An email: “Through your blog I want to understand if I have taken the right decision and see what’s the next course of action.”

This email is about a new beginning on Gudi Padwa, but there are apprehensions, “Through your blog I want to understand if I have taken the right decision and see what’s the next course of action.”

Dear IHM,

I have been a silent spectator of you blog and thoroughly enjoy it . At times it has consoled me, guided me and helped me in analyzing my situation. I am writing this mail to you after many months of thinking .

Please post it in your blog and help me.This is going to be a loong mail. Please read it patiently and guide me.

I am 29, done my Masters and working in a software company. We are 2 daughters and me the elder one. I belong to a very middle class family with working dad and homemaker mom. They have struggled to get us to this position and we owe every bit of our success to my parents . They have brought us up as very independent and strong minded gals, We are shown up as finest examples in dads friends circle for studies and they we have taken care of our parents after we both sisters started to work . My dad is my role model and my everything to me .

The trouble in the paradise started when my parents started searching marriage alliance for me , I was 26 then . Every guy who came in was just looking how much dowry my parents could give. Adding to that I was overweight too. We never wanted to encourage dowry So, the hunt was getting delayed.

One day we got a alliance from a matrimonial site, He was from a village but settled in our city for past many years, LESSER EDUCATED but  was self made man and come up in his life own with great difficulty. He too into software firm. He is good looking and was not into dowry and stuff. We took time to agree as we had to do background verification of his, everywhere we asked about him resulted in a good feedback. So, finally we decided to get married. He was from a broken family , younger brother had got married before him and has a kid, younger unmarried sister who was already 31 by then.

Me and My family thought that the guys family background doesn’t matter, cos the guy is good and self made . Since, both of us were working the financial condition of his family wouldn’t affect us .

We got engaged in 2009 in a very grand way , and after 5 months was the wedding . Everything went well till the engagement , and after that slowly the real him started showing up. He was very calculative and never used to spend whenever we used to go out . I never minded that as I was spending for us  He used to be always silent and never speak anything . I used to console myself, that he might be stressed arranging everything by himself for the marriage from the guys side. Occasionally he used to scold me very rudely which turned it to regular thing close to marriage , I was not used to such rude behavior ever. I still remained silent , as the days for marriage came close he had spoken of breaking the marriage 3 times . I would always end up crying and somehow convincing him.

Slowly it started to hit that I am not happy and still continued with this relationship as we were engaged and breaking the engagement would mean a lot of hurt to my parents. Now, I feel I should have been brave enuff , at least I would have been happy. There was no mental peace and had hid everything from my parents .

His tantrums increased and I started feeling that I have compromised so much for the wedding, The reasons being

a) He was not from a good family background
b) He was much less educated than me
c) Very poor family

Still I went ahead just thinking that he has gone through so much in life and now he would try and keep me happy atleast. He would try to show me all that love which he had never had since all these years.This was the only reason for us to agree for the wedding.

Just 3 weeks before the wedding I was shocked seeing his profile in social n/w site, he had all scantily dressed females as his friends those vulgar kind of profiles. He was 33 by then and had some 18-19 year old gals whom he had never met. When I questioned he said when he had added them they were properly dressed but now the profile pic have been changed and he was not aware of it . Though it was not a convincing reply, I still remained silent.

On the marriage day too he and his side people threw so much tantrums which forced me too decide that I would break the wedding after reception, again I could not muster the courage. So many problems created by his side during wedding didn’t reach me as my parents didn’t allow it to reach me. We spent around 14 lakhs towards the wedding and still deep inside none of our family members were happy. 14 lakhs was a huge amount for a middle class family like ours .

After the wedding I was taken to their house in a village, that day i saw the real thing of their home. His younger brother was a drunkard and both the brothers were fighting on the road. I was shocked to see such a kind of behavior. I might not have come from a rich family but my parents have brought us up in a standard way. Couldn’t come of shock for 2 days and please keep in mind it was just on the day of the wedding. The stay in his native was not good as the brothers fought on both the nights when I was there. I heard someone from his village, that this is how they have been 3rd rated. He hid the fact that his brother’s wedding was almost broken and the gal had put a dowry case.

That’s when I realized my life was doomed. Still my husband tried to keep me happy. Frankly I was happy in this wedding only  the day after marriage . After that its only been crying . Here and there small things of his behavior hurt me a lot and but like any other Indian gal I too felt that it was the starting trouble.

We came back to our city, and stayed in my mom’s home for sometime as the house which we were supposed to shift was not yet ready. While paying advance to that house, he had expected my parents to help him financially for setting up the house and that too was fulfilled but not as per his expectations. Since he was the first son-in- law of the house, he was treated with great respect which he didn’t deserve .

We shifted to our home one month after the wedding, I had expected a lot of physical intimacy/ romantic involvement from him but i was proved wrong. He was never interested in anything and use to just watch TV and sleep only after I go to sleep. The first weekend after we shifted he opened the finance topic and that’s when I told him I had taken loan of 4 lakhs for the wedding and paying 10k monthly towards it. This was cos I didn’t want to be burden on my parents and wanted to help them. I have always been financially independent, I would never ever ask my husband  to pay my loans as it was my responsibilityHe got very angry for that and started abusing my dad and beat me.

I was taken aback with this behavior of his, cos I never wanted a guy who would physically abuse me. Now, that I had got one I was shocked and scared. I started developing fear towards him. That was the day he openly told that from then on He would never ask me anything neither should I ask and just be for the heck of being . He said that if he had known abt the loan he would not have married me. Just for 4 lakhs how could anyone be so cheap.  Even after the loan I could save around 15k per month and was ready to put as OUR savings. Tried to convince him so much and even went on to say  that dad owns 2 floor home and and one day we would have one, but nothing helped . Things went for worse.

He stopped speaking to me, every time I would beg, cry and nothing changed. There was no communication at all between us and even small kind of communication would be through mails or message. He would never call me and if he called it would be only for scolding me for some small thing at home. He never agreed to keep a maid. So, I had to wake up at 5 prepare BF, lunch clean the house and go to work. He helped me my washing vessels for some days and after that he stopped that too. At my mom’s home, I never used to do any work and here I ended up doing up everything still I didn’t complain as I thought atleast by doing this he would show some love to me.

I used to go mad being in the same house and no communication and would love to go to office as I would get so many people to speak and mingle with. Every fortnight I use to run to my mom’s home just cos there would be folks who would love me and care me . My parents sensed there was something wrong and only gave me advice to adjust and go as they thought I was not able to adjust. He would speak so lovingly to other gals or neighbors but never would speak to me.

He used to stare at every single gal on the road till that gal would go out of sight, so I started feeling insecure too. He would never take me out, not that he went out . He would never come with me to temple too. I tried every possible way to keep him happy but nothing worked. I would just stick to my parents words that in the first year of the wedding, we need to work . After that marriage works for you.

Since I am overweight, I used to snore and he gave this reason and started sleeping separately. 

I started living 2 LIVES, One the real me who is cheerful and the other who was so submissive and would never open her mouth. Suddenly he came up with this idea that I should study for Civil Service and he forced me to join classes too. My parents and me took it in a positive way that he is sooo good that he wants his wife to study and get a good name in the society. Since the classes were near to mom’s home, I shifted to mom’s home and he was there alone.

It was very tough for me to manage studies, classes and work, I would sleep only 3 hrs a day and was working very hard so that he would love me for this atleast. Due to this running around and stuff I gained lot of weight. I was in mom’s home for 8 months and not even a single day he came to see me, though we were in the same city and it was hardly 45 min drive from my home to mom’s home. I only used to go every weekend after classes to my home and meet him. Neither did he help me in money to pay the classes nor did he buy me any books. Everything was done by me and my parents just to fulfill his dream.

Since my neighbors saw me at moms place , started speaking about me which my parents couldn’t tolerate and decided to send me back, He never came to get me also. My parents thought things should not go out of hand and sent me back but immediately the next day only he got me and dropped me back at moms home.. he fought and shouted and scolded me badly.

Amidst all this he wanted a baby too, though he had openly said that he was not mentally prepared for the wedding. If he was not mentally prepared for the wedding at the age of 34, then why did he marry to spoil my life. I was not ready initially for the baby cos there was absolutely no understanding between us. But as we finished a year I thought atleast if I agree for kid atleast then things would change between us for better. I was under tremendous pressure with all the running around for classes,work and now kid..

How can I have a kid when there were no feeling, no love between us. But like any other typical Indian gal I too thought having a kid would help us in someway , So i started folic acid tablets too. All this when I was at mom’s home. In Feb 2011 I went back to my home after 8 months as my application for IAS had got rejected due to some issue .

In between I had got hit several times, not that severely but still being an educated gal would never approve a man beating his wife. Many times I would think I come out of this marriage, but I had my younger sis who was not yet married, SO continued to undergo everything silently . When things went out of hand I had decided that once my sis would get married I would end this wedding. But the efforts were on somehow make this marriage work. When I was unable to take it, i secretly wished that I would get onsite opportunity and would get some peace of mind.

I cant really put in words the amount of mental agony, distress I have faced in this 2 years . All my hardwork and cribbing, crying never changed anything. Things can be told to people who will understand and not for people who would not want to understand at all.

Being in software field, I had always dreamt of going onsite (abroad) gain lot of exposure and obviously make money. I had spoken to him about this even before wedding and he had agreed. So in July I got an offer to travel abroad for sometime. Obviously I was elated . I know was being coward and running away from all the things which was bad or rather tuff and wouldn’t change . But I needed this .

As the days started nearing for my travel, I also felt sadness in leaving him. But secretly hoped he would feel my absence and atleast some thing good would happen. But all that went for a toss, He said he wouldn’t drop me to the airport as he was feeling sleepy. On the night before I traveled he came to hit me in front of my parents in the hotel while having dinner.

My parents were shocked with this behavior of him, cos till then they had not known even single thing between us. They were always under the impression that there was some trouble but it would smoothen out as the days passed by. The night which was supposed to be my happiest night became the saddest one as my parents were clueless about whats happening between us . They were under so much pain..

I went abroad, though I went there there was no peace of mind. I never wanted my parents to get to know and now they had got to know that I was in trouble. the weekend after I left India my parents went to him and tried speaking but he was only shouting and screaming and demanded an apartment. This was the same guy who didn’t want any dowry. He used singular words to my parents. Like this they have tried to speak 3 times to him but nothing worked. All this I was not knowing as my parents didn’t tell me anything. Neither did he do, cos there was absolutely no contact between us once I left India. I had mailed him 2  times but there was no reply. For one of the mail. he just replied saying he doesn’t want me to work. I called him couple of times and every time he would say he was busy and can’t speak.

The unbearable amount of pain my parents have undergone during this time is unexplainable.This went on for 3 months, in between my sister’s wedding was getting fixed, for which they went to invite him. He behaved rudely that time too . Things had gone beyond control. That is when my parents got ready mentally for either positive or negative. I came back to India in feb 2012 for my sis wedding .

Once I was back, my parents spoke to me got to know everything in detail and asked my decision. I was prepared mentally to break the marriage. It sure shocked my parents but they being very supportive parents understood me and decided to be with me. We just wanted my sister’s marriage to get over without any fuss and after that we would decide the course of action. But just 3 days before  the wedding he came and threatened my parents. The wedding was a grand success and both sides were so happy during the wedding. Though my family was undergoing immense pressure and grief cos of my life, we never showed it during the wedding. He didn’t attend the wedding and everybody who came asked only about him. It hurt me, it was a planned humiliation from his side.

After all these he had the guts to drop a mail saying he wants a mutual consent divorce. It has been a month sine he mailed and there has been no action from him, which clearly shows he is playing some game ..

Dear IHM, I have suffered enough from him and his family for these 2 years and I don’t want to suffer anymore. I was very submissive and not being me in the marriage. It’s tuff to live as somebody who is not me, and being like this for next 30 years is not going to be possible. His demand of me quitting job wont happen cos with me being in job only he has not spent a single pie for me , so i can imagine if I sit at home. Even if my husband was all loving towards me I wouldn’t have agreed for that, cos I feel a gal has to be financially independent . And there was no reason given  when asked as to why I had to quit, In a marriage, compromise should be on both the sides and not just from one single person. It was like being single when I was married.

I had only expected love and care from him and nothing else, I was ready to do anything for him. I have shared only few of the things here. We had just expected him to be a son to our parents house and nothing else. I was an stupid emotional fool and took a wrong decision during my wedding, probably if I would have been practical I wouldn’t have landed up in this position.

Now, I have applied for mutual divorce cos I feel I have all the right to live happily  and I cant be happy with him.
I was not happy in any sense in the wedding . Marriage has not got me any kind of happiness.

I have taken the decision now, frankly I feel liberated and tension free 🙂 I have very supportive parents and I thank god for that.

Through your blog I would want to understand if I have taken the right decision and see whats the next course of action.

Thanks In Advance.

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Related posts:

This is what is wrong with our society – SOS

Feminism has gone to women’s head. Divorce has become like selling onions. – IHM

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

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India? – IHM

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Please feel free to email your comments for being published by me in case you face any problem in submitting comments. At indianhomemakerATgmailDOTcom.

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American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

American Woman’s response to the comments on her email in the previous post.

Hello to all!

I thank you all for the comments of all, regardless of whether I agree, or disagree with what you’ve said. I appreciate the wisdom of all. I would like to share my thoughts, and clear up some things. Apologies in advance for my long response!

Clearing Up:
We were not living together.
It’s not just about sex: Maybe a bit personal, but some of the comments suggested I was used for sex, and I can say that was not the case because we did not go there. Relationships don’t have to automatically mean sex (even in America). There are many other fun things you can do! It is okay to wait until the time is right, and respect the views of your partner. And if you move on to the most fun thing of all, more power to you! But this wasn’t the case for us.

I must admit I winced a little when reading some of the more harsh comments about my ex. It would take me a million emails to be able to describe this complex, yet wonderful, individual to you. And even then, I doubt I could capture the full scope of his character. If there is anything I have learned from this situation, it is that life is not black and white. There are many, many shades of gray.

There was one comment about me being a naive, Western woman, saying that I trusted him more because he is Indian. I definitely do not agree with that. If I am in any way naive, it would be to the intricacies of Indian culture, but I am learning as much as I can. I did not blindly trust him just because he is Indian. A man is still a man, race no bar!

My Thoughts:

My questions about Indian parents caring about the happiness of their children, has nothing to do with me blaming his parents, in particular, for the demise of our relationship. I don’t blame his parents at all. I question the societal pressure. Is it fair to have to consider the opinions of your neighbors when choosing a spouse? Is it fair that making your own decisions about your own life will bring your parents shame in the community because everyone is judging you and your family harshly? Why is is that people feel it is their place to make these harsh judgements? Why is this tolerated? Where is the honor in making other people feel horrible because they want to live their life? It is a basic human need to feel loved, and to desire the approval of those who love us. Is it fair that a person is socially conditioned to believe that their own happiness is not important?

I can understand that a collective mindset was once needed for survival, and might still be needed in many places, but are all aspects of it still relevant today? Do you think it could be hindering progress?

Disappointment aside, my ex does not want his parents to be hurt by having to deal with the negative backlash they will receive from their community if he does not do what is expected of him. He is from a conservative village where following tradition is still extremely important. He doesn’t want to cause his parents pain, and I can understand that. No child ever wants to hurt their parents. But, I do not think it is fair for him to have to make decisions about his life based on keeping up appearances in the society. And perhaps it is somewhat correct to call him spineless because he is willing to go along with such norms. I’ve definitely had the thought from time-to-time. But if this is the criteria for being judged as spineless, then how many spineless people are there in India, and in the world at large?

I sympathize with him, honestly. It is not fair that one should have to choose between keeping your family happy at the expense of bringing misery to yourself or, doing what makes you happy, only to hurt the ones you love. This setup, to me, is the problem. The emotional blackmail, the guilty feelings, all fall back on the society pressure.

I thought it was interesting that someone (I believe it was GV) said that if you knew what the boy was up to, would you tell the family of the girl he intended to marry. I don’t think that is right, or the business of anyone else. It would (and should) be up to him to tell his wife-to-be any details about us. Just as it will be my decision to tell my next boyfriend or husband, any details about this. All that matters is the present, not the past, as it can’t be changed. The value of my future husband to me will not be diminished just because I loved someone else before. If anything, future relationships benefit from the knowledge that we gained in past ones.

I ask: What do you all think is the solution for changing such society pressure? Do you think it should be changed? From the things I have read here, on IHM’s blog, I have formed the opinion that societal pressure seems to be at the root of the misery for a lot of people (DIL’s, victims of domestic abuse, unhappy husbands and wives, etc.)

As for us:
I think it is very valid to ask me why I did not get out of the relationship if I knew from the start that an arranged marriage would be in his future. It is also very valid to ask why he bothered being with me in the first place if he knew that he would for sure go the arranged route. Just like love and feelings are not simple, I don’t have a simple answer. And I don’t think anyone really, truly knows where they will end up at the start. Perhaps we didn’t know the feelings would end up being so deep? Perhaps the thought of having a broken heart and sweet memories, was a better alternative to just having a broken heart? Perhaps I held out hope that he would decide to forgo the arranged route? And honestly, I don’t think I really knew exactly what I was up against. I know a lot more about Indian culture now than I did when I first met him, or when we first got together. I’m sure we could be judged harshly and questioned for all of these things, but such is life. I don’t regret my time with him at all. If anything, I am disappointed that he is not willing to be an agent of change. Not for my sake, but for the sake of setting a different example in the village: that it is okay to consider your happiness too.

For me, I have the luxury of not being on a timeline. Marriage is important here (in US), but it is not seen as a duty. I am in my late twenties. Here, people may ask you when you plan on getting married, but it really doesn’t have to be done by a certain time for fear of your “worth” going down. So, the way my ex and I approach this thing might be different. For him “not working out” could mean we don’t get married, now what for me? For me, “not working out” means that we break-up and move on. I am not thinking about marriage right now. I am not dating for fun either, but I am going with the flow, no particular agenda in mind. I’m lucky to have that freedom. I’m still young. There are things I want to achieve for myself before I take on the role of wife.

I think there are pros and cons to collective and individual cultures. I believe that all cultures started out as collective as a way to survive, but my question to you all (and I hope you don’t take this as me being a snooty American), do you think the collective culture causes more harm than good? Is it possible to still have a sense of honor, respect, and duty without that meaning that individuals have to sacrifice their happiness for the (sometimes skewed and superficial) agenda of the group?

Also, do you think arranged marriages unfairly perpetuate the discriminatory caste system?

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

Actually two emails. I am sharing these emails to make another point about how many Indian Arranged Marriages seem to work.
Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her? Why was such a promise required or made? Obviously because it is understood that whatever a daughter in law earns belongs to the in laws. (as a substitute, or in addition to the dowry). How do Indian parents fail to see how dangerous such attitudes are? Do they really think a daughter in law would be respected in such families?
This is also why one hears statements like, “Why ask for dowry when the woman is working?”
I also read a news article about in laws objecting to women paying back their education loans (will find the link). They object because they own what she earns, and her parents should pay back the education loans because they gave birth to her. How do women benefit from such arrangements?
If you have read ‘Roots’ by Alex Hailey, this is how slavery worked, the owner of a slave had all rights over the slave’s earnings.
But this email also shows that financial independence does make it easier for a woman to hope for a happier life. What do you think should Gandhari do?
Dear IHM,
I hope you remember me. I’m writing to you after a long time. Though I’m still struggling with my marriage but working on myself rather than my marriage.
I have this question for you.
I have a SIL who got married eight months before us. She is qualified, she wanted to work but was scared of her father and did not speak up, she was made to marry before she got a job. My husband, though younger played an important part in searching for her groom. My FIL had promised her in laws that that he would “arrange” for her job using his “connections in the ministry” which has not happened till date (5 years).
She stays in a joint family which is highly orthodox and backward, her husband is a typical mamma’s boy and is the elder son, whose father has already expired so he is supposedly the caretaker of the family (her MIL gets Pension though).
Now after marriage she realised she was in a hell and was abused mentally and physically. Several times it happened that she called in the middle of the night and my husband had to go from Mumbai to Delhi and take her back to her parents’ house after warning her husband. She was, most of the time, staying at her mother’s house and her in laws complained that why did you marry your daughter when she does not want to stay here.
I was never allowed to interfere and was asked to keep my views to myself. Now we never wanted her to go back, but after few months she herself wants to go back as she fears what society would say and that hers parents will be unhappy. My MIL was also of the same view ki beta jao and try and adjust.
It became a recurring phenomenon. Every few months she would come back and then want to go back to her husband, who she claims to love too much to leave.
Now all this was taking a toll on my finances as all her frequent travels were financed by her brother (Me actually!). Things don’t end here. She blames my husband for marrying her into such a family and holds him responsible for her unhappiness. My husband thinks she is just ranting, but I know she is serious about those allegations.
Things have improved a bit in past two years. My husband managed to manipulate her husband (literally saam daam dand bhed) and got them a place to live near the hospital where he is working. They visit her MIL weekly now.
This Husband of my SIL is a typical filmy Daamad. He behaves as if he is the King and has opinion about everything that goes in our family and tells my SIL..ask you brother why he works away from his hometown he should be taking care of his parents..how irresponsible he is.. why does your brother’s wife wears Jeans!…why she laughs openly in front of your father…why your brother got married outside the caste…Why are they buying a house in Mumbai and not in Patna…why are they not buying car for your parents…why did she (me) not bring dowry…and so on.
My SIL feels that ignoring him works for her and she just keeps quiet. But when he presses her too much, she asks us to oblige and they ask me too to wear bindi churi and all the married stuff and cover my head when I’m in front of him! Though every body says that he just rants and should be ignored but actually in the end everybody gives in to his demands no matter how reluctantly and I too have to oblige at times. My husband says that if we don’t do that, he will torture my sister and I don’t want to be responsible for her unhappiness.
This Fellow never tells us anything directly….and behaves very sweetly with us to the extent saying things just the opposite.
Recently my MIL had a mild heart attack, I could not go to visit her as I’m still serving my probation period in the new company. My husband as he had some important meetings and since she was  stable went after two days. This BIL was present with my in laws and as usual said that my husband is insensitive and does not care. We got my in laws to Mumbai for further check ups and the doctor said she does not need Angiography. My BIL is now saying that we are refraining from our duties because we don’t want to spend money!
(My in laws though both working …do not have any life covers or mediclaims and we always take care of their medical bills. My FIL’s angioplasty two years back …I had taken a loan for that…they think my husband had taken). So now when I was told this by my SIL, I felt bad and reacted saying that he had no business to interfere in our life and if he so concerned then he should take care of them. Now I voiced my opinion in front of everyone (BIL was not there). I admit that I lost my temper and was a little harsh in my words.
Now my in laws and most of all my husband feels that I have no right to say anything as the BIL did not take my name but husbands’ name and secondly I should learn to ignore him as I know his habits and thirdly if we will react she will be tortured so I should realise my responsibility of my SIL’s happiness is on me!
Please advise …is that really so! Will I be responsible if she is tortured or her life is made hell if I react? I definitely don’t want to cause any harm to anybody knowingly…But I don’t know why nobody is concerned about how bad I’m feeling and only concerned about their daughter. Nobody wants to tell that person that her brother or her son is not holding back for money…they just want to ignore. Or the best  she does is asks him to speak to my husband directly about it!
But does that not mean they are agreeing to whatever he says! Or am I really over reacting for petty issues!
Regards,
Gandhari
(Name chosen randomly by me)
*  *  *
Dear IHM,
Thanks for your reply. Please publish this story as I’m thinking of taking a bigger step to abolish my marriage. The larger audience and their views will definitely help me decide better.
I can’t take these allegations anymore. Just this weekend I was “made to visit” some of my husbands relatives. My MIL as usual asked me to wear Bindi (which gives me rashes and a severe headache). I told her that I will not and will not be able to satisfy everybody in this world. It created a big issue. My husband got mad at me and said how dare you speak up in front of my mother! He said that obliging her once in a while will not make me a lesser person (as she just visits us once in a year…and we were visiting the relatives just for an hour). I now feel I could have done that ….but I don’t know but they use such a language that hurts me. May be their Hindi (from another region) is somewhat different from mine and their normal words sound very harsh to me. She said that she has all the rights in this world to force me to oblige once in a while as she is otherwise doing a big favour to me by not forcing me at other times  (when I’m home).
She said that since she has played an important part in getting my FIL to agree to our marriage… we should be worshiping her and her simple demands are not big enough in comparison to the favors I have received.
I agree I have become very impatient these days and often loose my temper over petty issues. But for for how long? My husband says that I should live in a normal world and not in the “feminists world”. I am accused of being too vocal, I should respect my MIL not because she is MIL but an elder and “maa baap ki baaton ka bura nahi maan na chahiye“. My MIL feels that there is no harm is pretending for sometime …as her prestige depends on how I behave in front of the family”.
Please please help me. I can’t decide. My husband loves me, but he is controlling (I have shared it with you before). The moment I say I’m leaving, he starts crying and even start vomiting and faints. I just cant bear it and I continue to live there………
Love,
Gandhari

An email from an Indian Husband… and a Good Indian Son.

This email affirms what I have always said, that Patriarchy victimizes not just women (of all ages) but also younger men. Younger men find it tougher to complain (or even acknowledge the abuse) because they are not openly ill treated, their abuse is less visible, because it is generally disguised as parental love (and hope and expectations – i.e the concept of Shravan Kumar and Sri Ram like sons).
Dear Indian Homemaker,
I stumbled upon your site a couple of days earlier and was suitably impressed by the quality of discussion on display. Congratulations on providing an excellent sounding board to people who really need it.
I see that it is mostly women who write to you, but since my situation has aspects which relate to some of the issues raised frequently on your blog, I would really appreciate it if you could provide an unbiased opinion to me as well. I am really at my wit’s end here and any advice is welcome. I have spoken with friends, relatives and acquaintances, but what I really need is an opinion from someone who is close to neither me nor my wife and can therefore judge the situation on it’s own merits, without any bias whatsoever. So here goes:
I basically come from a middle-class family that is settled in India. My parents are orthodox in their worldview and beliefs, and have manufactured a comfortable existence for themselves with plenty of like-minded people around them. I benefited from the good education provided to me and by the age of 21, ended up at the place that was then the mecca for Indian software engineers. Living in America was a transformative experience for me. I took to the culture like a fish takes to water. I guess I was already a bit disillusioned by the conservatism of my family and America provided a great break from that. 

Soon, however, my parents started pressurizing me to get married. I did not really want to, so I resisted the pressure for a while. But it slowly became too much to bear. You must understand my situation here; I was already feeling guilty about leaving my parents (who were not in the best of health) and working halfway across the world. They started talking about how much they wanted a grandchild and so on. It just became too much for me to handle and I gave in. That was mistake #1. The second mistake was to agree to have an arranged marriage. I guess that was really foolish but the emotional blackmail did me in.

To cut a long story short, I got married and my erstwhile happy life disappeared in a puff of smoke. My wife is a great person, very caring, very supportive and so on. But the mismatch between us is too great. She comes from a very conservative background, where the “pati-parameshwar” jazz is kind of gospel truth. Unfortunately, I am simply not comfortable with that kind of thing and feel smothered by her constant mothering and cares.

She hated America from Day One. The culture and lifestyle was too different from what she was used to, and she pined for home. Happily, I know that it is not possible to have a partner who meets every expectation of yours, but in my marriage, neither of us meets each others’ expectations at all. Our whole idea of marriage is worlds apart. I find it quite impossible to playact at being the dominant “head of the family” kind of guy. I also feel intensely irritated when she finds it necessary to consult with me before making the smallest of decisions for herself. For instance, I recently bought her a cellular phone and she actually asked me for PERMISSION to call her mother. She once even called me up in the middle of a conference because she had gone to the market and wanted to purchase a deodorant for herself! It is not a question of money. Fate has been kind on me in that regard and we have more than enough to lead a good life. I have never once refused to give her any amount she wanted and as far as I am concerned, my money is her money. She can do whatever in the world she wants with it. I just have a terribly hard time convincing her of that.

Religion is another bone of contention between us. She is a devout Hindu, while I am an atheist. That is not a problem in itself ; she could believe in the Loch Ness monster or the great ZooZoo for all I care. The problems begin when she starts trying to impose her religious beliefs on me. Certain things must not be done on certain days, certain foods must not be eaten, certain drinks must not be consumed. She does not assert these demands forcefully or vocally, but the emotional manipulation is usually enough to make me give up and fall in line. I am tired of falling in line.

The list of problems goes on and on.

There is no emotional connection or intimacy between us. There is no feeling of having lived together more than two years. There is no feeling of being in a romantic relationship. The little disconnects of perception and worldview torment both of us.
I daresay she has a long list of problems with me too. I know this, because I can make out that she is dissatisfied with our marriage. I have even seen her crying about it on occasion and it is really impossible to express how horrible that makes me feel. For some reason, she thinks this is all her fault, when I know it is not. If anything, it is my fault. I was aware of the disconnect between us, but like a damn fool, I thought it would go away with time. I even had these romantic notions of being the savior who would provide her a “better” life.

I made a mistake and have been paying hugely for it. Worse, someone else is having to pay for my mistake too. The only way I know to correct the mistake is divorce by mutual consent, but that would be like using sulfuric acid to clean my teeth. Even a casual mention of divorce is enough to cause my wife to start crying. And I know that where she comes from, a divorce would cause her to be stigmatized for no fault of her own. How can I bring that on to someone who trusted me, to someone who I promised to protect? I cannot.

But what else can I do? I see little hope of things improving between us. Divorce would probably be like the end of the world for her. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place and have no idea what to do.

A friend recently suggested marriage counseling. Do you think it might be helpful in our case? Do you have any other suggestions? If so, I’d be infinitely grateful if I could hear them.

Eagerly awaiting your reply.

Can a woman marry and change an uninterested (in marrying her) man into a responsible, loving husband?

Starry and Giribala shared this link to the saddest story of 26-yr-old Asti Shekhar whose husband married her as a ‘sacrifice’ to ‘keep his parents happy’. There was dowry demand, made and fulfilled, but what killed Asti was her husband, Smartu’s cruelty.

Whatever excuses this man, Smartu, made, he seemed willing enough to marry Asti, who wrote in her diary,

“Jan 10th,

Today, he told me that another girl had stolen his heart before we met, but there was nothing between them except that he had a soft corner for that girl. I don’t have a problem with this, but I will tease him about it.

They were married on Feb 27th. Once married, Smartu started showing his true colours, starting with the declaration that he was going to continue his relationship with a woman he claimed to love (Ramya).

Asti wrote,

“March 20
His soul and body belongs to someone else. There is no place for me in his heart and life.

Mummyji warned me that if I could not keep her son happy, he would leave me and go away. Imagine! She is warning a girl who is just married. How can I deal with this behaviour? I feel sad and lonely. After all this, I wiped my tears and prepared lunch (rosagulla, mutton, dahi vada).

Smartu seemed to understand that Sweety would be expected to make this marriage work.

This paramparik system works very conveniently for people like Smartu. Like a typical abuser, he made everybody else feel responsible for his cruelty/abuse.

The elders in the family (again typically) used traditional wisdom (instead of common sense) and concluded that it was the 26 year old Sweety’s responsibility (and within her power) to ensure her husband was happy.

(The same mindset created Malaysian Obedient Wife Club).

Many Indian elders seem to see sex as a means to control married men.

“March 21

This has been a bad day. I do not even know why. I don’t know what Mikkuji told his mother this morning. She called me and scolded me a lot. She asked me if I was a woman. I said ‘yes’ and she asked me why her son felt I was always distant and aloof. Imagine! Doesn’t she know why her son feels like that? Mikku only stays with me, but his heart and soul is with his honey. He does not hear my voice and he does not even look at me. I have tried to make him love me and feel my presence, but it hasn’t worked. Perhaps it’s my mistake. When he told me that he once had a girlfriend, I should have said no to this marriage. I don’t know why I agreed. I should have told my Papa all this at that time. I have destroyed both Mikku’s life and mine. Now I don’t know what will happen and what turn my life will take. How long should I tolerate this? Mummiji abuses me about many things now. I have decided that I will not ask anyone for anything anymore.

All the red highlighted words show how she was held responsible for the abuse (sometimes even by herself).

If Sweety had managed to get pregnant, she would have got busy with the baby and there would have been no death, separation or divorce, and this would have been seen as another ‘successful Indian marriage’.

The mother in law does not seem to notice that she has spoiled Sweety’s life through this marriage.

“March 30

The tension is killing me. Mummiji says she is punishing herself as she has spoilt her son’s life through this marriage. She says Mikku sacrificed his love life just for her happinessno one is bothered about how I feel. What wrong have I done?”

Nobody seems to be blaming Mikkuji.

“April 2

Smartu is totally drunk and it is 1.00 am in the night and he is out of home. I think my entire life will be like this only.

Have you seen ‘Dulhan wahi jo piya man bhaye‘? Wives are encouraged to see men as easily manipulated people who can be made to ‘fall in love’.

In such marriages often the woman is forever trying to keep the man happy. She sees his happiness (i.e. approval) as a reward for all her sacrifices/efforts/manipulations/prayers etc. Her self esteem depends on this husband’s approval.

Who is being manipulated here?

“April 12

I am unable to make him happy and it is a shameful thing for any wife. Sometimes I think I should end my life, but this is not a solution to my problems. I don’t know what to do and how to gain a place my husband’s heart.

There’s no charm for Smartu in this marriage and he just wants to be free from jail.

This marriage is a punishment for him. No one — not my Papa, mother, Mikku nor his parents – none of them realise that they are punishing only me. Do you know dairy, Mummiji wanted Mikku to marry me because they wanted a cook – Sweety, the cook. Did he not understand my love for him? Did he not see it in my eyes? He only wants my body. Does he not understand my feelings towards him? Will I ever get him to love me? If he doesn’t value our relationship will he leave me forever in June?

And now the dangling sword of failure. She couldn’t win him over.

“Mikku now thinks he is already married to Ramya. He married me only because he wanted to keep his parents happy. Mikku loses nothing from this marriage. I’m the only one who is losing my life… Mikku does not even speak to me now. He just answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to my questions. Even physically I’m useless to him.

What made Mikku think he was married to Ramya? Why doesn’t his parent’s happiness matter now?

What if Sweety had threatened the family with legal action? Or sued them for cheating her and demanded huge compensation? I wish her parents do that and start an NGO for thousands of women trapped in such situations.

“Every moment I think about doing the things Mikku likes. Why does he not feel anything towards me? Why? Why? I think I am a burden to everyone. No one sees the sorrow I’m feeling. What should I do? Where should I go once Mikku leaves me in June forever?

Sweety was aware that Mikku lost nothing from this marraige.

What are the chances that now that Sweety is out of the way,  Mikku would get married to Ramya? Do you think Ramya might feel he would make a responsible, loving partner? Maybe like Sweety, Ramya too is raised to have no expectations expect a occasional approving pat on the back.  😦

Maybe the Indian patriarchal society been such a failure because it gives too much responsibility and almost no rights/powers to it’s young female members?

“April 13

I want to run away from this unsuccessful life. I feel guilty about my parents and brother. They had expected many more from this marriage. They thought they fulfilled their responsibility.

Today, I feel I am the poorest and unluckiest girl in this world. I lost my husband completely today. I hoped it would not happen, but it has happened. Today he slept alone in another room and left me alone. Why did this have to happen to me?  Is it my mistake to have consented to a marriage which papa fixed?

April 29

Today Mikku told me to go out of his life forever. He told me that I didn’t deserve him. Marrying me was one big mistake he made in his life.

May 2

I am that unlucky and unfortunate wife who saw tears in her husband’s eyes.

Mikku not only cheated Sweety, but seemed to demand her sympathy, connivance and support in continuing her abuse. He knew Sweety was expected to make this marriage work. (Indian Family Value for women : Get Married, Stay Married)

“May 28

Mikku told me that he did not have anything to give to his honey, Ramya not even his name. But Ramya has everything to give him. I am reaching the height of depression.

Today, he stopped eating with me. Tomorrow is Ramya’s birthday, but he is tense because he can’t celebrate with her as I’m around. What should I do for this? I will end my life.

Sweety had tried to get a job.

She did not think she could really hold her parents, in laws and husband responsible for the decisions each of them took.

“June 2

Mammiji and Papaji say they will be with me and I am like a daughter to them, but kabtak? At any time, they can also get fed up with me. I can’t go to my parents. I have nothing left, nothing to look forward to. Mummy, your daughter is going away with all respect and dignity. I have in my mind all the culture you taught me and even now your daughter is very pure. I haven’t even thought about another man than Mikku. I don’t know what mistake I committed. Mikku, I am not that bad a girl. I am going away from you and your life, to that place from where one cannot come back even if one wanted to. Now you are a free bird.

This time marry the girl whom you love because every girl will not be Sweety.”

There’s self pity and helplessness and very subtle accusation.

Do you think Sweety should have been expected to win over a man who was not interested in marrying her?

Have you seen such marriages where newly wed Indian women are asked to make the husband ‘come to the right path’? And often there is no looking back, she must either succeed or live in a lifetime of hell. Or die.

What do such relationships do to a woman’s self esteem? What if she had found a job or got pregnant?

Newly Wed Wife’s response to the comments.

Newly Wed Wife’s email in response the comments on An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

Dear IHM,
I read all comments, many things came to my mind while I read them.
I won’t be able to reply each of them, this is my reply for all of them.

I see concern in the all comments the harsh ones also. They all have got a point and a few common points which I definitely want to go ahead with.

-A job is on my list to do.

-I love my husband a lot and I don’t intend to leave him in the first place. But I sincerely want the support from him on major issues at home. Its time for dialog.

-One very important thing in my mind is I don’t want to play with my life and take some random decision suddenly. I want to think and look for some developments. This all would require little time and some introspection which includes me and my husband both.

I am hopeful and I am sure I’ll reach somewhere.

Thanks

And another email in response to my reply.

Yes IHM,

I am firm on this. I will not get pregnant. Thanks for your concern.

I understand, to plan a family is a big decision. Life changing in short.

I can now dare to put a smiley 🙂 because I have made a decision to solve problems and not to cry.

Love
Thanks

I can now dare to put a smiley :) because I have made a decision to solve problems and not to cry.

A big hug to you Newly Wed Wife.

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

This is what makes me wonder about the usefulness of the Indian Joint Family for the Indian daughter in law (and her family). The system clearly empowers those who have managed to have male children. Do you think this system might encourage sex selection (female feticide)?

This is an email from the ‘Newly Wed Wife’.

What did you dream and hope for when you were twenty two? 


“Expectations (of a so called traditional family) from a girl turned into a bride:-

– Wear the whole female-lo-gical stuff. It is a symbol of love and prosperity for husband.
Behave like a television soap lead actress.
Take care of family people effectively and efficiently. I mean yaha khud ko manage karma nahi aata ab family members ka chai pani dekho.
No salwar kamiz at home, only sari. No cut sleeves. Hand full of Bangles. Put a large red color Bindi, no matter if you look pathetic in that.
Irregular menstruations can label you infertile, though such irregularities may happen because of too much stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes after marriage. Please google for more info.
Brides family is always improper in their behaviour as in like, hume poocha nahi…waha mile the toh theek se baat nahi ki….tumhari behen bohot badtameez hai….tumhari maa ne tumhe yahi sikhaya hai…tere papa ne humse khane ka nahi poocha… I just wish aise logo ko bhi bhagwan beti deta, tab shayad unhe realize hota
[Translation: Did not give us due respect when they met us there/your sister is very badly behaved/Is this what your mother has taught you?/Your dad did not ask us to eat something/ I just wish God had given daughters to such people too, then they would have realized]
MIL would force the allegation on DIL that she tell’s everything to her parents, through calls and messages.

IHM, this is what I am facing right now. I got married in last July (2010). I was 21 yrs when I got married. The proposal had come from my in laws. Now they don’t like me, according to them I am the wrong choice, my family is not that good, thought they knew about my family and background.

I am upset. Stressed.

Newly Wed Wife”

And this was in response my reply,

“I was a bright student, confident and girl with revolutionary ideas. I lost my confidence and self esteem. I am changed and this is not a good change.

Before my marriage I was working. I left my work after marriage.

Yes I am in touch with my parents, I havent informed them about all this. I’l talk to my mother I think.

No I dont have anyone in my new family to talk around this stuff.

My husband is the elder son. He is nice man, but he cannot stand for me. He cannot go against his parents, I have no hard feelings for him.

Writing to you helps, at least things are coming out. I am full.

Relived a little. Thank you for motivation.

Just hoping to get a better life.”

How do you think can she make the best of her situation?

Live-in relationships in general are inherently advantageous to men and disadvantageous to women?

This is a part of a comment by SamosaOfDoom in this discusion yesterday. I would like to know what the readers think.

Do you agree that Marriages are advantageous to Indian women while Live in relationships are not?

What do you think is the biggest reason for breaking of marriages in India?  Are married women in India more independent (financially and otherwise) than single women, or women in Live in relationships?

“Have you heard of the concept of “male privilege”? Relationships are one of the biggest manifestations of it.

Simply put, the fact that being a man puts a person at a huge financial advantage in life. Marriage is supposed to equalise that advantage since the law in most countries forces equal ownership of cash, savings and assets between couples, but live-in relationships kill this safety net for women, especially in countries that do not have “common law marriage” laws.

How are men at a huge financial advantage in our world?

#1: Babies are incompatible with earning a good income – BUT ONLY FOR WOMEN:

Men can choose to have kids without taking a career/earnings hit, but women are forced to choose between an uninterrupted career and having babies.

The impact of 6 months’ maternity leave per child is not limited to just lost earnings for that duration, but comes with a host of additional hindrances: study after study shows that mothers face enormous hiring discrimination – it’s practically impossible to go back to your career at the same level/wage/opportunity which you left it before the baby; mothers face staggering wage discrimination – one recent study showed US employers offering 11% lower starting salaries for moms compared to childless women even though their resumes were identical; moms are systematically discriminated against by the working world in a hundred different ways, from lack of pumping breaks and pumping rooms for nursing mothers which forces them to choose between baby’s health and their earnings, to lack of affordable childcare options which often means that it makes more financial sense for families for mothers to quit their jobs rather than pay for daycare. (And it’s almost always MOTHERS that quit.)

#2: Women are expected to do the lion’s share of unpaid labour in our world, which seriously impacts their lifetime earnings.

In the US where gender parity is way higher than in India, women still spend double the amount of time as men do on domestic chores and three times as much time on childcare — and this is in households where both partners work fulltime! Women form 70% of unpaid carers for the terminally sick and elderly people (usually family) — again, this is in the US where there is way more gender parity in these matters than in India.

Men and women work equally hard in general, and yet society only considers “men’s work” as work deserving of pay. We think “women’s work” OUGHT to be done for free, regardless of its usefulness or how essential it is (we are willing to pay maids and nurses but not wives for doing the exact same job). Because of this, women are systematically financially shortchanged all through their lives (and correspondingly men are systematically advantaged by all the extra time they can devote to paid labour) which leaves women absolutely impoverished in comparison to men by the end of it.

#3: Gender-based discrimination severely disadvantages women and severely advantages men.

It starts at birth and continues throughout a man’s life – a series of inbuilt advantages handed to him in a platter labeled “male privilege”.

– In the name of “safety” girls are forced to be home by 6 or 7 PM but boys can stay out late doing what they like, which allows boys time to DO stuff, learn things and build lasting friendships that carry on into adulthood.

– In the name of “safety” girls and women are restricted from going anywhere except a select few places (school, college, office, restaurant, mall, home and THAT’S IT) but boys are free to roam where they please (Collect scraps from the junkyard in the bad part of town to build a radio? SURE! Start a volunteer group to tutor slum kids every evening? WHY NOT! Hobnob with bigshot clients after work at the local pub? ABSOLUTELY!), which gives men a huge advantage in negotiating with the world, making connections and creating opportunities… an invaluable skill in life that is hugely helpful to their careers.

– In the name of “safety” or “decorum”, girls are often forbidden from socialising with boys and men, so they are cut off from having meaningful relationships with future bigshots as well as people who are in a position to serve as mentors in the working world. But boys have access to all this, allowing them to build and be part of “old boy networks” which will help them immensely in their careers.

– All over the world it is still the norm for wives to support their husbands’ careers at the expense of their own. Studies show that when couples move to a new city, for instance, husbands’ salaries increase and wives’ salaries drop drastically.

– Men are thought to be inherently (even biologically) better leaders than women, or inherently better engineers, or inherently better musicians, or inherently better X, Y, Z (where X, Y, Z are highly prestigious, high power, highly paid skills). Women are thought to be inherently better at low prestige, low power, low/un- paid skills. This means women who want to break into high pay, high power, high prestige positions are fighting from the beginning against people’s prejudices against them.
So a man gets many financial advantages while the female partner gets many financial disadvantages.
Marriage, among other things, is supposed to even out the financial imbalance since couples are forced by law to split all assets. Thus live-in relationships in general are inherently advantageous to men and disadvantageous to women.”

How do you think does this apply to Indian women?

GV’s response to comments on ‘A marriage decided by a monkey.’

Dear IHM,
At the outset, let me thank you for this kind courtesy extended to me and for hosting my post on your blog.

I am deeply gratified at the warmth, enthusiasm, outspokenness, frankness, boldness, and variety in the views that your readers have expressed.

There are just too many questions to answer and it will take another long blog post to answer.
I have already answered some questions and will now attempt answering some more besides putting some more of my thoughts on the subject before the topic becomes cold and everyone shifts their attention to your next blog post.

I am not against love marriages.
While defending arranged marriages, I am not blind to some deficiencies and evil practices in our present system. We should correct them and then retain them as a viable alternative. Not everyone gets opportunities or is able to fall in love and marry. (I recall Sunder’s comment!) Why deny these people a chance for matrimonial happiness?

I vote for a PROPER marriage, whether love or arranged.
By proper arranged marriage I mean a marriage minus the common evils.
No dowries. The boy and girl must not be pressurised for a decision.
Parents/relatives/friends/well wishers may facilitate their meeting and then leave it to them to talk it over and decide.
Even if the elders think the match is great, the couple must have the final say.

By a proper love marriage, I mean a marriage between mature lovers.
Two sixteen or seventeen year old teenagers, falling in love, and wanting to marry, while still students is not a proper love marriage. Bobby was entertaining as a film. Let our teenagers not emulate them in real life.

[IHM: Legal age for marriage is 18 and 21 (should be equal for both but that’s another post) – but often parents push the children to elope by arranging minor daughter’s marriage when they sense she has found someone she might want to marry – or they kill her.
Amongst the educated, most young people are generally willing to wait till they are financially settled and the pressure to marry is, sadly from the family elders. ]

Climbing out of the bedroom window and eloping with your boyfriend , while he holds the ladder , is not my idea of proper love marriage. First be eligible, be in position to show and prove the merits and suitability of your chosen partner, make an attempt to convince your parents/elders, win them over, seek their support and blessings and for this if necessary take some time and be patient. Marrying in a hurry in defiance of their wishes must be a last resort and only when you are convinced that their reasons for opposing your marriage are wrong and totally unacceptable and you have tried your best to convince them.

In my story, after you sift through the spice (deliberately added to make it more readable ) I hope you could get an insight into the minds and attitudes of parents two generations ago. I felt I was modern by the standards prevailing those days. Today I appear very orthodox to many of you. However much you condemn my parents ways, their hurry for getting me married off, their aversion to love marriages, their belief in astrology, temple traditions, etc, I am convinced they were sincere. They genuinely were concerned about me. They also made some concessions to the times. During their time, they never had a chance to say no to the match that their parents fixed. At least I had the opportunity to meet and discuss to my heart’s content, all issues with my future wife. I am sure if either of us were unacceptable to the other, our parents would have called it off, Hanumaanji’s concurrence notwithstanding. They also tolerated our writing letters to each other, which some parents would have found disconcerting. The fear of the letters being used against each other if the match broke off would hover like a cloud over their minds.

Allytude asked what if the monkey had not taken a bite from that apple?
Good question. I wouldn’t have known at all. It would have been another dilemma for my father in law. Luckily he would have found support from my mother as she is even more devout and religious (or superstitious, to some of you). I believe, she would have been terribly disappointed, but something tells me she would have prevailed upon my father in law to make a second attempt! When a court case goes against you, don’t we appeal ? I guess my mother would have taken it upon herself to go there again with bananas this time instead of apples, and tried her luck once again. Now, I really can’t answer, what they would have done if the monkey had declined the bananas too! I and my wife would not have been affected of course. We were not even aware of what was going on.
But I am sure if the monkey had bitten into the banana, there would have been no further appeal or confirmation!

A striking difference between our generation and the present generation is that women are better educated, better accomplished, more confident, less tolerant of patriarchal tyranny and unfairness, economically less dependent on parents and husbands, more outspoken and this has resulted in their being more insistent on their rights, more choosy and less submissive. They have also made getting married that much more difficult. I personally welcome this. However, in some cases I fear this has been carried too far. I also sense some needless militancy in the minds of some very accomplished modern women. It almost appears there is a desire for revenge against gender discrimination rampant in the past.

[IHM: The problem is GV even today the discrimination is very, very rampant – I am sure sometimes it just gets too much to have to ‘fight’ for something that the rest of the world simply takes for granted. Also some women might appear ‘militant’ because women are not supposed to be forthright – just a thought.]

Some modern women/men appear to be opposed to any marriage unless it is a guarantee of permanent happiness and comfort for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and they expect their spouse to be the provider of this happiness. They don’t for a moment think of their responsibility to reciprocate and provide this same happiness to their partner. Obviously it should be a two way arrangement , and both must reconcile to occasional differences, and disagreements and periods of stress and strain.

Some of us seem to be intolerant of any kind of stress or strain even if these are temporary. We are spoilt for choice these days. and I sometimes get the feeling, may be we would have been better off with less choice than we have now.

[IHM: Would love some examples of being ‘spoiled for choice’ 🙂 How would one be better if there was lesser choice? ]

We had and still have no choice when it came to our parents. What if we could choose them? Would we make a list of specifications and decide who should be our parents? God forbid. How many of us would be cast off by our own children as not meeting their specifications?

[ IHM: For this not to happen, Indian parents really need to start accepting their adult children as individuals. Key words: Mutual respect and Communication without infantalization.]

We have no choice when it comes to our children. A piece of flesh, comes out of a woman’s womb, flailing and wailing and we at once accept it as our son/daughter. Except for being able to choose whether or not we want a child, we have no choice regarding the qualities of our children. So we work to give them the good qualities.
Designer babies are still not reality.

[IHM: GV I feel attempts to create designer babies were always there, for example – everybody in India has always wanted a hundred designer sons exactly like Shravan Kumar and Ram.]

Sadly, we don’t have this attitude when it comes to our spouses. We want a ready made spouse, tailored to our specifications, and most of us do not even think whether we are ourselves tailored to our spouse’s specifications.

I fear greatly, we are all becoming increasingly selfish. At this rate, I foresee even more loneliness and unhappiness after a few more generations.

[IHM: But GV do you feel the older generations were not lonely in unhappy marriages? Men often had their den and seperate social circle, women socialised with women, there wasn’t much interaction with each other. Today couples communicate with each other much more, and I would say the difference is they (even women) are able to complain, and that too openly. ]

It might end up, each person for himself / herself. What is a departure from accepted practice today, might become the norm. 50 years ago, we frowned on love marriages. Today, so many of you are frowning on arranged marriages.

[IHM: GV the problem is with ‘forced-marriages’ where the couple is not allowed to have any say at all. You had more say in your marriage, then many young couples, specially women, have in their marriages even today. Like many have said, yours was not really an Arranged Marriage.]

The next generation might frown on marriage itself as an institution. Live in arrangements, which are socially disapproved today, might be the norm.
What next? Just one night stands? Rampant and random promiscuity? I don’t want to take my imagination any further. Mercifully I wont be around when all this happens.

[ IHM: Do you think committed relationships where both the partners are happy, and where children are cared for, where one partner can’t force the other to stay unless they wish to, where one partner can’t force another to tolerate their abusive families (or even a second wife), might just change some evils in the society, like dowry and big fat weddings, prejudice against widows, and pressure to ‘look’ married amongst Hindu women.
The only thing that might be a matter of concern is the ease with which a partner might leave – but here again, how right is it to force someone to stay against their will? Women are made to feel this works against them, but that is because it is assumed that women benefit from staying in relationships no matter how unhappy they are. ]

Bottom line:
I am not anti love marriage.
I am not necessarily always pro arranged marriage.
I am pro a good and mature marriage, whether love or arranged.
Mine was a good arranged marriage and I will not run down this method of getting married. Today we have much better tools. (Matrimonial portals etc.) Today we are better educated, better off economically and most of us are also much more reasonable during marriage negotiations. I think dowry among the educated middle class is almost dead, or at least should be. Which fool of a boy will expect a dowry from his in laws these days when the girl is as accomplished as he is?

IHM: If the wife is not as accomplished, is it okay to ask for dowry?

(I am not talking of the rural scenario where Khap Panchayats rule the roost)
One additional reform I earnestly seek in today’s arranged marriage concerns expense.
I believe the entire expenditure must be shared 50-50. By tradition, the girl’s party has always footed the bill, in all our communities. I think it’s time this custom ended.

Thanks for this opportunity to vent a little and also share my thoughts and feelings.
Thanks once again for this great opportunity to open out to all of you.
I have enjoyed writing this and reading all the comments.
I look forward to my continued participation, subject to time and convenience in future deliberations on this forum.

Regards
GV

IHM: Thanks GV 🙂

A marriage decided by a monkey.

Dear IHM,

I had written this originally in Hindi and my friend Anita Kumar had posted this on her HINDI blog site about three years ago.

My intent is to show that arranged marriages too can be a happy affair. While Love Marriages or Choice marriages are also welcome, I would like to state that arranged marriages are not all that bad. Bashing arranged marriages has become common these days. Mine was an arranged marriage and I have no regrets.

I will be grateful to you if you can host this on your blog site.

I have attached an old wedding snap.

Regards

G Vishwanath

* * *

Disclaimer:

This is an old and favourite story of mine which I have recounted to close friends and relatives only, but I cannot prove what I am narrating and it is impossible to collect evidence of the veracity of this story. My wife and father-in-law have dismissed this story as fiction, and the product of my mischievous mind and hotly deny it. I leave it to my readers to determine if this story could be true.

A marriage decided by a monkey.

Cut to 1972. I was 23, and I had just passed my BE Hons exam from BITS Pilani, Rajasthan and had come home to Mumbai. I had not thought of marriage at all. I was thinking about my career. But my mother had other ideas.

I had an elder brother, who, in 1969 had jolted the family by choosing his own mate. Those days, love marriages were not the norm and were disapproved of, in our community. You needed to face the ire of the elders in the family and fight them to get their consent which they might give grudgingly. My mother was worried that her second son too might go the way of her eldest son. Boys were watching too many of these Bollywood movies for her comfort.

I had just got admission for my Post graduate studies in Structural engineering at University of Roorkee, which was an academic achievement those days. Just 10 seats for the several hundred who applied.

I was getting ready to proceed to Roorkee but my mom was worried that I might develop intimacy with some Hindi speaking girl from UP. Relatives too warned her that some UP girl might ensnare me and exhorted her to be careful.

After much pleading and cajoling, I got my parents permission to study further. I had just left for Roorkee, but my father began in earnest his search for a suitable bride for me. He was a senior Sales manager in a reputed Private firm and his job involved a lot of touring. His next tour was to Vishakhapattanam and by chance he happened to bump into my Father in law in a business meeting. Both of them hailed from the same village in Kerala and had been childhood friends and were thrilled to see each other after so many years. My father was of course invited to visit my Father-in-laws family that evening.

My parents had three sons. I am the second. My father in law had four daughters, each one more beautiful than the other. My Father, at first sight, picked the second daughter to be my bride. There was no resistance from my in-laws. Here after all was an engineer, from a known and trusted family and this qualified as an excellent catch. No dowry either, no problems from the Ladke Waale acting high and mighty due to the old friendship, facts, that sweetened the deal.

My dad now had only one problem.

How does he convince his silly son that studies and career etc. are all okay, and are inevitable and can follow in due course, but a quick marriage was the need of the hour. They had burnt their fingers with their first son, a victim of a love marriage. They were not going to allow another tragedy and scandal in the family. My mother was asked to air-dash to Vishakhapatnam to “see” the girl. She fell in love with my wife at first sight! She was in an even greater hurry to solemnise the marriage. Another compelling reason for the tearing hurry was explained to me later.

The fact was that my mom was a great believer in astrology. The family astrologer had advised my mom that per my horoscope, if I didn’t get married before a certain date, there was no Muhoortham (auspicious date) for nineteen years!

What is notable is that nobody thought of asking my poor wife what she thought or wanted. Those days it was common practice for young girls to simply go along with the wishes of the elders in the family. They implicitly trusted the elders. After all why would they not be concerned with her welfare? She was studying BSc at that time. A photograph of mine was shown to her. That was all the consideration she received.

The events that followed were natural. My mom wrote to me asking me to come to Vishakhapattanam immediately to see the girl (and of course also approve of her! This was a generous concession to a modern groom like me who insisted on modern practices. ! After all the girl was already approved by my mom and dad and my approval was supposed to be a mere formality.)

I was flabbergasted. I bluntly refused! I made it plain that my immediate priorities were my studies and my career and I would consider marriage only after this was settled.

I assured them they could trust me not to emulate my elder brother and that I had no Hindi speaking girl friends and neither did I have any time for any amorous dalliances. I explained that a Master’s degree in Structural engineering involved considerable hard work, tests, tutorials, lectures, practical, submissions etc and I could not just abandon all this and come to Vishakhapattanam for this purpose.

My mom of course did not like this. She asked me “When are your holidays?” I told her. She marked the dates boldly on the family wall calendar. I then forgot about this. My father and father-in-law decided to bide their time and kept in touch with each other through letters.

Some months later, my mom visited my maternal uncle’s place at Chennai.

My holidays were nearing. She recounted to my maternal uncle and his family, with wails, her problem. What kind of inconsiderate son is this? His marriage deadline is approaching and he still refuses to consider this great match we fixed up. Why doesn’t he realize that in matrimonial matters, a quick match like this is rare and sometimes, it takes years to identify a good girl and a great family. What if he misses the marriage bus? He might end up a chronic bachelor. Who will marry him after nineteen long years? Won’t some one please reason with this stubborn son of mine and put some sense into his thick head? Too much education, can spoil the youngsters these days.

My maternal uncles daughter suggested that somehow I must be made to actually see the girl. She was sure I would be so smitten with her beauty, that all resistance would vanish. Accordingly she and my mom hatched a plot to get me to come down south.

Many years ago, my parents had invested in a small plot of land in my name in an as yet undeveloped area in Chennai. Later my parents had settled in Mumbai and they felt it was prudent to dispose of this site at Chennai. (I would be a crorepati today, if we hadn’t sold it, but let me not digress). I received a letter telling me about this plan and asking me to come to Chennai for signing the relevant documents at the Registrar’s office. The entire family will be camping at my maternal uncles’s place, so I too was asked to reach his house in Chennai.

The trap was ready. My father in law was informed about how the recalcitrant Roorkee boy was being lured to Chennai and informed of the dates and was asked to hasten to Chennai with his daughter in tow and reach a day or two before.

I later learned that my father-in-law suffered from sudden indecision. He was on the horns of a dilemma. The horoscopes had already been matched and the reports stated that this would be a “Ram-Seeta ki Jodi” (An ideal match) In spite of this my Father-in-law figured, if the boy is playing hard to get, will it be advisable to go ahead with this match? Why has he gone away so far for his education? Where in heavens is this place Roorkee? What do we know about what he is actually up to at that remote place ? Is he treating his studies there as an excuse to wriggle out of marriage? If he agrees to see the girl only to keep his parents happy, and get them off his back, and rejects my daughter after seeing her, wouldn’t it have a devastating effect on my daughter? Why not consider other good boys and their families too?

Any way this daughter is the second daughter. Would it be proper to negotiate her marriage while the eldest daughter was still not fixed up? What will be going through the mind of my elder daughter? etc. etc. He wrestled with these thoughts for quite some time.

And now let me relate what he did for solace and mental peace, before coming to Chennai.

Okay, from here onwards the controversies begin. My in-laws are denying the following events though I have faith in the very reliable sources who will vouch for the veracity of this story.

Some miles away from where he lived, there is an old Hanumaan Temple. There was an aged monkey living and camping around this temple. The devout believe that if one goes to this temple with full faith, carrying a proposal, and makes offerings to Hanumaan, and keeps them near the monkey, then the monkey sometimes partakes of these offerings and sometimes declines them. No one has been able to figure out why.

It was not a matter of hunger or absence of hunger. Sometimes it would reject some devotee’s offerings but accept them from another devotee immediately after. The devout believed that if the monkey accepts the offerings, then it means that Lord Hanumaan concurs with the proposal in mind, or else, it means that Hanumaanjee does not approve.

You can guess the rest of the story.

My father-in-law selected the largest and rosiest apples available with the most popular and reputed fruit vendor in Vishakhapattanam, and kept them in a gleaming silver plate and offered them to the monkey. The monkey pounced and enthusiastically grabbed at the apple and bit into it right away. That day my fate was decided!

Unaware of these developments, I reached Chennai.

After the day’s transactions at the Registrar’s office were over, I was advised that we were all going to Marina Beach. Slowly and with some trepidation, my mom blurted out “They are also coming to Marina Beach.”

My antenna was immediately up, fully alert. “Who are THEY?” I asked.

My mom escaped and it was left to my Maternal Uncle’s daughter to spill the beans and tell me the entire plot interspersed with girlish giggles.

Per plans already drawn up, the two families met most informally, at Marina beach in the evening. After the families introduced us to each other, we were left alone while we sat on the sands, gazing at the sunset, and enjoying the cool evening breeze, and talked our hearts out, while the rest of the family curiously watched from out of earshot with breathless suspense.

The two of us decided we would wait till her elder sister was married, and both of us would use the time to complete our education and I would find a good job. Marriage would be postponed till then.

This was in June 1973. We got married at Mumbai in June 1975 and in this intervening period, we wrote numerous letters to each other. I never got an opportunity to see her during this period except for one brief meeting at Mumbai at some family function.

Take a look at this snap. I have pulled it out of my wedding album and scanned it. Those days colour photography was rare and expensive.

Isn’t she a traffic stopper? Believe me, she is even more beautiful, at least to my eyes, today 36 years later.

A million thanks to that great monkey.

Hurray for arranged marriages. When a monkey can do such a competent job, what prevents us humans from arranging a good marriage?

Regards to all

G Vishwanath
Age: 62

BUT…
Are all arranged marriages the same?
Here’s one more arranged marriage story, link shared by Sampat.
‘There are times when I am sitting at home, trying hard to write, when I am gripped by a sudden irritation: “What’s she doing here?” Then, after gathering my thoughts, I answer myself: “Oh, she’s my wife. She is going to be staying here too.’ [Click to read].