An email: Salary of the prospective groom must be 3-6 times more than the salary of the prospective bride.

How do women (and men, and the society) benefit from women marrying men who earn more than they do and are older and more educated than they are? 

“Most of the bride’s parents have a predetermined level of education and salary range that they expect the groom to fit into.”

Sharing an email from a prospective groom. 

Hi IHM,

I’ve been a reader of your blog, and think I have a topic you could consider worthy of a debate. Answers to this would really help me sort out my confusion:
Can I request that my name be blocked out because I’d much rather not have my family/extended family know I’m asking such questions? :) These kind of questions aren’t exactly encouraged in my family.
I’ve been living abroad for many years now, and have lost touch with a lot of the Indian customs and traditions. After years of not being able to find a partner, my parents decided to start the task of bride searching. Some proposals came in on a popular website, and most of the bride’s parents have a predetermined level of education and salary range that they expect the groom to fit into. I’ve seen them ask that the groom earn as much as 3-6 times the girl’s salary (in Indian rupees), or earn above a certain salary range in US dollars that would only fit graduates from top-league Universities having crème-de-la-crème jobs (better paying than an equivalent job at any of the largest software corporations in the US).
I live in this utopian world where the guy and girl earn a salary that is sufficient for a good living, the salary breakup would be irrelevant if the couple found each other, but in an arranged marriage, one would only tolerate a certain amount of disparity (not a 3x-6x disparity) as the expectation is that each partner be equally responsible in all departments.
I find this line of thinking from the girl’s parents quite confusing.
Does this mean that they consider ‘lesser successful’ boys unappealing? Or an alternate but scary line of thought is that the girl’s salary is considered unimportant (meaning she has no financial responsibility towards the family). One more possibility is that I have my bearings wrong, and I’d like to be corrected :)
Thanks!
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59 thoughts on “An email: Salary of the prospective groom must be 3-6 times more than the salary of the prospective bride.

  1. This is why equality for both men and women would be so good for men too. They get judged in the arranged marriage setup for not earning enough or having a ‘stable job’ or earning less than a prospective bride. If they choose to go on a sojourn or do something creative that doesn’t fetch much money, they end up being considered as bad candidates for marriage. And then the entire idea of ‘success’ is always linked to money. So a terrible guy earning pots of cash would get more parents of brides-to-be coming to him for proposals than a good guy without much money. Arranged marriage setups are ridiculous anyhow – personality is the last thing people care about there. But these ideas aren’t only limited to arranged marriages and even in love marriages, parents of the girl always worry if the guy isn’t earning enough. Seriously, isn’t it great if they earn about the same, or she earns more, or he earns more, or whatever? Is financial security limited only to one gender? And why do some men get so bothered if their wives/girlfriends earn more than they do, or why do some women prefer prospective bridegrooms to earn more than them? It’s all part of our ‘great Indian tradition’. Women they think, belong at home, whereas men have to bring in the money. We live in a country with such skewed perceptions. Sigh.

  2. Ahem. Sorry to break it you, but usually in the world of arranged marriage- especially between total strangers, the ‘value’ of a man is directly propotional to the figure on his salary slip. The ‘value’ of a woman is directly propotional to her age , her beauty, and probably her social status. The criteria by which men and women are ‘judged’ completely different- how dare you question it? :)
    Of course,there are many women (and their parents), who don’t think this way. However, I’d venture to say the former outnumber the latter. I can’t prove it, though. Safe to say that people browsing your profile are going to be overly interested in your ‘package’ :)

  3. I think it is more to do with social conditioning more than anything else. I guess, when women started working, it was seen only as a supplement to the husband’s income and not an equal contributor. Also, it was common for women to take a long break/ quit their job after child birth. So, it was considered wise to have the guy earn enough for the entire family. And now after years and years of following this practice, we have set roles :husband- bread winner/boss, wife:slave.
    It all depends on what you want. If you want to be waited on hand and foot and be the boss, you should marry a person with this mindset. On the other hand, if you want a mutually loving, understanding partnership, marry a person you have good chemistry with (you know, like having similar thought processes/value systems, being able to understand/respect each other’s points of view etc).
    Oh, btw, I don’t think the relative salaries matter. You could be earning a lot more/less than your wife. That does not make you unequal. Equality in a relationship comes from how you treat each other; not because of your salaries. I don’t agree with ” the salary breakup would be irrelevant if the couple found each other but in an arranged marriage, one would only tolerate a certain amount of disparity”. Why not? as long as you like,understand and respect each other, why should you care about how much your partner earns just because the marriage is arranged? Would your expectations from your partner be different because of the difference in how you met initially?

  4. “Does this mean that they consider ’lesser successful’ boys unappealing? Or an alternate but scary line of thought is that the girl’s salary is considered unimportant (meaning she has no financial responsibility towards the family).”

    Yes and yes. The definition of ‘success’ is also very limiting. A male doctor with the personality of a dead fish would be seen as successful as opposed to a lively and charismatic mural artist. Unfortunately, that’s how an arranged marriage system works for most people. Even when my parents got married, they pretty much ‘chose’ each other on the basis of a) looks and b) how good they looked on paper. While things did work out nicely for them, I don’t think they’d have gone out with each other at all (had they gone the date–>relationship–>marriage route).

    I think, if someone wants to actively seek an arranged marriage, then it’s best to go about it like a business partnership.

    • There is no difference between setting up a business in partnership or setting up a match through arranged marriage…only profitability is eyed upon instead of compatibility…how does it matter if one is earning more than the other…in the end what matters is how much you understand, care each other and enjoy each other’s company….that is the meaning and purpose of life…sometimes I feel arranged marriages are meaningless and it is better to live alone unless you find your life partner in the natural course while treading on journey of life…it is just a waste of life to live with a person/family which was found on the basis of profit and
      loss….I wonder how they manage to respect each other after marriage having so many squabbles during the wedding process….

      • Even though I don’t find the OP’s situation surprising, it does seem to me that arranged marriages (atleast in my community) were more benign in the previous generation. My own parents were matched primarily on caste and educational qualifications, my dad was pretty much broke at the time of their wedding, and there was no question of dowry. My mother’s family was/is also considered richer compared to that of my father’s. Still, like Kay’s parents, it somehow worked out nicely.
        I think my parent’s story is representative of others in their milieu. Back then, nobody expected young men (or women) to be raking in the moolah at the time of marriage, it was taken for granted that the couple would have to work their way up in life starting from a Luna to a Bajaj scooter , to a car.

        • Very well said! This is exactly what my dad went through. Both dad and mom were well-qualified. Dad didn’t have much money when he married, neither does he now. My mom came from a family of landowners (sort an aristocratic family) and had all sorts of luxuries. They live happily as a couple to this day.

        • I agree….but in those days things were very different….mainly girls were brought up with the mind set that they could adjust to any circumstances….these days they are career conscious and mature enough making them difficult to adjust to all circumstances….that is why it is difficult to find a suitable match through arranged marriage….it is a plain truth…so better wait till come across a compatible match….which can happen through interactions… not through setting certain parameters like salary, caste,religion etc. while searching a match…

        • @soulonearth
          I gave my parents example as they were both career conscious.They’ve both valued their professional lives, and both of them have made personal compromises for the sake of the family. While growing up, my mother was the primary breadwinner. While I was a baby, and when I was in college, it was my father. That role has been passed back and forth between them, depending on the circumstances- and it has worked because 1.my mother was ready to let go of her conditioning that said her man should provide for her, and 2. because my father was a mature guy who wanted my mother to do well.
          As far as models go, I think it is a sensible and realistic one. Salaries change throughout your life- it is a given variable. Basing a marriage decision on that salary, thus seems a bit naive to me. And i completely agree that for a marriage to work, you need compatibility, and you can’t judge that on a marriage portal.

        • You know, when my parents got married (1980s, Kathmandu), I don’t think money was even considered in the arranged marriage setting. Sure, it was important, but other things like ‘family’ and education were given priority.

        • In last 40years world moved beyond “personal is political” because we realized the “other” was political too not just my personal. I am amused how some of us look at the world through the narrow lens of personal family stories.

          In 1911, a young Bengali girl named Snehlata committed suicide for she wanted to save her parents from the burden of paying a big dowry to marry her. There ensued a big debate in Bhadra Lok about dowry in middle classes and some went ahead and declared Snehlata selfish who tried to undermine the hard work at school put by middle class young men by declaring a war against dowry. Dowry they thought was a legitimate compensation for all the sacrifices young men had to make in order to beget education and then a job that was hard to come by in a disintegrating agrarian system.

          Not much has changed men, masculinity and marriage still revolve around the traditional concept of “karta” the provider, if the man is not able to provide independently for wife and new family then he ought to have enviable resources to do so, read family wealth; property or joint business.

          Upper caste women were married into upper caste men (endogamy) but often into families that were relatively lower on the economic ladder thus generating the concept of “bade ghar ki beti” (daughter of an affluent home) so as to maintain the balance between daughter givers and daughter takers. Consequently there was concept of “bade ghar ki bahu” (daughter-in-law of an affluent family) where a better off male groom took a mate from economically lower or challenged same caste family so as to up the status of the woman’s family. Arranged marriage was not only economic exchange but also social status balancing mechanism and it still holds true.

          I guess it is time to accept that world exists beyond our family stories.

          http://books.google.ca/books?id=T2cIfHSpsFgC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=death+of+snehlata+and+dowry+debate+in+colonial+India&source=bl&ots=PrKYU8N3N2&sig=t04UvkAIb0b0_uS8-IkalDTcvqM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xyuFUYL8Lob94AOHjoHoDw&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=death%20of%20snehlata%20and%20dowry%20debate%20in%20colonial%20India&f=false

          Peace,
          Desi Girl

  5. I have been thinking about this quite a bit, as I recently got friendly with this couple (the wife is my uncles friends daughter). They are some 10-12 years older but I knew them by names — because as a kid I had overheard relatives gossiping about them. The husband had decided to stay at home (and work part time) while the wife went back to work after their first kid was born. He was made out to be an unworthy man living off his successful wife. This couple lives in the US and are quiet unaffected by all this.

    When I moved to the US I got to know them better. And I must say they are so amazing. All the preconceived notion I had about this husband vanished in the first 10 mins of meeting him. Their kids have now grown up and he is back to work and it looks like he is doing well. Anyhow about the question-

    1. I think years of patriarchal tradition is responsible for this. Men feel secure knowing that they are the main bread winners and thus the head of the family. I also think that controlling finances is another way of controlling women.

    2. I also believe that women like the security of knowing that they can quit their jobs anytime and still maintain their lifestyle.

  6. Let me tell you something about arranged marriages online. You will usually have no way of knowing what your prospective bride thinks because her profile will be fully written by her parents:in some cases she won’t even see the profile herself. If her parents find a suitable candidate for her, they will check the background of the family, the horoscope, blah blah, and then, only then, will they tell her about the prospective groom. It’s considered quite indelicate for the prospective bride to be talking o the guy without her parents permission online, so even if she has no problem with you earning less than her, her parents may have already vetoed you out.:( sad but true. But I agree with Kay. If you want an arranged marriage the best way o go about it is like a business partnership.

    • This is absolutely true, my parents do the same thing with my shaadi.com profile online. By the time they finally select a guy based on myriad filters, we never hear back from such guys. I have told my parents so many times I would like to manage my shaadi profile independently and involve them once I have personally met and vetted the guy, but they absolutely refuse it. I have been on that site over 6 years with zero success. Meanwhile, I have obviously dated and had a long term relationship with men I met in real life, even if they didn’t last it was definitely meaningful. Those ex-bf who were good people would have never passed my parent’s stringent criteria ever. Arranged marriage scenario is so frustrating. I am one of the high earning females – basically in the highest income bracket available on shaadi. I personally would never refuse a guy solely because he earns less than me if we compatible in other areas. Indeed last few guys I dated all earned less than me and it did not really matter in our day to day interaction. As long as the guy is educated, motivated to do something that he is passionate about, and whole-heartedly supports me in pursuing my career goals (even after kids), that is all I want. I don’t care about his exact salary figure. With my parents, it is a different story, they still believe a man must earn more. Even if they are liberal enough in raising me to pursue my career in male dominated field (I am the only female at my level in the company), they are so close minded on this issue and reject most guys for this. Hopefully I find someone in person because this arranged marriage system is totally rigged against high income women.

  7. If that’s their demand, I think they probably do consider their daughter’s earning unimportant. It sounds like they probably think the man’s salary should be enough to cover all expenses so that the woman doesn’t have to go to work if she doesn’t want to. They might expect that she will give up her job at some point, for kids or family or whatever. I think this stems from an inability to get over traditional gender roles and traditional status-quo.

    I have heard people say things like ‘men should get promotions over women, they have a family to support’. Do these people really believe women spend their money on shoes and chocolates only? I suspect that’s how they would like it to be so that their world view of men being providers and women being dependant care takers is not disturbed.

    When considering marriage, I would be steer clear of incompatibility in gender role expectations!

    • It is absolutely disgusting and disheartening to hear people still hold such opinions (“men need promotions more than women”), WTF. This is plain right discrimination and probably illegal but old school high up managers are likely set in their views. So many battles against patriarchy both at home and office, this is so sad, I need a strong drink :)

      • its so sad that your need a strong drink… emoticon after that does go along side with comments. :) #justsaying

      • Yep, we still don’t have equal pay for equal work.. apart form straight out sexism, studies show that this thing is sub-concious for all of us apparently, just like tall people get paid more than short people. We are chipping away at it all the time though. I read that in parts of the west there is nearly financial parity between men and women until 30-35, before motherhood kicks in. I know so many mothers who are ‘bread-winners’ (not their husbands) though that this disparity has got to shift further in my lifetime. Enjoy your drink. ;)

  8. yes you assume right, and from where i sit, you need enough money to live comfortable and save for your retirement and you should both be responsible for that not just the man.
    an exhorbitant salary with no compatibility is no guarantee for a successful marriage, dont give in. find someone who is compatible and makes you want to get married , your partner/mate and to hell with salary expectations.

    I have a so-called aquaintance planing to push her daughter on on of my sons, now if they hook aup i have no prblem, but i make it clear, v v clear that – we may be sitting on pots of money but it’s ours till we leave this world and who knows maybe there’s a cause somewhere or something and we 2 loony old bats may decide we want to hand over said pots of money to the cause and die ” — just saying you never know what we’ll do when we are senile right :-)

    • “we may be sitting on pots of money but it’s ours till we leave this world and who knows maybe there’s a cause somewhere or something and we 2 loony old bats may decide we want to hand over said pots of money to the cause and die ”

      HAH!!
      I love it.
      My thoughts exactly!

  9. To answer your questions – yes, and yes.
    This is an example of how patriarchy works against men and women – by placing selfish expectations on them that have nothing to do with their own desires and a sense of self-worth.

    At the risk of sounding judgmental, I’m going to ask, why are you looking for arranged matches? One, you live in the US, which gives you more opportunities to meet people (as opposed to India where men/women interaction is discouraged). Two, you seem like a reasonable, broad minded guy who’s questioning these mindsets. Do you think you will be happy going this route? It is going to be extremely business like – dollars, rupees, wedding expenses, skin color, height, weight, apartment/flat prices, car, job title …. very off putting …. no one will be talking about values, honesty, communication, acceptance, compatibility, personality, dreams, vision, etc.

    We know this guy, reports to my husband, in his early 30s, he married a girl through the arranged system. They’re both unhappy. He was looking for a more egalitarian relationship, an intellectually equal wife with whom he can discuss work, share hobbies, someone with a sense of humor …. she was raised to be a door mat, and just doesn’t get why he’s unhappy.

    An older email that IHM shared from a guy, also falls along these lines. Please think carefully if this is the route you want to explore. All the best.

    • That’s easy to say, but there aren’t really many other ways of meeting people and pairing up in the Indian scenario. Especially if the original poster is working in a male dominated profession such as the IT industry.

      • I don’t disagree with you entirely. But there are other ways to meet people – not just at work. You can join a book club or a hiking meetup, a jazz group, an arts and wine group, or whatever your interests are – they have meetup groups for people of similar interests. There are tons of volunteering opportunities. They have walkathons and marathons for various causes – where you will meet people who care about something/someone – a friend fighting breast cancer, a neighbor’s kid with autism. There are community improvement groups where you can sit on the board and champion animal rights or cleaner parks and highways or better public transportation. I agree with you that the “IT Indian circle” of working in cubicles, watching Bollywood movies and going to chaat cafes can be very limiting. The key is to get out there, get involved, and assimilate into the mainstream.

        • Wanted to add that it’s never easy finding your future life partner … unlike in the movies. Besides the usual basic stuff, we’re all looking for that connection …. however the above are just some ideas to meet people in healthy environments …. also you don’t go there to find your future life partner, you go there because you enjoy the activity … and to make like minded friends and to enjoy life and make a difference … maybe you’ll run into someone who will be ‘the one’, maybe not.

  10. This reminds me of an incident during the first year of my Bachelor’s – I do not remember the subject, but somehow the topic had come around to using what we were taught in the work place and the teacher asked the girls in the class “how many of you plan to work after completeing your degree?” Amongst all the girls, one boy also put up his hand and the teacher responded with “The question was for the girls, you are a boy, you have no choice but to work” — I believe this mentality is reflected in the arranged marriage bride/groom search where as per society, the man has no choice but to be the bread winner while the woman may/may not have the option of not earning.
    That being said, I would suggest use the arranged marriage setup only as a means to meet prospective partners(very much like any dating site), but before coimmitting try and get to know their them well. Since you live outside India, you can insist that you would like to get to know the girl via chat/phone/skype before you even meet her. I’d suggest communicate for atleast 4-5 months before you have a face-to-face meeting. This will give you a decent idea of her expectations, thoughts, etc.

  11. Yes to both questions. Parents in India have been brought up with the concept of Man-bread winner, Woman- NOT a bread winner. So, even when they see their daughter bringing home the paycheck, they just brush it off as her ‘time pass’and not as financial independence. In the same vein, the daughter will be conditioned to think on the lines of ‘once you have a kid,you have to stay home’. So whose responsibility is it then, to bring home the paycheck?The husband’s alone. Imagine that suddenly she quits work after the kid.The sudden dip in finances will be dangerous. So it is always better for the guy (permanent bread winner) to be earning more than the girl(temporary bread winner).
    It does not occur to them that a reasonable solution would be for the man to sit at home and take care of the kid and let the wife continue working as she earns a major portion. No, that would hurt the entire society’s ego.
    If the girl so much as suggests it, she is shushed with ‘hey, what do you know about finance management?you are not the man of the house,you let the men worry about the finances.you just sit pretty in the kitchen ‘.
    While this discussion is going on, the kid silently absorbs everything and grows up with the same opinions -MEN-breadwinners, Women-NOT breadwinners.
    Full circle. And thestory continues.

    • All the sermons are for the Men or for the parents. Girls cannot do anything wrong as is the norm now in any such forums.
      Sincerely how many of in your entire life saw even a single case,where a earning girl is willing to marry and support an unemployed boy. How many girls are willing to marry a less earning man. if both husband & wife are earning and once wifes salary is more than husnands,see how the wife changes and mans life become miserable.

  12. Parents in India have no idea how much salary would be ‘enough’ for a comfortable existence in US. They usually ask whoever they know here who might be living here for several years and earning an unrealistic salary for a young graduate. Also in this country the salary is not directly proportionate to the standard of living (as in Indian metros), the state or city where you live makes a huge difference. A couple can live comfortably in less income in many states (with not so pleasant weather conditions) while it is difficult to make ends meet in some cities or states no matter how much you earn. Also your visa status here makes a big difference when it comes to ‘settling down’. It’s much more complicated than what meets the eye.

    Those who live here and know the situations well and yet have very high expectations do so thinking about few years down the line. Marriage will lead to kids, house mortgage, car mortgages, property investments back in India, college funds and might require the wife to be a full time mom in the earlier years. These responsibilities come much earlier in life than the rate in which salaries increase. Money does not guarantee a happier married life but definately takes care of lots of financial worries that only grow with time. So parents who came here as first generation immigrants hope that their daughter doesnt have to go through the same kinds of worries that they faced. I am not saying these parents are right or wrong…just stating the facts that have come up from the discussions I’ve had in my circles here in US.

    Good Luck with your bride search! :) When I married my husband I didnt even know how much he earned until a couple of weeks before our wedding when he told me himself, I never asked neither did my parents, some relatives were surprisingly more curious about it than us. We met through a common friend over the internet and the more I got to know him the more I realised that I want to spend the rest of my life with him. He was a fresh graduate and didnt earn much when we got married, we were so much in love that we were just happy living together under the same roof. The unfurnished rental apartment, lack of all the facilities and luxuries I had back in India, living on a tight budget and being so far from my family didnt matter at all. I don’t know how :) maybe love does that to you. The tougher times brought us closer and made our relationship stronger. We always look back at those first few years with a content smile, I wouldnt change a thing about it if I had to live it all over again. :)

    • If ensuring kids lead a comfortable life is a concern for parents facing / that faced immigration, I am very surprised that they dont care for the quality of life of their sons, just their daughters. Don’t sons also deserve a well earning spouse going by the same logic?

      • Parents think that the quality of life improves for the son when he gets a wife who can cook well & ‘take good care’ of him. So they insist on a “homely” bride vs. a well-earning groom.

        • Yep, surrogate mommies and daddies. A woman to feed and ‘look after’ their son.. and a man to protect and provide for their daughter.

      • Sons deserving well earning spouse?What are you saying? Sons deserve home cooked hot meals, somebody to do their laundry on schedule and to keep the house tidy. When guests drop in suddenly the son’s spouse is supposed to drop whatever she was doing at that time and host a splendid meal with a smile on her face. When son comes home in bad moods, the spouse is supposed to cheer him up and that does not mean just making a hot cuppa! Later when kids come into the picture, the spouse is supposed to do all the above mentioned, while simultaneously juggling with the responsibility of being a mother. If the spouse is earning will she do all this after coming home from work at 9 pm? Naaah!.

        • Since this is about the US…here the working hours are not as bad as in India so with an exception of maybe a few days in the entire year people do get home in time to enjoy their family life. My friends here are mothers, do all of the above mentioned by you with absolutely no hired help or help from senior family members and also work full time and earn significant salaries. It’s not easy but it gives them immense satisfaction to be able to balance it all. I do support women fighting for equality but when it comes to making a ‘home’ the things expected of a women as a wife, mother and daughter in law are not really as unreasonable as they sound, especially the emotional requirements. As a working wife I really enjoy doing all of the above (mentioned by you sarcastically) for my husband, his family and our friends. It comes naturally to me to care for them. I have grown up seeing my mother do it and it never seemed forced or wrong. The distribution of work is never equal in any household, everyone does whatever they can and if it is done with love and understanding from all the family members it doesnt feel like exploitation. Infact, the more a person does for others in the family the more he/she is loved, not just by children and adults but even the pets!

          Irrespective of how much a guy earns, in any family as a son, husband and later a father there are so many things expected out of him and there are huge responsibilities on his shoulders. With the girl, the expectations are different but they exist and it’s not wrong. Now don’t get into who folds the laundry and who mows the lawn, who washes the dishes and who tells stories at bedtime, it’s a home for godsake! :) I can’t understand some women who think of household duties as a sub-standard task, even if it’s their own home they are tending to and those tasks affect their own quality of life.

        • @Priti,

          The point is that there is absolutely no reason to expect certain things from only the man and only the woman JUST because of their gender.

          “As a working wife I really enjoy doing all of the above “

          You are free to do what you like as an individual. The point is that traditionally ALL women are expected to this for their husbands, whether or not they work and whether or not they like chores. Surely you can imagine that not all women like the same things as you. Conversely, men are traditionally expected to just sit and read the newspaper when not at work. This is about breaking the stereotype that a woman WILL do all of the above just because she is a woman.

          “Infact, the more a person does for others in the family the more he/she is loved”

          Shouldn’t we be loved just for who we are and not because we do stuff for our family?

          “in any family as a son, husband and later a father there are so many things expected out of him and there are huge responsibilities on his shoulders.”

          Well, as a daughter, wife and sister, I have exactly the same responsibilities as my husband. I share our mortgage and bills equally and support my family in any way they needed. I have the same responsibilities towards my parents as he does towards his. Do you think these responsibilities are male only? What happens to people who don’t have sons then?

          “With the girl, the expectations are different but they exist and it’s not wrong.”

          Since I have exactly the same responsibilities as my husband, it’s only fair that he (happily) does half the household chores. It IS wrong and very limiting to have these different expectations from men and women just because of their genders.

          ” I can’t understand some women who think of household duties as a sub-standard task”

          Actually, most women do a major share of the household tasks. So logically speaking, wouldn’t you say men seem to consider them more sub-standard than women? Anyone should be happy to do a valuable task, why do you suggest that it’s a woman’s job? I think men should do their share of these valuable tasks too. Besides, surely you don’t expect all women (or men) to find the same things valuable. We are all individuals after all, aren’t we?

        • @ Priti,

          Also I am curious about “My friends here are mothers, do all of the above mentioned by you.. and also work full time and earn significant salaries.”

          aarti said: Sons deserve home cooked hot meals, somebody to do their laundry on schedule and to keep the house tidy…hosting the guests with splendid meals…do all the above for kids. Plus you added working full time and earning a significant salaries.

          So if the man and the woman work full time but only the woman does ALL the above housework in your examples, what do the men in these families do after work? I suppose aarti left out gardening from the woman’s jobs.. these people must have huge gardens..

  13. I remember asking a similar question to my mom a long time back ” Why does the husband need to be earning more than the wife?” and here’s what my mom said ” It for the best, coz guys have a big ego and pride and will not be comfortable with their wives earning more than them or be more successful than them” WTH!! Girls dont have pride/ego? And if the money is coming in into the household how does it matter what the split is ?

    • Unfortunately, that is true Priya. it takes a really secure man to not be bothered about this. The social conditioning that a man should earn and provide while the woman supplements is really drummed into their heads.

      I have a colleague who provides for her family while the husband earns significantly lesser , being in the academia. He gives her hell over that, in his attitude towards her and the kids. Sure, her money helps him continue working on what he wants and likes, but the ego that he earns less surfaces time and again. Again, his family gives her a tough time over the issue that she brings in more money, but then again she can’t be allowed to quit for the same reason. And they are not Indians.

      I wish there were more men who are secure irrespective of how much money the other brings, or how fast up the ladder the spouse grows.

    • Reminds me of the time when I first stepped into my sasuraal. My MIL,a host of other female relatives and I were all in the kitchen. My MIL decides to give me some gyaan and said the following -‘Men have huge egos’.
      Her facial expression andbody language were conveying that she was sharing a big secret with me.
      I almost asked her ‘and what about women?’ But didn’t.

  14. i am fighting for equal wages for men and women for the same job and the society is asking that the guys should be making more than women for the same job.

    This is called GENDER BIAS ! Shame on people on increasing inequality.

  15. I am afraid to say the answer to both of your questions in the last paragraph is yes in most cases. I have heard it from so many earning women that they do not contribute to the household from their income as it is the man’s job and if afforded the luxury of a contributing income, men can lose focus on maximizing their earnings. I also know of husbands who are regularly reminded by their wives of salaries of other men and how they compare with them ( more like how they are lagging behind). Men who are not earning well or are professionally successful have very little value, appeal or respect. But of course it is not women’s fault. They are told from early childhood that this is what men are good for. So what other expectation they can have from them? raising children?

    However, it can get quite stressful for men from middle class. Not how to put food on the table but how to keep pace with others. Questions like if they are providing the same stuff to their families as the next person and the race and comparisons never stop.

    • I don’t think the vast majority of families wouldn’t be in this shape. The argument you list above appear to be representative of dysfunctional families. I think girls who lack an understanding of their partner, and want to judge a guy based on his professional success are terrible partners. As a counter to such a girl’s bad treatment, I suppose the guy assumes some unreasonable rights over the family, and the whole thing spirals down into doom.

      Btw, treating the man so poorly is certainly the woman’s fault, irrespective of how she was brought up. Would you accept ‘the man ignores consent because of the way he was brought up’ as a valid argument? Neither argument is valid.

      • “Neither argument is valid.”
        Absolutely. There needs to be some personal accountability for people’s actions, men or women.

  16. the demand for more salary is absurd but nevertheless, is a part of the arranged marriage system ..
    And one of my school friend rejected a girl coz the girl’s salary was more than his salary.. so sometimes guys want there wife’s salary to be less than their own ..

  17. Someone should start a dating site for Indian professionals that men and women can use and post on their own (not through parents) without mentioning caste, horoscopes, etc. People should be able to list career, interests, hobbies, outlook on life, personality, preferences, etc. Maybe such a site already exists ….. but then how do you do background checks in India? In many countries, their social security or equivalent number is run through the system to reveal any criminal records, illegal activity, etc. Thus we go back to family, parents, once again to do the checking …. sigh.

    • There was this friend of mine whose profile was on a matrimonial site, put upby her parents ofcourse, but they allowed her to do the initial screening, She used to often lament to me about how the Interests /Hobbies section almost always said ‘ Watching TV, Cricket’ and nothing else. More pathetic was the About Me section. She showed me lots of pfofiles which said ‘I am a kind natured person. I dont like to hurt others’.
      Thats all.
      I don’t know if such stuff was written by the parents or the guys themselves. Either ways, it is sad.

    • I really doubt the background checks done by parents are reliable. My parents didn’t seem do more than ask a few relatives, who went asked the watchmen in the area, store owners in the area and some former colleagues. And they are actively reading between the lines, looking for the smallest sign of scandalous news.

      I somehow think its just mental satisfaction, nothing else they gain.

      In the recent past, two divorces took place in my extended family, and they happened immediately after marriage. In both cases, one partner didn’t divulge details about a serious mental condition. It wasn’t the real condition that the other partner found bothersome, they felt tremendously cheated by the other family, and felt they deserved better treatment.

    • There is a dating site for indians in the U.S and Canada. Its called twomangos. Its not like matrimonial sites. You dont list your caste or if your dark or fair. They also do meetups in major cities. I suggest if the person who wrote the email make a profile.

      • how cute:) two mangoes – the Indian version of two peas (in a pod) :)
        @ Niketan, agree, I’m sure all of us have stories to share from our extended families where parents hide health issues. How do they think starting a relationship with dishonesty will result in the couple’s happiness is beyond my comprehension.

  18. Yes to both questions, unfortunately. I’m not certain what my father’s opinion on this would be, since he’s always encouraged us to succeed in our fields, supportive future husband notwithstanding. Which is why, as he looks for a groom for my sister, I couldn’t comprehend why he would want a boy so much more qualified.

    In my father’s case (and from here, I speak from personal experience), what he likes is success. He likes success for his daughters, and that love for success extends to his son-in-law as well. To him, a masters/phd/high pay check is a sign that the boy is hardworking, with the desire to succeed in life. He likes and admires people like that. Heck, that’s the only thing he continually asks of me and my sister, and we do our relative best to oblige.

    What he would have loved is for my sister to also be a masters/phd/high pay check earning individual around the time of her marriage. She’s well-off and can support herself/her family, but due to extenuating circumstances she wasn’t able to do her graduate studies. If she had, or if she earned a lot, my father has no qualms about marrying her off to someone of equal standing, as long as the boy can prove that he is hardworking and dedicated.

    Unfortunately, what my father, and what most of Indian society, lacks is the ability to recognize success as anything other than monetary/academic milestones. For a lot of Indians, success is nothing but a big fat paycheck, lots of gold, class first/school first/university first, what have you. They completely lack the ability to realize that the act of being happy and content with your life is, in its own way, a success all on its own. This puts such an unfair pressure on men who don’t want this traditional definition of success. They don’t realize that at the end of the day, a paycheck is great, but it can’t buy love. It can’t buy family, it can’t buy bonding. It can’t turn a rotten human being into something wonderful. In many cases, money makes this a lot worse, which brings us to the question of why is it alright for women to earn less.

    The answer, as so many people pointed out, is primarily due to social conditioning. Irrespective of how hard our parents tell us to work at school, how much they tell us that success (according to the Indian definition) is the be all and end all to life, somehow, when it comes for us to get married, all of that is thrown out the window. Most people seeking brides are completely blind to every bit of education and success that women attain. For them, the only things that matter are, “Is she fair? Can she cook? Can she give birth to sons? Is she a sufficient doormat for us to trample? No? Then what use is her PhD in Astrophysics? Who cares if she earns a CEO’s salary (unless that money goes into our joint family bank account, in which case, can she still go to work and do all of the above?)”

    • “Then what use is her PhD in Astrophysics ?” You ask
      – She will remind the 100s of girls that come in touch with her to go study and excel, she will inspire and touch somebody who will be a pioneer in a field that the homosapiens needs understanding – It is more than enough I say.

      Also knowledge is transferrable. When I couldnt work for many years and had to go looking to earn my livelihood my post masters qualifications was quite handy. When I was not working and was conversing with people who did not know that I was not working at that point , they would ask – ” How do you know all this “.

      Sow the seeds, somebody else will water it, and some one else will enjoy the fruits – that is how homosapiens have survived.

      My point – education ( not qualification ) is the manifestation of the perfection we already have. Vivekanand said this ! Women who study, excel and have a thought process that inspires and transpires gives rise to “evolved” generations .
      That’s a job well done.

  19. Yes arranged marriage can be unkind that way…. fitting people into stereotypes of what a typical “boy” or “girl” should be like in terms of tangible benefits like his/her education, family name, wealth job, looks and whatnot.

    Just to provide perspective. Mine was an arranged marriage. Ok not a totally typical one though. Well my parents were on the lookout for me since I wasn’t into any relationship myself. Dad bumped into an old friend of his who introduced him to my prospective then-to-be husband. We (the guy and I) got talking to each other and finally when we felt we wanted to say ‘yes’, we did. We got our families to meet, and rest, as they say, is history.

    For the record, hubby earned less than half of what I did at the time of our marriage. It didn’t matter to me, nor to my dad because he himself has worked his way up in life so he knows what life can be like. Almost two years into marriage, hubby earns more than that now, but still not as much as I do. But right now I am salary-less becoz I am on a sabbatical from work.

    We have had our share of fights over many (regular) issues like any other couple would, but not once has this who-is-better-coz-he/she-earns-more/less come into the picture.
    Point in case being, it all boils down to the individual. If you feel you can make it work with that person, that’s the reason for you to say yes. One day the guy may not have a job because he quits (or God forbids, gets fired becoz of recession or something like that – just an example scenario). Another time the girl may not have a job because she is taking a break from work. Or vice versa. Whatever.

    There is no bracket that works for all. Find your niche. Do not worry about the brackets others maintain. If it works for them, well and good. Doesn’t mean that’s the criteria by which you should measure your life.

  20. I agree that it is social conditioning that makes people think that guys should earn more than their prospective wives. However much a girl is educated and financially independent, her parents want her to be eventually married off to someone who is more educated and earns more than her.
    There are exceptions, though. I had a love marriage, to man younger than I, and he also earns less than me. Our salaries hardly mattered when we were dating (we were in the same company and I was in a higher position than he). After I changed jobs and moved to another city, he also relocated to the city I work in just because I was doing well in my job and he didn’t want it to be affected by my moving back with him after marriage. And he is actually quite proud that I earn more than him. :)
    Even in the case of arranged marriages, there are exceptions. My mum has a masters degree and dad has a diploma. My mum earns more than dad and also manages the finances. I have never come across any ego clashes over their salaries. My dad has always been proud and supportive of my mother’s achievements.

  21. Why people are talking as if its OK for wife to take a break & do with her husband’s salary… This is not equality- this is unfair.
    why should the girl be given a choice to work? I think everybody should be independent.

    In my case, though I love my work, Im lazy by nature. I’d love to spend my days lounging in front of TV, reading, playing badminton, sleeping 12 hours… but one big reason im working is because the alternative is being dependent on my parents (who’ll gladly support me) and giving up my freedom, getting married etc.

    I find it really pathetic that educated women choosing to stay at home (im NOT saying homemaking is a cakewalk). I knw tht there’s no ‘your money & my money’ in marriage only ‘our money’. But do you think this ‘women having a choice to work, not work, take break’ attitude is healthy?
    Helplessness and special circumstances aside, I think everyone should be independent!

    • If women have the choice to work, not work or take a break, men should have the very same choice. If you are happy to take a break but would begrudge your partner the same then it’s just hypocrisy.

  22. Aaaah… you assume right, unfortunately. A guy is supposed to earn more because that he is the head of the house. May I say something? You need to weed out such prospective partners. You seem like a guy who wants a partner for values and compatibility. Don’t give in to this stupid demand. You want a partner who likes you for what you are, not for your pay cheque. And if she accepts the logic that her husband should earn more, than she is falling into the trap of unequal relationship. So avoid them. Believe me, from personal experience I am saying this: it doesn’t matter in a relationship who earns more: a man or a woman. But you need a partner who shares your values. And there are several of them. All the best.

  23. Response from the email writer

    “I’m truly overwhelmed by the sheer number and sincerity of responses. I’m reading so many different perspectives from folks who truly want me to be happy in life. Thank you everyone! I wish I could reply to individual comments, but my WordPress ID gets linked :(
    I’m definitely going to go find someone (as suggested in a comment by one poster who suggested that this situation only gets more business-like; I’m just giving arranged marriage a shot to see what its worth). Also, from reading below, I gather that I have to do quite a bit of talking to my parents and make them understand what I expect out of a marriage. I didn’t think my parents would differ too much from my thinking, but apparently they do.”

  24. Its little disaapointing nwdayz most of the brides parents care more about salary of the bridegroom rather than the character . If he earns as equal to that girl or less than it dosent matter unless they r able to run their family decently .In arranged marriages after all the formalites like Jathak , photo etc is over and the proposal gets stopped just bcoz of salary its shame on our custom ,culture ,where money takes precedent over the character .What you need is a decent salary to run the family ,if the bridegroom dosent earn tat much better he not opt for marriage itself .

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