Let me share a comment in response to “An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?” (Click to read)
How common do you think are these expectations? How common is it for Indian women to feel fortunate and empowered that they are marrying a family and not a man? In general, are women able to/allowed to choose?
I apologize to the email writer, because I have not sufficiently engaged with her problems. Just got on my own train of thoughts that I wanted to share here. This is quite possibly a separate mail, as I have no answers for her, but only going to talk about me.
//Moral of the story for all going-to -be -married ppl is never to agree to live in a joint family after marriage.//
As a ‘good’ son, who’s at the age when he should be thinking about getting married, these kind of mails/comments put the fear of God into me.
My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.
That her conception of a marriage is going to be principally about ‘me and her’ and not principally about my family and hers.
I grew up in an environment where individual identities weren’t a big deal. Individuals were integral part of the families, where the sum is greater than the parts and naturally got greater precedence. There wasn’t anything to think about it at all. And this wasn’t always about women. Men choosing careers, other life-choices was always wedded to the interests of the family, even as things got more and more nuclear.
Slowly this has begun to be viewed as ‘stifling’ and it gets mixed with the debate about a women’s role in the marriage. But I think it is larger than that. It is the individual and the family.
This kind of ‘judging parents’ is just not done. They can be difficult it just does not matter. They can’t be approached with a calm weighing of pros-and-cons. In fact the terms with which relationships are being discussed here – ‘fairness’, ‘I do my bit’, really leaves me baffled. I see one commentator has done person-hour math about kitchen time!!
Anyway each to his own. Let me stay on me..
These new-fangled ideas of parents ‘letting the kids live their lives’ do not appeal to me. I just want my parents to be as they are today. Comfortable making the kind of decisions (or what would be called ‘intrusions’) they have been always been making. I don’t want them, at this age, to start withdrawing into a ‘you have your life, we have ours, we’ll meet for dinner’ mode of things. If marriage were to do that to my relationship with my parents, it would be quite disappointing.
And they are already mentally preparing to turn our relationship into one between adults who respect each other. And I know they are consciously turning into different people as this is in my best interest, going forward. I just want to be treated as always: like a kid, who can be ordered about and taken for granted – not politely asked favours. In fact I get very annoyed when they say: ‘would it be possible for you to do this?’ when the last two words would have sufficed.
I want to be someone with whom they can speak their mind to, without fear of being judged. And I hate it that they are slowly transitioning away because popular media and their social network is teaching them to ‘be mature’, ‘to stay out of your adult son’s business’ etc.
I know that seems to work for most people these days. I also know I probably skipped a generation: I much prefer the relationships my aunts had with my grandparents than my cousins (and cousins-in-law, I have no siblings) have with my aunts. It worries me that the girl I am probably going to marry, is likely to prefer the latter.
I always make career/life choices that ensure my parents are most comfortable. I don’t like associating words like duty, sacrifice etc. with this, because all of that emanate from an individualistic thinking. What I am talking about is, having really no considerable conception of oneself as an individual, in the first place. IMO, more than any attributes, it is his/her relationships that defines a person. Someone who is even conscious of placing a family’s interests above one’s ‘own’ is going to have a problem. It’s only a matter of time.
I realize, the way I have presented it is quite paternalistic as I I have not mentioned my relationship with my parents-in-law. Actually I am resolving to go all out on that. And that is not just because of reciprocity, because that is how I naturally feel about marriages and relationships.
Heck, the last few years I have been thinking about my prospective parents-in-law, whoever they are, more than about my prospective wife.
Will they be living with us? What can I do to make them comfortable with me, my parents (4 elder people, starting to live together in the autumn of their lives – one can anticipate discomforts).
Or will they not choose to live with us? Where then? With my siblings-in-law? What if they live in another city? Will my wife be ok with that? (I can’t conceive not living under the same roof as my parents, let alone in a different city). Or would we need to move to a place that works for all of us. Or will they be more ‘mature and distant’ people, than me and my parents? In which case, would a girl who grew up in that environment enjoy become the closeness of our family? Or would she call it ‘suffocating’?
And so on and so forth that it is just crazy. My question is, is it possible a girl out there is likely to be thinking about a marriage along these lines and not thinking principally about the guy she is going to marry?
And the more I read the comments here, the more I doubt the possibility of that.
- Scaredy Cat
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