“In our society, marriage is frequently a full stop for women.” Do you agree?

Anil Singhal commented, “I also think that in our society – in a way women stop growing (rather forced to stop growing/living their life etc) at a young age..  and marriage is a definite full stop ! (IHM – food for thought for the next blog – Why marriage shouldn’t be a full stop in life – specially for the women.”

Do you think Indian women are expected to grow up instantly, or stop growing once they get married? Does marriage mean end of freedom to live and grow for many Indian women?

Also, have you heard of women being told, “You don’t look/act  married?”

How is the ‘married Indian woman look’ and lifestyle different from other Indians?

Is “not looking married” seen as a compliment for Indian women? Why is that so?


106 thoughts on ““In our society, marriage is frequently a full stop for women.” Do you agree?

  1. Indians get married by a particular age and a lot of women put on weight (for some reason) and seem weighed down by responsibilities. So, not looking married means the woman looks young, charm is not lost, and is still in shape. That’s why it’s taken as a compliment.


    • Must agree to this strange phenomenon of gaining weight after marraige for some reason… its not just limited to women though… even guys somehow who have been slim all their life and underweight become fatter after marriage… !


      • Don’t think that’s a uniquely Indian phenomenon.

        Most of my (non-Indian) friends who are single look a lot fitter than the ones who are married or in long-term relationships. I’ve personally lost out on the fitness front since I got married. Used to run six miles a day back when I was single; after marriage, it’s just reduced and reduced to the point where I barely get out of the house.

        It’s also kind of interesting how getting married saps out all the spare time you have.

        I used to work 90 hours a week back in the day and used to still have time not only to exercise but even lime around at home. When I got married, I suddenly began to notice that time was running short for me. These days, I work between 60-70 every week, and have absolutely no time for anything. Just weird.


        • As in, I peronally gained a ton of weight on hormonal birth control, which I immediately lost when I got pregnant (!!! yeah, I weighed 6 kgs less immediately after giving birth than immediately before getting pregnant). So I quit I went on a copper IUD. Changed none of my eating/exercise habits. The weight has stayed off with zero effort.


  2. Indian women are expected to get married by a certain age, expected to get kids in a couple of years of marriage, expected to behave a certain way, look married (bindi, sindoor, mangalsutra a must for that look)), expected to talk a certain way and give out married and responsible vibes, perform all the rituals, customs and traditions of the community they marry into, bring up kids a certain way. If she does not do these things, then God save her! When everything has been decided for her, including how she spends her time, then where is the scope for her to grow? It is an end of freedom. indeed! Most people refuse to see this and prefer to be an ostrich. Questioning the order is blasphemy. This is one hellava group that dares to reflect and tries to be the change they want to see. Keep up the good work IHM!


    • I think Indian men are also trapped in the same track..I have seen relatives bantering around a man not married till a certain age. Indians are family oriented so are the greek, italian and turkish and many other culture..Individualism is still a new thing to grow in India.


  3. In many ways Marriage is a full stop to growing for women in India. I don’t know much about women in the US or UK. Maybe it is different for women who aren’t Indians or are Caucasian or of other races…but for the brown race(and I mean no disrespect here, just saying it as I see it)
    We are expected to be the fulcrum of the levers of our life. Our husbands move, do what they want, then when children arrive, they too will do what they want but the woman, well, she’s expected to stand still and hold all the strings so that these planets of husband and children and sometimes entire joint family members can go on with their lives.
    No one says this explicitly, they just make it so. It is like every circumstance that she is put in after marriage, is like an invisible circular prison with the words that repeat “Stand still, be the rock in others lives. Stand still, so others can move with ease.” Everything becomes really harder for the woman once she marries. If she was studying, it becomes harder to do so after keeping up with the “responsibilities of marriage”. If she was an artiste, her getting out to do what she enjoys, becomes harder to do. If she is working…her burden is doubled cause she will still be expected to do the household chores after her work, which if not done with disapproval looks, is done very subtly with compliments like “you do such a great job of cooking/looking after…we are so grateful etc..” Seriously, if you are that grateful, give her a break, why don’t you?
    It is better for women now compared to the women of my mother and grandmother’s generation. But it still not the way it is for a Man. The rules are different, the protocols are different, the societal/emotional manipulations are different, the emotion and intentions involved are different.


    • I couldn’t agree more Mysoul.
      I chose to go back to studying 3 years after getting married- and its an uphill battle. Despite the fact that I have deadlines to keep as well, because I do not go to an ‘office’, the expectation is that since I am ‘around’, I can take care of everything in the house. While it is not taken seriously on the one hand and therefore no help is forthcoming (though it is not stated explicitly like you say, but reaffirmed through supposed compliments EXACTLY like the examples you gave), on the other hand, on the MIL front, I think she is actually relieved as this is seen as more suitable than being ‘career oriented’ and a ‘feminist’- both terms were flung at me as though these were the worst things to be- because now I can be a “proud homemaker” (another term I detest, sorry IHM- simply because it places the onus of ‘making’ a home entirely on the shoulders of the woman. When has a man been told you’re a great homemaker).

      On the subject of taking “you don’t look/behave married” as a compliment. I sure do. For me its because I feel that it means I have succeeded in not falling into the “married woman” stereotype- in terms of outward physical markers (no mangalsutra, sindoor or even a ring- which I don’t wear as I find it inconvenient), behaviour, and attitude. Its not so much about whether one has put on weight or not (which bizarrely seems to be a universal norm- including with me- a ridiculous 15 kilos in 4 years, despite exercising- my theory is I try and keep up with the partner’s food portions etc!!)- but a mindset- which I have a mean term for “aunty mentality” that seems to afflict married Indian women. But not behaving like a married woman is a compliment to the partner too- as it is an aberration that the married Indian woman continues to go out with her friends (male and female) instead of socializing only as a ‘couple’, stays out late alone, goes out drinking without the spouse, has an independent social life. The one who doesn’t behave married is also someone who doesn’t ALWAYS put the partner’s needs before their own.


      • @ Mokapot.

        I agree about the “aunty mentality” .afflicting married Indian women. We seem to love to gain that extra pound…I wonder if any of us think about the adverse effect, gaining weight has, on our general health. i guess it doesnt matter, cause I know many women get up and still do stuff even when they are sick. What are we trying to prove? That we are from Krypton?


  4. Women in India are prepared right from an early age to behave a certain way once they get married; this includes being soft spoken, obedient, respectful, not questioning what the elders in the family say, dressing up a certain way (that suits the in-laws’ customs)- in a nut shell being a puppet and losing one’s individuality. No wonder mothers tell their daughters “enjoy as much as you can while you are unmarried”. Once a girl gets married, within a few hours (kind of once the wedding ceremony is complete) she is expected to behave a certain way- nobody really tells her that way but expects her to behave that way; if she doesn’t behave this mysterious expected way, she is labeled as being modern and someone without values or someone who is disrespectful.

    Also, being married means (in a lot of families) having to wear a mangalsutra (or something similar), wear makeup, jewellery, sindoor and bindi and top it all by wearing a saree or a salwar suit. This is definitely expected from a newly wedded girl. If she doesn’t do this, she “does not look married”.
    Another thing that is included in “not being married” is keeping oneself fit- it is acceptable (rather expected) from a married girl to put on weight once she gets married. The tailors know it and warn you of keeping enough margin in suits/blouses that they stitch! If a girl does not put on weight (and it requires a lot of efforts for that), she does not look married.

    Talking from personal experience, when I visited my parents’ place after an year of being married (having shifted to the US immediately after marriage), I had taken off all jewelery, was jet lagged and tired and hence to feel comfortable in my pyjamas, when a distant relative visited us. Looking at me the way I was (add to the above description, I did not put on any weight), she assumed I was not happy in my married life and blessed me happiness 🙂 I found it funny because I immediately understood that she (and everyone else) expected me to be a certain type ( behavior included) and since I did not fit in the well defined criteria, I was put in a different bucket.

    In terms of behavior of a married woman, it is expected of her to address everyone as “aap” which is symbolic of respect in our culture. She may be addressed as “tu” or “tum”. I remember my aunts almost commanding me to practice addressing my then fiance as “aap” and using phrase like “kar rahe hain, ja rahe hain” instead of “tu” and “kar raha/ja raha hai” and yes I complied. I didn’t want to add to their worries since I was anyways labeled a rebel and guaranteed to have issues adjusting after marriage!

    I have always taken it as a compliment whenever someone told me that I don’t look married or don’t look like a mother (now) simply because I don’t want to put myself in a well defined bucket of an Indian married girl -I don’t want to be the epitome of sacrifice, or don’t consider my husband as my parmeshwar. I love myself as much as any other person loves themselves and yes I want to make my own rules for myself. I have no issues with following rules that are based on fairness but anything that attempts to tame me is not for me!

    Delhi Girl


    • love it Delhi girl..so true..we just dont want to be pati parmeshwar types..my MIL asked me to treat my husband (her son) as a Roop of God once..and i laughed it off..Its high time that we atleast start treating everyone specially girls as humans first…
      I cant sacrifice anything for anybody in this world specially when someone is commanding me for it..ask me politely and i will think about it ;))


  5. Whether a woman stops growing personally depends on the definition of growth, the woman and the kind of marriage she is in…

    A large proportion of the Indian population believes that it is alright for a woman to work when she’s attached but post marriage she has to quit for the greater good of her marital family…Is this because most people marry for family and children rather than love? Even if a woman is a SAHM, there’s ample opportunity for personal growth and fulfillment…A dream job is not the only path for fulfillment for everyone…As long as a woman has a choice in the way she lives her life, she’ll be happy and fulfilled…

    Unfortunately In India, women are socialized to be co-dependent on men…Girls should be brought up to be independent, to make their own decisions…On the flip side of the coin, men should also be given the freedom to pursue their own dreams and grow…Again, unfortunately, men are socialized to be the money earner and decision maker and it’s tough on many to live up to this role…If they want to stay at home, they should be free to do so…Working outside the house is not the only route to personal growth or lead to growth…


      • Yes, the responsibilities are different for an unmarried and married working woman especially if there are children involved. Even unmarried married working men have different responsibilities. Expectations are different. It’s the same for women and men around the world. I was talking about growth and growth is not always tied to work and growth does not have to stop with marriage and children. One can stop working and still grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.


      • Well, I have seen some unmarried women are more bothered with responsibilities of their brothers and sisters, parents and uncles and aunts etc. it really depend on the woman. Life certainly is different for both married men and women than unmarried men and women. I have a cousin brother near to 30 and not married and I don’t see his life any easier than mine. He has to do all his stuff plus take care of his parents plus there is no partner to share his thoughts about work, or life in general. He has friends but then they are also busy with their lives. He doesn’t like to tag with them all the time for a weekend trip and so on. He is eager for getting married and he will be soon. So I guess married people in early twenties might find it hard but married people in early thirties really love the space and partnership a marriage brings than the unmarried lots.


      • Yes, IHM. The answer to your question is quite simple. This is the case in India (and to some extent in America when kids come into picture):

        A married man’s life gets easier because it’s assumed that the wife is responsible for running the house. A married woman’s life gets harder for the same reason.

        An unmarried man is responsible for himself and his job. An unmarried woman is responsible for herself and her job. Sounds fair!

        The fun begins here: A married man is responsible only for bread-winning. A married woman is responsible for herself and her husband (and his family) and if these responsibilities are carried out well, only then she can think of working for time-pass.

        Wonder why women would want to get married in this set-up!!


  6. I guess if you talk of the masses then most of the girls have to face restrictions before marriage and after marriage… although slowly some families do encourage growth via education/career avenues for girls even after marriages the numbers would be sparse…


  7. Yep totally. That’s exactly what I told my mother when I resisted arranged attempts to meet guys. She said marriage is a new beginning, not the end, but to me it seems like the end, at least for now. I’m just not sure that I would want to compromise on what I want for myself and have to adjust so much in my life to accommodate a man. A boyfriend, yeah sure, but not a husband. I’ve worked like crazy to get this far in life and don’t want anyone pushing me off-course. The fact that these would be arranged matches is another huge turn-off. For me they are nothing but a sick farce.


    • I agree. Am in the same boat. Why is getting married seen as the Ultimate Goal? As if parents’ pressuring you to get hitched is not enough, friends keep asking, “You’ve been going steady for so long, when are you getting married?” I try to answer in a flip way and say “A year or so before I want to have children, that way I won’t have people bugging me about the next great question”. Such conversations always end with some version of “paagal ho tum” addressed to me. Sigh.


  8. No I will not agree with this. I am an Indian woman, got married in my early twenties, went through child bearing, took offs from career, lived separately form my husband for work, re-entered in a different job sector, changed countries and continents. Marriage and motherhood has enriched me a lot. Life has taken different shapes, I have never stopped learning and evolving in life. Life has become diverse after marriage. I am more open as a person, less-judgemental, more caring, more strong (both physically and mentally), more vibrant , carefree and more loving towards life after marriage and a being a mother. Marriage and parenting has brought more dimensions and challenges in my life. It has helped me to find ways out amidst of roadblocks. I am thankful to that. I don’t think I would be the same person as I am now without marriage. I am glad to have a partnership to fall back on in my life.


  9. I remember thinking so, that my life had come to an end, that there was nothing to live for. I guess that is what most Indian women feel, especially when things are going wrong for them. Marriage is the ultimate goal they have been brought up to achieve. And when that goes wrong for some reason or other, they feel helpless, demoralized and think their life is over. That makes it all the more improtant why girl children should never be brought up with marriage as their only goal. They feel there is nothing more to life.
    Once I heard a mother (a friend) tell her daughter how marriage means adjusting and how she had to learn to, men are like this, like that, blah blah… the usual spiel, how it was the wife’s responsibility how her man behaved and more. She meant that the girl could no always be the way she was, she had to behave a certain way, know to cook, be subservient etc etc. The daughter, who was just 15, thoughtfully said, “Sigh, who knows may be he will divorce me!”
    I could take it no longer. I told her in her mother’s hearing,
    “Understand one thing now. It is not the end of the world if a man divorces you. It only means you both did not fit together. Life goes on. You might find someone again, you might not want to. But there is no reason to feel sad or guilty about a relationship that breaks up.”
    Her mother did not say a single word.


  10. “You don’t look/act married?”

    Been asked this umpteen times. Just because i don’t wear my heavy mangalsutra or dont wear sindoor / bangles – i don’t “look” married.

    I’ve even had several aunties in the apartment look me up and down and advice me on the de-merits of live-in relationship. I don’t even wait to clarify that i am married – because then the lecture will be on why i don’t “look married”.

    I don’t understand why the women are all supposed to leave their previous lifestyle / sense of dressing and turn into wholly new people after marriage while men remain the same ? Why are we alone supposed to signal to the whole world that – “yes we’re married?”


    • Well said Gymnast! I get the same comment as well frequently and have exactly the same thought. I did not believe in the mangal sutra, but after a few months of marriage adopted a simple one due to pressure from all sides, then the question was why such a small chain? I have held firm against the sindoor, but still sometimes feel guilty about it.
      I have also received frequent questions about why I have a different surname from my husband, how my husband “allows” me to go on long international trips on work and why I have a cook at home instead of doing all the cooking myself. I have learned to smile noncommitally to these and many more similar questions, any other response would be pointless.
      As for marriage being a full stop for women, I feel in some ways marriage leads to woman having to reinvent herself to fit the new set of circumstances that she finds herself in. Suddenly she is bound by the roles she plays, which is not only wife but also daughter in law, sister in law, responsible for home and hearth and much more. her complete involvement is required on all fronts, be it her husdands career, the care of the home, her in laws, children when they happen etc. Thus maybe she loses, or changes the “her”. This could also be part of her evolution, possibly with some women at least, at different points of life they would want different things which marriage and motherhood may be able to fill. Others may be forced to change to conform to expectations leading to deliberate full stop to the individual that they were before.
      Sometimes, it also seems as though men who find traits like ambition, unconventionality (excuse the bad language) and assertiveness attractive in their girlfriend subconsiously (or consciously) try to put a full stop to these in their wife where it may not be completely c0onvenient.
      Having said the above, I also know plenty of marriages where women have flourished, where with the complete and active support of spouse and in laws she has been able to spread wings and soar.


  11. Hi, I’m a new reader coming via Shail’s site. This is a very provocative post; thanks a lot for writing something so thought-provoking! I believe it depends a lot on who you marry; if you marry someone who believes that you are an equal in the relationship, then there shouldn’t be any question of any of your aspirations coming to an end! Simply put, I suppose that maybe one reason why the institution of arranged marriage should come to a quiet end!


  12. My mom was a working woman and I saw her struggle to cook breakfast and lunch for dad (who was working from home) before leaving for office and then come back and do more house work.

    She once told me that she used to do all that hoping that I would watch her and learn how to handle these things. I told her, after seeing you all I got was I never want to suffer the way you did. I expect my husband to help with the house work since I will also be a working woman.

    For a long time, I didn’t want to get married because I honestly believed that marriage WOULD be the end of all in my life. I know I am not capable of being the rock of anyone’s life. I need a rock in MY life.

    I have listened to umpteen lectures from my mom on how I need to learn to be more humble, I should always listen to my MIL, never talk back, I should not call my husband by his name, etc etc.

    I am getting married soon (an arranged match – long story, the love story didn’t work out for me). I don’t know how I am going to do it. I know for sure that I will call him by his name. I don’t know how I’ll handle the rest though – I have often been called arrogant – i don’t know if my in laws will think the same about me.

    What I have decided is that I will NOT ALLOW marriage to become a full stop for me. Let’s see how it works out.


  13. I think that’s somewhat misleading.

    Even in very orthodox setups, I don’t think women simply stop growing after marriage. It doesn’t work that way. The issue isn’t that that they stop growing; the issue is that they sort of lose control over HOW they are growing.

    Let me illustrate that with the example of my sister-in-law. My younger brother is a traditional guy, as are my parents. Therefore, he married a somewhat (but not completely) traditional woman. She used to be a part-time singer before she got married, but she doesn’t do that any longer mainly because she has no time. In that way, yes marriage was a full stop. On the other hand, after marriage, she learnt to drive, learnt some great cooking skills, became a mother, picked up a lot of parenting skills, learned how to manage a household budget, yadda yadda yadda.All of those are great life skills. There’s no doubt that she’s a much more evolved person today than what she was before marriage – she can carry herself better, she’s better traveled, better exposed to life – but she didn’t really have much control over all of that. She slipped into a script-written life, and went where it took her. And I don’t mean to sound condescending or anything, but when I visit my parents’ home and meet her there, complete with all the classic signs of sleep deprivation and exhaustion that I know only too well, I question whether she really wanted to be here.

    Growth isn’t the same thing as meeting aspirations. As you live through life, you realize that there is growth in success, more growth in failure and a little even in studied indifference. In orthodox marriages, what really comes to an end for a lot of women is not the growth, it is the means to meet the ASPIRATIONS that they have, the means to live dreams that they dreamed when they were younger, the energy and will to achieve those personal targets that really double up as our purpose here on this rock we call Earth. Once women get married in traditional India, it becomes a million times harder for them to BE them, and that really is the ultimate tragedy, the ultimate betrayal, the ultimate cultural treachery, because it is these very women who are expected to step back and make it easier for everyone else they know to just live out their lives.


    • PT, for me what you describe in the second paragraph is exactly what is real growth! You said it so well, but isn’t what the second paragraph- growth with freedom of choice the real growth !


      • Not necessarily, Anil. I think at some point or the other, everyone has to grapple with certain situations that they don’t want to be in. Things don’t always go your way.
        Once you emerge from those situations, you do tend to be a stronger, more mature person. You don’t always have a choice there – sometimes life chucks you a curveball and you just have to deal with it. But once you do deal with it, you’re stronger, sturdier and just a bit more robust for it. Maybe you learn a new skill. Maybe you learn something about yourself. Whatever it is, you evolve, whether or not you want to.

        There’s absolutely nothing unreal about that growth – some of my greatest insights on life were gained that way, by getting through stuff I really didn’t want to have to go through in the first place. No choice but a lot of learning.


        • That’s fine too. But if I want to become an astronaut and if I’m working towards it despite all the complications I’m facing is also going to contribute to my growth and give me insights on life that I would not have gone if it din’t. But, if I’m conditioned into thinking, really not exercising my options and living someone else life. Yeah, I agree I will learn & grow on that path too. But, I’m really not living the life I wanted to live.

          I think grappling a situation you don’t want to be is very different from being conditioned/destined/expected to be in a situation you don’t want to be. This part is fairly avoidable if the social system din’t expect you to be in.


        • Okay, that wasn’t really what I was saying. Here’s a scenario:

          Suppose I want to be a lawyer. My parents want me to run the family business. I give in. I learn a helluva a lot of stuff, right? Yes, I didn’t want to be there, maybe I’m not even really happy, but am I going to be the same person in ten years? Of course not. It’s pretty impossible to NOT grow when you’re something like 21 or whatever.

          If I was in that situation, I’d be unhappy not because society put a stop to my growth, but because it made it really hard for me to meet my aspirations. There’s a big difference there, and I think it’s important to note that difference. I have immense respect the skills that a lot of women in traditional marriages gain over a lifetime – these are people who multitask at a level that puts a lot of corporate hotshots to shame. I’m not glorifying the system; just saying I respect those skills.


    • Totally agree with you PT. Women do grow in certain aspects after marriage in traditional india (like cooking, household, travel,) which are definitely skills worth having but as you said, having control over which area one wants to grow in is equally important. There are so many life skills out there, but do we voluntarily try and achieve each and every one of them? We prioritize the skills and learn those we think might benefit us or the ones we actually like doing (irrespective of the benefit). In all this, the crucial thing is the “choice”. I guess women need to have that choice in choosing which area they want to improve upon and further develop upon.


    • “Growth isn’t the same thing as meeting aspirations. As you live through life, you realize that there is growth in success, more growth in failure and a little even in studied indifference. ”
      This I agree with…in fact I agree with the entire last paragraph. The marked difference is that when marriages occur a Man isnt expected to give up on his Aspirations, but a woman is and most often she does. So in that aspect, there is a full stop to becoming what she wanted herself to be. And you are right, we all grow and change whether we want to or not. I think thats where people got the idea of Destiny and not Choice, that phrase that most older people will say when things dont go the way they had envisioned.


  14. On a visit to India, I met one of my dad’s friends. He had come home on Sankranti along with his daughter. I gawked when i saw her. Undoubtedly, she is one of the most beautiful girl I’ve seen. She was probably 23; and looked like a Ravi Varma painting. She was doing her MSc in Chemistry, and I was even more impressed. Her father asked us to ‘suggest’ some ‘good matches’ for her. I gently changed the topic and asked her if she wishes to continue on to research post her MSc. ‘It depends on her future family,’ her father interrupted, ‘we can only request them to allow her to study and work.’ The girl smiled and remained silent.

    Next day, her father was back on some errand. He once again asked for matrimonial recommendations. ‘She is a very soft spoken girl, she will make a good daughter-in-law,’ he said, ‘we hope the alliance is in this city only – we can’t send her far away,’ We nodded our heads and he continued,’Actually she is very innocent – even to go to the bus stop, either my son or I have accompanied her – that is how much protective we are of her. We hope we get an equally good family.’ He went on to say how an engagement was almost fixed, and it did not work out, and the stress had sabotaged her previous exam. ‘THis time we will wait till she finishes her final exam,’ he said. My father said, ‘Why not wait till she finds a job?’ ‘She is already 23,’ was the response.

    This happened 2 years ago. The girl is a mother now. I hope she is happy. But there – in that incident lies your answer. It is not whether girls ‘stop growing after marriage’ – girls are not allowed to grow – period. In the best circumstances as above, they are not allowed to grow into adult individuals – they are smothered by a different kind of love that sees them as someone who needs caring and looking-after – a delicate package that will be handed over to someone else to be ‘cared for’.

    And I understood a very strong message – although it was unsaid, and extemely subtle. An exquisitely beautiful daughter is almost like a hot potato – she has to be married off as soon as possible so that no untoward male attention taints her, taunts her; and she is not led ‘astray’.


    • Errr…here I go again….some more stuff to say. It is true that for most women, the changes in lifestyle she has to deal with post marriage is massive. A guy will not have to undergo such a metamorphosis if you will. But the whole scene is so unhealthy – for both boys and girls.

      An excerpt from my blog ‘Papa don’t preach’ –

      “A young adult’s true growth happens between 20 and 30. When I mean growth, I mean personality growth. It is a time when academic education is done, and one starts developing individual opinions, thoughts, identity. It is the time when one finds a bearing in life, decides on what course his/life should take. It is a time of serious relationships, and the individual understands that a good relationship requires effort and commitment; therefore it is a time when one understands his/her expectation from a relationship. In other words, that period of ten years is a life-defining, self-discovery journey of a new adult.

      Unfortunately the vast majority of such young adults in India have no opportunity to relish this remarkable phase. They are never given an opportunity to understand themselves, and figure out what they want from life. By mid-twenties, they are shoved into matrimony and are burdened with a family whether they are prepared for such a serious relationship or not.

      So if you consider an average Indian young adult; you will see that rarely has this person been able to exercise a choice in matters relating to his/her life, be it education or selection of a life-partner. Academic achievements notwithstanding, the person’s ability to think, articulate, voice opinions is sufficiently crushed and smothered. Elsewhere in the world if youngsters between the age of 20 and 30 are travelling, gaining new life experiences, innovating, discovering, inventing – in India, brilliant youngsters have their wings clipped and straight-jacketed into matrimony.”


      • You nailed it with the last paragraph. It’s all about controlling young people because after all, they don’t know what’s good for them right? We might be old enough to pay taxes, to drink, enroll in the army, start a company, etc, etc, but we are SO not ready to choose our life partners! It’s such a disgusting attitude. ‘Nannying’ grown adults has got to stop.


        • @sumana- the words ‘exquisitely beautiful daughter ‘ reminded me of someone I know- a friend- who was similarly ‘married off’ just before we graduated.
          The irony was that she saw marriage as an escape from her controlling , conservative parents, as post-wedding she was finally ‘allowed’ to wear all the sleeveless tops and short skirts that had been forbidden fruit during college years.She seems happy enough now, and her husband is a really sweet guy.

          I wonder if it’s really an ideal happily-ever-after because the chain of circumstances that led to it were events that were largely out of her control- right from the pressure to say yes to this guy to the wedding date- suffice to say she frequently confided that she felt rather helpless and uncomfortable before the wedding.

          Luckily for her , it all turned out okay in the end.But like Praveen mentioned upthread, she’s just ‘slipped into a script-written life’. If that’s her idea of happiness, so be it.

          I’m (extremely obliquely) trying to make the point that even though she’s ‘happy’ she has never had full control of her life and probably never will.
          We, the ‘youth’ need to step up and claim control of our own lives.No ONE will willing give us this control-which is rightfully ours. Unfortunately many youngsters(like my friend) on their part don’t WANT this control! Mostly because it would a) lead to conflict that most prefer to avoid and b)would need them to become financially and emotionally self reliant which many are too lazy/too green to do.

          The young people of India for too long have rather happily played our parts in the farce of the Great Indian Culture- Somewhere along the way we have stopped thinking for ourselves , and are more than happy to go with the flow. There’s no point blaming our parents and our society- WE have betrayed ourselves.And we’re quite smug and self satisfied on top of that, to boot.


      • I agree with that last paragraph…sometimes I watch the ones in their 40-50’s who have opinions I had when I was 16 and wonder if something caused that stunting of growth.


        • @Chocaholica – that’s something I rant about in almost every blog – the way we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves! I so agree to what you say.

          Mysoul – sometimes when i see the level of irrational behaviour in people of that age group, I think there might have been some mass experiment that was conducted on that generation.


        • I’m the black sheep in my house too. And, I wonder if it is the right thing to do? When I revolt against my parents at my young age or now (when they are fairly old 50+) my wife reminds me that why you want to do that with them? They are old and what if somethign happens to them, etc!

          Also in the same vein, I was often reminded not to the bad son or be the one who would hurt your parents! Interestingly, I found lots of boys/girls are willing to hurt their parents when it comes to marry the boy/girl of their choice (when doing it against their wishes), but beyond that they are not willing to fight it out for other things..

          A friend fought against his family to marry the girl of this choice. But just the next day of his marriage one of his best friend expired at a young age of 35+. That guy din’t attend the funeral or to meet the family because his mother wouldn’t think it is good omen or would like it & he din’t want to go against them!


  15. It is not a full stop, but it is a huge change both for the man and the woman. The change might be more for a woman depending upon the family’s circumstances as compared to her man especially if she goes into a joint family where she has to live with her in laws. In this case, the circumstances will stay almost the same for her husband, but she will take time to understand the typical mores of her new home. But, if they start a new life in a new home then the adjustments will be a lot for each to make. More than marriage, it is having kids that completely transforms the life of a woman drastically.


    • Rachna, I think Indian women are often expected to become more social with their families, and even more with their husband’s family, they are expected to follow family customs and change the way they dress – men are not expected to do this.


      • That is true, IHM! Like I said, they have to adapt according to their new family’s customs — so eating habits, dressing, entertaining, conduct all are required to be modified. But, you know, when I got married, my mom-in-law bought only salwars for me because she found out that I did not like saris. She is very traditional, but she did not expect me to wake up early or take a bath before eating. I think even traditional families can be very accommodating. It depends upon how we get our way through. My ma-in-law never had trouble with me wearing jeans or swim suits. Since she was so giving, I did not mind dressing up for festivals. I guess there is a lot of give and take in this relationship.


        • “My ma-in-law never had trouble with me wearing jeans or swim suits. Since she was so giving…”
          Why should a MIL have a say in what the DIL wears at all? Why should her not having trouble with the DIL wearing western clothes (or swimsuits- though what else can one wear for a swim?!) be seen as her being giving????


        • I think you lucked out in the MIL department. I was also of the opinion that adjustment would be a mutual process.

          Sadly, this cannot be assumed to be a given. It depends entirely on the emotional maturity and generosity of the family one is marrying into.

          Moreover, some of us do not really wish to adopt new personas just because we chose to marry. We quite like our old selves, our old eating habits, style of dressing and looking at the world.

          Honestly, it is nodody’s business to tell an adult woman what to eat, what to wear and what time to rise and shine.

          That such thinking is considered revolutionary in India shows just how little we understand concepts like personal freedom and individual rights.

          My ex’s family wanted me to stop eating coriander because nobody in their family liked coriander and a good DIL should blend in effortlessly, so no coriander for you Biwo. It was as if the family’s prestige was destroyed by my coriander-loving food habits. 🙂


        • I think the way it works is that typical image is that MILs are restrictive and you are conditioned to know that all of what you are specially your being “Chanchal” (maybe “naughty” is a fair bit of translation from Hindi) will have to be put to an end. The assumption is almost that life will be under MIL and the DIL can’t do much about it. So, most women think that whatever little way the MILs are nice, they are being done a big favor! Sad, but its true in most families.. Salwars should be luxury if you ask me when in some houses- you are required to even have veil let alone be in saree all the time .. probably even when sleeping !


        • Well, when I enter into any relationship including a marriage, I am not entering a war zone. I like to build trust and mutual respect. I would do the same if it were my mom and dad’s wishes. I know how to give and take. If you think that your relationship is in isolation to the rest of the world and that only your rules apply to you, and you don’t care about others’ wishes then that is the way you want it. I have no problems with that approach, but that is not me. I am not that way. I do consider the wishes of my family, and I don’t see it as wrong. I do, however, know when and how to get my way with things that are important for me. I think things are pulled out of context when people comment. They don’t understand that life is not black and white but grey, and there is no one correct way in relationships.


  16. Right here we go.. I think marriage shud be banned in india..

    Look at how many problems will be solved.. Logically we ahud get rid of the problem.. And marriage seems to the problem.. In my stupid brain thats what I think.

    Ok now let’s start with the thumbs down..


    • Bikram have you seen married Indian women being asked to dress differently? Does the majority continue to work, read, travel or socialise like they did before they were married?

      The lives of Indian married men you know and women you know , how much have they changed after they got married?

      Have you heard young women say they can’t do certain things (like meet friends) because they are needed at home to make tea for a family member? Let’s say you have not – then,
      How would you react if you do hear a young woman say this?


      • I already said ihm .. If we have a problem we get rid of it.. Marriage is oroblem get rid of it..

        No use going on and on and onnnmmmm if staying unmarried will not let women go through all this then that is good is it not..

        Ban marriage.. Simple solution.. Ladies wont have to go through any of these problems..

        What wrong am I saying..
        And to reply to your questions.. Yess I have seen umpteen marriages


        • if I hear people say this to me then I shall advice to part.. And do what they want to do..

          Why be in a relation in which you are not happy..

          I also believe that all these problems that are mentioned can be resolved if two people talk maturely.
          And its not just women there are a few problems that men face too.. But lrts not go there..


    • Bikram – you almost quoted Osho! He says ‘marriage should disappear’ – and goes on to ask ‘what kind of a neurotic society have you created?’ Watch it…if not for anything, at least for a few laughs. I am not a ‘follower’ but he makes sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ocbZhRQS9I

      At least the way marriage is transacted in India it is really psychopathic. The emotional blackmail and pressure, the money laundering, the exploitation, the false prestige, the abuse – all the wrong reasons are used to force two people to stay together.

      IMO marriage in the true sense is not the problem. The actual problem is our (Indian) extremely unbalanced PERCEPTION of a marriage – the nonchalance with which we condemn two incompatible people to live together; when they could have led perfectly happy lives individually; and the fact that a typical marriage is overcrowded: the lead roles take a back seat while what should be guest appearances hog the limelight ALL THE TIME!

      Coming to your comment – I agree there is a grain of truth. I think millions of youngsters would have been happy, productive, innovative adults had they not been forced into dead-end marriages – marriages that were conducted for the sake of an unseen audience.


    • Your comment reminds me of a joke – A guy went to the doctor and said Doc I have pain in my knees whenever I walk – can you please suggest something. The Doc replied – “Stop Walking immediately”.
      Well, in our society marriage is not a problem however, how each party deals with it is a problem that needs attention and change.


  17. I think, it depends on how do we(women) handle the situation & how are the people around you behave. I f you don’t find your would-be in-laws anymore supportive, go & protest. It’s your life & no one has right to destroy it against your wishes. Protest for a good cause is no wrong, even if it is against your own parents.
    But yes! often in India,& mostly poor girls have to go through this which snatches all their freedom in one go & which is very sad!


    • “Go and protest”? You have no idea what you’re talking about. When a woman has been forced to depend first on parents and then on inlaws/husband for her basic necessities, when she has been denied the opportunity to study and work, when she is pregnant or the mother of small children, how can she protest? She could lose her kids! She could lose her life!

      It is all very deliberate, the subjugation of women in exactly this fashion. You not only oppress them but also remove from them the tools they might possibly use to free themselves, and then hold them hostage by their children for good measure so they never can protest.


      • @Nandini
        so true and sad..i often think of poor girls..dont know how they manage..atleast we are educated, working and in control of our lives


  18. Yes. Unfortunately Yes. Not for all. but that depends on the partner. But the worst thing for the women is becoming pregnant soon after the marraige. My hubby once remarked. ‘the best way for a guy to make his wife lose her life completly is to get her pregnant withing 2-3 months of the marraige. I agree. Especially as this phenomenon is quite prevalent in arranged marriages.

    In a previous post IHM, you had posted about someone who said a girl chose to get pregnant in the first month itself. I don’t think a majority of Indian women have that choice. Frankly i suspect she didnot even know what sex was. Yes, it is highly probable. Could not comment on that post.

    As far as not looking married taken as a compliment….. I have heard it too. But the irony here is if you are not married that’s bad, if you look married that also is bad.

    I would prefer that i would look neither married nor unmarried. I would rather look like me thankyou very much.


    • Agree one hundred per cent with the early pregnancy thing.

      It’s the number one reason a lot of executives fail to grab their diversity bonuses at firms that have them. Corporate India loses so much talent that way, it’s incredible.
      One of my favorite staffers quit on me last year because she got pregnant and she felt pressurized to stay at home and take care of the baby. This woman wasn’t partner material, she was legend material. I swear I’ve never met anyone quite as sharp, nor quite as diligent. When she told me she was quitting, I could almost smell the reluctance, the pressure. And this sort of thing happens over and over again, it’s bog standard, but what can you do? Just make sure she gets a severance package worthy of her caliber, wish her and her baby well, and try to adjust yourself with someone not half as good, that’s all. It’s all screwed up and I detest it.


    • I love that last paragraph!! Thats my view of life too. I would rather be me after all all the rest are taken and theres only One of Me….I went through the Game I didnt want to play with “looking married”. At one point in time(in my late 20’s), I was proud of mastering it and I did look down on others who didnt follow that unwritten rule…Now I look back at that time in Shame…cause I cant believe I was Like that. But on the other hand, that episode of my life has led me to understand what the ones who get married and look married are going through. Its not always their own choice that they “look married”. It is conditioning and it takes a while for them to get out of it and some never do get out of it.

      In the process of my unwanted growth, I ended up with a view of Real Marriage. In this type of relationship, you are very Married even if you dont look married and it shows in the way the couples work together, the way they speak with each other and of each other and the way they are there for each other during trying times and the Laughter…Its a very different animal. I am glad to have a glimpse of it.


  19. I totally agree with PT on the difference between growth and the pursuit of ones aspirations. And because of this Indian culture, men are also forced to give up on many aspirations.

    Married women in my part of india are expected to wear saree. Salwar-kameez is acceptable, not appreciated. Jewelry should be gold and the usual mangal sutra, wedding ring and sindoor.
    Unmarried girls wear those non gold color matching bangles and in general more stylish jewelry.
    Do I get taunted on these? Not really, since ours is a love marriage which his parents agreed to out of ‘lack of choice’ I have a bad image which actually makes life easier 🙂


    • I so understand what you mean “I have a bad image which actually makes life easier”… I tried to be that “Likable, amiable DIL” and then realized at some point that I was being a complete, atrocious, Idiot….You really cant please another person, especially when they are hell bent on killing your spirit or self-esteem with criticism, unless you literally kill yourself and be reborn in the mold of their making. So, I learned its easier to be myself if they hated me to the core of their being. But its totally worth it. I will do what I can do with reason, after that its their funeral.


  20. I believe priorities change when someone gets married.. For women, a lot of their priorities change. For men, not as many. And it’s this shift in priorities that decides the life choices they make and thus their personal growth.

    From what I’ve seen happening with most (if not all) of my married friends is that they put themselves much much down in their list of priorities. And that reflects in their personality, lifestyle and the way they look.


  21. Being married specifically in the Indian context means:
    1. u carry the symbols of marriage on you physically – mangalsutra, sindoor.
    2. u no longer dress very fashionably
    3. u no longer take your decisions on your own – small or big – u got out to a mall and find a good rug to buy for the house (even if you are earning), you are supposed to check with your husband or inlaws (if you are staying with them)
    4. Office parties and leisure trips are a big no.
    5. you are not supposed to drink without the company of your husband.
    6. you no longer are available for girls’ night out/day out
    7. And this takes the cake away, I was actually told I dont behave like a married woman even more so because i am such an extrovert around men and laugh and joke freely. That I am also an extrovert around women doesn’t seem to matter much.

    For all the reasons above, I have been told an umpteen times I dont look married at all. And I take that as a huge compliment!


  22. Marriage changed my life. Certainly not for the better. I put my career on an indefinite hold which ended up being a full stop to that path. I had to begin afresh, endure struggles after my divorce. Have been through the entire gamut of comments… not looking married, not taking on husband’s name (thank God!! else that would involve more paperwork/bureaucracy now!!) etc etc.
    To my ex, nothing changed. His career just went on. Divorce didn’t change anything either except that now he has to pay child support that he has cribbed about!! He coolly says yeah I ruined your life so?!
    It is a patriarchal society & those few of us who raise our voices against it just find the going really tough. So far, I have been fighting it ( of course getting the name of being a rebel!), don’t know when I will just give up & go as things flow! If you can’t fight em, join em?!


  23. I agree. I think one essential contributor to “look like a married woman” status today is what movies and soaps have done. The amount of sindoor on the forehead and the kilos of gold jewellery on a “bahu” is by all standards “too much” to tolerate, forget even believing. Also, the fact that “being a married woman” you are frowned upon by every T,D,H for even having conversations with a guy next door or a colleague, instantly branded as “” is causing a lot of chaos in the lives of today’s sensible, educated and liberated women, unwilling to fit into these stereotypes. And hence the resultant mixed doubles in families today.


    • Totally agree on the point of conversations with any guy!! To think some say if you talk to someone else, you are having an affair or are interested in the other guy. You have to stop having guy friends!!?? You are not conforming to standards!


  24. I find it hard to believe this level of discomfort coexisting with a huge percentage of modern women still getting married. I am married, chose to and love it. We’ve had our ups and downs, are parents and both my husband and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Marriage does not have to be a full stop. Women who are unable to break out of social conditioning at their parents’ often have more freedom at their in-laws – marriage is somehow a passport to things as mundane as learning swimming…I mean, what would potential suitors say if they knew my daughter has worn a swimsuit?! (completely sarcastic!). A lot of others (a higher percentage) go the other route – free-er at their parents’ (who somehow still marry ‘off’) and completely not at their in-laws.

    The only people who can better for ourselves is us. By standing up for what is our right/comfort in life, we are also paving the way for our daughters AND sons. Yes, it is not easy but it is definitely easier to stand up a few times than struggle through an entire life of kowtowing to others. That we shouldn’t have to deal with this crap goes without saying.

    As for individual growth, I think I am more evolved after marriage, even more so after parenthood – personal opinion only, I guess I needed much more external motivation to develop myself than some others. Some rough edges got rubbed off like they needed to be and other facets got polished….improvement is a lifetime’s aspiration in any case.


  25. I think the “you dont look married” comment is usually used in the context of a compliment. As in, you look like you are fit, keeping up with the trends and well groomed. It is sad that the phrase suggests that most women who are married are usually not fit, trendy or take care of themselves.

    I know and have seen that traditional marriages do stunt a woman in many areas. I have seen it happen right in front of me – a relative who gave up her job after marriage, some other person who had to revamp her complete wardrobe and gave away her western outfits – its quite sad.

    My own marriage has been immensely helpful in my growth. I have actually done better at my career with the help of my husband who has given me pointers on how to deal with office politics (he is the ultimate diplomat). My thrifting hobby has now become my splurge fund because my spouse encouraged me to sell my finds (or maybe he just wanted a clean garage – thats debatable).


  26. FWIW, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that I don’t look like I’ve ever been married, and that I definitely look too happy to have been divorced. I laugh them off, but these comments make my parents supremely happy. They certainly take them as compliments. My mom even thinks women whose husbands travel for extended periods on work, or women who lose their husbands early on (!!!), LOOK BETTER than married women who get more time w/ their husbands. “Stress kam hota hai naa……koi tension nahin, chik-chik nahin……jaise rehna hai raho.”

    Of course, she says that as a woman who’s been married for 31 years now. And YET, when I try to tell her that I’m happier when single, she doesn’t get it. If that isn’t a crying shame I don’t know what is. She’s effectively saying the same damn thing herself!


  27. In my case, marriage was definitely not a full stop to my aspiration or growth for that matter. i continued to work and wear the similar cloths (no sindoor, mangalsutra, toe rings etc.). But at the same time i had some additional responsibilities of home, that till now my parents used to take care of. So life was definitely different than it was before marriage.
    But when i had my daughter, that was the time when i realized that i cannot continue my work the way i used. (i am speaking for myself here, many people i know have continued to work in the same way before and after baby).
    i think more than marriage, it is motherhood that changes things for urban women in nuclear families.


    • It is how you see it. After we had our first daughter, my wife was subtly hinting at giving up the job or ok with not working. I supported & made sure she continued. Yes, at times life was tough, but we sailed through. And today no regrets on having made those choices either for her or for me.

      Yes, motherhood changes ! But a lot of it the stuff we shouldn’t get into- read the other article – IHM just published https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/a-good-husband-never-hurts-his-wife-but-sometimes-tests-her-strengths-and-her-resolve-to-stand-beside-him-unfalteringly/

      and don’t glorifying into being a mother – and end your LIVING with it! ..


      • Hello Sir,

        Thanks for sharing your point of view 🙂

        When i said, its motherhood that changes things for urban women in nuclear families, i meant it CHANGES, it doesn’t mean that the growth stops…I also mentioned that i am speaking for myself 🙂
        i believe that you learn different things at every stage of your life, and you can use those learnings in different situations…(You can go to http://techie2mom.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/old-wine-in-new-bottle-or-something-of-that-sort/ to see my point of view on learning under the section Achievements)

        It’s really nice to know that you supported your wife to work. But I am curious about few things, you may decide not to reply to that as you may find them a little personal.

        1) When you say your wife hinted at leaving her job you supported her and made sure that she continued to work, did you force her to continue her work, while she wanted to resign and spend more time with your daughter?
        2) Why did she hint at quitting? was she not happy the way your daughter was being raised, was she not happy with her job or was she getting exhausted with responsibilities at work and responsibilities at home (including that of a new baby)?
        3) Do you think, when your wife retires from her job, she will have the similar designation and salary to yours when you retire (if you are in different fields then will the position and salary be comparable)? And what do you think is the general trend?In middle class urban nuclear families does husband and wife retire at the similar designation and similar salary (assuming both of them are doing a job)?
        4) If in response to question 3, if you think that the trend says that the salaries and designation of women and men at retirement are not similar then what is the reason behind it?
        5) Do you think that those women who choose to leave their well paying job to be with their young babies and care for them are doing something wrong (For example Aishwarya Rai Bachhan) ?

        I have been to the link you suggested and i can’t see any link between my thoughts and the content there.

        In previous generation women were pressurised to leave their job against their wish. In this generation the pressure is different, now women are pressurised to go back to work against their wish. I don’t feel this is not progress. Still women are pressurised to do things against their wish and are not considered competent enough to make their own decisions.

        I believe that everybody should be free to do whatever they deem right, i believe in to each his/her own.

        And in response to your last line, I would suggest you read the following post by IHM and my comment there.Where i wrote that i would like to work again.

        I would like to add here that from whatever you shared, i respect your wife for managing job and home 🙂

        Thanks again for sharing your thoughts 🙂



        • Hi Techie2mom 🙂 ,
          I subscribed to your blog, should will have some perspective on & off from there too. When I said what I said I should have mentioned that I wasn’t speaking for you in particular but for most women in general. Anyways, let me see how many questions I can answer here, if I miss I will send it on your gmail id.

          1) When you say your wife hinted at leaving her job you supported her and made sure that she continued to work, did you force her to continue her work, while she wanted to resign and spend more time with your daughter?

          >> Not forcing like the way we are tooth and nail discouraging on this blog. It was more of a supportive thing, when things looked tight she felt that was the easier way to handle and I said, no we will make it happen together. It is not that she din’t want to work, but the situation was such and her emotional side was making her weak. And so we made it work. And she is happy she din’t give away her financial freedom, etc at that weak moment.

          2) Why did she hint at quitting? was she not happy the way your daughter was being raised, was she not happy with her job or was she getting exhausted with responsibilities at work and responsibilities at home (including that of a new baby)?

          >> I was IHM’s blog dream husband 🙂 & the type who said – ok don’t find a reason not to work, I will handle complete household chores! I was capable of handling it! Primary reason- to be with the daughter. And at that time the day-care centers in Hyderabad really really turned us off and that seemed like a solution.

          3) Do you think, when your wife retires from her job, she will have the similar designation and salary to yours when you retire (if you are in different fields then will the position and salary be comparable)? And what do you think is the general trend?In middle class urban nuclear families does husband and wife retire at the similar designation and similar salary (assuming both of them are doing a job)?

          >> I’m not sure what you are pointing at, but take the obvious ones as answers to this. So, what is the point? Pointing the difference how society treats women? Or that’s why women shouldn’t work, etc?

          4) If in response to question 3, if you think that the trend says that the salaries and designation of women and men at retirement are not similar then what is the reason behind it?

          >> That is exactly what were are discussing round the clock. I ‘m in a senior position & often when we are thinking of recruiting girls/women, it comes in the discussion – when will she get married! (thankfully not so much the pregnancy issue) because it will necessarily involve her relocation and we will lose a good employee ! Forget wages – women even in the labor class don’t get paid as the men folk, there maybe its all physical .

          5) Do you think that those women who choose to leave their well paying job to be with their young babies and care for them are doing something wrong (For example Aishwarya Rai Bachhan) ?

          >> Absolutely not! But when I hear of such stories often I’m tempted to think that society killed one more girl of her dreams. ANd I know this is not always true like in your case.


      • Oh and forgot to add one more question, so here it is 🙂

        6) Do you think women who stay at home (and end their LIVING with) taking care of their home and kids have easy and unproductive life?

        A disclaimer: I am not a big fan of Aishwarya Rai Bachhan’s acting, but i admire her for standing by her views (though silently) while whole world is suggesting that she should reduce her weight, leave her baby with a Nanny and fulfill her responsibilities as an actress!!!!


        • Hey Thanks for subscribing 🙂
          1) I would not call that moment weak. I can understand that feeling very well. A new mother torn between her new baby and an established job. Difficult choice. It’s really great you supported her (and i assume here that you shared the household and baby chores 50-50 🙂 ) when she decided to continue with her job.
          2) I can understand that a new mother would not like to leave her few months old baby to a day care. So finally what did you do, who cared for your daughter when you guys were on job?
          3) I was just trying to show the fact, that this is what is happening. I definitely don’t mean that women shouldn’t work. Why should a woman stop working because society treats her differently than man?
          I also wanted to point to the fact that women who choose to work don’t have it easy. And after having a baby (in case there is no one else to care for baby at home and parents don’t feel comfortable leaving a very young baby at daycare) women tend to do a lot of compromises, e.g. Leaving a job, taking up a less challenging job, refusing to travel, refusing promotions etc..All these takes toll on their career and as a result we don’t see many women on top (and it’s a world wide phenomenon).
          Again i am not saying that making compromises are right or wrong. I am just stating a well surveyed and researched fact here. To each her own 🙂
          4) I think, answer of 3 covers this upto some extent…And let’s not even talk about difference in wages..
          Even when a man and a woman starts at the same level with the same salary they tend to retire at different level and different salaries. Again, stating a researched fact (worldwide phenomenon)..
          5) I hope that now you won’t assume that every girl that decided to leave her job to care for her child is POOR GIRL,
          and every girl that is going out to do a job, is liberated.
          It may turn out to be other way round. The working out of home mom, might have been pressurized into doing it, you never know.
          Again, if i speak for me, i asked myself a few questions and based on that i decided to take a break:
          – Can i get another job when i want?
          Yes, I can.
          – Is there anybody to care for my daughter in my and my hubby’s
          No. My Father, mother and mother in law are still working and have
          some years before they retire. Also they stay in a different city.
          – Do i want to breast feed my daughter?
          Yes, I wanted to. And the best option was to stick around my
          daughter (pumping didn’t work for me), which meant either leaving
          job or working from home.
          in my kind of job working from home for a longer period was not an
          optimal and efficient, so not to burn the bridges by turning into a
          lesser performer, i decided to leave the organization.
          – Can we financially afford if i don’t work?
          Yes, with proper planning we can.
          – Am i ok if i hear from somebody about my daughter’s milestones, like
          her first smile, her first steps etc..
          No, I am not. So best option was to stick around when she
          crossed her major milestones 🙂
          Waiting for your reply on Q 6…


  28. When alliances started pouring in for me, my very first reaction was” Do you want me to stop thinking of my career.?” There in my parents got a subtle message.! No I think they have accepted the fact that I will stay unmarried till I don’t find a guy who wont threaten my career.! Even then everyday is a fight much like a third world war kinda thing. Every new day i get to hear some strange thing from the people around me, even though i just crossed mid twenties.! I thought it was better to fight and fight hard rather kill myself in an arrangement that gives the tag of moral greatness.! Slowly people around me have started accepting my choices, and many dont dare to bring in any proposal any more.! I dont say getting married is bad, but then the way it happens in this hell hole is sick.! Why are the first questions that go into marrying off a girl are like these “Can she cook.?” “Does she attend the sunday mass.?” Would she finish phd and get settled with a family.!? Will she give up on her passionate writing and travelling after marriage.? and blah blah blah.! The worst of all, “oh she doesn’t have chicken and fish, then how will she cook for her husband.?”
    These are not the questions asked while a man is sought.! We are strangely so backward.! I might or might not get married but for the Almighty’s sake I won’t give up all the hard work I put in all these years to get that coveted prefix of Mrs before my name.! Infact that is one reason more and more girls are going single forever or becoming adoptive mothers.! Why is this expectation of being a great emblem of moral and social greatness only sought from us girls.?


  29. I wonder why all these problems ? Who causes them?
    I have no in-laws, they passed away way before I met my husband. My parents raised me pretty liberally – I had restrictions of course. But after I married it felt like my actual growth started. I had to decide to marry him against my families wishes and after that it was the both of us By ourself , building our life and my husband was established in Bombay so apart from quitting my ‘going nowhere’ job and taking something else up in Bombay I had no big change. I was free and I had a choice in everything I did. He already has someone to cook so that was taken care off and now I had the choice o do whatever I wanted with my life. No one to tolerate. No one to adjust or accommodate. And basically complete freedom.

    Now I don’t know if this is because I had no in laws or we were just different. Either way I think I started growing the day i met my then not-yet husband and I realized I had Inge to fly after I was married. To me marriage is not a full stop at all


  30. From the typical bride’s perspective marriage is definitely a full stop to growth as she imagined it to be. But from everyone else’ perspective she is expected to suddenly grow into a woman capable of handling almost everything, single-handedly. The girl who goes from being “you’re still young and don’t know much” to “you’re now married and should know how to handle things” stage. What I fail to see is the magic that every typical cultural person knows to happen when a girl gets married. From cooking to handling ILs to managing a wayward husband she should know everything the moment she gets married. Is it like some training that is to be given to the would be brides which even when given fails to serve the purpose?
    And yes, in Indian context “you don’t look married” is definitely a compliment, given that we treat marriage as a binding in which the guy gets halal-ed and the girl suddenly becomes dayan DIL. Even married people don’t hesitate to say that marriage wasn’t such a good idea and all the pre and post marital jokes are cracked at weddings that we all know about. The girl is destined to get fat and become gossip monger and the guy is to get a pot belly and slog like a donkey to make ends meet. The typical scenario I’m sure we have all seen. So who wants to get married?
    I am married and don’t care for the institution as people know it. Even the customs of mangalsutra, sindhoor and sarees fall flat on me. I’m my own person and I’ll be damned if I do something to please someone. I’ve had enough of that nonsense to last me a lifetime.


    • //The girl who goes from being “you’re still young and don’t know much” to “you’re now married and should know how to handle things” stage. What I fail to see is the magic that every typical cultural person knows to happen when a girl gets married. From cooking to handling ILs to managing a wayward husband she should know everything the moment she gets married. Is it like some training that is to be given to the would be brides which even when given fails to serve the purpose?//

      So agree Wanderer!

      I think the “magic” here is sex

      In their minds, if you have had sex, then you are suddenly graduated from a girl who knows nothing to a woman who knows everything!


      • I completely agree.

        One of my cousin’s wife is the same age as me. Were both 22. But she is treated like an adult and I get treated as a child. I guess thats the reason.

        It makes me so angry because I’m much more independent and “adult” than she is.

        I guess thats what I have to do to be treated as a grown women and not a child, get married


  31. Do you think Indian women are expected to grow up instantly, or stop growing once they get married? Does marriage mean end of freedom to live and grow for many Indian women?

    for me, it was not an end of freedom.. there were contains for sure, not any major scarifies.. i was given time to understand and mold myself and it was similar with them.. i gave them( hubby, mil, fil) time to understand me..

    Also, have you heard of women being told, “You don’t look/act married?”
    oh yes, many a times i was told that i dont look married, as i dont wear saree every day and look thin and young.

    How is the ‘married Indian woman look’ and lifestyle different from other Indians?
    they expect married women to put on weight, wear saree, mangalsutra, sindoor, preferably staying at home an d taking care of kids.. in fact look more disordered and not look trendy.

    Is “not looking married” seen as a compliment for Indian women? Why is that so?
    initially i thought it was compliment as i dont seem to look old( thinking their meaning of looking married), later wanted to look married( as i am staying alone away from hubby, dint want other men to approach me), now i am confused, rather say, it doesnt matter much as my status will remain married, what ever my looks say..


    • for me, it was not an end of freedom.. there were contains for sure, not any major scarifies.. i was given time to understand and mold myself and it was similar with them.. i gave them( hubby, mil, fil) time to understand me

      >> isn’t the above statement – subtly says – “end of the freedom”


  32. hey IHM…I wanted to write to you about the same issue in a different way….what should a girl do when she is not ready for marriage but her age, society and parents force her into it??
    for some, marriage is not a full stop at all but that’s mainly with choice marriages and some of the luckier arranged ones but pretty rare!!!


  33. Unfortunately, (in my opinion) most marriages lead to stunted growth for both – man and woman. I don’t particularly consider having a career as a sole measure for growth. Marriage must facilitate spiritual growth more than anything else. It is supposed to be a union of two souls, not so that they can work two jobs to build a palace to live in, or buy the latest model of car. To me, there is something divine about two people coming together, falling in love, committing to build a meaningful life – helping each other in the process, finding a purpose, facing fears and insecurities, overcoming challenges and finding happiness in their journey together.

    If there has to be any intervention of any kind from parents, families etc…it should only be to allow the couple space, privacy and time to make their journey through life as enjoyable and smooth as possible.

    Idealistic perhaps, but I don’t see any other purpose for marriage. It is not a full stop in any case. Marriage is entering a phase in life where you get moral and spiritual sustenance in the form of a partner and learn that team work, loyalty, trust, tolerance are keys to success and growth in other areas of life, like career.

    Unless we come out of pre-conditioned notions and ideas that have been ingrained into us…marriage or any other relationship can and will continue to be a threat to our growth. What actually puts a full-stop to women’s ambitions after marriage is our own beliefs and inability to fight circumstances. It is easier to follow and please people than to find the courage to stand up and question authority.

    I don’t see a man growing anything but his ego…while he curbs his wife’s freedom, and stunts her growth.
    I find no respect for a man no matter how learned, powerful or successful he may be…who cheats his life-partner to climb the ladder of material success while all the time sustaining on her compassion, love, trust and her so called ‘forced’ sacrifices.

    Terms like marriage, religion, tradition, culture are mere tools to manipulate masses. I hope the younger generation relies upon their own judgement than merely following tradition and blindly adopting one’s culture.


  34. We all grow and learn and evolve, but the question for the average Indian woman is, if the growth that she experiences post marriage is healthy to her well being and most importantly is it the kind of growth she would have wanted if she was free to make her own choices.

    In many cases, forget jobs and socializing with friends, even hobbies and interests which can be pursued from within the 4 walls of the home are discouraged by the in-laws, if they feel that it is inconvenient to them. Even if the in-laws are not present, most men do not care about the hobbies and interests of their wives as long as it does not eat into their time or money. Many men merely tolerate their wives hobbies and only a few actually encourage and help their wives in their areas of interests.

    Also, one of the ways that women are supposed to grow up instantaneously is in matters of sex. Maang me sindoor and we’re supposed to go from nun to vamp. I’ve gone to a few weddings myself, where the bride is always advised before the bidaai to “adjust” and let the groom “do his thing” during the suhaag raat.

    I always feel like puking whenever I hear someone delivering those lines and always imagine these brides as sacrificial lambs. I don’t even want to think about what these women have been enduring and continue to endure in their marital beds even today.

    Being told that one “does not look married” may look like a compliment on the surface, but it is actually an insult. It means that you have chosen to break away from the herd and do your own thing, which for an AIMW read Average Indian Married Woman is a strict NO NO.

    The AIMW’s life is different from other Indians because the reigns of her life are held by her husband and his family. She has no choice in what she wants to do and how she wants to live her life.

    So, a woman does grow, just not the way she may have wanted to.


      • They do. Once when I asked someone what they tell you before you enter the room for suhaag raat, this was what they told – Let him do whatever he wants with you. One by one all the women say the same thing. One of them even said, I was crying that night and did not let me husband do what he wanted and i suffer till today (she does not have a child)… so do not make my mistake and let him do what he wants tonight!


  35. I was watching an episode of We the People on NDTV recently. They were discussing Indians who get subsidized education and then move abroad. During the discussion, Barkha asked Chetan Bhagat (author 3 mistakes of my life) about why he moved back to India after working abroad for many years. He said “my wife got a transfer”. People around him looked at him surprised, and he said..women do this for their husbands all the time! I thought it was hilarious that he had to defend himself, that we as a society think…what YOU moved for HER?

    Naturally, I did some digging. Her linkedin profile states that she is the Chief Operating Officer at UBS India. They have twins, and Chetan stays at home to raise them. He earns good money through writing and proudly states on his website that he is a house husband and is lucky to watch his sons grow up.

    It is very rare to see female heads of banks in the west. Who said successful women cant have it all – family & the hot shot job? You can, if your husband treats you like an equal and pitches in. Chetan took time off of work to write books. Would he have been able to do that if his wife wasnt earning. Would he have been able to quit banking and follow his dreams & passions?

    Probably not.

    Marriage can work wonders if both parties allow their relationship and each others’ lives to grow.


    • yes definitely marriage is actually a very beautiful thing when you know your partner well and both of you respect each other and their space
      But the sad part is that very few get to enjoy that feeling due to all the responsibilities and conditioning put upon them…


  36. In my opinion, marriage being a full stop or a springboard to higher success depends upon the inidividual in question and whether they are able to define and assert their “path of growth” in the way they get married.

    If you seek growth in marriage , you

    1. Must articulate very well as to why you want to get married., in details. And you yourself should want to get married, very much.

    2. Must assert you choices and seek a partner that supports your choices. For eg. If as a girl you want a carrer, make sure your partner knows it, to the extent of saying that it is a non-negotiable

    3.Must have a clear view on when you want to have a first kid. And seek a partner that has similar choices.

    Overall you need to be very sure, precise and clear about what you want from the relationship, and seek the partner that will provide it.Do that and I think marraige can actually bring freedom, enjoyment and growth in all aspects on ones life.


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