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

I have blogged about “How important is it for a girl to get married?” and was following the comments in this very interesting discussion on, “Marriage : An over-rated institution?”

Desi Girl argues,

Marriages are sold to women in a glossy cover, remember once a woman got married she got to wear good clothes and jewelry that was forbidden for single women.

It gave her a free license to talk about sex and sleep with a man who everyone assumed would love her.

For all these benefits all she had to do was cook, clean, make babies and keep every one happy.

Yes in lieu of her services she is provided a roof over her head, food and protection from other predatory men.

We also know women could be killed if they tried having relationships or children without getting married (they can still be killed for this). If they had children they were not allowed to put them in schools or open bank accounts for them.

So basically the society made it difficult for women to stay unmarried.

Once there was no choice, there was desperation.

“From the careers they choose, the clothes they wear, the way they walk, talk, everything they do, is done keeping in mind the only future they have โ€“ Getting Married (and Staying Married).”

It was also decided that the bride must ‘relocate’ upon getting married. (She couldn’t disagree because nobody asked her).

…it is the daughter in law who agrees to enter into matrimony who has to establish herself and win hearts. Once mutual trust is established her in-laws are going to go out of the way to pamper her.”

Pamper her so much that remaining in touch with her family becomes ‘freedom’.

“…in-laws give the new bride time to adjust and allow her freedom to remain in touch …instead of treating her as an acquired property.”

When being treated as ‘acquired property’ is an option, freedom becomes immoral.

“…if we take Indian marriages in general, whose freedom is curtailed and whose isn’t? Will your (a man’s) in-laws ever tell you what clothes are appropriate or what your working hours should be?”

Marriage gives special privileges to women?

“Hindu married women are covered head to toe in “marriage symbols” (men don’t bother to show their status), … women fast, pray etc etc for this male figure who continues to stay in his own house, being mama’s little boy, doesn’t have to sacrifice career for kids.. …what do women get in return?
And lets not get started on the dowry angle…?”

Once ‘sacrifice’ became a ‘custom’, no more ‘pampering’ was required.

“…about a woman going to stay with in-laws. That very idea should change. Married couple should stay wherever they choose: by themselves, in HER house or HIS house with mutual understanding..
Since none of these things (and many more) are not even given a thought to as of now, marriage is indeed over-rated.”

My question:

If Indian society saw marriage as an option, and not as the only goal in a woman’s life, do you think some of our social problems (like female feticide, dowry, domestic violence or fear of social stigma in case of sexual crimes) might become easier to deal with?

__________________________________

Edited to add:

I would love to read what you feel, please consider yourself tagged! Do let me know if you write a post in response to this question.

Here is what some other bloggers feel,

1. Phoenixritu – Marriage: The great Indian scam.

2. Ruchira – Yes I am single. So?

3. Pixie – My answer to IHM’s question

4. Shilpa Deshpande – Marriage

5. Sandhya – Marriage: Obligatory or Voluntary?

6. Shail – Is marriage an overrated institution?

7. Alankrita – Greener Pastures.

8. Richa – On marriage and such.

9. Siddhesh ‘Ravan’ Kabe – Oh for the love of marriages!

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149 thoughts on “Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

  1. IHM marriage is sold to everyone with a glossy over. Indeed the whole idea that there is someone out there for you is a glossy construct.

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  2. Marriages are sold to women, if they refuse to buy them then its followed by guilt- your parents are getting old, how will they die in peace if you remain unmarried/you have a younger sister waiting to get married after you/what will society say/It is the ultimate aim of a women to get married and produce children (sic!)
    Between selling marriage wrapped in a glossy package and the guilt trips, the poor woman stands no chance !

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    • This is the most unfortunate thing that women choosing to stay single ( or if they don’t find someone to marry) are made to feel guilty….i hate this . But the woman is capable to hold her head high and i have seen many women being happy n proud to be single..

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  3. I agree totally that most women/girls have no option to say ‘no’ to marriages.Very few are strong enough to not succumb to pressure.

    Really good post.
    Perhaps I will blog a detailed response.

    Cheers
    Preeti

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  4. Unfortunately marriage is seen as a life time achievement for the girl and she has to trade so many things dear to her…and i agree nothing changes in a man’s life….i would like to add , most men are also conditioned for this kind of marriage adjustments as they see this happening all around …and i have seen that if they are told by the wife about these issues , they understand and change themselves…. but only if there is love and respect in the marriage and if marriage is a commitment between two individuals and not a compromise between families …

    Marriage should just be seen as a commitment between two individuals , at the same time , respect and care for the family members and vice-versa should be the norm …unfortunately there is a lack of respect and acknowledgement for the woman as a person . If marriages involve anything other than commitment between two individuals , it is certainly overrated. Also , as desi girl says … Indian girls are wrongly conditioned for this lifetime achievement , that is ‘marriage’ ..definitely overrated on that account.

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  5. I dont know why would someone like to stay separately unless they want freedom to have sex all the time.. other than that i think to live in a family is better especially its very important when one is sick or one has a small kid, it gets a helping hand..

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    • Oh PRICELESS….I almost fell over laughing at “I dont know why would someone like to stay separately unless they want freedom to have sex all the time”…..what a hilarious logic! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • I don’t agree with you. Being in a marriage might not work as expected for everyone. And a lot of times being in a joint family after marriage works against the woman who has to always tend to the family, and ends up neglecting herself, call it selfishness or what you will, a human being needs to take care of him/herself first and then others. Sure there are people to look after your kids when they are sick but let us face it, how many women would rather have a joint family than a nuclear family where she can be the master of her own house?

      And single women/couples living separately are not always having sex, they are watching movies together, reading books, talking and having fun!

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  6. Hmmm…no. Dowry and Doemstic violence may come down but I doubt this will have any effect on foeticide and sexual crimes. To reduce these, the mentality has to be changed and that will come by educating everyone (not just the urban population).

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  7. I totally agree with you…A couple should decide where to stay and what to do. However, the girl’s parents have opinions which run in parallel to that of the groom’s family. They ask the girl to adjust adjust adjust and yet …..

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  8. Shail is so right when she says marriage is sold to women without giving them the option of refusing to buy it.

    The venerable writers of our religious texts were fully aware of of just how completely the dices were loaded against women in our society, having contributed to it in no small measure . In all their wisdom, they foresaw that at some point the women might rebel by refusing to get married ,and that would be the equivalent of all hell breaking loose as far as the men were concerned–it would be the death of this wonderful system of oppression of one section of the society for the benefit of the other.

    They foreclosed the problem by stipulating for stringent punishment for those parents who failed to get their daughters married before they hit puberty–the puberty part was important as the daughter was only just a child at that stage ,not quite with a mind of her own, and hence pliable and accommodating without limit. The punishment included social ostracization during their lifetime and burning in hell afterwards.

    So the onus of perpetuating female oppression fell on the parents of girls, who naturally had a kind of emotional hold over the girl–girls often suffered abuse silently so as not to bring disrepute to their parents.

    It is amazing just how well this system worked for centuries –it’s an example of a fool-proof system if ever there was one. Marrying off daughters by a specified age was essentially a race against time and parents often panicked into offering bribes to anyone who agreed to take this “load” off their head. Over time this became the norm rather than the exception and thus evolved the system of dowry, of course under the garb of giving the girl her share of parental property.

    While child marriage is now thankfully passe’,the centuries-old traditions still exercise a firm grip on the minds of parents of girls. They are the root cause of their “how am I going to die in peace if you remain unmarried” mentality.They are the reason why girls are under immense pressure to get married by a certain age, and within their community too. They are the reason why parents sugarcoat the concept of marriage when they should know better. Basically, they are the reason why marriage is overrated–to make the girls ‘buy’ it and thereby ensuring that the system moves on.

    Me – This is a complete, powerful post in itself S!! Loved your clarity, this is exactly what I was trying to say in this post!!!

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    • pressure of getting married in same caste forn the sake of prestige is a root cause for set back for progressing indian woman and all those who want to listen to their hearts!

      Has COMPROMISE become the depiction of indian women in the world,IS COMPROMISE ANOTHER NAME OF AN INDIAN WOMEN

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  9. I have been in countries like Germany where marriages are not essential, people opt for live in as marriages mostly end up in divorces and that becomes very expensive for both. So when a girl and a boy or a man and woman start dating, then if they fall in love they go for live-in at first. Then slowly they get married mostly after having a baby and many times they don’t get married. But I have observed that those problems of handling in-laws, division of household chores, whether to or not have babies, sense of self respect, division of income, all these things remain same. And when a relation is broken there are lots of inconveniences too, specially if a child is involved. But off course it is much less talked about as it is in India. But I don’t see that as any solution as there lives are so formless and lonely and that have its own problems.

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  10. A female is not considered a woman unless she is married. And has at least one living child that she gave birth to. She is called a girl, even if she is 30 years old!! Her identity is locked up as a wife and mother. Her other roles have no importance. SHE has no importance. She has to forget who she was, what she thought and liked and wanted. She has to care for everyone, no one cares much for her, she is entirely replaceable. She is valued on the basis of what she brings to the family (dowry and status and giving birth to male children), what she contributes (housework and parenting and elder-care and pati-seva) and how blemish-free she and her life and lifestyle and choices are.

    I was highly amused at the defensive reaction from some commenters in the post you’ve linked up to. Marriage is one institution. ONE. It takes hard work and changes from both sides, respect, adjustment and kindness. If one is not getting that in a marriage, then there are other choices and they have to be considered valid ones by elders and by society. A single person is still a person. A childless or a child-free woman is still a woman. A working-outside-the-home mother is still a mother and a stay-at-home mom is also working!

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    • Superlike your comment, Starry….what you say is so true..’A single person is still a person. A childless or a child-free woman is still a woman. A working-outside-the-home mother is still a mother and a stay-at-home mom is also working!’

      But unfortunately in India, a single woman is not a woman, she is someone with whom something is wrong
      A childless woman is looked down upon ‘Oh, aapko baacha nahi hai…kitne saal hue shaadi ko! ugh!
      A working outside woman is labelled as ‘non caring for kid, career oriented’ lady
      while a SAHM is supposed to just relax at home

      Sad but true, most Indian girls are brought up with marriage as the final goal in life…

      I have a cousin who refused to get married after seeing her mom suffer beatings from her father (who is dead now) she is often the subject of discussion in marriages on how she will end up lonely with no one to take care of her in her old age…
      I have two aunts both of whom are doctors and both of whom are not married…they have their practice and are almost in their 60s…they take care of themselves! however, STILL they are a topic of discussion in marriages on how they DIDNT get married at the RIGHT age!
      It bugs me to no end

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      • R’s Mom…that’s the whole thing, we Indians are not taught to take responsibility for OURSELVES, but to be helplessly dependent on each other (in the name of family)…children are not taught to be independent, but pampered. Men are not taught to take care of themselves and neither are elders expected to be responsible for their own health and safety. Women are not taught to be financially independent, but to give it all up for the family. Who wins? No-one.

        Instead, can’t we have families in which there is love, fun, respect, good times, but everyone is capable and responsible for themselves?

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      • Yay ! to starry eyes .. i fought all the way since my teenage years announcing this and friends and family called me radical and upside down head..saying that it is not normal thinking !! I have waited 20 years to hear some one announcing this It requires a very liberated mind and well being to think this .. uncorrupted , UNinterrupted..

        me – Nice meeting you Sneha ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • And A…we are more than our roles…that’s what our ancient texts say. Instead we over-identify as wives and mothers…and forget our Self…each of our roles is like an actor on stage. The actor is not the role. Once he’s off stage, he is himself again. I think every woman should be constantly asking herself…”Who am I?” ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Yay starry !

        The answer t0 your question – i am who i am – a human being capable of abundant power – who is ready to do make my world a better place and everybody who comes across me and around me a better place – change for the better is a constant thing in my life and i cherish it and act upon it

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  11. Pingback: Marriage – the Great Indian Scam | Phoenixritu's Blog

  12. Pingback: My answer to IHM’s question « Mytakeoneverything

  13. Yes, I do think if marriage is treated as an option, gender discriminatory social problems will be easier to deal with.

    The biggest problems with the institution of marriage is people getting married for all the wrong reasons. It is a global phenomenon, but unfortunately Indian women have limited escape routes if things doesnt work out. she has to shoulder a lot more guilt, social stigma, etc compared to her counter parts from around the world!

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    • Forgot to add. It is not true that in India every bride has to go and live in her husband’s house. Among the Muslims of north Kerala it is the groom who comes to live with the bride’s family! This has been going on for centuries and still continues, I suppose it started with men having many wives and not being able to house them all under one roof!!! but thankfully it has developed into a monogamist relationship! Of course the groom is treated like a prince with his every whim satisfied, but lets dont dwell into it, I just wanted to mention this rare tradition.

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      • @Bluehornbill,
        There are handful of matrilinial communities in India. Khasi of Meghalya comes to mind and there are few more not able to recall at this time just google.

        Nair brahmins of Kerla is the prominent on though they have moved to patriliny to be more acceptable and respectble to the mainstream culture. Yes, indeed it was hypergamy (a woman has to marry within or above her social status) of caste brahmins lead to polygamy. Brahmin men of lesser socio-economic status married few women and visted them occassionally.
        The same arrangement in patriliny has seen hay days in Begal Kulin brahmins. Men married many women and visted them occassionaly and also got payed for getting married coz’or else these women would have remained unmarried and big curses would have befallen on their parents ๐Ÿ™‚ . That is how old Kulin men married 12yr old brides by half a dozen ๐Ÿ™‚

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

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      • @Desi Girl
        Thanks for the pointers. I had read about matrilineal system among some communities in the north east, but had no idea about its existence in Bengal.

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      • @BlueHornbill,
        There are no matrilineal communities in Bengal. Please re read the sentence, It should have been a separate paragarph but sometimes auto formatting of websites mess it up.

        …The same arrangement in patriliny has seen hay days in Begal Kulin brahmins…

        This clarification is very important because there were similarities in systems. In both systems men had prominent role and importance.
        It is also important because DG does not want to misquoted. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

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  14. I do have my issues with the institution of marriage. I liked that discussion as to whether marriage is an over rated institution. At times, I feel it is. I feel like no matter how modern things get, there will those who push marriage onto you, because for them, if you’re a woman who isn’t married you’re not complete. To make matters worse, people try to scare you by saying you’ll become a spinster surrounded by cats.

    As for your question, I feel those issues wouldn’t be problems, because women are no longer valued for their marital status, or anything that connects them to marriage, they’re valued as human beings.

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  15. Marriage is not a problem. ‘Marriage to whom, to which family, under what circumstances’ is the problem.

    Me – If there is no worry about a girl getting married – then there will be no reason to to give dowry, or accept oppressive in laws – that will give a girl more choices in life, then she will be able to control the circumstances and have a say in the kind of family too.

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  16. I do like the topics you some out with and i totally respect you for that.

    By indian society you mean just the WOMEN or as a whole, cause this question according to me should be put towards Women and by that i mean Not the so called Educated ones but the Vast majority of the women in India ..

    me – Bikram even the educated women face pressure to marry at the ‘right age’, that is why parents agree to give dowry and that is why many parents don’t want any daughters, if marriage wasn’t such a concern, parents would have been less unwilling to have daughters.

    And beleive me and I know I know DG will probably come out with lots of figures and news stories on what i have to say .. But the fact is that societies which are open also have equal number of problems of there own, Look at the new generation of kids.. Beleive me When i say I see it day in and day out ..

    me – Of course marriage becoming an option and not the goal, will not solve every problem, but it will mean girls and their families, will have a lot less to worry about. Don’t you think that is needed… for example, they won’t feel forced to give dowry, and they will let their daughters choose whichever careers they like.

    Regarding the social problems, I doubt if it will change AT ALL, live in relationships have there own problems ,may not be female fateicide but Children abondaned comes into picture, both parents walking out on them leaving them to cater for themselves ..

    Me – Bikram parents will feel the same way about their children – whether they are married or living-in, in fact, those who don’t care now because the child is a girl – maybe they will change their attitude.
    And female feticide is a symptom of a much bigger problem – so any step that helps deal with it should be welcomed.

    Domestic violence Has nothing to do with Marriage, its all together a different violence and can happen either way …

    Me – But this will help women walk out of abusive marriages, and that’s a step in the right direction Bikram, don’t you think so?

    Sexual crimes again has nothing to do with Marriage, most men who commit this crime do it to other women and may not to there wives..

    me – But women’s families will not hide such crimes in fear that the girls will not get married because of the stigma. That will discourage the criminals. Today most such criminals know there are little chances of even the crime being reported.

    So I doubt if there is a choice even then things will not improve TILL people are made to realise, All these crimes are committed by Educated, Highly Qualified, People who lecture others , People who talk how this is wrong and bad They all do it in some way of the other.. So if such people are doing it then the not so privilidged are bound to do so too..

    Me – But Bikram if one of the reasons for why this happen, – the worry that a girl has to get married and stay married no matter what – if this worry is not there, will it not be better?

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  17. The problem with us, generally, is after an age, all of us get this feeling of being single forever and dying lonely. All of us want connection, so eventually people end up marrying. Because if they don’t marry, they feel that something is missing in their life. It’s centuries of social conditioning.

    Me – And when somebody doesn’t feel this way, there is pressure from others, often close family and friends to ‘settle down’.

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  18. “If Indian society saw marriage as an option”

    For this to happen, a lot of things need to change. I don’t see this as a possibility in near future.

    Me – Haresh it is happening, though the change is very slow.

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  19. I totally agree. If so much importance on getting and staying married was not placed in India, there won’t be brides being harassed for money, no unhappy marriages, no dowries nothing. All that happens because parents of girls are desperate for the girl’s marriage to work!

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  20. Yes, if marriage is an option then a lot of our problems would be solved.
    Since, the day a girl child is born, marriage is the only goal in her life. And a good marriage a social status (as you have mentioned) not only for her parents but herself as well.
    Now why is marriage important is the question. For parents its important, so that they can handover the “paraya dhan” a responsibility to someone else and be free. For inlaws it is important so that they can get someone to cook, clean, take care of the house and bear the “ghar ka chirag.” If the ghar ka chirag happens to be a female child, then the paraya dhan circuits begins again. But if its a boy, then its another achievement for the woman, which she wears like a medal, of the highest honour.
    So if you look at it, in our society any achievement a woman has is related to men, a good husband an achievement, a son, another achievement, a victory, a grandson and she is a winner. This is the first level of achievement. The second level of achievement, is how well she cooks, takes care of her home. After all, ghar ki aurat ke haath se bana khana is divine and is what makes a house home.
    How does it matter if she is educated, can take of the all outside work with equal panache, is earning, is an excellent mother, all those things don’t matter. They are not must haves just good to have.
    So IHM yes, if marriage is an option and the role of a woman not perceived equivalent to that of a domestic help, but that of an individual who has equal rights and who is valued, things might change.
    I doubt that’s happening in the near future but.

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  21. Pingback: Marriage « Just Speaking My Mind

  22. In my case, No one sold marriage to me. Selling is only for consumer with choices. It was more of an implied progression.

    Once the woman gets married she is expected to pop a child within a year. Natural progression again and if there are any factors, personal/professional/physical factors that prevent this, the woman is the one to be blamed.

    When I got married, we planned to have children after 3 years, which was received with much negativity. I felt as if I came with a one year warranty and people thought it was unfair to wait three years to test me out and make sure if things were okay. After three years, we tried for a child and we had three unsuccessful pregnancies in two years. What hurt more than losing a child was the attitude I received, as if I was supposed to move from 4th standard to fifth standard within a year and I have failed and stayed in fourth standard for five years and what a pain it is for all my teachers. It was surprising how every one thought that they were the victims:)

    Conform at all costs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  23. In my case I married and my husband moved , we stayed separate but he had undergo the change, also when we had a kid i was in a busy and stressful but great job, so for the first 5 yrs in my son’s life he took the heavier load of child rearing, Now it’s my turn at childrearing ( albeit without the spitup/sleepless part ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and he’s busy climimbing the ladder. So i had the best, my in-laws were non-interfearing and didn’t mind if i didn’t visit them often or long enough, now we’re edging closer to retirement and had a crisis type situation ( thankfully ended well) – guess who helped, my brothers and BIL’s and SIL’s rushed to our aid, i mean physically/monetarilly/kids wise, and generally giving me much needed hugs. thanksfully it was a false alarm and all ended well, but i miss them i miss the cameredierie we shared thru the yrs on holidays, it’s always been our plan to all live inthe same city when we retire albeit diff houses and this crisis brought that out inthew open, we all dont want to be without the others support, our freedoms don’t matter that much now ๐Ÿ™‚
    and my in-laws !!!! always there inthe background always smiling, stable and praying for us…
    If i had stayed single ( as i was thinking of then) i would have lost the love and support of this family. i would have been happy but i can’t beleive i would have been happier than I’am now. I have a live-in friend,companion and champion of my causes in my husband and cannot imagine facing old age all alone..
    I want my daughter to be married, she has a choice but i want her to understand that married means that she will have a best friend/lover/support and shadow always by her. parents are not for ever, friends have other priorities, but if she is lucky to get that one soulmate– she will be happier than the happiest person ๐Ÿ™‚

    so yes she has a choice but i hope she chooses to experience the joys of singledom and joys of marriage in her lifetime and decide which she likes better ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. I got a “troll” on my blog yesterday who gave several comments on how women need to be kept at home and how only men must be the bread winners etc.

    I had to think long and hard whether to reply to the guy…but didn’t want to delete his comments either. I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and didn’t want to assume he was just trolling. So I made my replies as concise as possible.

    But it was pretty shocking even to me to see how some people still think. And by his emotion, he really seemed sincere!

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  25. Early in my marriage, my FIL was visiting us. And my husband had to step out for something. I reminded him that it was cold outside, and he still refused to wear a jacket. I just shrugged and off he went. The scene that followed was something I will always remember…

    My FIL chastised me for not taking enough interest to keep my husband warm! I mean, here is this 28 year old man (my husband), who has been living independently, all by himself for a couple of years and suddenly now that he is married, he can’t decide if he wants to wear a jacket or not! And to top it off…somehow it was MY responsibility to see that he was suitably clothed…as if he was 2 years old instead of 28!

    This situation introduced me to the dichotomy of Indian marriages that I have not been able to understand even today:

    1. The man of the house is man enough to earn a living, make financial decisions, etc but apparently not grown up enough to decide how much he wants to eat and when, what he should wear and how he should take care of himself

    2. The woman of the house is woman enough to “support” the man’s earnings, ensure the smooth running of a household and even have a baby, but she is not grown up enough to take financial decisions, decide when to have children and ofcourse go out in the dark.

    The Indian marriage forces this dual role of adult/child on us. Either we are adults or children. We cannot be both. And I would think that upwards of 21 years of age, it is 2 adults in a marriage. I think once this confusion is sorted out, Indian marriages are going to immediately get better.

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  26. Pingback: A mother’s dilemma | Let the light shine from within you…

  27. I did not read all the comments but read the post…I personally feel that marriage is not even being sold to us any more, we are just getting the subscription of what was sold many many years ago…the contract is still on and we the women of current generation are paying for it. lIke some one said…it has been such a part of our upbringing and conditioning that we dont even know there is another way to live.
    Honestly, my parents are as fair as parents can get about the gender thing. i can never ever say that they discriminated. but the society…that also plays a role. i think its just subconsciously a part of our whole life. So like after 8th standard, you enter 9th standard, then 10th…then bachelors after bachelors you do masters and after masters you get married. we all aspire to get married to marriageable boys once we hit the age. its like one of those life changing things that every girl waits for.

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  28. i think that marriage is mandatory for both men and women. A man who marries late or not at all faces the same social stigma as a woman. If anything, i have seen some hilarious comments that women are not likely to face , such as “why is he not married yet? Is he impotent?” or “is he gay? he is not married but hangs out with the boys so much.”

    So.. its really not a gender thing. the boys hear “how will we die in peace if there is no successor to the family name?”

    and “how will u get a good girl if u keep postponing ur marriage?”

    so.. imho, both genders suffer at this.

    me – True, hdwk, but men do not have to relocate, they are not blamed if the chirag is a Laxmi (baby girl), they can continue to wear, eat, drink, meet friends etc the way they had been doing all along.
    Do you think women benefit from being married in the system, the way it exists?

    What if women had equal chances to be independent and were free to marry or not marry, do you think there life and our society would have been different then?

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  29. Oh well, marriage is overrated. Especially for those of us who have been brought up to think independently and for ourselves. I have a friend who had a lot of restrictions about what she could wear, how long she could stay out,where she could go and stuff. Once she got married, her parents decided it was now her husbands responsibility. No restrictions as before. So I doubt she would say that. It has given her more independence.

    To me in a sense, marriage brings more restrictions – what I can not wear when I visit certain relatives of his because random people take offense, and thus indirectly his parents will feel bad. Trying to bargain the amount of time I can spend at his place vs mine. Him keeping count and track of number of meals I have at his place vs him at mine. His parents will tell him what they want of me thru him, not to me. Not even a year into the marriage and already we have advice coming along about thinking about a baby.

    I told my mom , I wanted a live in. She refused. Well I don’t believe in marriage per se, and this offends a lot of friends and folks I know – the fact that I don’t believe in it. Marriage to me is the one way we can live together. That is all it means to me.

    It is a pre-programmed flowchart in the society. And trust me , I have learnt the hard way , you think things are better, but in so many ways things still are stuck in the last century.That doesn’t mean I will stop fighting for my way. But the point is, it shouldn’t be so hard.

    I mean if it is all about companionship when you grow old, get married when you are old. How many marriages in our parents generation really work the way it is supposed to or what it is marketed to us for?

    Me – Your last question is an answer to so many questions raised in favour of typical semi-forced marriages!

    Like

      • Starry, A_N, that is not how it works.

        If the woman has the choice of staying single till she feels she needs company, we will not be having this discussion at all.

        The process is to: get her married -> bring children in to the equation -> if the marriage sucks make her responsible for it -> put her in a bind and force her to make the best of the marriage. Basically if she is trained to believe that there is nothing best out there for her, she will get used to the guy and her situation and grow old and hopefully be good companions or lead separate lives in the same house.

        Like

        • some of these comments seem to be rooted in very utopian ideas about what a marriage is. Marriage is not about putting all your eggs in one basket- and if the two people in the equation lead fulfilled individual lives, in that everything they do and everything they are and everyone they meet is not only defined by their marital status and not only with their spouse. Grow individually and live together!

          About companionship- I got married when I was 31 (4 years ago) have an older sibling not yet married. My parents worry- and use the companionship argument- saying that they don’t want her to be along later in life. I think that’s a valid worry- but at the same time they’re not stuffing some unrealistic notion of marriage down her throat or forcing her to marry or even lining up guys for her to marry. I know that my sibling too wishes she would meet someone like-minded- she also knows that the chances of meeting some like-minded that she’ll like and vice versa AND who is single drastically reduce with age.

          issues of companionship, solitude within marriage (I say this as a good thing) and loneliness within and without marriage are all complex and nuances issues- can’t be cast in such black/white terms.

          Like

    • Marriage is a patriarchal institution that selectively uses and abuses married women, at the same time rewards their loyalty and reinforces it with certain privileges. Single women were proscribed even now are discouraged from dressing up, wearing certain outfits, jewlery, move in certain circles, have sex or talk about sex openly. The reason is to keep her sexually unattractive to onlookers and keep her chaste. Once right to her sexuality are transfered from parents to spouse and his family woman is rewarded with all these privilege. Marriage not only provides a sexual partner to women but also other opportunities like going places, especially recreation with partner, movies, restaurants etc. It is only in last 20 years women have started going out as groups or by themselves earlier women were chaproned.

      Often times not always, marriage symbols also deter street harassment. These symbols are like a warning sign to unrelated men that she is already taken and someone has rights to her sexuality. On the other hand a single woman is assumed to be easy access because no one yet has right to her sexuality, her parents are just custodian of her sexuality not rightful owners.

      When DG said marriages are sold to women in glossy cover she also insited marriage provides protection to women from other predatory men. This protection is reward for married women and its lack to single woman is their punishment for not getting married. Society makes sure either women willingly submit to marriage or they’ll be coerced into it through subtle manipulations like, harrassment by unrelated men, character assasination by rumor mills, isolation, name calling, accusations that she is spoiling other women etc.

      Another dimension to this equation is marriage is the only product sold to women there is nothing else available. ๐Ÿ™‚ For DG and her friends live-in relationship or just living on our own was not a safe option, these options were pretty dangerous. Recently in our conversation few of us confessed the life we are living today was not possible without getting married. We live on our own, pay our bills and our parents don’t have much influence on our choices. Had we been not married and then divorced it is doubtful we could have had what we have today.

      A bahu may be oppressed in the household but as a mother of son she acquires certain privileges. A MIL all her life may have been oppressed but will attain power and control once her son is married. It is a very selective reward-reinforcement and punishment-detterance mechanism.

      When those oppressed are rewarded they become more loyal and they go out selling the product more vehemently. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      Like

  30. I think marriage is being sold to MEN in a glossy cover!

    you don’t have to cook – your wife will do it for you
    you don’t have to do any chores – your wife will do it for you
    extra income for the home if she is working- and YOU get to decide what to do with it
    Dowry! Gifts!
    All the respect you will get as Son In Law

    For women, there is no choice. It is more like “buy or else!”

    me – True!

    Like

  31. The most common thing amongst my friends is being under the radar, whether you are a boy or a girl, under the pressure by parents to get married.ย 

    I am amazed at how everything is expected to spin around that single event in life. I was ‘asked’ not to get into fields like marketing as girls from that field don’t get married easily. They are not judged well. I was told that no matter how much I accomplish in life, my true respect will only come from how tasty my food is to my husband and kids.

    I know my friends being criticised for the vocation they chose as ‘all good boys’ want to marry only MBAs and Engineers. How they can’t pursue studies as it’s a ‘high time’ they got married. How some of them have to let jerks come with their families to ‘see’ them, face demeaning questions just because they have turned 30 and are still unmarried.ย 

    The men are not spared either. They are expected to quit ‘toying around’ with business ideas and get a proper job. A 9-5 one. Marry their sisters off and get a wife. That is their 5year plan!

    The worst thing I have come across is that, my friend’s parents allowed her to marry her boyfriend but keep it under wraps until her sisters get married as the said guy was marrying the second time as his wife died.

    It’s all twisted. So very twisted! Everything revolves around marriage or so it seems!

    Like

  32. IHM , is marriage really a relation between 2 indivuduals or a social obligation? I mean if it is a relationship between 2 indivuduals , then why does law recognize marriage? After all law does not recognize friendship or anything like.

    If I could, I will just remove the institution of marriage from any legal validation. Let society do what it wants, no need for law to recognize it

    Me – Relationship between parents and children, business contracts etc are also between individuals, the law simply ensures there is no abuse, some basic rules are laid out (like cheating, polygamy, sharing of possessions, custody of children etc) and of course now there is the option of Live-in relationships – where one can avoid some of the legality. I feel it’s good to have both the options, one can choose whichever one prefers.
    Abut marriage being an Institution, do read Sandhya’s post above, she says if it is an institution, then admission should not be mandatory.

    Like

  33. “If Indian society saw marriage as an option, and not as the only goal in a womanโ€™s life, do you think some of our social problems (like female feticide, dowry, domestic violence or fear of social stigma in case of sexual crimes) might become easier to deal with?”

    I agree. The problem is not with ‘marriage’ but with Patriarchy.Every negative point about marriage is actually about Patriarchy.
    Most human beings needs someone for a strong emotional bonding.

    They also have an inbuilt sexual need.
    Procreation is needed for continuation of the species.
    Human kids take a long time to become Independent
    During feudal era there were no individual wealth.Wealth creation was from agriculture fields or animals which was the property of a group
    Wealth of the group need an instituition to protect and sustain it.
    Controlled sex and procreation was needed for accumulating and maintaining the Wealth of the group.

    Marriage and family life came into being in human societies because of all these reasons.

    Monogamous marriages became a fashion only when Capitalism advanced,may be for the last 300 years.
    Now you are seeing less and less number of joint families because there is no need for holding wealth as a group.Even if you hold wealth as a Share certificate a family is not needed for protecting and sustaining wealth as the laws of the country will take care of it.

    So the need for marriage is now may be only for emotional bonding and emotional and physical care of kids.Single parent can protect kids but will reduce their ability to earn wealth.
    Modern Science has brought about a long dependent old age for humans.Only the very wealthy may be able to buy in the market physical care for that period. Emotional care cannot be bought.
    So for these reasons marriage will survive some more centuries but will become more and more optional.

    Like

  34. Empower the girl child with healthcare, education, equal opportunities and financial independence and then let her decide when and who she wants to marry.

    I am assuming many of us had happy childhoods and saw the love our parents had for each other. It made me want to have a love I could call my own.

    Just because a few of us have had bad marital experiences, we cannot write off this sacred institution.

    me – Very true, the institution need not be written off, but what would you say to this question I asked,

    “If Indian society saw marriage as an option, and not as the only goal in a womanโ€™s life, do you think some of our social problems (like female feticide, dowry, domestic violence or fear of social stigma in case of sexual crimes) might become easier to deal with?”

    Like

      • @Purba, I am talking of the institution of marriage which is a contract which has been invested with sacredness so that the couple would stick together.
        How we feel about the individual contract we have entered into reflects our personal feelings, but that does not change what the institution itself is.

        Like

    • IHM…marriage is not the problem here, lack of education and financial independence is. That’s why I stressed upon empowering our women so that they can exercise their rights.

      The parents need to stop treating their daughters as a social obligation and the punishment for crimes against women need to be harsher.

      Like

      • Education, Employment and Empowerment all three are part of an equation. It was assumed education would lead to employment (financial independence) thus empowering women. But research has shown this equation did not fruitify as desired. Highly educated women are more prone to violence and so are employed women because they present a challenge to traditional concept of masculinity- in control and provider.
        http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article40166.ece

        Domestic abuse hits India’s elite
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2946760.stm

        http://sch.sagepub.com/content/37/4/131.abstract

        It was assumed increase in economic stability of families will empower women but Punjab and Haryana proved it all wrong as high GDP did not curb female feticide but only aggravated it and other crimes against women.

        In order to actualize women’s empowerment the concept of masculinity that needs a reinterpretation so does the concept of femininity. It is the gender role expectations cemented in social psyche that makes it hard to let go of privilege and challenge oppression.

        Marriage is sacred only if it is a partnership of equals and one is respected for who they are not for who their kin are.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

      • “The parents need to stop treating their daughters as a social obligation”

        How will they stop doing that as long as marriage is seen as the ultimate goal for their daughters the women??

        Like

  35. As a single person who is constantly badgered with questions regarding marriage I couldn’t agree more …I have been told am too picky , too independent and should just ‘compromise’ and get married. It irks me because I don’t understand this desperation to treat marriage as a life goal and it seems hard for people to accept that a person can be complete and happy even if they are not married. You are right , if this intense pressure for women to get and stay married at all costs (as though that is the only thing in life) was not there, many of the problems which make some people to not desire a female child would disappear ….I also hate how people tie certain things to being married…wait till you get married so that you can travel, once you get married you can do whatever you want etc. etc…

    me – “I also hate how people tie certain things to being married…wait till you get married so that you can travel, once you get married you can do whatever you want”
    – That’s like saying ‘better get married or else you can’t do all this.”

    Like

  36. Marriage is just a beginning of a never ending journey for a woman. I am a working woman, have a high pressure job and travel around the world. Me and my husband have decided to not have kids till we are stable. It has been 7 years since I have been married.

    And people around me look at me with pity. The first thing that they ask is “Koi Problem hai kya” . They automatically assume that I am unable to conceive. My own close family sometimes passes off handed remarks about me not having a child. About the fact that how people without children donโ€™t understand the stress that people with kids go through. People give me lectures on how I will regret when I won’t be able to conceive when I want to. Sometimes I feel people look down upon me because of this.

    Most people don’t realize that having a child is a choice and I will make the choice when I want to. If you choose to have a child, DO NOT RUB IT IN MY FACE.

    It doesn’t matter that you are a superwoman but according to them a child is what gives a married woman a status in society.

    Donโ€™t even get me started on having a male child versus a female child. My cousin who is a educated literate woman is pregnant and when she feels proud to tell me that โ€œAnyone who looks at her feels she will have a beautiful baby boyโ€. Sometimes I feel like asking her what she will do if it is a girl ? Even for few modern women of today having a Boy is a status symbol and they feel it sets them apart.

    I love kids and so does my husband but I don’t think a child will complete me as a woman. I am already a woman. I am independent and I am smart and when I have a child I make sure that I give him/her the best I can but till then no one has the right to judge me or feel that I have some problems and due to which I can’t have a child. Having a child is not a privilege it is a choice. And just because some women have children it does not make them better than other women who don’t have kids….

    Like

    • @Bella,
      Just start using DG’s formula:
      “I am childless by choice.” It works magic people get busy figuring what it means. If they still ask what does it mean tell them “it is not that I cannot have children but made a choice not to have them. ”

      A desi female encountered DG yesterday: So you don’t like children?
      DG: Oh no, I definitely love kids only if they are other people’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ Diapers are not for me. I really commend you for doing a great job with diapers and everything it is just not for me.

      Within three sentences our conversation ended without much ado ๐Ÿ™‚

      Peace,

      Desi Girl

      Like

  37. Pingback: The most important thing in life is life itself | Searching for my rhythm…

  38. From an evolution standpoint, marriage is about companionship and procreation. From today’s practical standpoint, in addition marriage is about love and sharing.
    Marriage has to be seen as a contract between two individuals as opposed to how it is in India – a contract between two families.
    There needs to be more nuclear families that coexist peacefully. There needs to be a generation cleanse: older generation respecting the younger for their right to choose and live their life, younger generation respecting the older for their support and wisdom. All this at a healthy distance.

    And more hobbies for people and finding their passion – so they don’t bother with other people’s problems!
    http://sowmya.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-most-important-thing-in-life-is-life-itself/

    Like

  39. Pingback: To be or not to be….married? « Life and Times in Bangalore

  40. Marriage does need to be optional. The person one marries needs to be optional. Sharing of marriage expenses needs to be discussed by the parties involved…way too many assumptions are made. As IHM and DG (my heroes) have so rightly pointed out, customs are followed blindly and because they are customs its hard to break them. All it needs is a bit of common sense and a lot of courage, a questioning mind that refuses to accept the answer – “This is the tradition”. Perhaps then things would change and people would approach marriage with the sense of delight they could have instead of the sense of obligation and of being trapped. Its all the customs that have brought insincerity to the institution.

    Like

    • “This is the tradition” . Lets put it this way – Societies have been redefining tradition. what america went through in 1940’s – 50 – india is going through now – indian women as an organized mass have never fought for their collective rights – have we ? what is the point of writing this — i don’t know

      Like

      • @sneha,
        Indian women have been fighting for their rights collectively for more than 150 years. Just because people are not aware of it does not mean it never happened.
        Between 1850-1920 Indian women vociforously debated in the vernacular media for the age of consent bill (raising the age of marriage for girls); restitution of conjugal rights; right to education.
        http://books.google.ca/books?id=YICroPrSyz4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=padma+anagol+feminism+in+India&source=bl&ots=c_2fr6C8IA&sig=QgM4h5FspPJft0-mBTJqTlhdHsI&hl=en&ei=NViNTdnYM8-10QHOv8StCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&sqi=2&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

        1920 onwards Indian women collectively protested in textile industry in U.P. later in Maharashtra to regulate work ours and working conditions. Their efforts also benefitted men and children. Indian women did not get right to vote due to generosity of male leaders but women like Sarojini Naidu, Kamla Chatopadhya and many more faught male freedom fighters who were reluctant to accord women right to vote. Also they wanted to show the Raj that desis were better coz’ they gave frenchise to women before Britain did so.

        http://books.google.ca/books?id=68xTBT1-H4IC&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=Radha+Kumar+we+were+making+history&source=bl&ots=owmwLQYZE3&sig=YnQAUVhaukuevoGd3FZme_B-BWM&hl=en&ei=WlmNTeOTM6mP0QHEp4WrCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

        Since late 1970s women have collectively worked to get anti dowry laws and custody rape laws passed.

        http://www.vedamsbooks.com/no43093/violence-normal-times-essays-on-womens-lived-realities-edited-by-kalpana-kannabiran

        DG has been in the front lines for almost half her life. It took more than 10 years of grassroots advocacy and protests to get PWDVA 2005 passed.
        It took many protests, sit ins and frustrating years to get supreme court judgement on sexual harrassment at work place. It was Bhanwari Devi who remained steadfast when most middle class women give up and go back to living anonymous lives. Bhanwari Devi is still discriminated her children had to give up school because other villagers were hostile to them. But she is still fighting.

        http://www.tehelka.com/story_main34.asp?filename=hub131007A_MIGHTY.asp

        Who is struggling for women’s reservation bill? http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1706/17061060.htm

        Good question will be when DG and her comrades were marching in the streets where were these women bloggers? ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of the bloggers are definitely senior to DG and some are younger, how many of them have ever joined any protest march or sit-in?

        Some one paid with their time, effort, blood and sweat for the privileges we enjoy today. When DG pens this comment she stands tall on the shoulders of giant desi feminist fore mothers. She respectfully accepts their contribution and promises to do her part to make it better tomorrow for coming generations.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

      • i have protested, send mails and yes i gave up because i did not have the funds to continue – i had to go and earn a living . i lost some and gained some. if i did not earn a livelihood i would be literally without a roof – because i was doing this without the support of anybody. so yes, cheers to DG – i acknowledge those who spent their all to do this – and for their links . In India when Indira gandhi became the prime minister, she did not break any glass celings – a large number of them scummbed to pressure and were used and abused – but in a patriarchial society like india – only perseverant women who think extraordinarily can lead the way – elite indian women shy away from getting down on the streets and marching – that is definitely a point to be noted and continued to talking about

        Like

      • @sneha,
        DG and friends too have bills to pay and some even have kids and homes to run and there are some who are totally committed to the cause. It is about acknowledging that someone one is working to bring about change and change is not happening on its own.

        Yes, the elite have their privilege to preserve and oppressed has nothing to lose besides her oppression. That is what Bhanwari Devi is doing. Middle class women are the one’s who enjoy the protection of laws that urban poor struggled to bring about. It is the domestic help who comes to Mahila Samhoo meeting after doing dishes and moping floor in 10 or more homes.

        Workers Of The World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains.

        9-5 jobs are assumed to leave no room for anything else in between but there are after hours and weekends. That time can be used to support organizations that are working for women’s rights. There are many ways to support the movement- volunteer with a progressive organization even if it is a hour a week or 2 weeks, donate time or resources. Choose a organizational wisely, check their mission statement and vision and their stand on minority communities- religious minorities, tribal people, urban poor, farmers, natural resources etc.
        http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-03-25/news/29188722_1_rwanda-agra-agriculture

        Join us on gbuzz, recently someone posted the Dark side of giving: The rise of philanthro-capitalism . You can find out more about how can you can support people’s movement.

        Being informed is the first step to making a difference.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

  41. Pingback: Is marriage an overrated institution?? | Shail's Nest

  42. I was just telling my mother the other day that I was not interested in marriage and that I didn’t want to get married. First my mother asked me if there was someone I loved. When I said no, she told okay then…no prob. I was suspicious. I told her I wasn’t going to change my mind. She then asked me if there was anything physically wrong with me…. I was like…. “what duh?” and I told her no.
    I just didn’t believe in marriage and that if 2 people were really in love and had mutual respect for each other, then they could make it work any way. I know my view is totally radical but seriously … does marriage have to be so universal?

    Like

    • i commend all people who said that marriage should be optional.

      yes, my friend made it optional for the time being and waited. she waited to be stable and bring back a handsome pay packet .. she is great , smart , good looking and then she said .. after being up in the corporate ladder and living in hotels all the time – made her feel very lonely. she is 38 and looking , but no man wants to marry her ( stays in bangalore ) – because at 38 – it is difficult for a woman to find a man, but easier for an accomplished man to find a wife – An irony of nature !

      Like

      • @benani, That is the story of just one woman and what she wants. There may be others who do not want to get married but instead leave the corporate world and find something new and interesting to do.

        Like

      • I live in hong kong and have encountered many women who are over 40, single, and very happy with their lives. They are not lonely, depressed or looking for a man. There are also women who are older and would like to be married. Just that both types exist, and it is quite possible to even be out of a job and still not seeking a man.

        Like

      • shail: i wrote the story of one woman as an example . i have watched since the past 15 years – Friends who are very educated, ( IIMs, PH.d ..etc etc ) when they wanted to get married – they couldn’t find a guy because the men who were equally accomplised and who were much older did not want to marry them. And the condition that they laid down was – the womean have to leave the job – i remember it distinctly . she wa s the general manager of HR in mid 1990, iim and 33 then. and there were others too .

        There is no one pot answer. my point is – the society cannot be judge of what is and what is not appropriate – we come as individuals into the world and make a world of our own own, own up our choices and live life

        Like

      • well to that lady who didn’t find any guy. I’d say you’re not looking in the right places and if my only option was to marry a guy who wanted me to give up my job, then I say I’m better off not getting married.
        But you kinda completely missed my point. I didn’t say don’t have a life partner. I said “marriage” isn’t necessary. Yes, life does get lonely and you need company to share its joys…

        Like

  43. Unfortunately in places where it is optional, ie USA there are still high rates or sex crimes and domestic abuse. We do not have female infanticide, however.

    There really aren’t any easy solutions that make all of women’s problems go away. There are certainly better places in the world to be a woman but freedom can open another set of problems. I believe marriage as an option is best, however, we still are stuck with certain social stigmas. If a woman is unmarried into her 30s in US, she is considered undesirable but a man is just sowing his wild oats. We do not face the same domestic pressures but I am shamed by members of my family constantly for being almost 30 and unmarried. Until, we as women, are truly free of social obligations and pressures, our relationships with men, one another and ourselves, will continue to be unsavory at best.

    Me – //Until, we as women, are truly free of social obligations and pressures, our relationships with men, one another and ourselves, will continue to be unsavory at best// – Julia that’s what marriage being optional in India would mean – as of now, most girls have absolutley no choice, they reach the right age, and they are married off with suitable dowry to a suitable boy.

    //freedom can open another set of problems// -you mean freedom for women will open another set of problems?

    Like

    • I think I am saying that it gets better but other problems will arise. Men, have enjoyed their time at the top since the beginning of time, they will continue to make life hard for us, even as we engage in more freedom.

      Like

      • I agree with your first comment for the most part, however I feel some of the problems caused have to do with people not willing accept or adjust to women’s freedom. Though that’s just my opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Like

  44. I just had a marathon reading session of this blog post and all 95 comments so far.
    I may therefore be forgiven for a long comment.

    I am distressed a bit by this new attitude towards marriage by modern women and also men.

    I sympathise with all who have not had a happy marriage.

    But I would not attack this institution of marriage.

    I expressed my views already on Shail’s blog. I knew my views would not be well received and I was right.

    My views have been rebutted but I felt unequal to the task of giving another rejoinder. I was unwell and am still not normal and don’t have the strength to put all my views in detail and reply point by point. Besides, considering the conviction with which so many women have expressed their views against marriage, I feel I will only earn several “thumbs down ratings”, and not succeed in convincing any one.

    May be I am orthodox. May be I am outdated in my thinking.
    But I will not be defensive. I truly believe in marriage and its sanctity. It is the bedrock of our society. It has been with us for thousands of years and if it was as evil as it is being made out to be, by now we would have dispensed with it totally in these modern and liberal times.

    I don’t see any good alternatives to the institution of marriage and I wish and fondly hope it will survive.

    This is one of the few institutions that is common to societies all over the world with different religions, customs and traditions. This is an institution that has benefited from reforms. Many outdated and cruel practices have been eliminated and I am sure the few that remain will also be eliminated in due course.

    Merely because some of us have had unhappy marriages or not found it meeting our expectations, is no reason to decry this institution. Shail prefers to call it merely a “contract”. I feel differently. To me it is a sacred relationship. May be a paper marriage at a Registrar’s office is a contract. Mine was a conventional marriage performed to the chanting of mantras and observance of all our customs. I still don’t have a piece of paper registering my marriage and neither of us cares about it. I hate to believe my marriage is โ€œcontractโ€ between me and my wife. I believe we are one soul with two bodies.

    I am, however, willing to concede that marriage should be optional and no stigma should be attached to those who for any reason prefer to remain unmarried.

    But it is optional, isn’t it? Where is the legal compulsion to marry? The compulsions you and other readers are referring to are social compulsions and these can be resisted by those who are convinced that marriage is not for them. Every reader of this blog, I believe is sufficiently educated and empowered to resist any social or family compulsion to marry. By all means, stay unmarried, or get out of your unhappy marriages, but please do not berate this institution.

    My support for marriage springs from my own experiences and the experiences of most of my friends and relatives. .I have benefited from the successful marriage of my parents and grandparents. Of course I have seen them quarrelling but the deeper bonds that existed cemented these temporary differences and they stayed loyal and devoted to each other all their lives. Today they are no longer alive but their marriage was an example to me of how to make a success of marriage.

    My own marriage also has been a happy one that has lasted 36 years and today even with serious differences of opinion on some matters, I cannot foresee any break in our relationship..
    I am also deeply satisfied with my daughter’s marriage who chose her own mate over 10 years ago and is happily married. I hope and pray my son who is unmarried shares my family’s experience when the time comes. In line with modern times, I will leave it him to decide if and when and who he wants to marry. I will be ready with my blessings and support.

    This opposition to marriage is not confined to women only.
    I find some men are also indifferent towards marriage.

    I am also right in the midst of problem related to matrimony. I have a nephew, aged about 33, with an engineering degree and an MBA who works as marketing executive in a multinational company earning an enviable salary. He is tall and has above average looks. He is still not married in spite of five years of “pressure” from his parents and relatives to “settle down”. I am also guilty of joining this pressure group.

    His parents and also my wife and I have for years been trying to “fix him up” the conventional way (viz, advertisements or registering in matrimonial portals, exchanging horoscopes, a formal interview, and emailing and telephone chats between the couple for some days after the formal meeting ) but even after over a dozen such attempts with girls from a wide variety of families (within our community) the result has been negative. Either he or the girl decides that the marriage may not work out. In some of these cases, I believe he or the girl have been over-cautious or simply too choosy. Neither wants to compromise. I advised him to make a check list of the really important things he wants and if she gets 7 or more out of 10, to go ahead and โ€œcompromiseโ€ on the other three. I told him any girl who rates 10 out of 10 is simply too good for him and will reject him.

    The parents have also told him to bring home any girl he fancies and that there is no compulsion that he should marry the girl his parents choose. He did do that a few years ago when he was just about 25 years old and not really settled and ready for the responsibilities of marriage, but that created a hungamaa. The girl was a Muslim. The parents liberal views stopped short of allowing him to marry outside the Religion and particularly to a Muslim girl. They would have preferred a girl from within the community, wouldn’t have minded a Hindu girl from any other Hindu community or linguistic group. In this case, the Muslim girl’s parents also put their foot down and said they would not permit this unless the boy converted to Islam. Of course the whole thing fizzled out and is now history. I don’t see any reason to suspect if this nephew is merely taking revenge on all of us for standing in his way. There is no evidence of that. He is not moping around like a Devdas and is merrily socializing with his peers consisting of both boys and girls of his age group. I am now beginning to doubt if he wants to marry at all and is merely going through the motions to keep his parents off his back.

    Getting girls and boys to agree to marry is gradually becoming more and more difficult. Society is changing and we, the older generation have no option but to watch helplessly and hope that this change is for the better and not for the worse.

    Just one last question, which hopefully is not irrelevant here and doesn’t offend any one:

    If marriage is valueless, and over-rated, pray why are Gays/Lesbians clamouring for the right to marry?

    Aren’t they better off without marriage?

    Regards
    GV

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    • Me – GV this post was not an attack on the institution of marriage, it’s a criticism of Patriarchy, where it is assumed that a girl must get married at a fixed age, and the rigidity of the system compels the parents to give dowry and tolerate an inferior status and tolerate injustice that they have no other reason to tolerate except fear of defying some horrendous traditions.

      Parents of a girl are also made vulnerable by being forced to send their daughters to live with another family.
      Our folklore is full of the abuse that daughters in law have gone through for centuries, Sita and Draupadi are just two examples.

      Verbal, physical, total controlling of her life, no freedom for her, no rights for her and they could send her back if they were not happy enough – divorce by women is a very modern concept, in the past only men could ‘send their wife back to her parents’ home’ and that had a huge stigma – and no chance of the girl ever getting married again.

      Do you think this system is good for the society, where it has always been so biased against women, that we have always had cases of female infanticide – in all parts of India. I have met a woman born in 1962, who said her four older sisters were killed at birth.

      If we go to the root of why we dislike our daughters so much – we can see the problem is Patriarchy.

      If women were valued in their homes, the society would respect them too and until that happens, they will continue to face sexual harassment and domestic violence, verbal abuse, foeticide etc.
      It affects everybody in the society, men also.

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    • I just wanted to address a couple of points you have made. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I truly believe in marriage and its sanctity. It is the bedrock of our society. It has been with us for thousands of years and if it was as evil as it is being made out to be, by now we would have dispensed with it totally in these modern and liberal times.

      Well it’s true marriage that has been with us for thousand of years, but I wouldn’t say that it was somehow the bedrock of society, I think it’s more complicated than that. I feel the foundation of society has been much bigger than marriage. But this is just my opinion. What IHM and others are arguing is how marriage is an institution designed to maintain patriarchy. That’s what needs to change.

      As for your question.

      If marriage is valueless, and over-rated, pray why are Gays/Lesbians clamouring for the right to marry?
      Arenโ€™t they better off without marriage?

      It’s a good question, while I’m a supporter of gay marriage, part me doesn’t understand why a group of people would want to be apart of an institution that inherently has disdain for them.

      It’s good to know you had a happy marriage and the people around you, but I’m curious as to how you define a “happy marriage.”

      Like

    • @GV,

      Reading your comment made me realize , with some amusement, that your views are very similar to that of my own parents. (At 62,you are only a couple of years younger than my father). It is natural for the older generation to be conservative and orthodox, to believe that what they had might not have been perfect , but it couldn’t have worked any other way. In any case , you are perfectly entitled to your opinion.

      The issue here isn’t really ‘marriage’ per se–it is marriage in the Indian context. You will agree that marriage in India puts unreasonable demands on a girl and her parents. You’ve said in your comment on Shail’s post that fewer marriages involve the give and take of dowry today. I beg to differ–all indicators , at least in north India, point to the contrary. (Maybe things are different in the south of India,where dowry was never that big a problem to begin with.) And dowry is a symbol of all that is wrong with marriages in India.

      In the western world marriages are somewhat easier on the women. They are not expected to provide old-age care to their husbands’ parents, and to forget their own parents . They are not expected to change the way they dress and work . Dowry is unheard of, and so is female foeticide.

      Don’t you think Indian women are within their rights to ask for these basic ‘privileges’ and to refuse to get married altogether if they cannot have them ? It will doubtless wreak havoc on the society as it exists but then Indian society does need something of a revolution to shake it out 0f its stupor.

      As about gays clamouring for the right to get married, maybe all they want is the respectability that marriage seems to endow heterosexual couples with. Maybe there is a financial angle to it. In any case, to each his own. Anyone who WANTS to get married will ,and should, always remain free to go right ahead.

      Regards
      S

      Like

    • Sir, first let me assure you, that you won’t get a ‘thumbs down ratings’, as views expressed here by ‘some’ women are not universal, they account to a very fewer section of society. Being a woman myself, I do feel for my rights, but at the same time I also do know my duties and so I don’t hold these views as held by some of the women here !

      //But it is optional, isnโ€™t it? Where is the legal compulsion to marry? The compulsions you and other readers are referring to are social compulsions and these can be resisted by those who are convinced that marriage is not for them. Every reader of this blog, I believe is sufficiently educated and empowered to resist any social or family compulsion to marry. By all means, stay unmarried, or get out of your unhappy marriages, but please do not berate this institution.//

      This is one valid point, I don’t know, what stops these modern ( I say western) , well qualified, highly educated women to say no to the societal pressure of getting married. They can simply say NO.
      Personally, I am 24 yet to get married, I am a post-grad and have a chosen not to pursue a career and be a homemaker after I get married (people around me are amused when I tell them about this decision, but getting up in the morning, getting ready for work and slogging for 9 hrs, coming home tired, sounds too exploitative to be true). Infact I sympathies with all my men folks who have no other option but to go out and slog for hours to make money. I don’t see any delight in this new empowering tool women have embraced.

      One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married. But since I believe “working for someone I love more worthy than working for a stranger” (your boss in your office). And so I will get married.
      But what reason do these women who are opposing marriage but still getting married have ? Does it not sound more of hypocrisy ?

      Accepting something you don’t believe in only shows how weak one is !

      Like

  45. @G Vishwanath,

    Did you ask your wife if the marriage was functional for her? What were her choices 36 years ago? When someone cannot break free from the situation they try to find satisfaction and happiness within it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You said…It is the bedrock of our society. It has been with us for thousands of years and if it was as evil as it is being made out to be, by now we would have dispensed with it totally in these modern and liberal times.

    Yes, castism and racism has been with humankind for times immemorial, and we all are aware how dysfunction these two institutions are. Still these systems are thriving in 2011 because some people benefit from them and make sure these exist and perpetuate, so it is no wonder marriage is still here irrespective of its dysfunctionality for 50% stakeholders who lack power and privilege.

    You said…Merely because some of us have had unhappy marriages or not found it meeting our expectations, is no reason to decry this institution…

    By now you know it is not some people but most people and especially a large number of women do not have happy marriages. DG is not aware of if marital abuse ever gave anyone happiness. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You said…But it is optional, isnโ€™t it? Where is the legal compulsion to marry?…Every reader of this blog, I believe is sufficiently educated and empowered to resist any social or family compulsion to marry. By all means, stay unmarried, or get out of your unhappy marriages, but please do not berate this institution.

    If that is the case then your nephew is trying his best to resist that pressure that you confess to be party to. Why is your family pushing him to get married? Why can’t he stay single? Why can’t he marry person of his choice even if she is from another community or religion?
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/desi-marriage-eligible-or-ineligible-question/

    Why is it that you have two set of rules one for strangers like us and one for your family members. On one hand you say it marriage is optional and on the other hand you are manipulating this young man into marriage.

    Is it realistically possible for a woman to resist parental, familial and societal pressure? If so then women writing on @IHM and @GGTS are either liars or are living on mars.

    You said…Getting girls and boys to agree to marry is gradually becoming more and more difficult. Society is changing and we, the older generation have no option but to watch helplessly and hope that this change is for the better and not for the worse.

    Change is painful because one has to let go of the familiar and accept the yet to be known. It is a good idea not to let boys and girls marry because marriage is only for grown up men and women. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You said…If marriage is valueless, and over-rated, pray why are Gays/Lesbians clamouring for the right to marry?

    Answer in one line is, marriage as an institution is hetero-normative, provides privileges to heterosexual majority and discriminates against other sexual minorities. For more details please follow the link

    http://doctorofphilosphy.blogspot.com/2011/03/on-marriage-and-such.html

    Peace,
    Desi Girl

    Like

    • And the best part of your fabulous comment DG, is that marriage is for grown-up men and women. These are NOT boys and girls. I really fail to understand why people persist in calling even 30 year olds as boys and girls. Women and men. And they have independent thinking minds.

      Like

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  49. Marriages are sold to desi men on a glossy cover as well. I am anti-marriage because of the immense dysfunction I went through out by early and middle twenties. Both desi men and women are brainwashed into this scam by parents, indpedence and free-will is what is needed.

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  50. I had a love marriage and I had known my husband for almost 2.5 years before we got married. We worked at the same office and we knew each other quite well (atleast that is what I thought). We are both, more or less, the same age. When marriage talks were happening at home, the bf would talk about how he would help me out with things around home, how he would be loving and caring and would respect me and my opinions et all.

    Its been less than 6 months of marriage and let me give you a glimpse of what our married life is. Following is the chat excerpt as of a few moments ago:

    Husband: trust is the only element.

    and secondly

    the wife has to accept the husband , that wat he does , he does for her good.
    12:44 PM
    me: nope

    i disagree with that.
    12:45 PM
    i have an equal say in everything and i can never blindly follow whatever the husband does, even if he justifies it saying ‘it is for ur own good’.. god has given me the ability to judge what is good or bad for me.. i would like to employ that.

    Husband: all that u can do.

    but wen it comes to wat is good for the marriage ๐Ÿ™‚ if u choose to be the neo-bride modern age wife
    12:46 PM
    who is capable of countering her husband step by step

    and who has an equal ego as him

    then things might work out = but they will suck.

    me: opinion != ego

    I am totally surprised that I am hearing such things from the husband off-late. and I am totally unable to relate to him now. I thought I was marrying a broad minded young man but now I feel he is a 1950’s type guy. Right now, I totally feel betrayed as what I was told about marriage is so far away from the truth.

    What DesiGirl says is right. Just the packaging is enticing. When you open it, there is just too much of packing material and waste and too little a present.

    Like

      • Pranali, if I were Louis Vuitton, and had married by my parent’s choice, then I would have felt a sense of betrayal towards my parents as well as my husband. Towards my parents because all their “experience” has not worked. Towards my husband because in spite of knowing what I can not compromise on, he is asking me to.

        Like

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  54. Have been lurking here for ages, thought it was about time I de-lurked! Yes, I think marriages (esp in the patriarchal, overbearing Indian context ) are totally overrated…and the choice to go in for any sort of relationship needs to be a personal one and a well-thought out one, anyway. (Preferably after spending loads of time with the person, making sure he/she has no gender bias whatsoever, and further going through joint counselling, med tests, pre-nups etc.) On a personal note: I’m a happily unmarried 33-yr Indian woman with a busy and fulfilling personal life and career, thank heavens my folks have never done the “marriageable age” talk with me, or ever pressured me to “settle down” with people who weren’t just right for me. Am quite happy exploring possibilities at my own pace..it’s cool if I do find someone I can envisage being with on a longterm basis, and it’s equally cool if I don’t and continue to carpe my diem as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  55. I just have a few observations/ comments on your articles. Nothing to disregard you personally, but a few counter arguments to the age old tirade about the great sacrifices only women have to make in a family life.

    When I look around myself, I find a majority of women married to working class professionals would no longer be working. They either quit sometime after marriage or once they had a baby and then never went back. While some of them might actually be out of work due to family pressure, for a lot of them, getting a few degrees and holding on to a job before marriage was mainly to land a well-educated husband with a “good earning potential”. They are out of work because they want to. They would have an army of maids taking care of every household chore right from washing utensils to cooking to taking care of babies to even taking out clothes from a washing machine and hanging them out to dry. The biggest tragedy in the life of such a woman would be if any of the maids fails to turn up for a day or two and she needs to do even a single household chore herself.

    The man would come home after 10-12 hours of office work and commute in a crazy traffic and the woman would be all ready to rip him into pieces – “My friend’s husband got her a new necklace for 2 lakhs. When was the last time you got me one? Your mother called and said she is coming over for a week. I can’t bear the sight of her. Your son fell and hurt himself. You need to take him to a doctor. Do you even care for your family? We are out of groceries. Didn’t I tell you to get groceries on your way home when I called you for the 10th time today? By the way, why didn’t you pick up when I called you for the 15th time? Oh, you are the only one who is busy with client calls and still what do you even make?”

    Honestly, in my experience of looking around at families of working class professionals, I find the above to be a much more frequent scenario than the one you described in your article. A few days back, we were out on a team lunch and a 27ish female in my team was talking about her ongoing prospecting. She’s about 5’2″ and must be weighing about 65, if not more. She was conveying how scandalized she was when a few prospects asked her if she would consider losing some weight. In her online profile, one of the chief criteria for a suitable spouse reads “Must be earning at least 15 LPA” (her own confession). A poor soul asked her about her salary and how much her savings were. And in her own words – “I couldn’t believe myself. How can someone be so cheap? I felt like hitting him right there”. Just to put the torture to an end, one of us asked her what she wanted her spouse to be like. “Well, I really love Salman Khan. But obviously the guy has to be tall, handsome and rich”. I guess this is the guy she would so kindly “settle” for.

    What really bothers me about most women is how naturally they want to be treated as royalty and are fully convinced they deserve that, just because they are females and so kindly agreed to marry that loser who btw, has to be earning at least 15 LPA. But I guess it’s not only within a marriage. We had gone to watch a play in a large group sometime back and decided to catch some dinner post that. We were discussing venues and one of my female friends suggested a pretty expensive place. Most of us hadn’t been there/ hadn’t heard of it so everyone agreed to try it out. The female btw, is extremely articulate especially when it comes to women rights and how women are the better gender. We arrived and ordered. An hour later, she got a call from a friend she was meeting later that night and told everyone she got to go. I had to leave a bit early too. So we quickly ordered main course while others gorged on starters. It was a motley group having many I had met for the first time. I guessed my share should come around 400-500, so I just caught hold of a guy I had been talking to and paid him 500 towards my share. The female got up pretty elegantly not bothering about such trivialities and asked me if I could drop her off in an auto to her friend’s place. It was the other side of town but it was the gentlemanly thing to do. We rode 10 kms in the opposite direction after which she got off, said a quick thanks and took off. It was below her stature to even “offer” to pay for herself.

    We have so often heard about all the great things each woman does in a family as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, sister-in-law and so on. My obvious question to this is that aren’t there counterpart roles for males in each of these relations? He also fulfills all his duties as a father, husband, brother, son and brother-in-law. Anyone who has even been torn b/w his mother and wife in nothing more than a “power struggle” to make him cater to her whims surely understands what I am saying. But here we have all these soap operas portraying a female marrying as the greatest sacrifice in human history. What about the male who bears a 24*7 nagging of a wife who would simply never be happy whatever he might do?

    After the grind of a grueling week, someone simply wants to laze around on a weekend. Hell No. The wife only has about a 100 pairs of shoes and she has worn them all once each. She obviously can’t wear them again as people would point fingers at her. So she simply needs to buy more. And don’t forget she doesn’t have enough clothes. Ever. And the curtains no longer match the ambiance of the drawing room though she picked them up herself a few weeks back. But did she? Maybe it was your fault that you didn’t take her to the right shop or she picked them under pressure because you were whining after 6 hours spent picking curtains on a weekend.

    Dowry is something we all learn growing up as a social leprosy. I have a simple doubt here. The moment a woman marries, she is entitled to at least 50% of everything the guy owns. Even all his paternal property that he hasn’t really earned himself. And why exactly is that? Because she made the greatest sacrifice in human history by agreeing to marry the loser your see in the mirror? Obviously when you talk about parent’s selling organs or taking up debt they can’t pay to meet dowry demands, it’s an evil. But what about cases where a woman acts as if she deserves everything in the world just by virtue of marrying you and agreeing to stay with you while the man has “fun” at his job. For how many of us, is a job a holiday on the beach for God’s sake? And such well-educated, empowered and awakened women are scandalized if someone were to suggest dowry, for them to work, do any household chores, lose the 20 extra kilos they have on them or adjust for a week with her mother-in-law. That would be against women rights and the progression of womankind, I am sure. It would be the male chauvinistic pig dragging them back by centuries after so much of struggle, pain and suffering.

    It has been a long article, I know. But principally here is my problem. When we say, “equal”, we have to mean “equal”. “Equal” can’t just mean tilting the scale heavily in favor of the perceived “weak” side to correct for historical wrongs. Awarding a gold digger all of a husband’s property leaving him penniless is not going to bring back the women who forcibly committed “Sati”s a hundred years ago. The woman who goes around blowing trumpets about how she is in no way inferior should also not be hesitating in picking her bill at a restaurant or supporting a family financially. And finally, just because you might sense a lot of emotion at a few points in the article, donโ€™t dismiss it as the ramblings of a henpecked husband. It gets a bit emotional at places because I feel strongly about it but to the best of my knowledge and belief, itโ€™s a far too common scenario is urban families of working class professionals than whatโ€™s stated in your articles.

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  60. some of these comments seem to be rooted in very utopian ideas about what a marriage is. Marriage is not about putting all your eggs in one basket- and if the two people in the equation lead fulfilled individual lives, in that everything they do and everything they are and everyone they meet is not only defined by their marital status and not only with their spouse. Grow individually and live together!

    About companionship- I got married when I was 31 (4 years ago) have an older sibling not yet married. My parents worry- and use the companionship argument- saying that they donโ€™t want her to be along later in life. I think thatโ€™s a valid worry- but at the same time theyโ€™re not stuffing some unrealistic notion of marriage down her throat or forcing her to marry or even lining up guys for her to marry. I know that my sibling too wishes she would meet someone like-minded- she also knows that the chances of meeting some like-minded that sheโ€™ll like and vice versa AND who is single drastically reduce with age.

    issues of companionship, solitude within marriage (I say this as a good thing) and loneliness within and without marriage are all complex and nuances issues- canโ€™t be cast in such black/white terms.

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  78. I think women should be given the right to live their life in their own way .whether they want to get married or not it’s their own personal choice. If a woman adopt a child and take care of that it also makes her motherand she is the real lady in all terms.

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