“In my bubble marriages are the stuff of feminist dreams!”

Sharing a guest post by The starry eyed feminist!

Of Men, Marriages and Musings

Hi IHM,

In my bubble marriages are the stuff of feminist dreams! It is an equal partnership, with mutual respect and some good old fashioned love. And then as I sat sipping on some freshly brewed coffee, browsing through the news, I found this.

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/marriage-adjustments-made-real-life-couples-must-know-075008935.html

Do you see what I see?

Here are some quotes from happily married couples and how they (read she) made it work!

“First 2 years of my married life were the toughest since I came from a nuclear family and got married into the joint family. It is extremely hard to keep each and every family member happy. But after 6 months, slowly and gradually I learnt to adjust, mostly by sacrificing my own wishes. You can’t prioritise your individual needs when thinking of your family,”

Adjustments are small alterations. Sacrificing one’s wishes and ignoring your individual needs- that is abuse! Are we too dreamy eyed when we adjust and expect to be adjusted to?

“My father was in the Army. Living a disciplined life, we always ate at the dining table and had fixed timings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The scenario was very different in his house. Believe it or not, it took me three years to change my taste and timings according to his family. It takes lot of patience to live with person who is brought up with different habits, morals and rules. But I am thankful to him, as he helped me a lot to adjust according to his family.”

And yet another “happily” married wife thanking the husband for helping her adjust “according to his family”. I wonder if the family made any adjustments to accommodate her? Is the family open to making adjustments at all? Were they passive aggressive ( as in many cases) about their morals,habits and rules or did they grow on her organically?

“After marriage, my husband went back to the US and I had to stay in India for a while to get all my documents– passport, identity cards, signatures and bank accounts– under my new name. I felt like it is my re-birth,” 

We need to constantly re-invent ,rethink and revive ourselves – BY CHOICE. Re-birth is an overhaul. Did she give up on who she was? Does she still have the same interests and outlook? Or is the “adjustment” drastic enough to qualify as rebirth?

61 thoughts on ““In my bubble marriages are the stuff of feminist dreams!”

  1. Awesomely written. I can completely relate to your write up. I just completed 2 years of marriage and I almost had a re-birth. Lucky my husband works away from his hometown and so I have to manage the adjustment part only during our yearly vacations.

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  2. Amazing! As I went directly to the link before commenting, I realized I had picked up the exact same points as the LW. Finally all “happy” marriages seem to flourish on the sacrifices of the woman. When will anything ever change?

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  3. @ the LW–as much as I wouldn’t choose the first two scenarios for myself, I do believe that these women made their choices freely. They willfully chose to live in a joint family setting and sacrifice their own individual needs in the process. I don’t feel like I have the right to sit here and judge their choices because, in their own words, everything seems to have worked out for them. As long as they’re happy then there’s no point in us lamenting their choices.

    That said, I do think the last bit about the name change–rebirth was an attempt at humorous exaggeration. It’s going to be murder to fill out all the required paperwork for a name change (it is very much like getting a new identity).

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    • When there is no other easy or even possible option, then what kind of choices does one really have? Almost everybody who can be considered wise and well meaning, including parents and friends from the same generation, tells Indian women to not just ‘please adjust’ to make the best of the situation, but they also reminds them how fortunate they are because the spouse and his family are not violent, or too obviously abusive.

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    • I do agree with what you have to say. I too believe that if they are happy then we should be happy they are happy.
      But the actual problem is that women similar to them have been brought up/conditioned to be the only ones to sacrifice always. To undergo this “re-birth”. Husbands don’t have to change at all. They have seen that their mothers do the same & so they do too. They have to do everything in their power to ensure that their in-laws & husbands are happy even if that means giving up everything they once liked to do & sometimes even their dreams.
      Most of them don’t even realize that by doing so they are losing their identity in the process & in turn become too dependent on the spouse which can lead to various other problems like infidelity, depression, possessiveness etc.
      Some of them think that it’s their life duty to do all of this & some think it’s a sin if their husbands do any housework…
      That mindset needs to be changed & I suppose that’s what this post was trying to imply.

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      • If they have the option of not doing any of he things they are doing, and not being judged for that, then that would be having an option or a choice.
        @Veena – Feminism I think is tolerance towards differences and respect for everybody’s happiness… Tolerance to abuse, injustice, cruelty, prejudice and misogyny cannot be called feminism.

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      • Tolerance to what? Women losing their identity, losing their ability to choose for themselves as adults, men being forced to play roles that they may or may not be comfortable with? Tolerance to these things?

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    • I agree with you Kay, when you say, “as long as they are happy”. My only question is how many are genuinely happy – how many WANT things to be this way and how many make their peace with the situation?

      My suspicion is that in the majority of cases of “happy” marriages, it is more a case of making one’s peace, giving up the fight – internal or external – and just flowing with the tide. May be some women find this option easier than dealing with all the difficulties that go with putting up a resistance.

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      • Some women don’t even know they are depressed . What is termed as minor adjustments can take a toll on your self esteem and mental health. Most of the women do not even introspect(because hey thinking about yourself is selfish) and try to find out if they are truly happy from within because that would be uncomfortable and upset the apple cart. It is easier to put ‘sacrifices and compromises’ on a pedestal and try to find solace in it. Ofcourse their parents and society helps laying their doubts(if any) incase the conditioning from childhood starts to wear out.

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      • My suspicion is that people make adjustments because they are promised big rewards in the end. They get their turn when they become older, there is respect for elders, etc. This leads to bitterness- of the kind GVji described -when the world changes

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    • Yes, but sometimes a free choice isn’t necessarily an informed choice, no?

      I’m not saying that this is necessarily true of the women in this article, but many Indian women have been conditioned into making the choice that they seem to so freely make.
      Obviously it’s their life, and their free choice, and they have to ultimately take responsibility for it- but it’s hard to believe that so many women would ‘freely’ make these choices under a different, more egalitarian set of circumstances.

      P.S I have to share something I still cant believe happened. I was clicking through a college classmate’s FB wedding album and saw the banner read Dr. Sneha weds Dr. Someone. Her name is Bharti!!
      Changing the FIRST name of a bride in this day and age- and her agreeing to it- well, I can’t help but judge her (and feel a little sorry) a little bit for this.

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      • “it’s hard to believe that so many women would ‘freely’ make these choices under a different, more egalitarian set of circumstances”

        While saying that many women do things to just maintain the peace in the house, I would not go to the extent of saying that all women who make compromises would refuse to do so under egalitarian circumstances.

        Let me give an example. I certainly would not let anyone change my first name, I have not changed even my family name. When I got married, I lived with the ILs, but when things got so bad that I started believing I was watching someone’s life, not living mine, I insisted on moving out to our own place. Of course, I did not win any popularity contests. Now I don’t know whether I can call that egalitarian enough or not – for by my definition, in an egalitarian society, a dil would not be expected to live with the ILs in the first place, she would be as respected as much as any son-in-law who refuses to live with the ILs.

        Having said this, I must admit that I slogged to keep my home spic and span from morning to night (resenting only the messiness of others around me – not having to look after my house) and was more than happy cooking for everyone including the ILs. I love eating and cooking for others. It is something that gives me pleasure. Of course, if this had been expected of me or imposed on me, I would have resented it a lot.

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        • Well if you find pleasure in cooking and keeping the house, then it’s not a compromise, or even a choice, no? You’re doing it because you genuinely enjoy it, and it’s a totally different ball game.

          My issue is that some women in India make choices that I think they would have NOT really made, had they lived elsewhere. My question then is- can those choices then truly be considered ‘free’? Even if the person making the choice, insists it is?

          I am aware that this may come across be a bit patronising. But I cannot honestly wrap my head around a non-Indian woman agreeing to drop her first name and take one that her in-laws deem fit for her. Bharti/Sneha may insist that it was her FREE choice to go along with her in-laws wishes, but I have the right to believe that the choice was not as free as she thinks it was.

          The best test of whether a choice was freely made is this- If one had chosen differently/chosen the opposite- would there have been any repercussions?

          If the answer is yes, then maybe the choice is not as free as one thinks it is.
          One may still decide to make that choice, inspite of that realisation.
          But atleast now the choice is informed by the self-reflection.

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    • @IHM and Pragmatic Dreamer–I do get that whether or not these women have ever had a real choice is gray at best. At the same time, I don’t want to patronize their choices.

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  4. This is partially true, Yes women are expected to compromise and it’s thrust on them. but sometimes we do make choices that are ok with us but look bad from outside.🙂
    I moved to my husbands city after marriage, i quit my job, made the sacrifices in the career area . but if i had stuck to my job, then my husband would have to wind up his work , move , sell our home, move.
    again when i took the decision it was a major compromise but in EVERy marriage there is compromise, by BOTH.
    the cases which get my ire are the ones where the male doesnt change a bit and the women does all the changing.
    In our case, my husband had to get used ot sharing🙂 he couldnt come an dgo as he pleased, plus the biggest compromise he had to make was probably in food. he is used to spicy food, mami used to make his favorites spiced the way he liked, well I cannot tolerate any spicy food. so she changed on my instructions, of course we were not going to have her cook 2 diff dishes, so now after so many decades my husband can barely tolerate much spice. poor man had to alter his taste buds permanently🙂
    im not a big fan of bajjis pakodas etc., so there went his favorite food down to once a couple times a month , all in an effort to see me happy.
    thats the key both the spouses need to desire for the other to be happy, we both realise that each others happiness contributes greatly to our common joy.
    i like beaches, he likes mountains.. so the first few yrs he spent at beaches to make me happy till i learnt his choices and built some mountain vacations into the plan🙂 now we both like both places.
    I dont agree with giving up your life, happiness in a marriage but compromise to a certain extent is not bad.

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    • So you moved to a new city, quit your job…… and he has to make do with ‘less spicy’ food, a little lopsided wouldn’t you say?

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      • Haha, so true. All the husband has to do is adapt to less spicy but still ready made home cooked food available without him lifting a finger. And the woman left her job and moved to a new city, is this so-called adjustment? I only see the woman sacrificing and giving up in a major area of life such as her career. Adjusting to spicy or beach vs mountains for vacation is not even a fair comparison. The husband is getting a darn good deal and the woman is not even aware how unfair the situation looks from outside. Indian men do get such an easy pass and extremely low expectations for what they need to compromise in a marriage.

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        • Oh please i do understand unfairness🙂 ,yes i did give up my job and move and no it was not pressure of any kind. i knew where he lived, i could have simply chosent o not marry .

          I also know he had to clean up after me and drive me to various interviews. teach me to drive , stall his career.
          but , he stayed stuck in his horrid job for 5 yrs to process his GC since i was climbing the corporate ladder and wanted to keep moving jobs, so basically after marriage he killed his career , stayed in a painful job for our well being for 5 yrs. i piggy backed off him , and got my Gc and changed jobs when i felt like .
          so yes there is compromise everywhere. and maybe changing eating habits may not be a big deal to many but it was to him. yet he did it. so no i think many of you are wrong maybe because you didnt get the whole jist but a tiny example, i can ‘t write reams of my life.
          btw he also in the process had to wait till i finished my MBA first since we didnt want 2 of us in full time jobs and work with a baby.

          but i think it’s v imp to note that his way of supporting me and my sacrifice was to change and adjust to me. i always tell anyone who asks ( or not) 🙂 our need to be with each other supersede our need for anything else.
          Im not advocating sacrifice at all. i’m far from giving up anything for anybody, but at the same time, without small compromises there is no way a marriage will work.
          Plus quitting a job and moving to a diff city and finding a job especially at that age is not a compromise at all, it’s a exciting new beginning.

          Oh i think patriarchy has given us women a raw deal but i see a lot of women take advantage of patriarchy too and a few women who are at the opposite spectrum stubborn to the point of not seeing the big picture at all.. there are all kinds i guess.

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        • @ MR, alright this looks much more reasonable as you were able to continue rising and building your career, so no big harm with relocating. Sorry to be harsh, I have just seen way too many cases of women moving for the hubby every few years and never getting a chance or opportunity to build their own professional credentials.

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      • ha ha good question, although im no the point of discussion, I moved to a new city, new home, gave up my job and adjusted to a new lifestyle all in the name of love,
        The alternate would have been he give up his nice big business, his fully owned home, get rid of the 4 householf staff members he employed, moved his business and staff to b’lore from bombay , all so i could keep my 10,000rs job ( hey it was a big sum decades ago) and my 1 room accomodation🙂 just lets say
        even the rabid feminist in me thought that was a stupid plan .
        sometimes quitting a job is not a big sometimes it is big, sometimes eating bhajji is not big sometimes it is.
        most of all compromise and willingness to see the other person happy is what matters. if one is not prepared to that that, why marry at all. sometimes being as old as i am makes me incapable of understanding certain logic . ha ha such is life.

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  5. “The best test of whether a choice was freely made is this- If one had chosen differently/chosen the opposite- would there have been any repercussions”?

    @ desidaaru, Can’t disagree with that statement.😀

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    • And i cant disagree with that statement more!!
      Of course there will be repercussions. A choice always will have consequence, some anticipated some not so. That doesnt mean it wasnt a free choice.

      Some women in india make choices which they would have not made if they lived somewhere else…..

      Even a women in america will not make same choices if they lived somewhere else…. Does that mean that they also dont have free choice…

      If i make a decision to take a job which i dont like but for the money, does that mean it was not a free choice?? Sure there are repercussions either way? If not free choice, whose choice was it??

      Total free choice doesnt exist; we dont live in vaccum nor do our choices and actions

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      • That is called taking the path of least resistance – choosing the lesser of the two evils – less money or uninteresting job, fight or flight, stay single in a misogynistic society or succumb to social mores in order to enjoy relative social security (??? whatever that be). Sure, any choice has its pros and cons. But when the cons of a choice outweigh its pros, it hardly remains a choice in the true spirit of the word.

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      • “If i make a decision to take a job which i dont like but for the money, does that mean it was not a free choice??”

        There is a point where the ‘choice’ is more of an obligation that you have internalised though. Sure in your example it may still be on the choice side of the scale.. but I know a girl who was married off at 18 and now isn’t allowed to leave the house without her husband, to study further or to work. They pamper her in every other way *inside* the house. She says she loves him so much that she ‘chooses’ to stay at home because she can’t stand being away from him at all.. but really she is under such pressure that it is no choice at all. I see that more as her justification to herself for accepting restrictions that she has to put up with, while her friends her age are now working up to big careers.

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  6. Ugh! Help! The Tol supplements are taking over the world! ln all seriousness though, this is a piece of sensationalist garbage that’s best ignored.

    Notice how they have something for everyone? They mention joint families and live in relationships in one breath. the only borderline sensible bit was about the money. The rest is only what people Want to hear. More adjustments made, more the brownie points. What’s new?

    Wake me up for the *real* news. Yawn!

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  7. Adjustment is okay as long as it is from both sides. No 2 individuals can agree on everything. Marriage, or any relationship, requires some adjustment. Also, the sad thing here is the women are not just adjusting, they are giving up their entire identity, to be “happy”.

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  8. Changing one’s name is a personal choice (if not “persuaded” into it). Even if it is a personal choice, I personally don’t get why someone would want to do it. Why would anyone want to change their entire identity? Something they’ve grown up with for 25-odd years?

    I feel women who are brain-washed into this whole marriage=rebirth school of thought are very annoying. They are brought up to be doormats. I met a couple of girls off one of those matrimonial sites who behaved just like that. They would go along with anything and everything I said. Sometimes it felt like they didn’t have their own opinion on anything!

    It’s at times like this you realize the true awesomeness of the exes. Note to self: Get over it.

    When (If) I get married, I want to get married to someone who is a function of their past, which is what makes them interesting and human, rather than someone who would re-invent themselves completely into someone else.

    I’ve given too much away. Going Anon.

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    • Three cheers to “When (If) I get married..”.
      Maybe, the exes were being themselves with you,because they weren’t trying to sell themselves as brides,like those girls on matrimonial sites.Maybe the girls,all three of them,were trying hard to present themselves as prospective brides,hence going along with anything and everything you said.
      Which is why arranged marriage is a dangerous way to go.Because you are marrying a brainwashed girl.
      On the other hand, dating someone, with no pressure of marrying as the end result,is the best way to find out all about the girl’s personality.

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    • Anon-Dood, here’s a sistah wishing you luck, buddy! People like you are the ones that should be in relationships. So many girls so easily give into the whole scam that their life and happiness must revolve around a man. If someone cannot accept a person for the whole person they are, ex and all, then they don’t deserve the relationship. “When (If) I get married, I want to get married to someone who is a function of their past, which is what makes them interesting and human, rather than someone who would re-invent themselves completely into someone else.” – Golden words!

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  9. I also found the author’s own assumptions disturbing (not just the quotes) as she sneakily slips them in between the quotes from married couples.

    “Ideal bahus on television manage to appease all the members of the family with ease.”
    – Why must she appease anyone, let alone all members?

    “Understanding and taking care of everyone in the family is an uphill task;”
    – Why must she understand everyone? What if someone is a nudist and she prefers wearing clothes? Must she understand them? The world is full of people we don’t understand.
    – Why must she “take care of everyone?” Are they physically disabled?

    Also, I find the accompanying pictures bothersome. They show modern young couples (girl in sleeveless T ironing, while guy is on laptop, couple relaxing on beach with drinks) and the advice is for the girl to change her entire name, first and last. I see this type of ‘modernization’ in India and it scares me ………. when people obsess on designer clothes and exotic vacations but have no concept of equality.

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    • And note that when it comes to topic of ‘pleasing everyone’, ‘time after and before marriage’, ‘eating habit’, ‘different identity’ the article speaks only about adjustments made by women (only women should make these adjustments?) and adjustment made by man only on ‘money matters’ (only adjustment men (must?) make after marriage – provide for his wife?)

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  10. Very interesting observations. Although I agree with most the points stated or discussed here, in fact a new entry in guy’s family might have had to do some kind of adjustments after all to accommodate the new family member. The adjustment is usually from both ends and I bet if you have asked MIL or FIL they have their list of adjustments they have made.

    Having said that, regarding name change during wedding.. unfortunately, as per Hindu (not sure about other religions) religion way of wedding is to match horoscopes and make adjustments in terms of name change is quite common and I’ve never liked it. For two of my aunts they changed the name during wedding and they go by one name at their mother side of the family and another name at in-laws side of the family. When I asked them if they liked this new name – and they had no choice but to give in. It is like rest of crowd says it’s okay and you alone fighting it is hard to win the battle and you give into it.

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    • Here it goes to very patriarchal root of Hindu tradition. Why is a man’s never changed to “match horoscope and make adjustments”? Why is only woman’s name up for change? Her life and identity before marriage is meaningless and of no value as per our glorious culture.

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      • Excellent point @AnnonDiva
        Why is the man’s name always PERFECT? How come female names never seem to be ‘horoscope-friendly’?

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        • Because, like everything else (food, clothing, etc.), she has to sync up what’s hers to what’s his. He gets to keep his name, his house, his family, and his lifestyle. She’s got to forget herself, bury her past, forget her parents, her likes and dislikes, and become a freshly minted clone in accordance with Hindu Shashtras.

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  11. I read the article an i could not believe how misogynistic and sexist it was. All compromises on women’s side only.

    No wonder everybody harps on marriage changing a women’s life forever and make it such a big deal or whatever. It is like telling people your life changes the moment you get the phd. Actually most researcher would tell you their functions end up remaining similar.

    I think we over glorify marriage and make it a big deal & life changing experience. It need not be. Marriage is a social institution installed for the rulers to track their people.

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  12. It is a totally nonsensical article.The article says it spoke to ‘couples’ about the adjustments they made post marriage but did not think of before.
    So why is there no mention of guys making any adjustments?Why are there only women talking about adjustments ranging from 3 to 5 years? I know there is one guy talking about a joint account but that does not even count, compared to the adjustments a wife makes.
    Also, I know it totally irrelevant to this post but this “why WE are telling you this” pissed me off.It should have been”why ARE we telling you this”.
    Had this article included stories about guys adjusting to the wife and her life style,opinions,choice,etc I wouldn’t have been spewing venom.
    But its entirely about how a woman adjusts.So much so that one woman had to use the term re-birth.
    Typical.

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  13. Here is where husband side of stories. they also has to be sacrifice many things. in this age men sacrifice doesn’t get much publicity. because they don’t have strong movement like feminism. here men issues taken for granted. most men dont whine like women that might be another reason

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    • I hear this very often tht men make sacrifice….but till now none of them hav ever explained exactly wat sacrifices ??
      After a lot of cajoling one of my male frn said “guy lose their indepence”
      I asked “wat indepence?”
      He said “U know he cant date arnd..look arnd…he has to remain bound to one woman”
      I rolled up my eyes …As if there was a line of desperate girls waiting them😀

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      • first off i agree women make more sacrifices . no doubt no argument.
        but to play the devils advocate.
        I have 2 cousins, who decide to go to college for arts , just so they can have fun and enjoy college years. they then proceeded to joind some art class after BA for timepass and more fun , they then fell in love and picked 2 guys and married them happily, they live on their own terms , absolutely refuse to get a job and think their main purpose in life is to have a pretty house and look good , sure no harm.
        so in this case i wonder what they sacrificed, absolutely NOTHING. those poor guys now have the added pressure of supporting wives with no skill and no desire whatsoever earning a rupee if heaven forbid their husbands wants to take a break and learn art!!!!
        in this economy being the sole provider is no mean task . so who is at fault…

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        • MR, You see how this is again an effect of patriarchy? When women are taught from the very beginning that their financial productivity is not important, they can get away with such obnoxious behavior. The men had no choice but to play provider and had no way of telling their wives to suck it up, acquire a skill and get a damn job! The men didn’t even have the choice of pursuing something less financially valuable because “real men don’t make their wives work”.

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        • Not that it’s relevant, but plenty of people choose a BA degree because they actually find the subject interesting. Please do not assume that a BA degree is less rigorous academically compared to science or engineering.
          By your yardstick, my friend, who is a professor of sociology, chose her degree because it was “timepass”

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      • And the woman doesn’t make the same sacrifices? It speaks volumes about a person when they consider fidelity a “sacrifice”. What makes men so special that keeping this basic premise of marriage such a great “sacrifice” for them? Why even get married if you don’t understand something as simple as that? Forget about other “adjustments” that every couple makes regarding food habits and chore distribution etc, if someone’s real gripe is fidelity, they may do well to stay away from marriage. Please advise your friend as such.

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      • As opposed to women who can continue to look around and date around after marriage? Ha! Sounds like a pretty even ‘sacrifice’ to me.😉

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    • I don’t like the word ‘sacrifice’ at all. It means giving up something that means a lot to you. No one should be sacrificing anything. If your differences are so wide that you have to sacrifice something, then you are not suited to be a couple. Adjustment is much lighter word and implies smaller changes – that’s expected and okay as long as BOTH partners make them WILLINGLY.

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  14. Marriages work only if all members of the family (especially the couple) are equal partners in making it work. Adjustments can work only to a certain extent. Mutual respect and understanding are the basic requirements.

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  15. Pingback: “My in-laws don’t hate me at all. But ‘love’ isn’t about all this. ‘Love’ is about letting your loved one ‘live’.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  16. Sacrifice by women has always been glorified so that every woman takes the cue and starts sacrificing more and more…..a strategy to keep women in place and toe the line. Who wants to win this popularity contest that can only do harm to oneself? And why does no one glorify sacrifices made by men?

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  17. God….why is it only the WOMAN that is adjusting in those examples?!?!?! Finest example of patriarchy and ingrained patriarchy…

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