings account or a trust.

          If you can save up enough money to stop working – good for you!

          But if you plan to receive retirement money provided by the government, it’s gonna be somebody’s kids who will pay for you – whether you like it or not.

          You cannot pay for your own pension. By paying taxes, you can at last pay for your parents’ pension.

          You can make savings. But that’s a completely different thing.

          At the end of the day, housekeeping does not contribute to any of these.

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        • I’m sure your knowledge of pension systems in India is very substantial, but considering that my job involves dealing with such tedium on a daily basis, I’d appreciate it if you refrained from lecturing me on the subject.

          I suppose I did not make myself clear. Let me try to do so now.

          The first thing you must understand is that India does NOT have a taxpayer-funded universal social security net for retired persons. When I retire, I do not expect the government to pay me anything at all, because I am neither a federal government employee, nor am I intending to ever be among the poorest 30% of the 65+ population. The latter two categories are the only ones covered by a public pension scheme run on taxpayer money.

          What does exist in this country for most people is a set of contributory schemes that, depending on the particular scheme chosen, provide benefits, lumpsum payments and insurance cover upon retirement over the accumulated contributions plus interest.

          The main pension instrument for organized sector workers is the so-called “employees’ provident fund”, which is very much like a personal savings account with equal contributions made by the employee and the employer (on the employee’s behalf) every month. This scheme has several tax benefits, which makes it somewhat better than a regular savings account.

          The Indian taxpayer does not pay for this scheme – I do.

          For the sake of argument, let us assume that a taxpayer funded universal pension scheme did exist, just like in does in North America and most of Europe.

          Even in that scenario, your point about taxes is not really valid. Income tax collected from individuals constitutes a microscopically small proportion of the contribution to federal social security systems.
          ExxonMobil alone pays more taxes to the US Federal Government than everyone in the state of Kansas and Nebraska put together.

          Holding individuals to account in the scenario of national tax burdens is terribly pedantic at best.

          By your logic, it is unacceptable to do anything which detracts one from earning the highest possible salary.

          If an SAHM is to be berated for not contributing to national tax collections, then surely, an unambitious person who willfully refrains from grabbing chances to progress must also be held to account for paying too little.

          Where does one draw the line?

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        • EM, I have a day job (wouldn’t call it a career because I’m not passionate about it,and only do enough to “meet expectations”) that pays handsomely, is considered respectable and is relatively easy (for me), but if I were to say, win the lottery, or write a book that made millions (heh), I’d give up my job in a jiff and stay at home.

          Here’s what I’d do:
          Write about things I’m passionate about, and never find time to.
          Paint.
          Spend more time volunteering with children (teach them some stuff from “syllabus” , and spend the rest of the time trying to “decondition” the evils society conditioned into them)
          Freelance, If I find myself missing my day job.
          I’m not the domestic type, so I won’t do any chores, but I did win the lottery, so I can afford a full-time helper, right?
          Travel! (ermm, not technically staying at home, but try travelling when you have only 16 paid vacation days a year, and need to make an annual “india trip” home to appease the parents)

          I already do some of the above, but between work, and working out, and other hobbies (that I shouldn’t talk about because what if my mother is stalking me on this blog and finds out that her daughter is into some not-so-safe sports, I’ll never hear the end of it), I don’t find as much time as I’d like. Writing alone is enough to take up upto 3-4 hours of my day, if I’m working on a big project.

          So yes, there’s a lot to be said for staying at home, you don’t need to sit pretty at all, unless you’re having a “I feel pretty” moment. :D

          Enough fantasizing, back to my soul-shrivelling (not really, but always wanted to say that) day job.

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        • Even people with loads of money (especially hard earned) don’t give up on working just because they become rich.

          Not everyone likes their jobs, it is impossible to live in a world where everyone is fully satisfied with their employment options.

          But after all everyone should give something out and leave a better tomorrow for the next generation.

          Traveling the world or taking photos, with a plane ticket and a camera paid for by somebody else is not a valuable move forward.

          I admire people who try to make their dreams come true with their own invention, work and resources.

          Staying at home for the sake of having it easier or exploring your true self while all other people around work their asses off to feed you is nothing to glorify.

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        • I’m not knocking on financial independence here, I believe that you need to support yourself (unless you have inherited/saved resources, which makes you privileged enough to not hold a day job)

          But I’m curious about your take on this: How is holding a job and making your own money helping the next generation?

          I hold a job and make money, but as I see it, all I accomplish is that I help my multi-billionaire CEO and the big ones on the top rung in the corporation become richer every year. How much of the money I make (not my personal salary/bonus/etc but the revenue I help generate) goes to the people who need it?

          In my opinion, this blind belief that money will make everything automatically better is what makes us soulless and emotionally stunted as a civilization. How many rainforests get destroyed in the name of progress and an improved GDP? How many of our Tigers die because of deforestation in the name of progress? How many species go extinct every day because we humans are soullessly raping the planet in the name of improving the f***king GDP? A booming economy is worth diddly squat if you’re sitting on a barren planet wearing gas masks for oxygen.

          I believe that we’d better serve future generations if we stayed at home and lived on tomatoes we grow in our backyard. At least our children will still see tigers, and trees, and have oxygen to breathe. And we’d better serve OUR generation if we got our hands dirty working on what we believe in, instead of earning six figure salaries and the “brag rights” to go with it, donating to UNICEF, running marathons for ASHA, and volunteering for an hour a week.

          http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1291786/thich_nhat_hanh_in_100_years_there_may_be_no_more_humans_on_planet_earth.html

          I may have gone on a rant here, but all I’m saying is, you don’t need to “earn money” to justify your existence. You can be a homemaker, a social worker who earns a pittance, an artist who smokes weed and lives on food stamps,or a monk who lives an austere life, and make a big bloody difference. We’re not sheep in a herd, there’s room for individuality, and not all contribution can be measured quantitatively. And if I am lucky enough to have my family support me financially when I’m chasing my dreams, why is that a bad thing? If I choose poverty to do what I’m passionate about, why is that “nothing to glorify”? Life isn’t about achieving goals to “glorify” or brag about, for men or women, is it?

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        • @ Thumbelina
          I’m not entering politics here, because whether you are a socialist or not is completely different story, but there is actually a lot to personal contribution to the society. In India in contrast to collective morals, everyone is caring mostly only for their own business, thats why you have private schooling, healthcare and others.

          There is a reason to why your CEO gets almost all the money, and it is not the principle, but the corruption and greediness of the others that kill the good cause. You can be a fan of a pseudo-bohemian poverty, but trust me, people who are really touched by lack of money can feel it and have to deal with it every day. Money is not so far away from survival strategies as you think. You can keep your spirituality and what not and work as well. This is life.

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  19. Venturing out to comment after many days. At first I wrote a long comment then I thought i will just stick to my response on this one

    “Personally, I am 24 yet to get married, I am a post-grad and have a chosen not to pursue a career and be a homemaker after I get married (people around me are amused when I tell them about this decision, but getting up in the morning, getting ready for work and slogging for 9 hrs, coming home tired, sounds too exploitative to be true).”

    I have no problem in people wanted to be a homemaker, infact i would love too also. Unfortunately or fortunately when I married my husband i promised to share his responsibilities and vice-versa. So if I can earn and support him financially , i think I should as long as my health permits. I have no issues in people wanting to be a homemaker alone but something in this sentence irked me. If she had no intention to work why study at all??????? Why go upto post graduation level. I myself had to fight like hell to do my post graduation. Hence I value it a lot more. By dismissing her education and thereby her contribution to her family and society because she can’t slog(????? ) i wonder if she knows that she is just reinforcing what many parents in India still believe….”why should a girl child study , After all she only has to cook and clean and make babies???”

    And I have been married for 1.8 years now and one of the things I have learnt is homemaking is not easy. You have to get up an hour or two earlier, work 24 x 7 all year round, no holidays no promotion, no appreciation , no change , repetitive work which never finishes , no increment, no money and let me not even start about the amount of managerial work that goes into running a home.Not only that your life starts revolving so much inside those 4 walls ….it takes an emotional toll after sometime on some people. I am still a baby in homemaking still i just have say If this lady thinks homemaking is easier than working outside, she is going to get a rude shock.

    Marriage is more than financial security. At 24, i thought one would be well aware of that. I am surprised at her naivety.

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      • ofcourse not. I agree with you, I don’t mind people not working outside after marraige( both my sistrs don’t work and I can’t wait to take my sabattical) but I was irked by the way she had written.I felt it was very disrespectful. she could have told, i love housework, or that she didnot think she could do both but…. she said working outside was slogging(huh????).But again I may be prejudiced. As i said I had to fight to do my post graduation. My cousins were not allowed to study beyond 12th because,……. ‘well what use is education for a girl child’ mentality. MY cousin brother’s wives ar not allowed to work because …’why should a girl work? Have a nice happy time relaxing in the house’ mentality. .Girls who still have the spirit to work have been made to feel guilty that they are not giving their 100 % for the family.

        I have heard it so much that i feel like clutching my hair whenever I see a girl doing just that and being extremely proud of it too. When my sister did B tech, the people of my community began to think of sending girls to college, when I did my M tech, people of my community began sending their daughters and sons to do M tech. (My father was responsible. Many advised him…why are you sending your girls for these courses?!!). When a educated girl sits at home because she thinks working outside is slogging, she just makes the work done by many others like my father go to a waste- i feel, I may be wrong.

        She just reiterates the stereotyping – ‘oh girls!!!! better off at home’. With power comes responsibility. The educated Indian women have greater responsibility now. Education is empowering. You have to pass it on.

        But then these are all my views :)

        Anyhow I think this person’s views may change once she marries and starts managing a family and a home.

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  20. oooops! seems like i still wrote a long comment. I am not able to judge the length of my comment from this box i am writing in!!!!!!!!!

    Me – For some reason wordpress comment box size has changed, I find it very diffucult to comment because the entire comment is not visible while commenting.

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      • Word press has changed for the worse these days.
        My email address is being rejected.
        On some blogs, I now post as “Anonymous”. All other options don’t allow my comment to appear.
        I am also facing a number of hassles on some blogs when I try to comment.
        I have already lost a few comments which I had typed painstakingly.

        I now type them offline in an editor, and copy/paste them here after checking that everything is okay. I cant check in the comment box as the full comment is sometimes not visible.
        Regards
        GV

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  21. Every living sole, has the right to choose what is right for them. I don’t subscribe to the thinking that marriage is a duty, women and men can stay single, live their lives different to those who are married or decide to marry. Being single, eliminates many problems such as dowry and encourages independence.

    But there is a flip side, who says that one can only marry a person of opposite sex. If you walk away from the norm then anything is possible. What is norm in a society? Why can’t women marry women and both live together without hiding their relationship from the society? Why can’t a man marry another man? Why can’t people of the same sex live together as a couple without the need to get married?

    I often see on TV, here in the UK, of news that somewhere in India has forced their child to marry a tree, or have forced their daughter to marry a dog, and in some cases adults getting married to animals. Why is this not allowed, especially if people can decide what is best for them.

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      • Astrology still has a hold on many sections of our population.

        Those who read my post on how my marriage was arranged, will remember how my parents rushed my marriage on astrological advice. The astrologer had threatened that if I was not married by a certain date, there was no “muhoortham” for 19 years ! My mother had panicked and was impatient and annoyed with me when I bided my time. I finally got married just weeks before the deadline!

        Some astrologers after matching horoscopes, predict an early death for the husband if the marriage materialises due to unfavourable planetary positions.

        I suppose that is the background to the cases where we hear of a girl being married off to a tree. I suppose, this is resorted to when families, after noting the astrologer’s warnings, are still keen on going ahead with the marriage (for other reasons that are advantageous). So probably they use the marriage of the bride to a tree as a convenient work around to placate the planets. May be the tree is then cut and therefore technically the prophecy has been fulfilled. So now the bride can marry safely. No astrologer ever predicts multiple widowhood. And I have not heard of horoscopes for trees.

        What is interesting is that this works only in one direction.
        I have yet to hear of a man being married to a tree when an astrologer predicts an early death for his wife.

        Regards
        GV

        Like

        • Heh, I do indeed remember the story about the monkey. ;)

          The tree-marriage ceremonies are more common than most people would think.

          When I got married, my mother (who was firmly against the marriage) demanded that we at least furnish her with the bahu’s horoscope, so she could take steps to salvage our relationship – a relationship which she considered to be doomed from the very outset. Thinking that this was a harmless request, my wife complied, the horoscope was duly sent over to the family astrologer, and we forgot all about it.

          A few weeks later, I recieved a frantic phone call from my mother, telling us both to return to India immediately. Apparently, the astrologer had found an issue with the horoscopes, and had categorically stated that I’d be dead in a year unless certain ceremonies were carried out (and a certain sum paid to him) without delay.

          Now, we’d been saving up our vacation for a nice little honeymoon during the relatively lean part of the year, and definitely had no intention of using it up for some hocus-pocus ceremony that would serve no purpose at all but to line the pockets of this astrologer.

          After much argument, I reached a compromise with mother dear. It was arranged that I’d buy all the required stuff for the ceremony and the astrologer would give me and my wife instructions on what to do via telephone.

          When the appointed time came, we switched on the speakerphone, sat at the table with a magazine and pretended to follow the instructions with ever-increasing enthusiasm. To the best of my knowledge, my mother never found out about this little deception.

          Since I am alive and kicking nearly a decade after the dire warning, I think I can confidently say that I managed to save approximately $25, as well as an entire evening of awkwardness, with no adverse affects whatsoever. Not a bad bargain, eh.

          Fun times, they were.

          Like

  22. I was pre-occupied today and got to see this post rather late.
    When I read a blog post so late it often happens that all that I want to say has already been said by others.

    I don’t fancy being a “Me too..” kind of commenter and repeat those views.
    The Bride, R’s Mom, Smita, PT and others have already echoed my thoughts.

    I don’t agree with the views of this commenter.

    If she is not keen on working after marriage, and prefers to be a Stay At Home Mom, it’s okay.
    But I feel she must consider other options that enable her to use her education, training and special skills so that society benefits.

    Social work, hobbies, teaching, a small home business, taking up on line internet assignments etc are some options she could consider.

    I wish her well and thank her for her support for my views on marriage which I had aired a year ago in my comment on your old blog post.

    Regards
    GV

    Like

  23. //”But since I believe “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office). And so I will get married.”//

    In marriage you don’t work FOR the husband, you work WITH him. But let me ask you. Your husband is also entitled to think this way. So will you let him work for you (the one he loves) instead of some stranger in an office? Just curious.

    Like

  24. I usually do not comment but today I feel I should really say a huge thanks to IHM for this post. I had a discussion on these points with a friend just yesterday and some how reading them here gives me hope I am not really wrong. That I still can make some unusual decisions and stand by them for y own sake.
    :)

    Like

  25. Hi IHM,

    I have been a silent follower of your blog for very long now. There is something I do not understand from the recent discussions on the equally-tough lives of SAHW’s and I just thought I would ask if you could help me understand it better.

    I am a single 27 year old working Indian woman, born and raised in India and moved to the US for graduate school 4 years back. I currently live by myself in an apartment. I have an 8-6 full-time job and get home by around 7. I maintain the house by myself, in terms of vacuuming the house, laundry, cleaning utensils and the other activities which go into maintaining a house. I take care of the house maintenance pretty much after dinner every day and mostly on weekends. I have certain health issues so I prefer eating home-cooked food. So I end up making myself a full breakfast-lunch-dinner almost everyday.
    My boyfriend and I had lived together before I had to shift to another city for my job. We pretty much had the same lifestyle as I have described above. My life style (esp in terms of maintaining a house) was pretty much the same as now with an extra person in it.

    I have never felt that my life in terms of juggling my work and maintaining a house was hard. I have needed an hour in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening to maintain a good lifestyle and decently-maintained house.

    For the past couple of days, I have been reading many comments on how equally tough a life of a SAHW is to that of a working woman and I find me asking myself the question “If I had the whole day to do the work I do in a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the night, would’nt my life be easier?, How and why is it considered tougher?”

    I understand that the equation will be totally different if I were a SAH-mom for an infant because there will be so much extra work to do for the baby, apart from maintaining a house, cooking etc.

    What I do not get if how is my lifestyle as a working woman (with or without a partner) not more challenging than that of a SAHW or a SAHM with school-going kids?

    I have been wondering about this for the past couple of days based on the comments to your recent posts.

    I would really appreciate it if someone can help me understand this better.

    Thanks

    Like

    • ok, lemme try. the difficulty is not so much in the “quantum” of work as in the “monotony” of it. work expands to fill time available.
      as a working mom, i dont worry abt the annual cleaning and stock taking of the home library. in fact, it hasnt happened for 5 years and the annual cleaning of the household for diwali hasnt happened for 4 diwalis now. we live in a reasonably clean house, but the responsiblities are nothing compared to what it was before our child came in.

      but if i was a stay at home mom, here is what would happen:
      a. everyone – relatives, friends, husband, children – takes your presence for granted. you are expected to be there all the time bcs well, what are you doing the whole day anyway? so ppl call, make demands on ur time, all the while assuming that its no big deal. it is. it eats into ur day like nobody’s business.
      b. things expected from you at home are different. even a little dusting left unattended, a ritual left alone, leads to frowns that will not happen if you work. while no one “says” anything, a lot is expressed tacitly, so most housewives find themselves thinkingand talking abt what more can be done – recipes, clothes maintenance et al. in short, work expands to fill the time available.
      c. the kind of conversations you have in office and at home are so different!!
      d. there are no goals, no targets. so at the end of the day, the month, the quarter, the year.. any period, there is nothing that you can show and get a sense of achievement. that lack of motivation and pat on the back is a big killer.

      errm.. thats it.. dunno if that made any sense..

      Like

    • Hi Priya,

      One thing I have found regarding maintaing the home is that when I am home in India, it is much more dusty. Sweeping/vaccuming twice a day is needed to keep the same level of cleanliness as I can manage by vacuuming once a week here.
      The other thing I feel is Indian cuisine takes much longer to cook than western options. I personally prefer pastas,baked casseroles,salads and breads from bakery during the weekdays. I also don’t cook a fresh meal 3 times a day as many Indian women esp. SAH wives are expected to cook.
      I still remember my father grumbling if the veggie/dal in lunch was repeated at dinner despite having a working wife. My maternal grandfather always wanted chapatis fresh off the stove, he wouldn’t eat otherwise.
      The last thing I observed is that the work-life balance is much healthier outside India, my friends in India often have to work very late hours and also on weekends…. which makes all the difference in your energy levels when you reach back home after work.

      Like

    • A few quick points, Priya:

      Firstly, there is no objective measure of exactly how challenging a particular task is. What I find challenging may not be challenging to you at all, whereas you may struggle at tasks that I complete easily.

      One of the issues with being a SAHW is that once you take on that role, the responsibility for managing the house descends on you completely. I personally don’t find housework that difficult, PROVIDED everyone participates.

      Simple things like picking up your own dirty dishes, putting your own clothes in the laundry, making your own bed and so on and so forth, make a huge difference. In my experience, this shared responsibility tends to dissolve completely the moment a woman stops working. For some unfortunate women, these mechanisms don’t exist at all regardless of their employment status, but in general, if you quit your job and stay at home, you can expect a sharp drop in the amount of independence that the other people in the house demonstrate. You will be expected to do just about everything for them. The standards for a “well-maintained house” will tend to rise. The roles will become more divided and your sphere, your everyday experience, the cone of your daily existence, will become more and more distant from your partner’s. One of the previous posts (about the ‘henpecked husband’) is a very typical example of that divide.

      The second big issue is the matter of self-worth. I do not have any actual evidence for this, but it is my feeling that many women who choose to stay home, without properly considering the implications, start losing self-worth after a while and begin to feel under-appreciated. Managing the household for an entire family (with little support) is not an easy task, even if it is considered to be so in larger society. SAHWs are expected to perform this task flawlessly for their entire lifetime. If there is a hiccup some day, they are liable to be called out on it, but if they do the job without a hitch for years together, no one even notices it because it’s just expected.

      These issues don’t apply to women who pursue a career. Even in patriarchal societies, it is generally recognized that a working woman cannot be expected to run the house all by herself, and the contributions of these women tend to be recognized a lot more.

      I wouldn’t say that the job of a homemaker is necessarily harder than that of a career-oriented person. A lot depends on the family dynamic; if it is a supportive family, it may be easier to be a homemaker. The problem really lies in the fact that non-monetary contributions to the family are very rarely acknowledged. In an average Indian family, becoming an SAHW can be a sure way to being taken for granted 24×7, a sure path to becoming a general doormat for everyone to tread on. Coupled with the loss of financial independence, it can make life pretty hard.

      Overcoming these challenges and staying happy is a difficult task. It is not for everyone, and in my opinion, women like the commentator in the post must think long and hard before going for it. It is certainly not an option I would recommend to a daughter.

      Like

    • @Priya

      You are talking about a life in the US, living by yourself, surrounded by machinery to help maintain your home. In that sense, some of us have it easier with the help of a washing machine, dishwasher and a roomba that will sweep my floor.

      Reality in India can be much different, even for the middle class which hires help. Supervising the help is a big chore in itself. And then paying all those bills (where quite a few are not online), checking on the guy who delivers the gas cylinders, non continous water supply and electricity supply. These are a few things we do not face living abroad.

      For that matter, some of us have jobs that are more stressful than others.

      I think the inherent purpose the of the discussion was to recognize that it does take effort to maintain a home. Especially with the challenges India has to offer, and add a child to the mix, the complexity increases 100%. Right now, efforts of a spouse to run a household are totally discredited. So if someone chooses to work on the home front without a salary, they are deemed not worthy enough to be included in financial decisions and their spending rights are totally taken away.

      Each individual is different. I may work harder than my husband at home or work, or vice versa. But I cannot hold that against him when it comes to him wanting to spend on say, a new gadget. I cannot tell him that he nearly does not work hard enough, so he does not deserve the new iPad. Unfortunately, this is exactly what quite a few of the SHAM and SHAWs have to hear while spending on themselves

      Like

    • Priya, I have a similar similar experience and the key things that are different:
      – No kids. Kids are a lot of work as you already stated
      – You live in the US where I’ve found typically housework tends to be easier and less strenous because you are not vaccumming/dusting everyday for e.g. and you have a dishwasher so are not washing dishes by hand. Other work such as paying bills, shopping for groceries etc is also very easy. Commute times tend to be less and overall work hours are also less. When I worked in India I worked 50 – 55 hour weeks on average, here it’s only 40 and and a max of 45.
      The other reason is that couples living in the US only have to deal with each other not the extended family. The extended family is a lot of work. I found this out when my in laws visited. Even though my mother-in-law would help with the cooking etc. just the fact that there are more adults in the house makes for a lot more work dishes, laundry, vaccumming all go up.
      Also in the US social lives tend to be less work. When you meet people you meet at a restaurant etc you are not inviting them over for a complete home cooked meal with all the work associated with that. People don’t drop in casually for tea without planning in advance etc.

      Like

    • //”What I do not get if how is my lifestyle as a working woman (with or without a partner) not more challenging than that of a SAHW or a SAHM with school-going kids?”//
      Did you just say ‘school going kids’? You must one day try managing a house with two school going kids, with timings as different as from 7 a.m. to 11 30 a.m. and 1p.m. to 5-30 p.m. Add to that a husband who has a job that is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5p.m. to God-knows-when. :) You end up feeling all you do in life is open and close doors ;)
      Like some have already have said as a SAHW/M I automatically take on more work. Paying bills (standing in queues), taking kids to hospital, school meetings, supervising help and elder care (those ARE jobs too), giving care to elders (in which cases the ‘working’ DILs are let off).
      I am not saying my job as a SAHW/M is more stressful than yours of course (God forbid! ;) ) I would probably definitely find your work stressful.I happen to LOVE my work and chose it.

      Like

    • Hi Priya, I would like to respond to your comment based on my similar experience with and without a kid. Right now too busy to write anything coherent.

      Like

  26. my dear 24 year old: “Personally, I am 24 yet to get married, I am a post-grad and have a chosen not to pursue a career and be a homemaker after I get married (people around me are amused when I tell them about this decision,” – there is a reason why they are amused. take a hint, and save ur life. most importantly, for ur sake, take a more informed decision please.

    Like

  27. IHM, I think that while marriage is sold as a necessity to most people- the traditional definition also makes it out to be an individuality destroying enterprise- where you are “responsible” and you “sacrifice” and “compromise” and fulfill proscribed roles.
    I am speaking only from anecdotal personal evidence, marriage is not like that- I have found it to be very supportive, very accommodating and have found ample opportunity to explore my own options. But then I did not have a traditional marriage- married for love, lived in and did not change my name- and he changed his job to be with me (and no, he does not “regret” his sacrifice- or at least pretends very well!!!).
    I feel the joys of companionship are often very highly overrated in our society. Being with someone is great IF IT IS THE RIGHT PERSON. But that caveat is never added to any discussion.
    It is always about how essential being with someone is. We are not encouraged to learn about ourselves, never encouraged to be alone to figure ourselves out. I have found out a lot about how to be with others by being alone and by myself. But the single state is looked down upon, though if you think about it, we are all very very alone- or perceptions of life, partnership and other things are very individual- we mostly are born alone and die alone too- why this aversion to loneliness in the interim?

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  28. Financial dependence is not a requirement to be getting married. I would like to ask this person what she would do if her husband demands that she works since she is a post grad, say, after marriage? what would she do if he denies to give her money if she chooses to stay at home(after all she is a dependent here)? what if her husband is unappreciative of her “work”, and/or her in-laws nitpick her work? Empowerment is not just going out and earning money, empowerment is in valuing yourself enough, whatever role you may be in, to not become a doormat to other’s wishes.

    Like

    • sushma, very well said. //Empowerment is not just going out and earning money, empowerment is in valuing yourself enough, whatever role you may be in, to not become a doormat to other’s wishes//

      I will also add’ is not just wearing western clothes, converse in English or even live abroad’ And when we talk of modern, educated, empowered women, we only take into account the things you said in ‘not’ category. ‘Value self’ is totally missing, and sad to say I am one of them..slowing learning ( lot from IHM’s blog)

      Like

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