‘Will it be possible for Indian women to negotiate a postnup when finding a mate is a feat in itself?’

In a society where all women, including the ‘educated and high earning women’ are under pressure to Get married and Stay married [link], and provide male heirs [this email]; and where not just the family elders [link1, link2] but even the courts [link] and counsellors [link] remind them that education and self reliance should not alter their traditional patriarchal values; where a huge majority have no real say in when they choose to marry [link] or be mothers [link],[link 2], how much say would a woman have in ensuring that the terms of a postnup do not reinforce patriarchal values [link] biased against her?

[If pre and postnups were an option]

DG from girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com shared the link below and asked,

“When most women and their families lament lack of eligible bachelors will a postnup for educated, high earning women be an option or an utopia? Will it be possible for Indian women to negotiate a postnup when finding a mate is a feat in itself?’

A woman’s child-rearing years are usually her highest-earning years. …. For most women, the phase of life devoted to child-rearing and the phase of life devoted to corporate-ladder-climbing tend to overlap.

So, when you leave the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom, you’ll also be walking away from a career that is just starting to gain traction. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to rewind the clock and get that time back. A postnup establishes how you’ll be financially compensated for those “lost years” if you and your husband end up divorcing.

As you draw up your postnup, both you and your husband can thoughtfully consider important factors, such as the amount of salary you’re sacrificing and the value (in dollars and cents) of the childcare you’re providing.

Because your postnup clearly defines the issues surrounding your decision to leave your job, it’s likely you’ll find it strengthens your marriage. It can blunt future disagreements and will form the basis for continued constructive dialogue about your family finances.

Related Posts:

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“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

An email from a Mother in law.

My Dreams Are More Precious Than Yours

Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous.

Marriage counseling: “You are working, it does not mean you can talk this way.”

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“The minor issue of male attitudes against women at home and women’s need to be admired for being subservient.”

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

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“Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face”

An email from an anonymous Indian Liberated Wife.

Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.

Pre-Nuptial Contracts in India

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41 thoughts on “‘Will it be possible for Indian women to negotiate a postnup when finding a mate is a feat in itself?’

  1. It may be difficult, but since the traditional idea of marriage does imply providing for the woman during marriage and after the death of the husband, maybe it might not be such a leap to spell these out. It might also be a way for women to vet the intentions of a man and his family. With the sex ratio changing, the balance of demand and supply might be subtly altering and provide an opportunity for women to secure a fair deal for themselves.

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  2. Post nup?
    In India?
    Wishful thinking indeed!
    Once married, where is the incentive for the typical Indian married man to sign such an agreement?
    Unless of course, the wife is much more successful than he is and she insists on it and threatens a divorce otherwise.

    It is a lot more practical if all issues are sorted out BEFORE marriage.
    Yes, I understand that you can’t foresee everything before marriage.
    In such cases, a post nup is not a bad idea but I just don’t see it happening in a majority of cases particularly if the marriage has been an arranged one.
    It might actually threaten an otherwise good marriage if the talk of a post nup comes up and is initiated by the wife or her parents.
    I am also certain the boy’s parents will go ballistic if they hear of it!
    Regards
    GV

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    • My wife and I are planning to sign a post nup one of these days. As a matter of principle.

      I don’t know if women can or cannot negotiate the terms of a post nup. But at some point we have to start treating women as adults and not infants no?

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      • Great going Bhagwad. Everyone enters a relationship and invests heavily in it hoping that it will last forever. But experience and time has repeatedly shown us that only a fraction of relationships will endure the trials of time(not that separation is a bad thing). Why not we start using these lessons and start preparing for the future? After all, don’t we know to not touch fire even without having experienced a severe burn ever?

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      • My wife and I have not felt the need for a post nup but we did have a pre nup of sorts!
        Back in 1975.
        On the day of the marriage.
        Not in English, but in Sanskrit.
        Not written, but oral.
        Not signed but with Fire as witness.
        She stood demurely by my side and kept mum, while I mouthed whatever the priest asked me to say.
        I understand I have agreed to a lot of things in that “pre nup” without being aware of what I was committing myself to.
        No regrets! We have been happily married for 38 years.

        Regards
        GV

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      • Bhagwan, few question if you don’t mind as they might be personal.

        Who brought forward the idea ?
        What does the post nup look like? What are the terms and conditions.
        You said that in your case it’s a matter of principle. How different would it be it was matter of being practical
        What do you think will happen in your marriage if one of the person don’t agree to postnup

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        • The idea came from our realization that while everything is great right now, a time may come when it may end for unforseen reasons. We also realized that during a divorce passions run high – so it’s best to create a fair agreement when we’re both thinking straight.

          After we draw it up, I’ll scan it and put it up word for word on my blog.

          As for the other questions, principle might become practice down the line…who knows? A post nup is to protect us both – so it’s in our best interests to do something now to prevent later problems…

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  3. This would be difficult to get away with for women. Especially because motherhood and child rearing are put on such an unwarranted pedestal in India. These things aren’t considered services to humanity (which they are in my opinion), but rather, “services” for the woman, because attaining motherhood and rearing a child still remain defining characteristics of someone who is “respectable”.

    And this assumption of motherhood especially is believed to be a “gift” to women in India, a “gift” that far outweighs any of the loss suffered as a result of halting one’s career. I can easily imagine a woman asking for a postnup, compensating for something like this, and promptly being told that she was duly paid in the “currency” of motherhood, and the joys of being a parent, and that these two things should outweigh any of the “material” desires she must have had. And anyway, it was “her choice” to leave the work force (conveniently leaving out any and all of the guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail and subsequent abuse faced until she “made this decision”), so why should she be compensated for this? I can also imagine the village chorus echoing something along the lines of, “Being a mother is your duty in life.” and that being an excuse to justify the disruption of someone’s career, a career they probably built as a result of hard work.

    The bottom line is that it would only be fair for women to be compensated for something like this. However, I just can’t see that happening in a country like India. The premise of being a mother is built on and glorified as a “selfless sacrifice” that only “women can do”. When you ask for compensation for that, what is really being asked for isn’t money–it’s asking for massive shift in values, for the acceptance of the fact that no, mothers are not selfless, and nor do they need to be. And I really, really can’t see this change happening any time soon.

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    • Besides I also do not understand why is it so important in Indian society for a woman to be a mother? A woman can be happy without being a mom and being happy without being a mom is perfectly normal.

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      • Agree with both of you. Motherhood is a beautiful experience if and only if it is entered into whole heartedly and because of some personal need to have the experience. Not everyone is meant to be, is capable of or has the willingness to be a parent. Also, it is not even necessary for everyone to procreate to maintain the population.

        This fake pedestal that motherhood is often placed upon has whole other set of victims – those struggling with infertility. They’re often made to feel like they are somehow inferior for having a “less than perfect” reproductive system. Once the ability to naturally conceive a child stops getting as much drama as it gets, maybe people will become more willing to adopt the many children that need homes or go child-free is that is what they feel is their life’s calling.

        I did stray away from the topic of the post but motherhood being sold as the be all and end all to women is a serious issue that we all need to talk about.

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      • Indian society is one that largely thinks a woman lacks worth as a singular person. To be fair, I will say that this is not true in many, many cases, and may not always have been the view. However, a significant portion of the society we live in today adhere to the belief that a woman is defined by the relationships she has and the sacrifices she makes for her family and others, whereas men are defined by the accomplishments they achieve and how much they gain. By believing that women can only be defined by the relationships they have, it comes as no surprise that motherhood is so important, because that along with marriage is the two ways in which women are recognized as humans at all.

        This isn’t a knock on motherhood or anything like that. Quite frankly, I think that any person who pulls their weight as a parent deserves respect. And I do think that many, many women, voluntarily or no, sacrifice a lot for their children, and they never complain about it even though they have a complete right to do so. I applaud that kind of unconditional love, I really do. But I do not believe that that is the only way a mother or a parent can demonstrate her love for a child. I’m going to love any child that I have. What better way for me to demonstrate that love by setting the best example that I possibly can? Showing your children that dreams can be accomplished, that you can achieve success in life if you work your hardest, that respect is earned by what you do, and not granted by birthright, and working hard to give your children everything they could possibly want–aren’t all of these things unconditional love as well?

        Why only define it as “sacrifice” and not as anything else?

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        • Just beautiful, A. Teaching by example is the best gift I hope to give my future child. I never want them to learn from me that giving up everything you’ve ever dreamed of is the way to show love.

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  4. Why cant you talk it out beforehand and not need a legal document. there are people who value their words. Of course post marriage there are a lot of shifts in thinking, we evolve as we grow and change and this is good so our priorities may change and as long as the spouses can agree then it should not be a issue at all. Most of our problems will go away if we stop
    1. listening to random people and their views
    2. Picking the most suitable partner – not richest,educated,beautiful etc.,
    3. Let it sink in our brains that husban and wife are one Team, you marry a person ,not a family.

    I think our men need to be more Fair and women need to stand up and make a stand for their happiness. both as a team should be capable of not giving in to blackmail in the name of culture, sanskar, obedience, kalachar etc., etc — all the stuff that is involved int he great indian ponzi scheme.

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    • Radha,
      So many marriages that start off great do not stand the test of time. Life brings about several changes through a person’s life and these can change the very essence of your personality. We are humans and must always strive to find happiness at every given chance in life. If after being married for 20 years, a couple finds that they can no longer stand each other, who are we to say that they should have discussed everything beforehand – I am sure you will agree that there is literally no way a couple can discuss every potential life situation prior to marriage because life is like that. Experience has repeatedly shown us that these things happen. What is the loss in being prepared? Also, in case of a separation with young children involved, don’t you think prenups/postnups would make things easier by keeping money out of the conversation?

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      • Yes and no, if after 20 yrs you grow apart, then to separate. Split and go your ways, I’m talking of discussing before marriage, growing together. Me and my husband were not the same people 20 yrs ago. We have grown, I don’t like many things I liked before. But we work thru it. I don’t know how much one can put in a prenup but yes it is useful as you say, postnuptial I don’t know, when if you both don’t agree to the terms of the postnup :-)

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    • “there are people who value their words.”

      How do we know that for sure? Given the Indian set up for marriage, two people are barely allowed to talk and get to know each other before getting married. What is the guarantee that the person you’re marrying, the person who is nodding their head complacently to all your demands, won’t do a right about-face after marriage and swallow all their words in the process? There needs to be a way to hold people accountable, which is why legal documents exist. This is why a lot of countries have a written constitution. When your rights are legalized and inked, it is not easy for your rulers to take back their words and take away your rights.

      It’s all well and good to expect men to become fair and egalitarian. But those changes in attitude don’t simply happen overnight. It’s a continuous work in progress. Women can’t simply sit around and wait for people to recognize them as human beings who deserve to live their lives as they see fit. At some point, women have to stand up and say, “Look. This is my decision about how I want to live my life. You can either support me in this, or you can’t, it doesn’t matter to me either way.” You have to, at some point, simply stand up and exert your rights irrespective of if others think the same way or no. Things just won’t be handed to you.

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    • This is a battle that women need to fight for themselves. Japanese women have obliquely avenged the unequal treatment they receive by marrying later and later and drastically reducing their fertility.

      I agree that most Indian women aren’t in a similar situation. Sn Indian husband can rape and forcibly impregnate an unwilling wife and prevent her from using contraceptives.

      We’re living in a country where there is very little difference between a wife and a slave.

      However, it is still a battle that women have to fight for themselves. Also, the vast majority of women also see nothing wrong with the sacrifices society requires of them. So who can free those who insist on being shackled?

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  5. I am not sure how practical getting a prenup in India is and how effective it might turn out to be. The legal system here is so against divorce that I think even a pre-nup might not stop a man from being unfair to the woman. In a country where men can continue to have a happy, committed relationship outside marriage without any stigma/guilt, a man with a prenup will only try to delay the divorce and will be amply supported by the legal system which has an anti-divorce outlook.

    New Day and New Beginnings

    http://balckwhitegrey.blogspot.in/2013/10/new-day-and-new-beginnings.html

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  6. I didn’t understand it completely. Post nup for what? For having a baby? For leaving a job? So you hold the spouse hostage to your condition?

    And what do you do if the other person doesn’t agree to post nup? Leave the marriage? or do whatever you want?

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    • Presumably, the idea would be that if someone does not agree to a post-nup, then you do whatever the hell you want, which would probably be not becoming a parent at all and continuing a career, or continuing a career even as a parent.

      If someone wants me to take time away from my life when I don’t want to, in order to take care of a human being who is half their responsibility, and I’m not receiving any sort of compensation for having presumably sacrificed a whole LOT more than them, then I wouldn’t do it. Sorry. My life and my time are not subject to another person’s whims and fancies, if I am not happy with making that decision. I am going to be a parent someday, yes, but I refuse to make that my sole occupation in life. That will be an important part of who I am, but I have made the decision to not let it define who I am. To ask me to change my life without having any consideration for how I want to live it, and not acknowledging properly the sacrifice I will be making in the process is an INCREDIBLY selfish thing for someone to do.

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      • Ok I get it now. Basically what are you saying is if one partner give up some benefits for the other partner or marriage per se, they should be compensated for it.
        But I trying to wrap my head around the question that what kind of marriage will actually be able to deliver this.

        In what kind of marriage, can a person actually bring forward a post nup
        In what kind of marriage , will the other partner actually accept a post up
        In what kind of marriage and legal system, will it be actually possible to deliver on the post nup contract

        Is it even practically possible if the person knows that there is no way they can leave if postnup is refused

        I am for all sort of prenuptial. One can say how many babies they will have , how much compensation they want for having a baby and so on. Put all sort of conditions there. And if they don’t agree leave as you are not married. Case closed . You find someone else. Postnup , very different ball game. Leaving or doing whatever you want is never that simple

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  7. This is bizarre. If a woman is liberal enough then she should be free to choose work over childbirth/childcare. If she herself chooses having a baby over her work then how can she complain of losing out on productive years of her life? By assuming that she is forced to give up her work we are only continuing to treat women as kids instead of adults who can make their own choices.

    If a woman values her work more than having kids, that should be the choice she makes. But its stupid to choose the contrary and then crib later. After all, becoming a mother should not be the sole aim of a woman in her life as rightly stated by A above.

    Also, if a woman voluntarily chooses to give up her work for childcare and then asks for compensation, then is it not equivalent to a business deal? If so, then won’t we have people saying that since it as a business deal for the woman to produce a kid and care for that kid, then after receiving the required compensation, she should have nothing more to do with that kid?

    And the most ridiculous part of the article above was – “both you and your husband can thoughtfully consider important factors, such as the amount of salary you’re sacrificing and the value (in dollars and cents) of the childcare you’re providing.”

    Can the parents who have lost a child due to any reason be compensated with money for all the childcare they put in? For example if a kid dies in an accident, can the government pay them money and say this is for the childcare you put in for your kid? Calculating the value of childcare for ones own children in terms of money is the lowest depth one can go to. It is demeaning to any parent irrespective of the gender of the parent.

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    • V K, women may choose to become parents of their own free will, but they never choose this alone. The SAME choice is made by the father, too.

      However, our society is set up such that ONLY WOMEN PAY for making the choice to become parents. Men are not financially, socially, politically punished for becoming fathers. Men do not lose their careers for becoming fathers. Only women do.

      Why should only women pay for a choice that both men and women make?

      This is a problem that needs a solution. The solution can be multi-pronged. We can work towards making a society that recognises women’s reproductive and caregiving labor as real work, and thus pay women for the service they perform for humanity by keeping our species alive. Thus women will no longer need to perform this work for free, and society stops freeloading off of women’s unpaid labor.

      And in the meantime, until society becomes what we want it to be, we can use prenuptual agreements between husbands and wives making husbands share equally in the financial penalties associated with parenthood that currently are only borne by women.

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  8. I think prenups are a bad idea unless it’s a second marriage and kids are involved. A marriage is a partnership based on trust. Issues should be discussed. What needs to be changed are divorce laws. Also, I don’t think it’ll work in India because most marriages are arranged.

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    • In India marriage is a deal struck between parents .. when most of the marrying partners don’t even get to talk what kind of trust we are talking about ,May be if parents see any benefit and a way to further control women , it might work in India ..

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  9. My boyfriend has asked me to sign a pre-nup if and when we do get married. It is more to protect his parents’ assets and home from being claimed by me in case of a divorce ( in reference to new laws , which I haven’t read deeply about or understand very much). I found it hilarious and offensive both at the same time. Though the talk here is about post-nups, I think if I happen to sign a pre-nup, then I can use it to clearly state my rights in case of a divorce too. In that light, it doesn’t feel so offensive anymore. Isn’t this an interesting development?

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  10. Sounds a good idea, if acceptable to both partners. Though i believe it would truly only be useful if the post-nup also includes stuff like child custody and other intangibles.

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  11. I have been married to my wife for a year and a half, and we have an infant child. I work while my wife stays home. My problem is she doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.

    When I get home she gives me the silent treatment. I barely see my friends anymore — and when I do, they come here. If they stay any longer than 30 minutes, it causes a problem and my wife again won’t talk to me for the rest of the night.

    I have tried to compromise, but she feels as though any time I spend away from her and the baby is a no-no. Am I wrong?

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  12. A pre-nup or post-nup, either, forces couples to talk about three things, which they may seldom do otherwise: finances, children and separation (while alive or through death). There are hidden assumptions in these matters which are cultural – the man will manage the finances, having a child/ children is a foregone conclusion, a woman should have children before 30, marriages last for ever, both partners will survive to old age, if the husband dies the children will take care of their mother etc. If there is an acceptable legal framework for drawing up such instruments of agreement, it will be easier in an patriarchal society like ours, for the couple to talk about these issues as a rational and informed discussion. Importantly, such discussions help to prepare a couple for that rare but life-altering situation and empower both to be determinants of their lives together.

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  13. Pingback: “My problem is she doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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