“I seem to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials.”

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

Hi. I would like to say that your blog has clarified a lot of things in my life, but the truth is that your blog has thrown me (and I am sure many many others like me) into confusion.. and that is the best part about it. That you make me question about whether I have the right to ask more… about whether what has been seen as my “selfishness” is just a plea to be understood and liked for myself.
I thought of myself as a passive feminist, (if there is something like that) hardly a revolutionary, till I was 24 and married. Till then I took equal work, equal pay as a matter of course, assumed that always regardless of gender stereotypes whoever can do the best job will do it, that merit will always make its own way, and that if you have a career then your skills inside the home are not very important etc. With both parents working, my father buying groceries, clearing the table after dinner, making breakfast early in the morning for us, sharing in a lot of household chores etc was taken for granted. 
Then marriage happened(incidentally it was a love marriage) and it was brought home to me that I am a revolutionary. Initially I insisted on maintaining separate accounts for both of us, I expected that my parents and his would be treated on par (not the “now you are part of our family, and your parents are the girl’s parents attitude), then I expected that since I was working and contributing equally financially that we would share all the household chores as well, I insisted on getting a cook rather than cooking myself (I tried for the first 6 months and felt I couldn’t do it any more when I ended up spending all my time in the kitchen on the weekends) with a very demanding career I was unable to keep the house to the spic and span requirement of my husband (please note that it is still neater than a lot of other houses, but not up to the level of my husband’s house where my mother in law, a homemaker prides herself on her cleanliness). When my husband traveled, rather than packing his suitcase for him I assumed that he would do it and let me know if he needed anything, however later I realised that this was taken as a sign of my disinterest in him. I refused to wear the Sindoor, I do not believe in the mangalsutra but after a lot of gibes at me, I agreed to wear it.(I still get to hear from my husband about how”I do not appear to be married”).
Do not get me wrong, my husband is a very very nice person, genuine, friendly and affectionate. I am frequently told that I am lucky to be married to someone like him. However he is also traditional, conservative and has… let me say rock solid old world values which come into frequent conflict with my rock solid new age values as I am sure happens in a lot of marriages today.
Anyway, I realised to my horror sometime ago that I seemed to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials not so long ago… leading me to have a lot of sympathy for these “villainesses”. 
When thinking about the stereotypical villainess in the soap operas that enter (or used to enter) our rooms on a daily basis a few thoughts occurred to me.
I have to confess, back in 2000 or was it 1999 when Tulsi Virani made an entrance into our homes I too was an avid watcher.  A few memories of the non sanskaari bahus back then (they usually got what they deserved by having their men have extra marital affairs with sanskaari women)–

The villainess. She enters wearing western clothes, revealing or non revealing. Even after marriage she retains the same clothes, eschewing the sari and the heavy jewellery that the sanskaari bahu wears. Since she is a “career woman”, she does not do seva of the elder members of the family, preferring instead to head to her workplace.  There she is the typical ambitious b*****, talking down to men, insisting on getting her own way, being overbearing and bossy to ensure that the job gets done. (In more extreme cases she may even pull down an aged worker to show how un-respectful she is).  Of course she is good at her work, another sign of how hopeless a daughter in law she is. She resents strictures on her behavior by the elders of the house frequently arrives late due to pressures of work and tends to treat her husband more as an equal than the holy pati- parmeshwar, sometimes even asking him to set dinner on the table or clear something up!! When her sanskaari jethani/mother in law tries to advise her on the importance of worshipping her husband and serving the family, that for an Indian woman the sindoor on her forehead is something that is more important than her life she is curt to the point of being rude. She may insist on staying apart from her in laws (or at least try to convince her in laws), travel on official trips without her husband and even interacts freely with male colleagues or friends.

The transition of the villainess into the sanskaari bahu is complete (usually after she has received her comeuppance with a slap from her husband or an extra marital affair) when she appears at 6:00 am  in the morning in the kitchen, dressed in sari and jewellery, head discreetly covered to take her father in law his first cup of tea. She offers the tea; falls at his feet and her transgressions of daring to have a life outside the home is forgiven! Credits roll!
Bollywood still perpetuates these images with regularity… the movie that comes to mind immediately  of course is the abolutely regressive, stereotypical Cocktail. 
A couple of years ago, one of the leading stars of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna said in an interview that Rani’s character did not have an excuse for the extra marital affair… meaning that SRK’s character did… since his wife was career oriented, successful, upfront and made no bones about her husband’s failures? Does anything justify an extra marital affair?
Please note, I have stopped watching these serials for the past few years, so I sincerely hope that the above is outdated and obsolete :)
If you do end up putting any of this email on your blog and are including any of the personal information in the first couple of paragraphs, do keep it anonymous, since unfortunately :) I am not that much of a revolutionary.
Thank you for your blog!
Best Regards
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Related Posts:
New women in old marriages - Careless Chronicles
How to be a Sanskari Bahu – Careless Chronicles
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114 thoughts on ““I seem to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials.”

  1. she realizes her husband is a nice one, neither is she complaining about her inlaws, seems her life is good.
    i dont think there is anything wrong if she goes an extra bit to please her husband, she dont have to do it always, but enuf to show that she cares.. but then its about people’s nature some people are caring and some are not.. it just happens that everyone likes someoen who is caring..

    • True, everyone likes someone who is caring. Her husband can show how caring he is by understanding her views and not insisting that she give in to repressive customs to suit him or his family. Women need to be wary about ‘caring’ when it means giving up self-respect and independence.

      • this is a true feminist blog, i got 28 thumbsdown for my comment, great.
        i dont see anywhere the husband forcing the lady.. most importantly i would like to know how was the lady married. What customs were followed, if she is so much against culture, i m sure she must not have touched her parents feet, or worn an engagement ring or whatever her custom is..
        if she has rebelled against all these customs, if she has rejected god as per whatever culture she follows, she is 100% right but if not, she is wrong selective rebel-ism is just hypocrisy

        • No comments on the OP, but what you are describing is a convenient rebel. Take what suits, throw away what does not. Every time I have commented here about women taking responsibility, I was heavily thumbed down.

        • Whats wrong in challenging only the customs that she feels are unfair to her or to women in general? Isn’t that the way forward, we retain from the old culture what works for everyone, and rebel and try to change what doesn’t?

        • Yes, a selective rebel. That is exactly what each and every one of us is (including yourself). If we don’t rebel electively, we would still be burning brides alive as sati, dalits would be treated inhumanely forever, our boys and girls would be married at birth (almost), men would only be allowed to go into their father’s profession and so on. Do you agree with all of those practices unselectively?

          Culture is not a constant thing. It’s made up of all of us and is constantly questioned and re-interpreted. What was right 5000 years ago when the vedas were written obviously has been re-interpreted by every generation. The OP is simply describing a part of that process. This is not about feminism. Oppressed sections of society have a way of rejecting oppression at some point.

          You are condemning this only because you don’t agree with the bits the OP chose to question here. If you are an educated non-brahmin then you have benefited from someone questioning a huge part of our culture there. Lots of people at the time thought it was blasphemy and yet today it is unthinkable for us to keep three fourths or our population uneducated. You might be used to seeing woman wear several visible symbols of marriage while the man wears none. I, however, know that this practice comes from the fact that we literally considered men the owners of their wives. This is not appropriate for us today, so why not question it? Maybe just a symbolic ring or chain (equally visible on both men and women) is sufficient for me and my husband as we like being equals. It’s one small example of how moralities evolve.

          I guarantee you that you do not follow your religion or culture EXACTLY and in it’s entirety as per it’s original definition thousands of years ago. It’s what we all do. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s simply evolving with time. It is essential to take what suits and throw away or modify what does not.

        • Well said Carvaka, Let me add that religious customs and traditions itself do not come in to being suddenly on single day. It also gets defined slowly through generations to generations as per the economic system of that period. Economic system in turn is highly influenced by science and technology.
          Thus the dramatic changes in our Social system in last 100 yrs are the result Scientific and Technogical revolutions.

        • “if she has rebelled against all these customs, if she has rejected god as per whatever culture she follows, she is 100% right but if not, she is wrong selective rebel-ism is just hypocrisy”
          Exactly. I think it is hypocritic of women to resent those aspect of traditionalism that doesn’t work to their advantage but approve of traditionalism where it works in their favour (at times, at others’ expense). Like the kind of women who complain of wage and gender inequality but want the man to initiate and pay for dates. If you are a self proclaimed liberal, show it – don’t hold the candle on liberalism in one hand and conservatism in the other.

        • While I sympathise with the letter writer, I am at a loss to figure out why she, a new agey woman would end up marrying a man who has ‘rock solid old world values’. There is a saying in my world, “If you can’t deal with gnawed furniture, don’t keep rabbits in the house”. It appears that she, like a lot of Indians, got too swayed by chemistry rather than assessing for long term compatibility. Or perhaps she likes the emotional security that a traditional man provides but resent ‘paying for it’ by putting up with his old-world traditionalism. It is like wanting equal pay for equal work and yet expecting a man to initiate date and pay for everything.

        • Atheist Indian, nothing in this article suggests she is doing anything like the analogy of asking for equal pay but still expecting the man to pay the dinner bill. Where are you getting that from? It sounds like a generalised criticism maybe based on your own experiences. In which case I equally support your right to challenge norms you don’t like. If you think it’s unfair for you to have to pay for dinner when you date someone who consider an equal, then don’t pay. If you speak to women who insist on equal pay but men paying all bills, then question and challenge that. That’s what we’re all trying to do here.

        • There are currently 45 thumb-downs, in fact, and just so you know, the 45th was mine, for the smug presumptuousness of that statement you made, without any relevant knowledge of her situation whatsoever.

        • @ Carvaka
          Not everyone is a selective rebel. There are people who are true blue social liberals or even nihilists. The American feminist, Susan Walsh is a good example of a feminist who is actually a gender egalitarian. Selective rebellion ends up in hypocrisy, when people oppose those parts of tradition that oppresses them but silently approve or at times, even condone those parts of tradition that benefit them (at the expense of others). That makes them no different from the MRA types who feel entitled to dowry but think a woman is a witch for labelling section 498 against them.

        • @ Carvaka
          The equal-pay-but-pay-for-my-dates example was an illustration of how selective liberalism is hypocritical and unethical. It is like being a member of the Communist Party of India who demands a dowry of 1 crore for getting his son married.
          The OP here is a selective new age woman, like a lot of Indian women of her type. She resents her husband’s traditionalism, but from what it appears (and from what I have observed in real life situations), an Indian man’s commitment to traditional values such as monogamous lifetime commitments are what attract these women to marry such men in the first place. So this is a classic case of someone wanting an Hilsa without the bones.

        • @Atheist Indian: I was not talking about selective rebellion in the sense that you only defend one gender’s rights and not the other’s. I’m all for gender egalitarianism. I was responding to comments saying that the OP is a hypocrite because she must have followed the wedding customs but doesn’t want to follow other marriage related norms. I defend the OP’s right to question practices she finds unfair now without having to declare herself against all religion and culture as these are not absolutes anyway.

          I personally am a lot more inclined to eschew the lot of it but if people want to believe in their god and still want gender equality, I defend their right to have that. How is that at all in conflict with gender egalitarianism? This is not an all or nothing game and progress usually comes in parts. Otherwise we would have to wait until the world agreed on perfect equality before abolishing the sati or the cast practice. It seems to me that you have a separate issue of hypocrisy in new-liberal women (and I hope new-liberal men too). I always go splitsies. But that’s irrelevant to the point I was making about how cultures adapt because of our questioning.

        • This is most number of thumbs down I have seen in a post that didn’t involve the “thumbs down terrorist” (may his soul rest in peace)…and with excellent reason.
          1. You are asking the wife to give up her convictions so that the husband can feel free to impose his convictions on her. According to you, this is the right thing to do. Apparently telling the husband that he has no right to impose his convictions on her is not an option.
          2. Adjustment or compromise is when both parties voluntarily give up their stance to meet each other half way. Here, in this instance, the traffic seems to be all one way and it is not voluntary. Why on earth should the writer agree to such a skewed state of affairs?
          3. You seem to think that you have a right to judge and moralise about whether her rebellion is acceptable or not…well, good luck…None of us have the right to tell her what beliefs she can follow and what she can not. Her belief system is entirely 100% upto her and no one else. She does not need to give a damn about what we consider “acceptable” rebellion or otherwise.
          4. Also, just because she touched her parents feet does not in any way mean that she should touch her in-laws feet as well. Maybe her in-laws haven’t earned her respect yet. Maybe she respects her in-laws, but she is not comfortable touching their feet. It can be any number of reasons…but the point is that when it is a question of what she is supposed to follow, her convenience is the only thing that matters (as long as she does not impose her views on others or infringes on anyone else’s basic rights).

        • @ Carvaka
          “I defend the OP’s right to question practices she finds unfair now without having to declare herself against all religion and culture as these are not absolutes anyway. ”
          Fair enough. In the same note, I could revert back to Islam and protest about my rights to drink alcohol, fornicate and not pray; while at the same time, I stay silent on and even practice polygamy, child marriages and beating the wife(s) because it is all about my liberation, right?
          @ BBD-Lite
          As for love marriages (such a quaint term eh, aren’t all marriages supposed to be for love?), I am not sure about the OPs situation but from what I have actually observed, the majority of Indian style love marriages involve short to extended periods of celibate courtship followed by marriage. So I can understand it when you say such situations provide very little leeway to know each other. Also, South Asians, like people of the Middle East tend to live double lives and be morally decrypt, so I can also understand not getting to know a man’s (or a woman’s) conservative attitudes before marriage. Heck, I had a ‘non-religious, worldly’ ex-flatmate who threw a hissy fit when he realised I cook and eat non-veg in our (shared) flat. I also had an ex who believed marriage is oppression of women, but decided I am ‘using her’ when she realised I shared an equal distaste for marriage.

        • @Atheist Indian : “I could revert back to Islam and protest about my rights to drink alcohol, fornicate and not pray; while at the same time, I stay silent on and even practice polygamy, child marriages and beating the wife(s) because it is all about my liberation, right?”

          This is seriously misguided thinking. You seem to be throwing out illogical statements simply in an attempt to score cheap debating points. There is a significant difference between what the letter writer is doing and the example that you have given.

          She is not infringing on anyone else’s rights. She is not enforcing her views on her husband’s actions. All she is doing is trying to prevent her husband from violating her basic right to follow the beliefs that she wants to follow and not be pushed into following someone else’s beliefs.

          Now you tell me whether your example is, in any way, valid here.

        • @ Satish
          Thank you for your excellent diagnosis on my (ill)logic, because of course, you are a trained professional to understand logic and rationality.
          The original letter writer DID state that her husband has ‘rock solid old world values’ and that she is a ‘new age woman’. If she were someone forced or coerced into an arranged marriage, I could have understood her predicament, but from her language it does appear that she was attracted to and married this bloke because of his sense of commitment and romanticism (which comes as a package with traditionalism, not in isolation.).
          If Indian women who had a choice, stopped incentivising such men by dating or marrying them, such behaviours would have stopped. But of course, they won’t, because they want lifetime monogamous commitment from a guy who is ‘new age with modern values’. The male version of ‘traditional with modern outlook’. Such people do not exist in the real world and even though one has the right to complain when they get shortchanged, it won’t change how the world works.

        • @Satish, well said.

          @Atheist Indian: You world view seems quite warped. Firstly, you do not know why this woman was attracted to her husband and married him. You making the assumption that it was because of ‘traditional romanticism’. You are also generalising that only traditional men or women want to be monogamous. That’s frankly ridiculous.

          Plenty of traditional people stay married but have something on the side.. this was happily allowed for men in traditional India. Plenty of modern men and women are happy monogamous with each other. It all depends on the people involved.

          I am a modern woman who chose to marry a modern man with similarly progressive views to me and we were monogamous with each other for a long long time before we married. Marriage and tradition has nothing to do with being faithful. You can be in a long term live-in relationship with more commitment than a some traditional people’s marriages. Nowhere has the OP said that she loved her husband for his traditional outlook but doesn’t want to live with it. Rather she says she expected a modern marriage and outlook and found herself in a traditional one. It happens, as BBD-Lite says. Sometimes there is false advertising. You are generalising based a false assumption.

          When you continuously harp on something about ‘modern women’ that is not based on anything the OP has said, you come across as having your own axe to grind.

        • @Carvaka : Thanks :)

          @Atheist Indian : I apologize for my statement about your logic. It was judgmental and uncalled for. However, I’m afraid I still do not see any merit in your argument. Carvaka has explained it better than I can. You seem to have built up a straw man by arguing against something that has little relevance to the actual subject of the discussion. Also I’m a little confused here. The husband is the person who is trying to get the writer to change her world view and conform to his world view. Instead of holding him accountable for his narrow mindedness, you seem to blaming the writer simply because she fell in love with that person before marriage. Forgive me, but it sounds awfully like victim blaming. What if, hypothetically, the husband turned out to be a wife beater? Would you still blame the writer for falling in love with such a husband?

          Where has the writer said or even implied that she was “attracted to her husband because of commitment or romanticism”? You are putting words in her mouth !!!

          Even if she was “attracted to her husband because of commitment or romanticism”, how does it make it unreasonable for her to expect fair treatment after marriage?

          As Carvaka pointed out, the husband being monogamous has nothing to do with the man being either traditional or modern.

          Finally, I’m not a trained professional to understand logic and rationality (I flunked the written…), but I’d like to end it with a Sherlock Holmes quote that seems (to me) to be extremely relevant here
          “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has complete data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” :) :)

        • @ Carvaka – “…that is not based on anything the OP has said, you come across as having your own axe to grind.”
          Hammer and sickles. Axes…not so much.
          Seriously though, I pointed out the hypocrisy which is apparent to me and a couple of other commenters here, which may be completely oblivious to those who can’t spot it. So I guess, it is futile to argue any more on the issue if reason is an unsaleable commodity.
          @ Satish
          “The husband is the person who is trying to get the writer to change her world view and conform to his world view.”
          Actually, if you read the letter, you’d see that he isn’t trying to change her into his worldview. He just holds a worldview that clashes with hers, which makes her guilty about being the seeming vamp of TV serials. She even defended her husband as a ‘nice affectionate guy’ whose only problem seems to be stuck on old world value system. I don’t see why this guy is at fault, unless having traditional old-world values is an offence against gender equality (which is pretty much the crux of my nihilist argument).

        • @ Atheist Indian: whoa whoa whoa. I think you’ve fallen victim to extreme stereotyping. I just went through the comments you have on this post, and your idea of a traditional Indian man is someone who provides “emotional security”, values “monogamous lifetime commitments”, and it is his “sense of commitment and romanticism” which come as a package with traditionalism that attract women to such men. Do you honestly believe that? That people are divided into “traditional” and “modern”, no overlap of values whatsoever? In that case I now understand your logic, the girl had better choose wisely. Because once she’s made her bed, she had better then lie in it chup chap. I can also now understand the Islam references which I found really illogical – you seem to think in an all or nothing way. Accept all the aspects of one pov, or reject it completely. Accept all the negative practices perpetrated in Islam or reject it completely. Accept all aspects of what you seem to think (wrongly I might add) are restricted to traditionalism like monogomy & commitment, or reject it completely. Anything else to you is hypocrisy.

          I think Carvaka and Satish explained it well – values like staying monogamous, providing emotional security etc. vary person to person, irrespective of whether they have a “modern” or “traditional” outlook. And like it has been commented on before, it is not wrong to selectively choose the aspects that resonate with you, and to reject what you do not agree with. This is simply common sense, not hypocrisy.

        • @ BBD-Lite
          As a social psychologist, I *understand* that people’s attitudes and behaviours are nuanced and ad continuum; not solid packages. No need to be so condescending and try to put your words into my mouth.
          However, I also understand that attitudes and behaviours exist in the form of schemas in the human mind and with the exception of exceptional cases (double entree interended), we can assess a person’s attitude from their worldview. Conservative people who hold old world values often lean towards conservative attitudes in many facets of life, not just one. A man who holds traditional attitudes towards marriage (monagamy, lifetime deal) is also likely to subscribe to gender roles. Someone who is socially egalitarian is also likely to be gender egalitarian.
          And yes, I think desi Indians should choose their mates wisely, since divorce is very difficult for them. Indians who get into ‘love marriages’ should date for longer periods of time and assess for compatibility (as is done in most ‘dating cultures’) rather than the whirlwind-courtship-then-marriage that seems to be the fare of Bollywoodised romances (another stereotype, I know, but stereotypes exist because they have a basis in real world trends). On a related note, I find it rather weird that some of the readers here associate liberalism with education, ‘western’ dress sense and English speaking. That kind of outlook is setting up for disaster.
          I hope I made myself clear.

        • ” In that case I now understand your logic, the girl had better choose wisely. Because once she’s made her bed, she had better then lie in it chup chap.”
          No, you don’t understand my ‘logic’ at all. You are trying to extrapolate a strawman ‘logic’ out of my empirical argument. I pointed out that she didn’t iron her bed before making it. Whether she wants to lie in it or book a hotel room instead is her own perjorative. Unlike a lot of commenters from both sides of the fence in this blog, I am an actual liberal, in that I try my best to keep judgementalism to a minimum and avoid deciding for others what they *should* do.
          Liberalism isn’t about white knighting, but being fair.

        • Didn’t mean to be condescending or judgemental, sorry, nothing personal! Just don’t agree with your logic…

          – Maybe the issue here is the differences in what each of us identifies as “modern” versus “traditional”. Personally, I think one of the main differences is that “traditional” minded people tend to have fairly rigid gender expectations, while “modern” minded people tend to be more gender egalitarian. I say tend to because like you say people’s attitudes are nuanced, and I would also say inaccurate to predict based on what you think is their worldview. However, I don’t see what is so “traditional” about viewing marriage as a monogamous relationship and/or a lifetime commitment. Likewise I don’t see what is so “traditional” about providing emotional support to a partner, or bringing a sense of romanticism to a relationship. Why do you think these qualities are characteristic (only) to those with a “traditional” outlook? And yes, of course stereotypes have some basis in truth and are necessary to make sense of the world, but I think you are oversimplifying.

          – “some of the readers here associate liberalism with education, ‘western’ dress sense and English speaking”. By liberalism I take it to mean valuing individual freedoms? Language can be said to be a mirror of culture, and “western” culture can be said to value individual freedoms over the community’s as a whole. So…I think there is a plausible connection between what you describe and liberalism. Not a cause and effect relationship by any means but a connection. But if you mean that liberalism isn’t ONLY present in some educated, English-speaking, western-dress wearing people, then I agree!

          – And, what do you mean by “she didn’t iron her bed before making it”?

          – Thanks IHM! Sorry my comments are getting longer and longer T.T

        • @ Carvaka
          Human attitude and social trends are based on the frivolity of human emotions and nature, so if you try to understand my comments as ‘logic’, you’d end up oversimplyfying things. This is actually what happens when you, Satish or orders try to apply linear and isolated thinking to what I say, rather than looking at it from a more nuanced and big picture view. I think I’ll elaborate the link between lifetime monogamy and controlling men.
          Lifetime monogamy is a traditionalist belief and while it in itself might not appear to create the situation the OP mentioned, it is highly inconductive to egalitarian gender relationships. Romantic/sexual relationships are temporal in nature and marriage is a socially constructed union based not on human nature, but institutionalisation of a society’s need to create a family and perpetuate the community. The classic ‘one standard for girlfriends, another for wives’ is a symptomatic manifestation of this reality. When an Indian man is dating, he knows its a ‘try before you buy’ period and hence, does not try to control his partner as much. Also because of the ease with which the woman can leave the relationship, he takes more care not to offend her sensibilities too much. Marriage changes it all. It becomes ‘permanent’, as far as traditional Indians are concerned who treat divorce like a taboo. The man fears his wife going ‘astray’ lest his illusion of lifetime union comes to an end. He gets more controlling, because like a lot of things Indian, it is also an desi trait to be uncomfortable with uncertainity. Also, because of the traditionalist cultural conditioning that believes marriages to be made in heaven and supposedly eternal, it also makes Indian women more likely to tolerate bad behavior, lest their confrontation might sour the marriage beyond repair.
          You might have an excellent monogamous relationship with your wife/husband and you might no 10 couples who do. But unless you oppose the socio-cultural *institutionalisation* of lifetime heterosexual monogamy and yet preach gender equality, it is pretty much standing with your feet in two boats (pardon an Assamese idiom).
          There is nothing wrong with romanticism. What is problematic is Indian style romanticism that throws caution to the winds because they believe ‘love will cure all’. It is like being so optimic as a pilot that you fly without contingencies. FYI, I am a romantic, but not Bollywood style. I can’t for example, see the romanticism in pining away in unrequited love or emotionally blackmailing a woman to love you back (with letters written in blood and suck). Get a grip, there are so many women out in this world who you could love and be a ‘perfect’ match with without pedastalising this One Woman (TM) you had random butterflies for.

      • @Atheist Indian: Yes it is hypocritical if a woman is for gender equality on one hand (in the workplace), but against it in others (on the dating scene). But I don’t know why you think the OP would have different views? I would say most of the commenters here (like me) do splitsies on expenses, or have a system of you pay this time, I’ll pay next time.
        And if only men (and women) came with a sign on their forehead that said “Rock solid old world values”. Even the people who look, dress, and act like they live in 2012 sometimes have really regressive beliefs. You only truly know a person’s values after you have lived with them, and sometimes not even then!

        • @ BBD-Lite – “And if only men (and women) came with a sign on their forehead that said “Rock solid old world values”.”
          Would have made things a lot easier, wouldn’t it? But again, the absence of such a sign is not an issue if we aren’t talking of arranged/forced marriages.

        • @Atheist Indian: “But again, the absence of such a sign is not an issue if we aren’t talking of arranged/forced marriages.” It CAN be an issue, because even if it is a love marriage (like the OP’s), sometimes certain ways of thinking are not revealed until after the marriage. Some men have very different expectations of a girlfriend/fiance and a wife i.e. the former can be “modern” and “independant”, but the latter must first and foremost view her husband as pati parameshwar. So marital expectations can come as a rude shock, especially when the husband has previously been “modern” in his actions. I mean ideally in a love marriage these aspects of one partner’s personality would have been revealed, but it cannot be taken as guaranteed.

      • Maybe he does..no where does he say that he is a meanie who expects only her to do things to please him. Maybe there are things he doesnt really like doing, but is doing it coz it makes his wife happy. The half a page email has given you an insight into their entire relationship???

        • “The half a page email has given you an insight into their entire relationship???”
          Indeed, it does. To some people, its like a Kangaroo court, you need to hear just one side of a story to deliver a verdict. If only narrow mindedness came with a tag…

  2. LOL…. I totally identify with her! That’s what makes it so difficult to ask for equality… The (not so) old bollywood movies that perpetrate these stereotypes. The one movie I hated was Laadla. The rich owner of a Company leaves her job, her palatial mansion, goes to husbands house and wears sari and stays at home while husband goes to the factory? Come on! Then they show raveena taking over her role! So, she will run the Company till she gets married and then leave the role is it?

    As a kid, I couldn’t watch a movie without my blood boiling, and telugu movies are the worst! The fav concept in telugu movies is a guy with 2 wives – and always, always the guy married the 2nd woman as a favor to her- she is either dying, desperately in love with him and is about to commit suicide, or the guy is pressured by family in to marrying her.

    Always, the happy ending is all 3 live together happily ever after. Leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    • Aren’t they worried about the money they earn from women viewers? But of course a majority of Indian women are not encouraged to do a non-sanskari thing like watching movies. I feel if there were enough women watching movies – then we would see more movies that show men caring for and respecting women (wives, girl friends, colleagues)… even if we begin with more of saas-bahu kind of movies.

      • I thought that in recent years there had been some changes. Break ke baad was a good movie. It had a strong, career-oriented woman… for whom the hero travels across continents, just to be with her (a little self boasting here :D My ex told me he thought I was just like Deepika’s character in the movie – not sure if he MEANT it as a compliment, but I certainly took it as one!) Even Love Aaj Kal was good. In fact except for Cocktail, Deepika’s movies usually have strong women characters.
        I was disappointed with cocktail…. when we are moving forward, that movie has taken a step back :(

        As to Telugu movies, I think most women also have that regressive thinking… So, there is no question of offending the women viewers. Once, one of my cousins, who has spent almost all his life in US asked a girl, on a trip to India, “Why are Telugu movies as bad as they are?” She was offended and responded saying “Telugu movies are the best, after Tamil movies!”

        • I agree, Sarkywoman. Remember the old Muralimohan-Suhasini starrer, Karpoora Deepam. He rapes her in a car when he is drunk. He then repents his act and expects her to forgive him and become his wife. And lo, she agrees because she already has a son (due to the rape, of course, hit rates are usually high in movies) and the boy needs a father (a rapist!). And they are shown to live happily ever after. (what BS!) And it was watched by many female viewers!( yes many woman felt the heroine should have agreed because the hero repented you see. He must be a Godly person then). And in many Telugu movies the hero is shown settling down with the two heroines. (How many movies show heroine settling with two heroes, none!) Phew!!! many more such movies in which the hero is goodness personified though he is poor, the heroine is rich and arrogant, they fall in love after he saves her and lo!! a short-hair sporting herione is shown sporting long hair, neatly tied up, wearing saris, adorning flowers in her hair and shown as the perfect ‘bharatiya naari’. And to quote Kader Khan in the movie Hum “ek ladki ki khoobsurati apne shareer ko dhakne mein hoti hain, apne shareer ko numaish karne mein nahin”. ahem ahem…we are told what is best for us, you see, by men. Some social conditioning!

        • @ Sandhya, And the worst part is, the courts in India actually do that! If the rapist agrees to marry the girl, they let him off… and even worse, the girls actually accept!! It’s sick…
          I also object to this particular scene I have seen in several movies. Guys n girls having discussion about who is superior. Guy removes shirt – girls look abashed – Guy tells girl “Now you know your place”…. I have never, ever understood how being able to remove ones shirt made one superior to someone else?
          As a kid I thought maybe I didn’t understand because I was a kid, now I wonder – am I slow or is that scene really as nonsensical as I think?
          Can anyone enlighten me please?

        • First make it shameful for women’s bodies to be exposed…. So does that mean that all the modesty/decency/our culture dress codes are actually meant for keeping women in an inferior place?

  3. The limits of Desi men’s modernity begin from dating and choosing a spouse for so called love marriage and ends with matrimony when they subscribe to conservative ideals of a sanskari bahu and marriage symbols.
    Stay a vamp coz’ sanskari bahus only made good on TV soaps not in actual life. In actual life they make stats for violence against women.
    Desi Girl

  4. Never thought of this angle to the saas bahu serials. I blanket ban regressive serials in all languages, they also seem to focus almost solely on the negatives.

    However nice one is, this clash between mindsets has to happen for equilibrium to happen between husband and wife, husband and in-laws, wife and in-laws before everyone figures the other out and things settle.

    My choice was to not change who I was, starting as I meant to go along. So no kudos, no Daughter-in-law of the Year awards. Also no interference because it isn’t allowed. Works for me.

  5. A typical case of social conditioning .
    Slowly the “equal right champion ” will be conditioned to become a “dutiful wife, dil , so on so forth ”
    A comfort zone of social security { the need to wear mangal sutr , without the desire to do it } will slowly lead from one to another of need vs desire
    After a span of time , when her daughter gets married { assumption } this email writer will groom her with all the stories of “what all she did to remain happily married ” and when she gets a DIL { again assumption } she would preach the DIL on how accommodating she was in-spite of being financially dependent

    Marriage has a different effect on 2 partners
    The woman gets to be submissive to her master { master because he is the owner of not just the house but woman by her self }
    The man becomes a master and abuser { conditioned !!!}

    In indian marriage there are certain rituals that take place , one is kanya daan . The donation of the girl to the groom . How many girls refuse that part when its taking place in the vivaah mandap .
    The silence of the bride at that point of time when her parents decide to donate her makes her go silent again and again .
    A person is donated to another person , from then on the person who received the donation becomes the owner , till then parents owned . With change in owner ship there is no way “financial independence ” can help

    • You are right. I didn’t look at the mail from that angle. I went off on the impact serials and movies have on us…. Although I think the mail is an attempt on her part to overcome that conditioning.

    • Agree so much with you, Rachna. This notion of ‘kanya daan’ isn’t just limited to the wedding ceremony, it seeps into every day speech- for example- “ladki jahaan jayegi ” and ” your new home” and even the phrase “married off” !

      Ironically, practice of ‘giving away the bride’ also exists in christian/western weddings but they recognise it as a tradition that’s followed purely for tradition sake- and nobody takes it SO literally , the way we do!

      • कन्यादान – गुप्तदान

        कन्यादान के समय कुछ अंशदान देने की प्रथा है । आटे की लोई में छिपाकर कुछ धन कन्यादान के समय दिया जाता है । दहेज का यही स्वरूप है । बच्ची के घर से विदा होते समय उसके अभिभावक किसी आवश्यकता के समय काम आने के लिए उपहार स्वरूप कुछ धन देते हैं, पर होता वह गुप्त ही है । अभिभावक और कन्या के बीच का यह निजी उपहार है । दूसरों को इसके सम्बन्ध में जानने या पूछने की कोई आवश्यकता नहीं । दहेज के रूप में क्या दिया जाना चाहिए, इस सम्बन्ध में ससुराल वालों को कहने या पूछने का कोई अधिकार नहीं । न उसके प्रदशर्न की आवश्यकता है, क्यों कि गरीब-अमीर अपनी स्थिति के अनुसार जो दे, वह चर्चा का विषय नहीं बनना चाहिए, उसके साथ निन्दा-प्रशंसा नहीं जुड़नी चाहिए । एक-दूसरे का अनुकरण करने लगें, प्रतिस्पर्द्धा पर उतर आएँ, तो इससे अनर्थ ही होगा । कन्या-पक्ष पर अनुचित दबाव पड़ेगा और वर-पक्ष अधिक न मिलने पर अप्रसन्न होने की धृष्टता करने लगेगा । इसलिए कन्यादान के साथ कुछ धनदान का विधान तो है, पर दूरर्दशी ऋषियों ने लोगों की स्वाथर्परता एवं दुष्टता की सम्भावना को ध्यान में रखते हुए यह नियम बना दिया है कि जो कुछ भी दहेज दिया जाए, वह सर्वथा गुप्त हो, उस पर किसी को चर्चा करने का अधिकार न हो । आटे में साधारणतया एक रुपया इस दहेज प्रतीक के लिए पयार्प्त है । यह धातु का लिया जाए और आटे के गोले के भीतर छिपाकर रखा जाए ।

        कन्यादान का अर्थ – अभिभावकों के उत्तरदायित्वों का वर के ऊपर, ससुराल

        वालों के ऊपर स्थानान्तरण होना । अब तक माता-पिता कन्या के भरण-पोषण, विकास, सुरक्षा, सुख-शान्ति, आनन्द-उल्लास आदि का प्रबंध करते थे, अब वह प्रबन्ध वर और उसके कुटुम्बियों को करना होगा । कन्या नये घर में जाकर विरानेपन का अनुभव न करने पाये, उसे स्नेह, सहयोग, सद्भाव की कमी अनुभव न हो, इसका पूरा ध्यान रखना होगा । कन्यादान स्वीकार करते समय-पाणिग्रहण की जिम्मेदारी स्वीकार करते समय, वर तथा उसके अभिभावकों को यह बात भली प्रकार अनुभव कर लेनी चाहिए कि उन्हें उस उत्तरदायित्व को पूरी जिम्मेदारी के साथ निबाहना है । कन्यादान का अर्थ यह नहीं कि जिस प्रकार कोई सम्पत्ति, किसी को बेची या दान कर दी जाती है, उसी प्रकार लड़की को भी एक सम्पत्ति समझकर किसी न किसी को चाहे जो उपयोग करने के लिए दे दिया है । हर मनुष्य की एक स्वतन्त्र सत्ता एवं स्थिति है । कोई मनुष्य किसी मनुष्य को बेच या दान नहीं कर सकता । फिर चाहे वह पिता ही क्यों न हो । व्यक्ति के स्वतन्त्र अस्तित्व एवं अधिकार से इनकार नहीं किया जा सकता, न उसे चुनौती दी जा सकती है । लड़की हो या लड़का अभिभावकों को यह अधिकार नहीं कि वे उन्हें बेचें या दान करें । ऐसा करना तो बच्चे के स्वतन्त्र व्यक्तित्व के तथ्य को ही झुठलाना हो जाएगा । विवाह उभयपक्षीय समझौता है, जिसे वर और वधू दोनों ही पूरी ईमानदारी और निष्ठा के साथ निर्वाह कर सफल बनाते हैं । यदि कोई किसी को खरीदी या बेची सम्पत्ति के रूप में देखें और उस पर पशुओं जैसा स्वामित्व अनुभव करें या व्यवहार करें, तो यह मानवता के मूलभूत अधिकारों का हनन करना ही होगा । कन्यादान का यह तात्पर्य कदापि नहीं, उसका प्रयोजन इतना ही है कि कन्या के अभिभावक बालिका के जीवन को सुव्यवस्थित, सुविकसित एवं सुख-शान्तिमय बनाने की जिम्मेदारी को वर तथा उसके अभिभावकों पर छोड़ते हैं, जिसे उन्हें मनोयोगपूवर्क निबाहना चाहिए । पराये घर में पहुँचने पर कच्ची उम्र की अनुभवहीन भावुक बालिका को अखरने वाली मनोदशा में होकर गुजरना पड़ता है । इसलिए इस आरम्भिक सन्धिवेला में तो विशेष रूप से वर पक्ष वालों को यह प्रयास करना चाहिए कि हर दृष्टि से वधू को अधिक स्नेह, सहयोग मिलता रहे । कन्या पक्ष वालों को भी यह नहीं सोच लेना चाहिए कि लड़की के पीले हाथ कर दिये, कन्यादान हो गया, अब तो उन्हें कुछ भी करना या सोचना नहीं है । उन्हें भी लड़की के भविष्य को उज्ज्वल बनाने में योगदान देते रहना है । क्रिया और भावना- कन्या के हाथ हल्दी से पीले करके माता-पिता अपने हाथ में कन्या के हाथ, गुप्तदान का धन और पुष्प रखकर सङ्कल्प बोलते हैं और उन हाथों को वर के हाथों में सौंप देते हैं । वह इन हाथों को गंभीरता और जिम्मेदारी के साथ अपने हाथों को पकड़कर स्वीकार-शिरोधार्य करता है । भावना करें कि कन्या वर को सौंपते हुए उसके अभिभावक अपने समग्र अधिकार को सौंपते हैं । कन्या के कुल गोत्र अब पितृ परम्परा से नहीं, पति परम्परा के अनुसार होंगे । कन्या को यह भावनात्मक पुरुषार्थ करने तथा पति को उसे स्वीकार करने या निभाने की शक्ति देवशक्तियाँ प्रदान कर रही हैं । इस भावना के साथ कन्यादान का सङ्कल्प बोला जाए । सङ्कल्प पूरा होने पर सङ्कल्पकत्तार् कन्या के हाथ वर के हाथ में सौंप दें ।http://hi.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8

        • भावना करें कि कन्या वर को सौंपते हुए उसके अभिभावक अपने समग्र अधिकार को सौंपते हैं ।

          This contradicts the sentence that says that :-हर मनुष्य की एक स्वतन्त्र सत्ता एवं स्थिति है । कोई मनुष्य किसी मनुष्य को बेच या दान नहीं कर सकता । फिर चाहे वह पिता ही क्यों न हो । व्यक्ति के स्वतन्त्र अस्तित्व एवं अधिकार से इनकार नहीं किया जा सकता, न उसे चुनौती दी जा सकती है ।

          He gave up his “rights” over his daughter. His “power” over her. Essentially, she goes from being slave of her father to her husband. She now does what husband says. and father has no say in it anymore because she no longer “belongs” to him.

          कन्या के कुल गोत्र अब पितृ परम्परा से नहीं, पति परम्परा के अनुसार होंगे ।

          This is also disturbing. i am my own person. Why are *my* identity, rituals defined by the men in my family? Do men change after marriage? Why do I do so?

          कन्या को यह भावनात्मक पुरुषार्थ करने तथा पति को उसे स्वीकार करने या निभाने की शक्ति देवशक्तियाँ प्रदान कर रही हैं ।

          You answer the “why” here. The answer is- because he is a man, so “god” gave him the right to own women and god gave women the “right” to be submissive and meek. This “purusharth” (the name itself is disturbing) is nothing but accepting slavery.

    • I think this sadly is what happens in a lot of cases. I hope it doesn’t in this case. If OP and husband don’t agree on things, shouldn’t they both meet each other halfway for a solution? Why must it be the woman who transforms? Why are women ok with doing this?

      About the kanya dan issue, some people are starting to re-interpret that a bit. In our wedding, we insisted on understand all that was being said and invited a group called ‘gyan prabodhini’ in Maharashtra who translate the wedding proceedings in english and marathi along with the usual sanskrit. They described the kanya dan with verses saying ‘kanya dan is a gift of love and a joining of heaven and earth as your two families, no one gives and no one receives but you are now tied through this gift of love’.. there was more but I specifically remember those bits. I suspect maybe they translated it to a more egalitarian version as people were actually going to understand what they were saying (as opposed to the general sanskrit chanting).

      • Salvation for a Hindu is called Moksha. Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness. He then becomes one
        with God.

        How to get this Salvation , the ultimate freedom The human being is required to be detached .
        How to get detachment ? Donate things that are “dear ” to you .

        The perfect way in old hindu scripts is to donate your own girl child { because girl is burden } also donation of cow !! .
        “Kanya” means before the menstrual cycle sets in and it was when child marriages used to happen . Parents would give their daughters as donation to the aged brahmins { hoax called marriage sure would take place } these brahmins accepted donations and made sure the parents got “salvation ”

        Kanyadaan then emerged as tool in society to get salvation donate your daughter . Now from the day the donation happens the daughter becomes the property of the brahmin { like a cow , pun intended }

        Years passed but this never changed , now even when the daughter is no more a “kanya ” the daan continues . In most cases after the daan , the parents would
        touch the feet of the girl an groom both { And i find it ironical that most girls never stand up at that time to stop this , neither the grooms } they dont even bother to understand and question why are u donating and why should i accept a donation .

        Following a custom eyes closed has lead to the dowry because donation is never given just like that , when you donate it has to have some financial donation as well .
        Does any one recollect the ceremonies shown in serials , when they will put the hand of girl in the boys hand they will always put something on it
        And those who are married they also should go down the memory lane and recollect

        Once kanyadaan is the worst that can happen to any woman , but hardly woman think upon it let alone put their foot down I wonder why , following traditions when one is getting married is so important and the moment one reaches their in – laws the “so called “traditions become a burden / chore ???
        We have to start work from grass root , work to change mindset of new generation and make our daughters/ friends and every female around us aware of certain disgusting rituals .
        On kanyadaaan if you click on my name you will reach my post in hindi
        How many of you know why its necessary to wear a “nath” that big nose ring at the time of marriage .
        IHM I have a post on the same also in case u like to put it up I can share the link o

        • ============================================
          Do you think some men might react like that?
          Why do you think would they do that?
          Mine was just a flippant comment and not meant to be taken seriously at all.
          However, let me try to answer your questions.

          Yes, some men may react like this after a detailed exposure to several of your blog postings if they believe that all modern girls are like your readers and followers.
          These men have not yet reconciled to gender equality.
          They still feel the male is superior to the female.
          When they look for wives, they want someone who agrees with them on this issue.
          They want their wives to be younger, shorter, and less educated.
          If she earns, then the earnings must be less than the man’s.
          Even if she earns, these men believe it should not exempt them from household responsibilities.
          Some men may condescend to help a little occasionally but will be loath to share responsibility for home management.
          They do not like to visit their in-laws and stay with them.
          They may at best escort their wives to their parental homes but will not like to stay there.
          They also do not welcome their in laws visiting them and also behave very formally with their in laws.
          They have contempt for their wives relations.

          So the modern young women who frequent your blog, are off limits for men like these.
          If society gets to be full of such women, then these men will rather not marry at all.
          During my time, most of us, young men were like this.

          Would that, in anyway, harm the society?

          No, it won’t harm society. Society will improve if such men stay unmarried.

          Of course all men are not like this.
          Many modern men have accepted and even encourage and support gender equality.
          I am one of them.

        • Definitely IHM… At least 90% of the men I know would react that way. I think in India people think there are only 2 types of relationships possible between a husband and wife – dominated wife or henpecked husband. There is NO concept of mutual partnership.

        • Hmm, maybe, as in one kind of women to ‘respect and marry’ (and dominate, bully, claim to worship but actually abuse, have unlimited expectations from) and another kind to treat with respect even deference (but claim to feel none)…

        • I can tell you with 100% certainity that 3 of my cousin brotherrs would rather stay single :-) which would have been a mighty good thing. unfortunately they found 3 willing girls to subjugate and order around. I don’t think more than 10% of the female popluation think like people on this blog because when then went out girl hunting, girls fell into their laps in hoards and i’m talking city bred, well educated , independent girls – thise fella’s backward thinking mindset was quite apparent. SO unless the girls and their parents were deaf,dumb, blind and stupid they knew what they were getting into.

  6. ‘I am frequently told that I am lucky to be married to someone like him. ‘

    I stopped reading here dear letter-writer. I am told this too and very often, but both my husband and I think it is a half-truth. He is ALSO lucky to be married to me – is the other part of the whole truth that we believe.

    I think we need to stop having low expectations from the men.

    • Yep. We absolutely need to have better expectations from men and marriage. If we don’t ask to be equal and settle for less then less is what we will get.

    • Whenever someone tells me in real life that my wife is a lucky woman to be married to me, I simply respond that while I know I’m lucky to have her as a spouse, I’m never sure of her opinion on the matter. People take it as a bit of a husband-wife joke, but I always mean it literally. I have no idea if she considers herself lucky, but I know I do.

      Can only speak for myself, can’t I?

  7. How dysfunctional you have to be to be dependent on others for basic things needed for everyday survival. Unless you are physically disabled, you have to be pretty low on self esteem if you do not feed yourself when you are hungry, can not prepare your clothes when you need to dress and can not take care of place where you want to invite your friends. Anybody, above 10 is supposed to be self sufficient in these tasks, spouse working or not should have nothing to do with it.

  8. These serials have only character extremes depicted as good or bad and are not worth a post on a blog or for that matter a comment…There were one or two cases atleast in yesteryears when women who earned showed disrespect towards their in-laws, not because they were independant but a teeny weeny bit haughtiness got on to their heads…But today the story is totally different and these saas bahu serials are a load of bull shit!

      • IHM, I’ve noticed that women whose parents have paid hefty dowries tend to be haughty too. (By hefty, I mean hefty for the community involved. What is hefty for one community can well be measly for another.)

      • It differs from case to case IHM. I am not generalizing here. Unfortunately sometimes, the sweet girls end up getting haughty in laws asking hefty dowries and the sweet in laws who say no to dowry or anything of that sort end up getting haughty daughter in laws ready to fling them into a old age home at the earliest opportunity. But this is a teeny weeny percent as I said. We cannot say earnings gave the haughtiness. But being financially independant amidst other women who were not could have given them a superior feeling? As I said, I am talking about yesteryears!

  9. I could never understand why the attitude of a guy takes a complete 360 degree turn after he gets married. And when this happens in a love marriage, it is more confusing.
    I also wonder that do you really love a person when you have so much to complain about him?
    //Do not get me wrong, my husband is a very very nice person, genuine, friendly and affectionate//
    Really? Maybe, we all have different bending capabilities.

    • I think the OP is living in denial which explains her attempts to portray her husband as a nice and affectionate person. At some point she’s gotta realize this marriage is not going to work unless they both want to live 40+ years together in a mix of incompatibility and forced adjustments.

      • You’re absolutely correct, Amit. And in a love marriage it is the biggest shock a woman can get.
        Interestingly, I was told after getting married to the man who had actually been the one to propose and claim undying love for me, that he had never really loved me to begin with and only married me because he thought he could change/customize me!

        I felt cheated and angry. To this date, it makes my blood boil when I recall the time I heard it and where I was, completely dependent on him, vulnerable and without a means to escape.

        Didn’t inspire me to change into who he hoped for. But change, I did.

        At some point, these guys need to be taught that they must find a woman who is already closest to who they would want in a partner, not someone who can be changed.to suit your needs. Or maybe, marital relationship education needs to begin with having them stop pretending to be cool, broadminded men so they can flaunt girlfriends as a status symbol to their peers while completely cheating the girl/woman out of a real relationship.

        As someone pointed out earlier, there really are two kinds of married people in this country, in a majority the dominated wives or the henpecked husbands.

  10. This might sound a little funny…. my fiance is a couple of years younger than me and I’m (usually) the bossy one… whenever he speaks to me he uses ‘aap’ whereas I use ‘tum’ when I’m speaking to him. His friends do ask him why he says ‘aap’ to me; he doesn’t mind though. It’s just that we were good friends before we started going out and never even thought that our relationship would take such a turn, so it’s difficult to change now. And his friends keep telling him that he is lucky to have found me.
    And I make him read your blogs :) and it has had a lot of effect on him, so much so that he gives lectures of equality to his guy friends!

    • I have a friend whose wife is 3 years older than him. Yet, after marriage she started calling him “etta” which in Malayalam is a word that means “older brother/guy”. Surprised the heck out of some of us when we saw that happen!

      • Nothing surprising! women condition themselves to address husbands respectfully even in cases where the wives would be older to husbands. When Abhishek-Aishwarya’s marriage made news, one of my female colleagues said “oh no, she is older to him”. I said “so, how does it matter”. “dont you know, guys should always be older to girls when it comes to marriage” and when I ask “why is that so”, she says “tradition, you see”. Some conditioning here as well.

  11. To be honest, I am completely clueless about Indian daily soaps. I’ve never had any interest in watching them (nor has my wife, as far as I know) and as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure those channels aren’t even subscribed on my satellite connection. I remember some some from my childhood, but they weren’t really about the saas-bahu thing at all. Still, from your description and from common sense, I can imagine the sort of characters an Indian soap might portray as villainous.

    I’m being blunt here, to the point of rudeness, really, but I think the idea that being a friendly and affectionate and nice person overall makes someone a great spouse is complete hogwash. It may make them a good roommate, but long-term romantic relationships, which a marriage is an example of, are a different beast. Being friendly and affectionate is all very well, but it is also quasi-irrelevant to compatibility. It is completely imperative to try and understand the core value systems of a spouse-to-be, to understand what makes them tick, what drives them, what are the things that they live for, it is imperative to gain some kind of understanding of all of this BEFORE you tie the knot.

    I know plenty of nice people I couldn’t stand to live with for a day, just because their whole value systems are so different from mine. They’re great people, wonderful people, but they believe in very different things. We have nothing in common.

    People can lie about their beliefs. That’s why it’s important to stick with them for a while and if possible, live with them for a while. Fundamental values cannot be hidden for a long time. All it takes is a small moment of crisis or pressure to reveal who a person truly is, behind all the politically correct noises they make.

    • Love this comment. Couldn’t agree more. We frequently read people describing partners with completely different values which manifest as control issues/ abusive behaviour as ‘overall a nice person and hence good partner’. Being a generally ‘nice’ person has nothing to do with being a good partner. Often these people’s descriptions don’t sound very nice anyway but that’s a separate matter.

    • Totally agree. She seemed overly keen on justifying her husband by projecting his nice-ness into the story. It’s fairly obvious that she’s unhappy with him (and most likely the reverse is true too). His being nice or not has no effect on that equation. I posted this above too, but it’s baffling why they got married unless there was some coercion on either or both sides.

      • I think the guy probably assumed that she would change, as seems to be the general expectation. Also, I have seen a number of cases where the guy shows a completely different side before marriage and then does a roundabout. Sad though..

        • This has always stumped me. Many men make all the right noises about equality and mutual respect before the marriage (especially love marriages) only to morph into controlling, disrespectful spouses a few days into the marriage.

          It makes much more sense to be honest about your core beliefs and find yourself a woman who shares them.

          I do understand the temptation to land trophy wives — confident, attractive women who will boost the men’s ego. Yet, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that such women will not cringe, quiver and retreat when the husband exerts his husbandly authority.

          You can’t expect Mallika Sherawat to morph into Nirupa Roy onscreen, can you?

    • Praveen, I wish there were partial approval and disapproval buttons, instead of just the all out thumbs ups or thumbs downs on WordPress. I only partially approve :)

      In my opinion, being nice people is almost essential to any partnership, sometimes even more than compatibility because it is often impossible to be perfectly compatible. The nicer each partner is, the easier it is to workaround many fundamental issues. In an extreme case, I have some truly kind partners set aside major differences of opinion even in some core beliefs.

      In addition, being nice can be cultivated. Even some of the most difficult people Ive met, have mellowed down because of association with some wonderful people. At least moved towards a somewhat universal definition of being nice – I will expand on that some other time. But every persons core beliefs are different, and most people tend to host a multitude of core beliefs and have varying degrees of conviction and flexibility in holding on to them. (It also helps, that by definition, nice people tend to exhibit more flexibility and less intolerance to opposition to their core beliefs).

      I even have a cheesy mathematical formulation of this: Things tend to be fine if partners niceness quotients add up to exceed their total difference of opinion scores weighted by each persons belief conviction on the respective issue.

      • Well, human relations is one topic where there is certainly a lot of room for a difference of opinion.

        In my view, there is absolutely nothing more important than compatibility. This is because in my view of things, the aim of having a romantic relationship is to derive a sense of happiness and companionship out of it. Attaining this goal does not require perfect compatibility – an unnatainable state, as you rightly pointed out. What it does require, in my experience, is agreement on the most strongly held values that both the protagonists in the relationship hold. That is what I mean by core values – the set of values that you absolutely cannot compromise on without being deeply unhappy.

        Everybody, and I mean everybody, has such a set of core values. They are different for different people. Indeed, niceness can be a core value in itself. But everybody has them.

        No matter how flexible, loving and caring you are, it is not really possible to be happy in a relationship where you are incompatible to the extent of having your most basic principles violated on a daily basis.

        The traditional ‘niceness’ is not, in my personal experience, and therefore opinion, compulsory for happiness in a relationship. Basic compatibility is. A couple may disagree on a lot of issues, but on certain specific things, they MUST agree if they are to achieve anything beyond co-existence. Niceness is one possible such thing, but it’s certainly not the only one.

      • @TSCI,
        While being nice is essential for almost any relationship, just being nice without having your core values align or at least intersect and overlap is a relationship killer IMO. Being nice is like icing on the cake. It makes day to day life easier in a relationship and mistakes easy to forgive.

    • “Being friendly and affectionate is all very well, but it is also quasi-irrelevant to compatibility.”
      Indeed Praveen. From what I have observed, I don’t think Indian men and women assess for compatibility at all, but assume that things are all going to be hunky-dory after marriage because they are ‘in love’. This kind of romanticism and lack of realism often comes in the way, when friends and well wishers tell them how they are being taken for a ride by their partner. Given the lack of a solid dating culture in mainland India, I wish there was some kind of dating how-to tailormade for Indians.

  12. Feminism is not a “one-size fits all lets all fight for votes or equal rights”. It has different definitions for different people. And it is feminist to respect that difference. I think the struggle against obvious symbols of being married is as feminist and therefore as important as any other person';s struggle against inequality. After all feminism is about being an individual. Not everyone has the strength to only fight oppression. For a majority of us, rebelling against small things is how we roll. So it is perhaps not a very good idea to discount a struggle. Because not every struggle will be about earth shattering things. And yes, one can love someone even with “old fashioned views” and be in a relationship with them, without any need for everyone trying to define why.

  13. 2 people however aligned and in love and everything else can never agree on everything. But core values have to be the same.
    Me and my spouse have disagreements on raising kids sometimes. especially the amount of freedom to give them, my husband isall for setting them free and finding themselves, I’m not so much for experimentation unfettered :-)

    As for packing, I doubt it indicates care :-) I always packed when we went together – vacation or business trips but if he went alone, he packed, of course i sat onthe bed and asked him questions and gave my expert comments on his attire :-) To me when we went together i didn’t want to be bothered if he forgot something — ruined my time a bit + i always thought i was a better packer more thorough :-) whereas if he was on his own an dforgot shaving cream .. mehhh too bad doesn’t affect me if he wants to run around for shaving cream instead of eating breakfast..

    to the email writer — yes you may seem like the soap opera villan but remember you are independent and happy but unlike many portrayed you are probably mot mean bordering on psychotic– which is what they are , acco to our cook mami.
    You can be strong, get the job done. and yell at all and sundry for it yet are probably not living every second wishing ill on all and sundry :-)

  14. These are supposed to be spoof matrimonials..but they are hilarious..some of them touch on women cooking, dowry, name changing, erasing all the past in a womans life after marriage.

  15. I think this guy is trying to take you for a ride. You will never get anything out of this marriage. It is all about him and only him. You do not need to be responsible for his comfort and happiness. Better get out of this marriage as soon as possible.

      • All I can say is that women need to raise their standards and men need to lose their sense of entitlement. We need to stop putting men on a pedestal.

        • I agree that we need to stop treating men as gods but what i want is not necessarily what my sister may want. i have a close friend who hates her husband cooking/cleaning etc., she is a homemaker and feels her JOB is to cook and clean and keep a spic and span house. She feels she is being marginalized if her husband cooks one day and stubbornly clings ot HER JOB. she is tired sometimes and overworked , yet she is happy. I have never seen her without her thali and bindi . her husband is the sweetest fella one can find . she is rock solid old age values and her spouse is rock solid modern and yet it seems to work.i can see the love in their relatonship and the smiles. but their basic core is the same, they want to be happy, in-love, and want whatever makes the spouse happy.

  16. @ BBD-Lite
    When it comes to Indians speaking English or adopting jeans/skirts, it is nothing more than a convenience or fad. Indian men wearing jeans and speak English do not become cowboy individualists. Indian women who wear skirts and tops do not adopt the European attitude towards life and relationships. The clothes are just a packaging because most people are impressed by packaging rather than the contents.
    The idea that speaking English and wearing ‘American’ clothes makes one a liberal is like Punjabis who think listening to rap music will make them more ‘Americanised’. Its a desi-ism.
    Liberalism isn’t feminism either. A lot of feminists here, for example, pose an aura of being egalitarian when they talk about their resentment of desi social norms, but then fall back to the same kind of regressiveness when they judge others, their relationships or their opinions on assumptive/moralistic grounds. For example, I have read comments where a number of women (and men) were outraged that their are couples in relationships where the woman is docile (read submissive) to the man. Or calling for media/public censorship of unpopular opinions. They are not very different from peoplke crying for charivary in Dark Ages Europe.

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  18. I know this is an old post but I just read it so decided to comment on it. You have a good marriage which can use some improvements. Not from ur side but from ur husbands side. Just keep working on it, try to make him understand. He is probably raised this way so thats why it doesn’t come naturally to him to help you out and understand you. So, just try to talk to him as a friend and explain ur side. I am sure if he is a good guy like you said he is , then he will have no problem . I dont agree with some of the plp here who are saying to get out of this marriage. Unless you feel you can’t be in this marriage, there is no reason to leave it. Every marriage needs some work and some adjustment. In indian marriages, most of the time, its the guy who needs to adjust. They dont know it but its your job to let him know that he needs to have an open mind and treat you equally. You probably can’t change his family so if they bother you, just live seperately so you dont have to see them often.

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