Sharing another email.
Subject: Is it worth to change a Patriarchal mindset?
I am a twenty five year old Software Engineer working for a reputed company and earning well enough.
I got married about two years ago and I am lucky to have found the right partner (software engineer working for a reputed company as well), who complements me in every way. I rejected many proposals earlier. Even though all these guys were successful , I looked for features like compatibility, dynamism, boldness etc in my partner.
I am from a family of four daughters me being the youngest. My dad and mom are extremely progressive in their thoughts and made sure each of us sisters are independent, self reliant and opinionated before being married off. Their major objective in finding a groom was someone who respected us and our identities.
Despite societal pressure they helped me forgo many tempting matches until the perfect guy well suited for me came along. I come from a family which is open, liberal and encourages every family member to pursue his/her own dreams and aspirations.
Now when this perfect guy came along we had a free and frank discussion in the family. This guy looked tailor made for my criteria. The only hitch was he is from a joint family living with his mom, dad, brother, bhabi, nephew, and, a sister brother in-law and niece who are frequent visitors. My parents clearly stated that being a part of the joint family may not be ‘my’ thing. But we decided to go ahead anyway. It was a compromise we agreed upon. We were very disappointed earlier not to find the right guy earlier, so this alliance seemed god send.
Initially the guy’s parents seemed very modern, approving the idea of me being the only working woman in the family and how happy and proud they are. This encouraged my decision further. My would-be husband and me went out a couple of times before committing and he made it clear that he preferred a working woman not for the money but for a partner who is self reliant. I am free to look after my parents etc and marriage shall not impede me in any which way. Till now he has stuck to his word and am proud of him.
Later started the demands for dowry, demand by his parents. They asked quantities of gold and jewelry all for me. It was asked rather genially. I vehemently denied the match itself. But my parents somehow sidelined me and agreed to shell out the money as a wedding gift to me. The engagement was done by then and I was deep in the throes of love with my hubby. From my parents perspective, it was like a payment seat in a good college. Getting a worthy match for their daughter by satisfying the in-laws. My family somehow convinced me into it.
I know it was my fault not to break off and put a strong opposition to the deal. Later when I confronted my husband after marriage, I was shocked to know that he didn’t even know about it. I also didn’t speak to him earlier because I didn’t want to get into the ‘Me and My Family vs U and Ur Family’ debate into the equation even before we knew each other well. I wanted to know him as an individual first. Now I am terribly guilty about the whole episode. I feel bad for going against my principles of anti dowry.
My husband wants me to return everything to my parents if it relieves me. He also is very guilty of taking dowry unknowingly. But I am in a huge dilemma, my parents will never accept it back. My parents have meticulously planned their future and don’t need my support. But I am saving some amount for them every month.
My in laws meanwhile have insulted my parents many times which has hurt me a lot. After one and a half years of all this, finally, once, I put my foot down and revolted rebelliously. My husband also had a long aggressive debate with them about my rights, my parents rights etc. After that they have given up on any attempts to insult me and my family. Now they are good to me and my parents for the fear of losing their son. But the bad memories continue to haunt.
Tell me IHM…
1. How should I heal myself from the guilt, memories of ‘tamasha’ created before/on my wedding day? They are getting stronger and creating nightmares for me.
2. My MIL still practices gender bias in very obvious ways. She gives the best food to her sons and the leftovers to us bahus (including herself!). They firmly believe serving men is the only path of salvation for women. I sometimes negate this by shifting all good items from my husband’s plate onto my plate right in front of her. She says nothing, blankly stares at me for my audacity. But is this battle worth fighting? I have access to all the dishes I aspire for outside home. I can also cook in my floor. Its only dinner that we take on my parent’s in law’s kitchen (we stay in separate floors). Should I continue the battle and create turmoil? I also end up spending a lot of energy mulling over the episodes and feel is it worth my time and energy? These people believe being unfair (to women) is the fair way.
3. I am shocked at the gender biases. Should I shift base elsewhere? I know my husband respects my need for privacy etc and will agree to move out. We will continue to support his parents as well. But should I do it, since my in-laws are behaving well and non interfering except some areas which are hard engrained in them. I know they are making efforts but that is not from their heart, only for the fear that the son may leave them and go away.
4. Meanwhile my BIL feels that since me and my hubby both are earning its entirely on us to provide the finances. He is a freeloader. He never gives his share of money. His wife cooks (on weekdays) and I don’t, so he feels from his side he is contributed enough. We discussed this with him, he agrees but never gives his share. How do we fix this without straining relationships?
5. Despite all these the joint family is demanding, and I am stuck between a choice, of sticking or moving away. On week days I don’t contribute anything but on weekends I have to contribute to kitchen chores and compensate for my absence on week days. I contribute my share financially but that is not counted. I have to compromise on my rest. Hubby helps but other men laze around while me and my hubby slog it out. Meanwhile MIL and SIL take a weekend break. Even though my husband is a gem, other males are chauvinists and that irritates the hell out of me. My husband does enjoy the everyday company of his mom/dad but is okay to move out respecting my difficulties. Should I adjust or should I leave?
Publish this and any comments from readers would help me.