How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Indian women ‘pay’ to get married. The payment begins at birth (and frequently before), women are denied opportunities to become self reliant, they are denied fitness that comes from playing out in the sun, they are not allowed to socialize or to have relationships, they also pay with their safety and freedom, inheritance, career opportunities, health etc.

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Preeti D shared this link, what do you think?

Homemakers likely to get monthly salary from husbands soon - I think the heading should have been – Couple’s assets earned during the marriage likely to be seen as joint property.

“The work that women do at home is also economic activity but it goes unaccounted. If children are sent to a creche, then money has to be spent. If somebody from outside does cooking or any other work, money has to be spent. And the quality of work of homemakers cannot even be compared with others,” Tirath said.

The minister said if a portion of a husband’s income is allocated as wife’s share, it is likely to be spent on better food for children, on their education and the overall quality of standard of living of that household.

“Working in homes is economic activity and if this is recognised, it will give us a truer reflection of what the GDP of our country is. It will also help us know more accurate figure of the rate of real unemployment in the country,” Tirath said.

Here are some TOI comments.

why some percentage when entire salary is controlled by wife??? i wonder in which country this congress govt lives??

Perhaps, for some women it does, everything is jointly decided so long as the couple is happily married.

But what happens if one of them (for whatever reason) wants to separate? Which one is likely to find themselves in a marriage they don’t want to be because they are not financially self reliant (because they were married)?

Quantifying the numerous efforts and dedication of a homemaker is impossible and measuring it in terms of money would be absolutely disrespecting.

The numerous efforts and dedication have not empowered the homemaker – maybe an equal share in family’s earnings (made during the period of the marriage) would be a more honest way of showing respect?

I think this posts answers most of these questions: Men and women work equally hard in general, and yet society only considers “men’s work” as work deserving of pay.

Related posts:

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.

The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?

Haryana panchayat cuts off married girls from parents’ property

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

Do Indian men benefit from being married in exchange of dowry?

How illegal bans on Valentine’s day and birthday parties are connected with dowry deaths and sex selection.

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

Were Indian Women Better Off As Homemakers?

When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

Paraya dhan and her limited rights.

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

Ramblings of a henpecked husband? A comment.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

140 thoughts on “How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

  1. If home-making is an economic activity, it’s fair to get a salary for it. But also a process of appraisal, then? Just as there are slacker employees, there are slacker ‘homemakers’. I know women who are positively encouraged to work and carve out a career for themselves but they are just not interested. My poor grandmother, for example, is saddled with her grandchildren all day (she’s 80 and doesn’t really want to do this) and does all the housekeeping while her daughter in law spends all day shopping. They tried to get her a job but she didn’t want to do that either. So, my point is, that some women do deserve a salary for the work they put in, but if they don’t do any work at all, they are not entitled to any extras just because they happen to be married and choose not to work outside the home.

    • If your grandmother was financially independent, she should be able to have more say here…
      And would her daughter in law be able to do all that she does today, if she was divorced? Should a womans life be really this dependent on staying married?

      • My grandmother has her own money. She just dotes on her stupid son. Misguided love more than financial constraints are driving this toxic equation.

        • “And would her daughter in law be able to do all that she does today, if she was divorced? Should a womans life be really this dependent on staying married?” I don’t really know what you mean here? You know, the daughter-in-law enjoys the free ride, her husband is relatively indifferent to what goes on — he’s such an ass that my mother (his half-sister) broke all ties with him for taking advantage of his mother’s hospitality. There are horrible fights between my grandma and this woman – in fact, my grandma even ‘ran away’ from home since she has independent means. But she came back in a month or so — let’s not forget she’s eighty and pretty set in her ways.

        • Oh, they loathe each other. They just have an easy ride that’s all, so they’re motivated to stay with each other and to reproduce. The man is awful and regressive and the woman has never been taught the importance of self-reliance and work and well, basic human decency. My grandmother can be quite a harridan too but she’s always stood on her own feet – through two marriages and a lot of tough times.

    • “Just as there are slacker employees, there are slacker ‘homemakers’.”

      Government offices have both types, slackers and eager beavers. They draw the same salary. Just saying.

      • I don’t work in a government office. if I slacked off, i’d be fired — as simple as that. And i think it’s fair. You really think systemic corruption, where people who don’t deserve to be rewarded are rewarded, should be perpetuated rather than a fairer corporate meritocracy?

        • In any situation where a salary is drawn, targets need to be set. Whether it’s sales or manuscripts edited or laundry.

        • I think once a system of sharing of assets becomes the norm, more people would value the work done at home, maybe then all the work would be shared and women would be encouraged (from childhood) to be self reliant and to be equal direct-contributors to family income.

        • I already said, “Just saying”. That in no way means either that you work in a govt office or that I want undeserving people to be rewarded. Far from it.

        • I don’t know about your workplace, but even corporate India is kinder to its employees than the average Indian household is to its women.

          There’s a very good reason why most men stubbornly resist taking equal responsibility for parenting and housework. This trend is seen across the world.

          Paid work offers fixed hours, fixed remuneration, social and economic recognition, professional fulfillment, psychological validation and a whole host of incentives that housework simply cannot offer.

          Society and the economy would come to a grinding halt the second women stopped performing all the unpaid work that they do — cook, clean, send kids to school, help them with schoolwork, provide eldercare, laundry, grocery shopping, chase after plumbers, milkmen and electricians, paying utility bills, keeping doctor’s appointments.

          I think home-makers should be included in various pension schemes, and should build their own retirement funds independent of the wage-earner’s income.

  2. “Quantifying the numerous efforts and dedication of a homemaker is impossible and measuring it in terms of money would be absolutely disrespecting.”

    This comment is equivalent to declaring women to be goddesses, putting the goddess on a pedestal and locking her up in a temple. An excellent way of ‘putting women in their place’ and batting for the status quo!

    • I agree. It’s perfectly possible to quantify what a homemaker does. Jobs included within this career can be listed and a salary set for each. If the homemaker doesn’t do the job properly, though, how can she be penalized for it? if you treat something like a salaried job, it includes a lot more than money. When something is formalized, performance has to be appraised as well. Or it’s just free money.

      • I don’t think there should be “payment” – I think there should be equal sharing of earning during the marriage – because one partner contributes by giving up opportunities and makes it possible for the other partner to be a parent without needing any career breaks, or in many cases the husband and his family doesn’t approve of women working – this too would change if stopping a woman from working doesn’t mean her life can be controlled by keeping her in dependence.

        More families would support self reliance for women when they realise her not working doesn’t make her dependent on them.

        I really think you should to take a look at this post,

        1.Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.
        http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/society-benefits-immensely-from-childbearing-childrearing-and-caregiving-work-that-currently-goes-unpaid/

        • This is a good point. I suppose I don’t come from a typically Indian family and nor did I really marry into one so it’s hard for me to identify with some of the things spoken about here. There are so many women out there who start out with a major disadvantage right from their family of origin and they do need a fighting chance, some fiscal ammunition. Still, just like in any reservation situation, there need to be controls and conditions or the system just gets abused.

  3. Here comes a big question from my male colleague. His wife is a housewife.They have a cook, who comes twice a day to cook. They have a full time maid and a gardner who comes thrice a week. So his question is if he has to pay his wife monthly. Then who will pay for the cook, maid and gardner. He has to pay alone or it will be shared between them. He asked this question very seriously.

    • Supervisors generally make more than their minions. My boss gets more than twice my salary, so perhaps she should get their combined salary for the job she does — keeping track of their performance, assigning tasks, making improvements. I personally don’t understand why people need so many servants. My husband and I have a part-time cleaner and a cook who comes in thrice a week to do general prep work. We manage the rest between us. I’m lucky though, that my husband works from home. Maybe I should pay him for managing these people.

      • As, domestic arrangements vary widely in Indian families.

        I’ll give you my own example — when I was married, I lived with my husband, his widowed mother and aunt and an unmarried younger sister.

        My husband and I both work, while the other three members of the household were home the whole day.

        However, being the DIL and wife, I was expected to share equal responsibility for domestic chores despite having 12-hour workdays.

        This meant that I worked from morning till night while other members of the family got adequate R&R (husband in the evening, MIL,SIL and AIL in the afternoon).

        This allocation of domestic chores is typical of Indian joint families where the DIL and wife is expected to bear primary responsibility for domestic chores.

        • Just because it’s ‘expected’ doesn’t mean we do it. It’s NOT fair and we need to speak up or get out instead of martyring ourselves.

        • Well, I am divorced now — so no, I did not “martyr” myself.

          I was trying to point out that it is difficult to fight against entrenched ways of doing things; especially in a joint family set-up, without a husband’s support and everybody’s willingness to compromise.

          A woman’s options are also limited when her birth family or her husband refuses to back her up. Or if she lacks employable skills or if her skills are rusty. Typically women also cut back on professional commitment after marriage. All these add up and disadvantage her in the workplace.

          The solution is not to blame women for “martyring” themselves and being responsible for their own oppression. It may certainly appear that way to somebody whose life situation is a little more privileged.

        • First of all, congratulations on the divorce. Sounded like a really horrible life in that household. Yes you’re right, those of us who are more privileged tend to be more judgmental of women who don’t work outside the home – I’m certainly guilty of that. But yes, I do strongly believe that women need to take a stand and take control. We can blame patriarchy, and correctly so, for lots of things but if we limit ourselves to that argument then men and women both lose personal accountability and responsibility to act. I think shelters for women, feminist education, and job training are so much more important than looking for fresh ways to gild the cage.

  4. I pay her wages for looking after the kids and the house. She pays me rent for staying at my place and travelling in my car and sleeping on my bed. Her parents pay me rent whenever they drop over.She asks for more wages when my folks drop by. I deduct wages whenever she nags me as i consider that as a drop in quality of service provided. I pay her for sex. She pays me for my sperm or should i pay her for renting her womb? Should she pay me for romance? What if i want romance and she wants sex. Who pays who?. All in all this calls for detailed prenup to hash out all the details before anyone gets into the marriage contract in India.

    • Or you both share whatever is earned while you are married? Many couples do that anyway and many more claim to do that, but often the one who is not earning is dependent.

      Do you think it’s a bad idea for couples to share whatever is earned while they are married?

      • She gets to be a part of the kids life while I get to do a job i don’t like just to provide for the family. She stays safe at home, while i venture out to work taking risking my health and personal safety for which i pay by dying earlier. And if things head south in the marriage she walks out with the kids and god knows what else while i am left with what exactly? my crappy job? There should be some division so that the wife is not scared into staying in a marriage. Such marriages are a disaster for the kids, the wife and also the husband.. But certainly not a 50-50 division. The best solution is for both partners to work and to maintain different bank accounts and for the govt to ensure she gets a paid maternity leave.

        • Many women do stay in unfulfilling marriages for exactly that reason.

          This is especially true in marriages of the preceding two generations. I have seen marriages in my extended family where the husband-wife relationship is exactly like a master-slave relationship.

          The husband holds the purse-strings and the wife’s life is like that of a puppet on a string.

          While no two marriages are alike, but men in general have the upper hand in Indian marriages.

    • @Anon – Also, seeing how it affects the society, (and causes so many social evils from dowry to sex selection, to death due to domestic violence and bride burning, to widows in Vrindavan to abandoned little girls and general disrespect towards women’s issues, violence against women etc…) don’t you think we should be looking for some way to ensure that getting married does not mean that the wife has to become dependent on the husband or his family?

      • To really rid the problem at the root would be to encourage all women to work outside the domestic setting. Right from the beginning. And it IS becoming more and more common. If you look at the matrimonial columns these days, most men are seeking women who work anyway. The financial burden needs to be shared. If only there could be a system that isn’t inherently unfair to men as well.

        • But do these working wives have a ‘wife’ or support at home? Most Indian working wives are ‘allowed’ to work as a favour. This income is seen as a compensation for dowry sometimes. Many (most?) working women hand over their earnings to their mothers in law/husbands.

        • That’s what the FIGHT is about isn’t it. Even if it means living a harder life. It’s about 1) not caring how other people see you as long as you can support yourself and (b) leaving any situation where your capacity to be independent is threatened. My family is full of divorces for such reasons and we’re better off for it.

    • The answer lies in your comment. Your kids,your house, your car. What about your wife? Can you tell me according to you which all things belongs to her? Because of these things only 50-50 sharing is required. A wife always thinks house to be theirs, kids to be theirs and car to be theirs.

  5. The comments in the article have left me depressed. I can only imagine they are this upset with this because they believe they are owed a wife who will take care of the house with no expectations of compensation.

    I don’t know if I agree with “paying” housewives. With the mentality Indian men tend to have , they might assume that after paying the wife , they have no more responsibility towards her.

    I feel that a couples income no matter who earns how much, should be considered joint income, and so also all the responsibilities chores and tasks they need to do, a joint thing. So as couple you can balance income V/s time.

      • So if you were spending long hours in an office and earning and while your husband decided to stay home, you’d be OK with giving him joint rights to your money? I’m asking because as a working woman I’m pretty protective of what i earn. While my husband and I make joint expenses sometimes we don’t even have a joint account (because I don’t want one) — my rationale is that we’re sharing our lives but we’re still separate, independent people. We are not one entity.

        • If you wanted your husband to stay at home and manage the house, to bear your children, and to raise them, risk his career and health with pregnancies and breaks from career – would you be willing to share what you earn during your marriage with him? Would it be fair not to?

        • Well , I would be OK if he wasn’t earning, but doing something productive. Like housework and bringing up our kids, or maybe studying for a post graduate degree , or starting a new business venture , following his dream to become a painter…anything really.

          A couple is like a unit, so you need to balance income,time, dreams, skill, responsibilities etc, etc…. But its no different from what you do as an individual. Even as an individual you have to choose between all those various factors , all the time, anyway.

    • Tania, I think the root of the problem is the unfettered sense of entitlement some Indian men have.

      If a couple genuinely respects each other and is fully committed to each other, the house becomes “our” house, the kids become “our kids” and the money becomes “our money”. This is in contrast to Anon’s comment about “his” house and “his” bed.

      These issues arise when the husband or the wife wants to tilt the balance of power in their favour.

      My mother was a primary school teacher who made 1/1000th of what my father earned. They are both retired now, but all property/ financial assets have always been jointly-held.

      I have seen that when both partners have equal committment and trust in each other, such issues tend to be amicably solved; to the advantage of both partners.

  6. Well, first of all, having children isn’t something women should do ‘for’ their husbands… yikes! It has to be a mutual decision. And of course the child must be provided for, ideally by both parents. In some western cultures men are granted paternity leave and that I think is a great thing. Both parents stick around till the child can be tended to by paid childcare providers and then both return to work. When this is not possible, the parent who has the greater earning capacity should head back to the work force and then yes pay (share more income with, if you will) the one who sacrifices his/her career. But as long as there are no babies happening i don’t think so. Hell if I had a baby and had to stay home I’d bleed my husband dry. But if I just hung around and did little more than supervise the dusting and the cooking i’d be owed nothing.

    • Which really makes me feel ill at how in India we allow children to dictate our lives and lose our identities as individuals. There’s so much overparenting everywhere and mothers need to let go and follow their own dreams as well. And man many many women in urban areas are doing it now. Children shouldn’t be our only purpose in live, ever. All it teaches them is that they’re the centre of the universe — not helpful when they’re faced with the real world.

    • But please consider, why would you be at home?
      Most, a huge majority of Indian women who stay at home are there as elder care givers and as mothers, often trying to have a male child. Their parents have also given a bigger dowry than they could afford. Most women are not ‘allowed to work’ or else they work only part time, so the children/husbands/in laws are not neglected – even today. The idea is that working women neglect their children/husbands/families, and they get ‘modern ideas’ and become too ‘bold’. Bold, modern, westernised and ‘azad’ (free) are used as negatives words.

      • Women need to fight these awful ideas, question marriage itself, question this obsession with children — just being on a dole arrangement isn’t going to cause any social change in the long run — it may just increase dowry demands because wives will need to be ‘paid’ in addition to being fed and have a roof over their head. If you’re situating women in a scenario where they’re not supposed to be ‘bold’ and ‘not work’ I cannot imagine them having any success in getting any extra compensation for their efforts. For real change, the focus needs to be on building independence outside the marital home, for job creation. A handout is no answer.

  7. Aww man, IHM, I have some bad news (or opinions)–I don’t think it’s possible. Unless women get paid for house work (and btw, I believe it’s the government’s job to do this through taxes), they’re never going to be treated equally as the male folk. If the government pays for housework then women do not have to be dependent on their male partners.

    • Sounds good in theory, but in real life , depending on the ‘government’ to pay you to life your life- have a home, have kids, etc. leads to a sense of entitlement and a being-on-benefits culture -a socialist nanny state – which is in itself economically unsustainable in these times. The UK is a good example.

      I think there’s very little that society and the government can do to ensure economic equality in a marriage- in the end it boils down to homemakers to define their rights , expect more help from their partners, and always maintain a skill set that will help them in the working world, even if they aren’t currently working.

        • The key to minimising this dependance is what GV-jee suggested- a joint account held in both partners names, into which all earnings go.It is a fair and elegant system and would benefit a couple where one works and not the other.

          That being said, I don’t think the government can/should legally enforce this joint account or create a system of payouts for homemakers- from a purely legal standpoint, the act of getting married, choosing to work/not work, and having children are entirely voluntary choices.I do not deny that this unpaid work is the glue that makes a society functional- however , this work is done for our husband/family(not for the government/society, though they collaterally benefit) and hence the husband/family are the ones who ‘owe’ us.

          The onus should lie on us , the women, actually- if we think we will be opting out of the workforce we must ensure that we marry a fair and just guy, and discuss the sharing of finances before tying the knot. If a man thinks an equal sharing is out of the question, re-evaluate if he’s the right person.This is equally true for men.

        • //the act of getting married, choosing to work/not work, and having children are entirely voluntary choices//

          Unfortunately for most Indian women, these are not voluntary choices.

        • Yes, that’s true. It’s unfortunate that forced marriages are not specifically punishable by law in India. It’s hard to discuss a topic such as this when the social spectrum is so vast. I guess my responses are based primarily keeping in mind the educated middle class kind of women who do have a say in selecting a partner, be it arranged or self-chosen.
          If and when I do get married , I would want to contribute a little to a joint account but keep the rest of my finances separate if my partner was also working.
          If my partner stays at home, I would share everything equally with him- even without a law telling me to do so. I hope if the roles were reversed, he would do the same for me as well.

  8. And I have heard that Indian Women are to get one thousand rupees / month for all the services .really ??This is really discouraging because if a women in my position has to get married , leave job for my in laws and kids and all i get is 1K / month I would rather adopt a baby and give both of us a better life . Spend time with my parents who help me more than taking my services for granted , and have Boyfriends for sexual needs and anyways I have best friends for emotional needs. So , after 10 years I will have 1 well behaved kid , Love of my parents , No house chore to do , a house , a car and money ( with that sexy wardrobe , foreign trips , time to spend on my hobbies ) plus a decade of good sex.

    Now shall I compare it with one of friend who will get married now ..after a decade when she will look back , she will have 1 lakh 20 thousand earned money , kids , in laws and husband to take care of as in food , laundary , family functions , illness , finance management , Shopping etc., No or less sex , no property on her name , no rights or means to support her own parents , No close friends to discuss personal stuff.

    Can you see what I will chose ???

    If on the other side , I have a partner and we decide to share common chores and expenses. we plan for kids , spend equal time , effort and emotions in raising them .Save and indulge according to preference . Jointly own property . Have our own set of friends and are free to help our own parents . And if one of us takes time off because of any reason , they should get support as a partner not limited to money but space and time etc . There will be respect of labour and people will not judge working in bank better than working in kitchen.

    People compare salaries here , it won’t be a question if I get equal opportunities as men. I for one am earning as much if not more than any Guy in my Engg batch and I know women who are earning way better than men of their age because if equal opportunities

    Another point is about Will i be happy to pay my husband for staying home . Yes , I will be happy to share my property if there is total role reversal. But I would rather be happy with an Equal partner who preferably be a good cook. I don’t really care if he earns as much as me or less or more , as long as we can co-exist together with respect and have basic compatibly.

    • The last option works for everyone but alas is less frequently chosen because it inconveniences the in-laws and the society at large.

      As AS pointed out women HAVE to negotiate a fairer deal for themselves, refuse to put up with unequal domestic arrangements and refuse to marry men who want not a wife but a doormat.

  9. I would like to not use the words “wife” or “husband” in this at all. If you’re going to address this issue, why not also ensure that the wife’s income is shared as well? Not all husbands earn more than their wives.

    Moreover, what of those marriages (like mine) where the parties WANT to keep their finances separate? Why is the government so keen and anxious to assume that ALL women need financial aid? You can’t make a law on such flimsy assumptions. The law is meant to give justice to everyone – not “most” of the people.

    • Bhagwad :they also decided that this was worth 1000 rs / month.
      Problem is more complex and there are no clear answers .
      partners sharing expenses and responsibilities is an Ideal world , not everyone is comfortable with this .

      • But average Indian women are not allowed this – their dowry, their earnings, often even their jewellery is handed over to the in laws or spouse. They don’t have much or any say in what they buy for themselves, and even if they do, they definitely have no rights on any matrimonial property earned during their most productive years, in case of a separation – Radha has described a very common scenario. This is what makes an average Indian woman easy to abuse.

    • But Bhagwad, this is only for housewives. I assume , by housewives, they mean women with no outside income. Marriages like yours where spouses want to keep finances separate, both parties would have incomes.

  10. Instead of paying a salary to the wife, I feel every couple must have a joint account after marriage.
    All assets acquired after the marriage must be the joint property of the couple, irrespective of the fact that one party might have earned and contributed more to acquiring the asset.

    I am married for 37 years and my wife has been entitled to dip into our joint account any time she felt the need to.
    Only major withdrawals are discussed with me. Otherwise she is free to draw whatever money she needs from our joint account. for all routine expenses and purchases. She has her own credit card and I have mine and the amount is debited to our joint account.
    I have earned over five to six times what she has earned during our working careers and she has done over 10 times the amount of work I did that was needed to run the household, but we own all our current assets on a 50-50 basis.
    All our fixed deposits are held jointly.
    My immovable property is also in our joint names.
    So I guess I can be exempted from any law that makes it mandatory for a man to pay a salary to his wife for household services.
    Regards
    GV

    • The problem is that each marriage is different. Some marriages LIKE to keep everything separate with separate investments, separate property and separate expenses.

      The government should not mandate a particular way for a marriage to function. It’s up to the two individuals to create their own life and make it work.

      Otherwise, the government is essentially saying “A marriage means xyz and abc. It has to be structured in this way and every other way is wrong.”

      I don’t believe it’s right for the government to get to dictate how every marriage in the country must work.

      • But how does one make it difficult for in laws and husbands and even their own families from making Indian women dependent on their husbands, although (in general) they work equally (if not more) hard and give up so much for Getting and Staying Married?

        • Maybe just make it easier for women to not have to stay married. Make divorce easier and make scholarships for professional training and hostels more widespread. Laws need to reduce rather than strengthen the hold of marriage on a woman’s life.

        • It’s simple – increase the amount of alimony or child support that must be paid based on how much the wife and the husband earn as well as based on the kind of lifestyle the couple used to enjoy while they were still married.

          For property that was acquired after marriage (except for inheritance and gifts), it can be divided equitably but not necessarily equally. This requires a consideration of each person’s income as well as what each person claims. You can’t just blindly award assets to someone even when they don’t want it! That’s arbitrary and makes a mockery of what is fair.

          If we mention the words “husband” or “wife” or “man” or “woman”, you’re essentially condemning every marriage that is does not meet the “standard expectation” of the traditional role of a man and a woman. This will also mean that the state then gets to officially decide these roles.

          Do we really want that?

  11. The ideal solution, of course, is if the wife does not actually have to be financially dependent on her husband and has an independent means of income of her own.

    Failing that, if the wife is fully dependent on her husband’s income , then I’d suggest
    a) a portion of the monthly income to be deposited into a joint account to take care of the household requirements, children’s needs, mortgage payments, other common expenses etc
    b) reminder of the income to be split equally and deposited 50-50 in 2 accounts (one for the husband, one for the wife) for their own personal expenses.

    After all, if the wife is seriously considered as an equal partner in the marriage, then how can she not have an equal share of the income?

    There were some points raised about “what if the wife is lazy and does not do household work?” etc. It’s a valid point. The same holds true for the husband as well. “What if the husband is a drunkard or a gambler and wastes most of the money?”…”what if the husband abuses his position as the provider to keep his wife subservient?” etc etc. There is no standard response to each of these queries. It will differ on a case by case basis in each family.

    Like Bhagwad, I’m also not comfortable with the government legislating on what is essentially a private arrangement which differs from couple to couple. However, is there a different way to ensure that wives do not get cheated out of their due?

  12. Every marriage and individual is different, I agree a lot of women are xploited, I also agrree that sitting at home and taking care of the family is no cake walk, but i don’t agree with 1000rs . there is no set number, it differs, with different situations.
    My best case scenario would be in case of a split split everything earned / acquired after marriage evenly. whomever is the one working outside or inside the home shuldn’t matter.

    take for example 2 scenaios, i came into this marriage with 10,000rs in my a/c and maybe 5salwars :-) yep that’s it.. my husband came into the marriage with 2 homes, a car and a bike , a cook , a all-purpose help/driver and businesses. of course he has considerably inherited from his parents who were no more. still.. now as of today i have a job/ run a business and so does he, we have 2 sons whom we both raised ( i did more when they were older, he certainly did the sleepless night and crying babies) and now that they have left the nest for college we are just back to 2 again. however all our assets are joint including property he inherited and held before i even met him. all our aquired property are again jointly held and trust me i was no great homemaker, I’d have died without our cook’s help and advise.

    My neighbour and close friend ( late 40′s) used to have a nice job an dlik eme quit it when she got married and moved. her MIL stays with her, from the start, even when she was young the mil was unwilling to lift a finger and for the past 2decades plus this friend is the genereal purpose slave int hat house. 2 kids in college now and the mil is still around yes 69 now and tending towards various ills , she’s going to be there till she dies , I’d give it another 10 yrs or so . my friend is ready to dump her husband but most assets are in his name and she is thought of as useless !!! while the mard works hard and comes back tired. he is inthis same dead end govt job for the past 25 yrs and enjoys a nice life , she has been working for her house, kids and MIL and has not had a day’s leave.. he will retire in 8 more yrs and she doesn’t see the end in sight. acco to her her rest starts when she dies !! how can 1000rs be even thought of as fair int his context…

  13. OMG you guys are scaring the sh*t out of me. I plan to get married very soon.

    I thought marriage is about sharing everything. You are one unit and share all the money all the time. Respect the homemaker for what she does (housewife’s job is the toughest job in the world in my opinion- cook,clean raise kids etc. and all this for no appreciation) and she respects you for getting the bread and butter. I thought when two people love each other all other things are secondary.( I should stop watching those stupid bollywood movies- they never show the ‘what happens after’)

    I thought there was no ‘me’ and it was ‘us’. My parents had their share of problems but as far as money was concerned it was always ‘their’ money(or rather the family money-including the kids) not my dads.

    I find the whole idea of paying for the house work disgusting. Paying for cleaning,cooking,even sex-makes her sound like a prostitute . Some of you mentioned about the appraisal system. Seriously guys??? Do u love your corporate jobs as much as you love your family? Does it have a give and take relationship always? But then again I am not married so may be you guys know better.

    I thought if my fiance wanted to continue working(she works currently) after the wedding she would be the one who will manage the finances.

    Anyway, comments on this post makes me scared about getting married. I hope the future wife loves and shares like i expect to do and does not ask me to pay her up.

    P.S- Ideally in case of a separation the non earning partner should get a better share, the one keeping the kids should get more and in the Indian context-where generally women stay at home- women should get a bigger share. However, since we don’t live in a utopian world and we don’t really know the actual reason for divorce so I guess a 50-50 split of the money would be good.

    P.P.S.- Please publish some good news in the next post. You really f***ed up my mind. I am sure you can come up with some positive story going on around in the world.

    • It doesn’t have to be this way and it is and continues to be a common pot for most good marriages. Now that your eyes are open, please ensure that both parties get their respect in the relationship. There is really no reason cooking, cleaning and raising kids is one person’s job. It takes two to conceive kids because it takes two and an entire village to raise them! Pregnancy is the least of parenthood!

      • @IHM
        I don’t see Marital Property Act as bad news( in fact I don’t really know what the act contains). Like I said, in case of separation both parties should get equal share (non earning member should get a little more or something like a monthly compensation). But to sign something like a pre-nup makes the whole thing business like- something that i don’t like.

        Somehow the idea of paying for housework to a wife or a husband(whoever does it) does not sound good. May be i am old fashioned but I don’t like the idea. Wife is not a kaam-wali bai, prostitute rolled into one. She is more than that. She is the life.
        Share everything -yes. Paying for work-no

        @Sangitha
        “Now that your eyes are open, please ensure that both parties get their respect in the relationship……”

        My eyes were already open. I don’t need to read blogs to know the difference between right and wrong.
        I have lived outside India for some time and have seen dignity of labour in every profession. So I respect the pettiest(as some would say) of works. There is no way I am not respecting the most amazing woman in my life -whatever she chooses to do-work, stay at home etc.

        “There is really no reason cooking, cleaning and raising kids is one person’s job.”
        I never said so. I guess it was just a rhetorical statement from you. So i will let it pass.

        @IHM- I am not sure if you and other have noted this. But sometimes I feel that the people who comment here are a little patronizing and start nitpicking the moment they read views that are not in line with their way of thinking. I agree with most of the comments 99% of the times but sometimes those ultra feminist views just p*ss me off. It is like the other extreme of women suppression.

        P.S- This is not a complaint. Just an observation.

  14. Coming out of lurkdom to comment. This discussion only proves that marriage is an economic institution. No matter how much society tries to make it sacred and about love, that economic aspect will always exist (unless the institution of marriage is changed). Can’t really escape that.
    This also raises the issue of whether being what women do inside the home is considered “work.” But the way marriage is and was structured is for women to be financially dependent on their husbands (yes I do realize this varies with individuals) but I’m talking about marriage as a whole.

    In my opinion, the only way for is for women to earn their own money and possibly even restructuring marriage so that it’s not a financial institution.

    • “This also raises the issue of whether being what women do inside the home is considered “work.”
      That’s the irony. Apart from childcare, eldercare and domestic labour, what women normally also provide to their husband and kids (especially kids) is unwavering emotional support and attention.

      What price does one fix for that? Emotional caring and support is even more intangible than are childcare and domestic chores.

      Yet that’s the warp and weft of all happy families. I sound alarmingly like those conservative, “family values” people here, but my mother’s contribution to my well-being is well, invaluable.

      It’s easy to earn a paycheck. Its way more difficult to put others first unstintingly the way wives and mothers are expected to in Indian society.

  15. Dear IHM,

    This is a story of my cousin who has been married for close to 15 years now and has two
    kids. She is unhappy and wants to be out. Reason being her husband is a womanizer and an abuser. He claims to have a second family outside of wedding and he tells this only to her but she could never get hold of concrete proof. A phone conversation here and a text message there with another woman. Now, this woman did call up my cousin to tell her that she is married to my cousins husband and has a kid too with him. All of these are phone conversations and no proof to take it to courts. The reason she is waiting for proof is so that she can walk out, get divorced and claim for child support. Her main concern is that though She has a college degree, it would help her earn 4k to 5k may be or a maximum of 10k and she thinks it wont give the quality of life that her kids are used to. Her husband is violent with kids if asked about his extra marital affair. I really dont know how the divorce laws work. Also, it might not be a divorce based on mutual consent because he cares for his name in the society and will not cooperate with divorce. As for her family, they have asked her to adjust for the past few years but now they reached a stage where they want to support her. They, however, are not financially stable and hence cannot support her and her kids.

    Any information to help her out, I would really appreciate. I am sure it cant be this helpless. There must be a way out and am not able to think about it. The need for girls’ education and women empowerment are never more desperately felt. In this case, she wants to walk out, her parents are willing to support her but job and financial inpendence is the issue.

  16. I don’t agree with paying a spouse (gender irrelevant) who takes on a role that society does not pay. I think all this is needed when marriages are not entered into for the only reason that they should be entered into – by choice of both parties involved, informed choices that exclude ‘met boy/girl yesterday, was allowed to speak to him/her, even went out of dinner one night, think there is a decent chance that this may be the right person’.

    I choose to stay home, I choose to make career choices that ensure that I am with my kids as they need (and I need – I can’t countenance not being there for them when they get back from school – my choice, no judgment on others who are happy with their choices, the kids will adjust to either option), I don’t believe that the extra I put in can be quantified. We don’t have a cook, we share the cooking/chores with husband doing more of it than I do, finances are my territory with him being fully informed, I take on more of the thinking part of childcare while his contribution to being the strong and engaged male role model and father in their lives can’t be quantified. We have our moments when we all feel we do more but end of the day, each person’s role is not a dispensable one to the kids – we know it and the kids tell us in almost as many words.

    The current system of ensuring that a spouse has no salary works if the marriage ideal of respecting the person one lives and shares all with co-exists. And I think as a parent, bringing up the next generation in a better way is the only key. Let’s fix the primary issues – marriage as an escape, marriage as sustenance of basic needs, marriage because time is ticking by, marriage because that is the only way forward for a woman. Paying a spouse just institutionalizes a flawed concept and in any case, the spouses who need it most are those least likely to get access to money….it signifies independence and the other party knows this well.

    Kick arranged marriage, educate and empower our kids to make good choices (whether it ends in marriage or live in relationships or singlehood) and then revisit this issue of who needs support and how. Then we stand a chance at really helping fix the issue. Not only is paying a homebound spouse a salary flawed as a concept, it is not practical given mindsets and the limited money in the world.

    What next? Opportunity cost of what I might have made had I made different choices?!

  17. Pingback: A man needs to feel the sense of superiority in order to feel that he is the ‘provider’ in the relationship. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  18. My finances are separate. It leads to a hue and cry, yes. The reason why they’re separate is because my husband thinks he has the right to control my finances as well as his own, now that we’re married and I don’t buy that rationale.

    I am more than happy to create a shared fund where both of us pool in a relatively similar percentage from our earnings towards our household expenses/vacations/joint investments even etc., etc, but that we should also have separate individual accounts so we can do with what we earn as we like. Doesn’t sit very well with the husband, this approach, when I’m earning.

    Imagine, what it was when I wasn’t earning (forced to quit after marriage and fought my way back into being self reliant – don’t know another way to be, really and dependence is not my thing). He would give me money and then keep asking for it back. When I’d run out of funds, I’d be blamed for spending it all (on things for the house, mind you) and all of a sudden, I my status in life was lower than his, because I wasn’t earning anymore!

    Men need to either learn that they have to be equal contributors in things, or stop being so damn controlling over another person’s life and if the wife feels that she must work, then man up and share the household chores equally or else pay for those services. The division of who does what is ancient, it needs to change.

    The biggest hurdle to the whole business is and will be is the society’s inherent need to keep women dependent and ergo, in control.

    • Your husband doesn’t sound very nice – i hope his attitude has improved. And you’re right, women cannot afford to be passive any longer and just have things ‘happen’ to them. They have to bite and claw their way to a position of equal power. Screw ‘society’ — it’s hardly the monolithic entity we make of it anyway. It it’s diverse, it’s in flux, and we can change it just by acting differently.

      • He’s not been very nice AS. Ofcourse, there’s details I’d rather not share but the crux is, when it comes to finances, I don’t trust the guy and I’d rather earn my own survival, regardless of how he feels about it. I’m not a helpless guinea pig to put up with this.

        Unfortunately, attitudes as deeply ingrained and controlling as his, don’t improve unless one agrees that there is a problem to begin with. So no, he might have covered it up, but it’s all still there.

        I however, am fully responsible and managing my own happiness which makes it truly hard for him to digest. I’ve dealt with situations where he’s purposely put me in tough spots so I won’t be able to function and work and still survived.

        Tough road to walk but I think it’s time women realized they can and should pursue self-reliance. There’s no such thing as pati ki khushi mein meri khushi hai because it only rarely works the other way around.

    • Far from ideal, I empathise. My ex also had these contrary notions about what a husband and wife’s role in marriage was.

      When I wasn’t earning (same story as yours), he’d give me 100 bucks before he left for work and tell me to ask for more if I ran out of money.

      I found it humiliating to constantly ask for money to even buy veggies or a bottle of Coke when guests came over and began to run the house with my own savings.

      Lesson learnt: Thrash out finances and everything other thing on your mind BEFORE you marry. Don’t assume the other party is as transparent as you and does not have a hidden agenda.

      • Biwo, I hated the concept of asking for money as well, always have. Infact, I had told him this before we got married, that I would not ask. Apparently, he didn’t pay attention then.

        Can’t force them to listen if the voice in their heads keeps prompting at every sentence that they’re going to be in control tomorrow, why listen now! Unfortunately, we only find out later, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

        Glad you got out.

        • I had to. :)
          Like you said earlier, such deep-rooted control issues never really go away and you either make your peace or fight every inch of the way.

          It was exhausting to have to fight for every little thing — from the right to visit my parents to having a shower before bedtime (yes, he had problems with that too) :)

        • Biwo, Appalled!!! You couldn’t shower if you wanted to, before bedtime??? What was he, a control addict?

          Interestingly, he thought I needed “permission” from him to go see my parents, to go shop or to do anything at all independent of him. It was akin to having a master-slave relationship or rather, an adult-child relationship.

          When I didn’t agree, I was labelled as being too American in my thinking. Or, better still, he retaliated with a tit for tat for the smallest of things – in terms of going out of the way without reason to ensure he had the upper hand at all time.

          Shaking my head. Is there a factory where they manufacture these infants?

  19. Society has no business to intervene in matters of two adults, who decide to take certain life decisions with their own free will. It is the responsibility of the woman herself, to ensure that she is not dealt a raw deal by her partner, if she goes towards the path of home making with mutual consent, just like you would expect between friends or business partners. When people decide to live lives together and build a family, they have to do it with complete trust, and if the trust is not there, then one is foolish to enter in such agreements. However, there is always a possibility of broken trust, and for that the woman/man should make sure her safety herself, like through joint accounts or whatever else is feasible. In any case, these are decisions taken by adults and the government has no business to interfere infantalizing one of the parties. I have never understood why even the legislations recognizing the marriage exist. Two people decide to live in a certain way, why they should be interfered with, given advantage, or taken advantage of. The only exception to this argument can be that the society benefits from children born. But for that benefit, the society should help the parents, as parents directly, through child support money, schools, day cares etc., especially helping the mothers, be them single or married. I truly believe, if the institution of marriage is taken away as a norm and accepted law, it will actually do huge amount to liberate women. Actually it will probably be a bad news for men.

      • Only women can ensure that for themselves by making a life for themselves outside marriage and motherhood as well — like ‘far from idea’ has successfully done. Also to make divorce easier for women — perhaps incentivize divorce in some way rather than marriage.

        • AS, it became essential to my very existence to do so. I could no longer afford to have marriage take over who I am. From my name to my identity, who I associated with, who I couldn’t speak with, how I sat, what I spoke, it became a living nightmare not to mention, excessively controlling.

          The only way to survive that was to go back to doing what I have been raised to do, take care of my own self. I was and still am, more than capable of making the right compromises for things but not to the extent that it tips the equation to one of power and control.

          There’s a sense of having my own standing in the world that being self reliant gives me and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Ofcourse, there are people around me who keep wondering and prodding me on what direction my marriage is going in and I’ve realized that a firm “this is how it is, if it has to work” without details will usually shut them right up.

        • @Far from ideal: Once again, I am so impressed with the way you seem to have handled a very difficult, unfair situation. It must have been hard but you did it and it’s truly inspirational. My husband is a sweet little rabbit luckily but I see other women suffer and it makes me livid. Mostly at the man but also at them for never speaking out and for taking crap time and again though they don’t HAVE to.

      • There can be many initiatives in this regard, but all of them will have to focus on empowering women within themselves, and not through husband. In any case, laws should always strive to be progressive, geared towards pulling us towards the ideal we wish for. Regressive laws are never an answer.

        • AS, thanks! A little embarrassed since I’ve never been so vocal with things before.

          You’re right though, being Indian and brought up in this culture does make it hard to take decisions like a complete separation. I’ve been strong but not enough to make a complete break.

          I do think however, that at some point, as a woman, one needs to stop and question following the rules of the so-called society. No one who acts as if it’s their business what happens in your life when it really is not, if you’re taking a stand, actually comes to face the stuff that occurs behind closed doors of a household.

          Since they have no stake in a couple’s marital relationship other than being judgmental, whatever the consequences of our decisions, we need to make our peace with letting them keep their judgment and keeping our sanity.

          As for the women who think they can change and hope to bring improvement in a relationship using those means, I’ve been there and done that too and then I realized that while I have not become the so-called ideal wife that the world and husband would prefer, I am also no longer the same person I set out in this relationship as.

          Why is losing ourselves to meet ever-changing and subjective goals defined by someone else just so we can preserve the image of being a good wife, a price women are willing to pay?

          I know I stepped off that ship a long time ago.

    • Also, if homemaking is considered to be a service in purely economic terms, then it has a fixed economic value and should be compensated a more or less same salary. Why should a millionaire pay half of his earning for the same duties that a middle class person gets by half of his salary. Or the other way around, why on earth a middle class husband could afford to have a home maker and mother for his children if it costs half the earnings of a billionaire. This way of thinking is fundamentally flawed.

      • What if a millionaire was a woman who would need to give up or take a break from her career to have a child or to follow her husband wherever his job takes her? While a lot of women are choosing self reliance (over marriage or motherhood) – but a huge majority does not have this choice, they are married (semi-forced) off to near strangers, with dowry, without inheritance and in preparation for this future, they are not allowed to make any careers or support systems.

        • Women who are forced to do anything against their wishes have clearly been abused. To broaden their horizons there need to be dedicated lodgings and professional training institutions to help them stand on their own feet. The only thing we can do for anyone ‘forced’ into a situation is to help them get out. There’s no other sensible way.

        • But around 80% (or more) women are in such situations, educated, working, independent but raised to believe that spouse and his parents and extended family come before careers. And most other people like some in the judiciary, most lawyers, and most elderly etc also believe the same.

          Traditionally women were (still are) given some jewellery and dowry (to their in laws) in lieu of inheritance; and have almost no time or permission/education/pressure to earn their own money, what with elder care, child care, cooking and house work, socialising with relatives etc – would it not help if they were given their inheritance (frequently a roof over their heads) instead of dowry (like everybody else) and an equal share in what income the couple makes during the marriage?

        • If the woman was a millionnaire she should save some of her millions for herself shouldn’t she? And I just don’t get it, why do women follow their husbands around when they have to? i sometimes feel some of us really dig our own graves because we don’t fight the brainwashing despite knowing better. Because sometimes it’s just easier to accept the status quo however much we’re against it in principle. How else do you explain the women who quit their jobs and make decisions they regret all their lives — just like men, women need to take responsibility for their behaviour. They have agency, they’re not just passive lumps who are exploited against their will — not always. In the end, some people choose dependency (whether it’s a man on his rich dad, or a woman on her rich husband) because the payoff is worth it.

        • This is what happens when they don’t –
          http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_a-wife-should-be-like-sita-who-followed-ram-during-his-exile-hc_1686322
          //A wife should be like goddess Sita who followed her husband, Lord Ram, to the forest and stayed there for 14 years….

          The couple got married in 2000 and it was an arranged marriage. The wife is from Mumbai while the husband is from Kolkata. Since the husband was always on the ship for five years, the wife stayed in Mumbai.

          In 2005 when he was given a ground posting at Port Blair, the wife refused to move there and since then they have been staying separately.

          The husband filed for divorce and mentioned this as one of the grounds. In January, the court rejected his plea and ordered a monthly maintenance of Rs15,000 to the wife and child. The husband appealed against the order which is still pending.The court will hear the case on June 21.//

        • ‘raised to believe that spouse and his parents and extended family come before careers’ — this is what men believe as well and we keep making the point that they need to CHANGE that belief in men. Don’t educated women then also need to do their same rather than find ways to keep functioning within that oppressive framework? if women don’t fight for change and upset things a lot more, how could you expect men to?
          So yes, they deserve as much inheritance as their male siblings. But a husband;s earnings? half his money, no questions asked/ not really fair to men or to a woman’s potential. It’s just another way, as I said earlier, of gilding the cage some more to keep them in a setting where their personal and intellectual development is stunted.

        • So he wanted a divorce? That’s Ok, isn’t it? That’s what people do when they can’t come to a compromise. She had a right to stay where she wanted and he had a right to leave her if she didn’t come with him. It was up to them to decide which was most important, and they did. The court’s comments were ridiculous and that’s what I’ve been saying all along — change attitudes towards divorce and take steps to improve the transition period for women who’ve been divorced. Child support must be paid, of course, by the husband regardless of why the divorce took place. And post-divorce, perhaps a woman’s family should be encouraged to step forward and help her as well.

  20. In addition, Actually the Dowry is to save the couple in future if Husband or the family lost anything in business or personally, But ashamed of the matured people, who changed the concept of dowry and started doing like a business. Love is the only key can takeover these idiotic things between the couple and family.

  21. Something definitely needs to be done to help women be financially independant…but I don’t know if salary splitting is the way. I mean, on one hand, if the husband is giving half of his salary to his wife presumably the wife can take that money and put it in a bank account that is for her only. If they decide to separate then at least she has some money, instead of nothing. On the other hand, there is still dependence on the husband and yet another incentive to stay married. The financial dependance is there regardless, assuming the wife does not work outside of the home.

    Ideally, the wife should be working and earning money. If not then a joint bank account where the couples income is pooled, and either spouse can withdraw money, is a fair solution. It is not a good idea to have one spouse “control” all the money. Also, I don’t like the idea of dowry but if any dowry has to be given give it to the wife, not the in-laws or husband.

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  30. we seem to have some suggestions about what can be done in the case of a home maker thats financially dependent on her husband.. but what about a wife who earns as well as manages the household? Men think they own 100% of the wife’s salary too! They make the wife take care of all the household expenses and Men go about investing and saving all of their salary in their name alone. All this works well when the couple is happily married. But when there is conflict and the wife wants separation, she neither has enough in the bank, nor is she eligible for alimony/maintenance from husband anymore since she is capable of taking care of herself financially. Any answers for this in our Indian system?

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  35. Salary splitting can never be a solution. If any wife tells she requires salary splitting, that means she has no trust and understanding with her husband. And this is the issue where the couple have to work. Both the partners have to work in this area. The understanding and trust gives the woman the security of the life. If the husband finds wife is financially responsible, the husband will only be too willing to handover his whole salary to her.

    I know a couple where the husband is a school headmaster and the wife a housewife. Every month, he gives the whole salary to her and when he needs money he asks her. This is the way a wife can be. If she asks for division, she is only insecure and is a negative influence in the life of her and her husband’s children

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