An email: “Even after marriage, he shows absolutely zero interest in me. It’s been SEVEN years.”

Sharing an anonymous email. 

“I even asked my husband if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it…”

 

Dear IHM,

I’m in a very unhappy state and so confused with what to do..

I have been married for 7 years (known my husband 2 years before that when we “dated”)… while we were dating, nothing sexual happened between us (not even a kiss, no heart racing stuff)… while I didn’t give it much thought then, now I feel I should have!

Even after marriage, he shows absolutely zero interest in me. It’s been SEVEN years and through these years, I have fought, cried, reasoned out, explained myself, allowed him to be the way he wants… basically everything that I could do.

I have told him openly I miss the “sex”, not as a physical activity but more as an emotional one.

I have told him I’m okay with doing anything and that he needs to feel comfortable and rest assured I won’t judge him incase he has weird tastes (I was thinking “fetish” or “role play”).

I even asked him if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it, we would work on the  pregnancy thing through alternatives.

But he just doesn’t give me the input I need. There is zero cooperation from his side.

He keeps saying there is no problem (evidently there is!)… and he says “we will do this week”, “we will have sex next week” etc

And SEVEN years have passed already.

I’m am  at an extremely depressed stage. I do not know what to do.

I cry randomly, I feel sad… and I’m crying as I type this.
I’m scared that I’m getting into depression without me even realising it!

And I feel so worthless through it all. I feel like there is no one really for me (my parents are no more) and many a times I have thought about divorce.

Few things…

1. 98% he’s not gay (saw some porn details on his mobile history. Regular porn, no fetish types or gay types)
2. I’m extremely hygienic and smell good
3. Our environment is sex friendly
4. I’m a good looker and quite attractive (not to sound vain, but wanted to clear certain basic questions that might pop up)

Can you PLEASE do a topic on this, I feel like I need to see things from a fresher perspective..

Thanks a ton!

Related Posts:

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

And what would have happened if this man had declared that he was gay and hence would not marry a woman?

Denying sex to spouse on first night ground for marriage annulment: Delhi high court

A comment- ‘Reverse the gender, and it is marital rape.’Depriving wife of sex is cruelty, Mumbai court rules

Refusal to have sex during honeymoon is not cruelty: Bombay high courtQuestion about Sexuality in Indian Arranged Marriages

Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.

“There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist.”

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

Gird Your Loins – Aarti Sethi, Kafila

“Porn is a discourse about sex and works like an educator about sex and gender.”

An email: Also this is a genuine question and not a pornographic mail.

Girls morally bound not to have sex before marriage, says fast track court judge

‘I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.

Here’s why I think the society should not obsess over a woman’s virginity.

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“Reading all the comments jerked me up. Really. It was like a bang! And the mind fog moved slightly…”

Sharing an update from Not a good wife. 

Dear IHM,

I have been wanting to write to you for a long time. Every time I started writing, I stopped myself thinking I will contact you only when I am ready to share the news with you that am completely out of the difficult phase I was in 3-4 years back.

I don’t know if you remember me but I had written to you in 2012,
An email: He says what am I expecting out of this marriage if I cant even make him happy.

Writing to you was one of the most sensible thing that I had done then. It gave me such a large access to different thoughts, perceptions and advice of so many people. A majority of them even helped me understand that I was actually not weird in feeling certain things. When I wrote to you that time, I was in a terrible haze, it was as though a fog had enveloped my brain and was simply refusing to fade away. I was too engrossed in dealing with everyday issues that I had forgotten who I was, who I wanted to be. I had grown so different from what I had imagined myself to be and I was hating myself for not having the courage to stand up for what I believed in.

And then I wrote to you.

Reading all the people’s comments jerked me up like anything. Really. It was like a bang! And the mind fog moved slightly to let small whips of fresh air to come in.

In the days after that, I was determined to be assertive. I stood my ground on 2-3 occasions. I also made a major decision, call it the most risky thing ever, but i left my job and tried to give my marriage another chance. I was more clear-headed though I knew what I wanted.. and I realised it was not working out.

I am glad I realised that I cannot really pinpoint to one reason, could be the age gap, could be control issues, could be different wants, could be sexual issues, could be ego, could be stubbornness, could be anything for all I cared. I realised in the end it really didn’t matter to me, all I knew was that I wasn’t me… and if I continue like that I am the loser.

I took necessary steps and am now on the brink of getting a divorce. I wouldn’t say life was smooth soon after that. There have been occasions where I thought I was wrong, where I have questioned myself what I was doing… however, the bouts of indecisiveness was always removed by the various incidents that followed suit.

I would say it took almost a year and half for the fog to be lifted from my mind. There is no better word for the ‘haziness’ I used to feel. I was like a zombie. If I think of it now some of the things I used to do makes me feel ashamed of myself. I used to actually keep a notepad and write down the tasks he used to mention casually, lest I forget it… coz if I forgot, it always ended in tantrums, concluding I didn’t love him enough because I forget his needs and wants. Once he complained that there are many mosquitoes in the night, and he called me the next day while I was at office to shout at me that he couldn’t sleep in the morning because of too many mosquitoes and that I hadn’t remembered to buy the mosquito all out liquid before I left for office the next day. These may be small incidents but all these incidents make my blood boil when I think of them. How I used to actually believe that I was not a good wife!

But now I am glad am out of it. I have come out of that. I joined work again. I am doing quite well in that. My life is so much better now. I am actually laughing and smiling without fear that I will be shown my place because of something I didn’t do or some task I missed out doing. I came out at the right time I think.

And I thank God, my family and You and your readers for that!

I still have few more months till it becomes legal. I have always wanted to share this with you after it was all over but today when I saw my post in the related post section, it brought back all the memories and I knew I had to connect with you.

Having gone through a phase of difficult life, it has now made me appreciate the freedom I have. The freedom to think. The freedom of my mind to have ‘thoughts’ that are ‘My thoughts’. And it makes such a huge difference!

Thank you once again and I shall write to you again when everything is sorted out once for all.

Regards,

From No More ‘Not a good wife’

Related Posts:

The moment to walk out of a relationship by Simbly Bored

Not Perfect Enough for Mr Perfect?

Some assertive ways to deal with manipulation. – by BB-Dlite

To an Anonymous DIL

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – by Priya

When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

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

When a daughter refuses to go back.

Remember the Anonymous Confused Wife?

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

“Blogging and reading provocative blogs by others has made the good girl in you go corrupt.”

Sharing an email from My Era. 

This post (“Can I really marry and live with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive?”)  finally, helped me make up my mind to write all I wanted to tell you, in hope that perhaps, my experience might be helpful to someone, somewhere.

I have been blogging from over 8 years. My earlier blog was more of a professional one that no longer exists and my current blog is around 4 years old. During my journey as a blogger I came across your (IHM’s) blog around the time when difficulties in my married life were slowly creeping in (around 2009). Slowly but surely, the open-minded discussions on your blog, inspired me to question life and the people in it more often than before. I learnt the importance of paying heed to my heart and not giving up unless my questions met a satisfactory reply.

This phase was very important in my life because it was when, my ex-husband started complaining that I was a changed person altogether. These mild complains in no time turned frequent and on one occasion when I was adamant to know what exactly he meant by me changing, I received a startling reply.

“Blogging and reading provocative blogs by others has made the good girl in you go corrupt.”

I have to admit that it took me a long time to realize what he was truly hinting at. While my ex-husband was aware of the existence of my blog, he was never inclined to reading it, owing to the fact, he was least interested in any of the topics that interested me.

However, at the time when I had discovered your blog I was so excited that I used to discuss at length all the points of view I read here with him. His usual ‘hmmm’ held a deeper meaning that I learnt at a point when my life started to fall apart. Without my ever doubting so, he had gradually started checking my browsing history and actually spent time to read the blogs I had slowly begun frequenting when I was not at home.

Much later, when our marriage was on the rocks and our divorce case was in the court, in one of the hearings he told the Magistrate, that ‘I had lost my mind, forgotten the duties of being a ‘good’ wife because I was being brain-washed by the anti-social blogs that I read.’ These were his exact words, which not only left me flabbergasted, but made the Magistrate give me a ‘look’. After a brief pause, my ex-husband took the privilege to actually blame our divorce on my habit of blogging.

Needless to say, I never gave up blogging despite these insane allegations and ended up with a divorce.

Today, looking back at those events after reading the letter shared on your blog, I was tempted to tell the letter writer, that if someone is ‘disturbed’ after reading your blog, that holds account of the real you; it is definitely a red flag.

I say so, because the person is actually expressing his dislike for the person he has encountered in the pages of your blog. He seems to not only find your being openly expressive as objectionable but is also trying to re-frame your approach to life, attempting to remould you.

In my limited life experiences, I have learnt that though people may learn to adjust, seldom do they change from their core beliefs. Trying to mould our lives, thought process, and everything else just to suit someone’s liking ( whom you know for hardly 10 days, are not in love or in a relationship with, is a big ask or rather too much an ask to even consider obliging for) is not worth it.

What has started on the note of expressing ‘dislike’ towards your freedom of expression at this stage, is a sure sign that you are heading on a road where ‘freedom of expression’ or making choices you like, will not be considered acceptable.

Moreover, I feel your best friend is quite right in saying that this man will never be at peace with your past about which he has read at length on your blog. For someone, what his sister thinks about you holds such paramount importance at this stage, ‘Log kya kahenge’ will be a weapon that he’ll blatantly use against you at every point in life from here on.

If for a minute, we assume, that you make your blog private and are happy to accommodate his request to not write a public blog in future, what is the guarantee that this is not just the tip of the iceberg of requests asking you to change as per his perception of a ‘good wife’?

Mind you, we are yet to give due thought to your happiness, peace of mind and integrity staying alive and healthy now and in future (if we consider you marry him).

I have learnt in life that there can never be enough sacrifices a girl can make to please her husband and in-laws in an arranged marriage setup. No-matter what you’ll do (killing the real you) it will be seen as expected from you as a ‘sanskari’ DIL.

Before you take a plunge into the endless pit of ‘adjustments’ please reflect on where your happiness truly lies. The usual norm of believing ‘Shaadi ke baad sab theek ho jayega’ is a blindfold our families tie on our rational minds, to let them decide everything for us, that opens at a time when major damages have been done.

Wishing you the best in your life and hoping you’ll pay heed to your inner voice that has already set the alarm off.

Warm Regards,

My Era

( https://theerailivedin.wordpress.com/ )

Related Posts:

To an Anonymous DIL

An email: He says what am I expecting out of this marriage if I cant even make him happy.

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“Can I really marry and live with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive?”

Changing Someone (or oneself)

“I think most problems in life are when we look for approval and validation outside of ourselves.”

“10 years ago, the girl would have been counselled on how to change her dress sense for the boy, how to do as he says.”

Who would you never ask for advice?

What are you criticised the most for?

Does loving someone mean we should improve them?

 

 

An email: “He told my MIL that he doesn’t like me. I knew he was depressed so I tried to console him.”

Please note the difference between the support/response that a married Indian son and a married Indian daughter get from their families.

One set of parents wants their child to Stay Married no matter what (they expect nothing more), while the other expects to control their child’s life, and marriage (and possibly finances).

Traditional patriarchal norms justify, romanticise and facilitate abuse,  and make it difficult for abuse victims to notice that they are being abused. 

Not surprisingly, Indian women seem to believe they need to Stay Married much more than Indian men do. And more men seem to feel they need to control their wives, no matter how unhappy it makes them, and their relationship as a couple.

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I’m desperately in need of guidance with the issues I have in my marriage and this is my story:

I got married almost a year ago and my husband works in USA. So after my marriage I spent only a week with my MIL but a week was more than enough for her to create problems. There were issues with dowry, my attitude, customs which my parents didn’t follow, etc etc. Me and my husband didn’t even go on our honeymoon because my MIL wanted us to spend time with her. There were too many issues already and not wanting to create new problems I asked my husband to cancel our honeymoon plan. In that one week, she called my parents daily complaining that I didn’t explain to her about the weight of each piece of jewellery which my parents gave me. Also, she expected me to leave my jewellery in their house [From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.] and tried to communicate it to me in a political way (which I didn’t understand as politics is never my area of expertise ).

She instructed my parents that whenever we leave to USA/come back to India we have to go/come from their house (Airport is a 30 minute drive from my parents’ house and my In Laws’ place is a three hour drive) and I can be at my parents’ house only for a few days.  A lot more added up and there was too much tension when we finally left for USA. My MIL lies a lot and it’s so frequent that 1 out of 10 of her statements would be a lie. Anyone can easily find out that she is lying but my husband justified that that’s how his mother is and she won’t change. He helped a lot by supporting me emotionally so I was happy that he atleast understood the problem.

After we came to USA, we started our own life and things were good at the beginning. We had our arguments and fights but we worked on it and were happy. We talk to our MIL in Skype once a week. Initially my husband was a little angry with her saying that she created so many problems for unnecessary reasons. She tackled him by saying that she is facing medical issues and that she has gone through so much trouble to raise him. Eventually my husband started talking to her. She used to find fault with whatever I do, the food I prepared, the dress I wore, the way I spoke. Nothing was good enough for her son. After three months into my marriage, my husband went through a minor surgery in his leg. On the first day after his surgery, we skyped to my MIL and the first statement which she said looking at me was that I should comb my hair, dress well, wash my face and be fresh all the time. For God’s sake, it was11 pm and I had admitted my husband in the hospital that morning and there was so much work that had to be done before I brought him home. Also, this is not a TV serial to wear all jewels and make up even when I sleep. My husband’s immediate response was to tell me that his mom is right. My MIL wouldn’t have known how much work I did from the morning but I expected my husband to know better. I took care of him very well but the following days became a nightmare.

He became very demanding asking me to follow whatever he commands and I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I thought that going through the surgery was stressful for him and I did whatever he asked me to do. My MIL was talking to my husband daily since he was at home. On the first day when he spoke to my MIL he told her that she had found him a really good wife but just two days later he told my MIL that he doesn’t like me. I knew he was depressed so I tried to console him but my MIL used this as an opportunity and started slandering me. I was sitting next to my husband in front our laptop and she started shouting at me saying that I didn’t know how great she was and used this time to tell me how my parents didn’t give dowry as her son so much worthy, how I didn’t give my jewels to her and told my husband that she will make sure I behave appropriately. My husband demanded me to apologize to her and I did that too but I’m not sure why I apologized. My MIL used to give ideas to my husband about what food to eat and I had to follow the schedule.Once I didn’t have enough ingredients to cook a particular food which my MIL suggested and so I was asked by my husband to walk to the store in October’s cold night. That was the final straw and I couldn’t take more than that. I called my parents and cried explaining the situation. They couldn’t help me much other than consoling me. All these drama continued for few weeks.

My husband resumed his work and situation became little better. My MIL gave lots of ideas to my husband saying that she wakes up early in the morning and does so much work at home. This led to my husband insisting I do the same. Every evening my husband comes from office and starts questioning me on what I did the whole day and even if he finds a small mistake he would start scolding me saying I’m idle at home. He expects me to be a perfectionist so I cook perfect meals, clean and wash but he never stops complaining. My MIL insists on coming to USA saying that she wants to stay with us for awhile and would teach me how to take care of the family. So whenever my husband finds a fault with me, he would say that if MIL is with us she would teach me everything. I feel alone and depressed. I keep myself busy by involving in painting and volunteering in a few organisations but my husband always commented that there is no point in all that because I failed to impress my MIL and him.

Now I’m facing new problems. Even if we have a little argument my husband goes on without talking for weeks. Whenever I tried to convince him he asked me to promise that I would be 100% obedient to him. It felt weird when he asked me of such a thing. My mom is also a working woman so she had a totally different attitude towards life. She insisted I be independent and had always told me that I should think and decide on my own. My husband’s concept of 100% obedience makes me feel oppressed. To solve the immediate crisis, I said yes to him but not even in my dreams I expected him to implement it. He gives me orders for even washing clothes, cleaning the house etc etc . He told me straightaway that he doesn’t want me to give any suggestions for him and wants whatever he expects to be done. He finds fault even in the smallest of chores I do and I’m not supposed to voice my opinion about anything. I tried my best to do whatever he says and I clean everything I could get my hands on. But he never stopped complaining and says that I’m not an ideal wife. He often says that he doesn’t like me anymore. He eats the food I prepare, uses the dresses I wash but he doesn’t talk to me. I find this is a recurring pattern nowadays. He doesn’t talk for weeks together and not talking to one another is very common in their family. My MIL doesn’t talk to any of her sisters, brothers and she doesn’t talk to her IL’s family also. Also, she dominates my FIL totally and he is treated like trash.She gives ideas to my SIL also and their family is facing similar issues. I tried talking to my husband saying that we can solve our differences only by communicating it to each other but he says that there is nothing to talk about and his expectation is for me to do whatever he commands.

I don’t know how to handle all the lies my MIL says and my husband’s reaction to it. Please share your views and suggest how do I handle this situation.

Related Post:

Recognizing Emotional Abuse

The Men in Our Lives

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

To an Anonymous DIL

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

“I thought the situation will improve but now my husband started behaving like a remote-controlled device of his mother.”

Is it possible to make a man see his wife as a partner, if he has been socially conditioned to see her as someone who is supposed to obey and serve him?

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

An email: “just for a few days of fights and torture in a month, how can I leave this life?”

“A Hindu woman derives immense pleasure in sacrifice for her husband. The white man will never ever understand this.”

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha – where a man is asked to Please adjust and save his marriage.

Simple methods, recommended to anybody else, coping with any other kind of abuse, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law. Forbidden by whom?

“I am trying to make a list of soooooooo many advantages a girl can have if she is born in a Western family as compared to being born in india.”

‘Daughters growing older, their egos becoming bigger, their attitudes and behavior becoming more boorish..’

“I am glad that my parents never thought of raising us as ‘future daughters-in-law’.”

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

“He has decided that we will stop trying to have a child now as he wants things to improve between his mother and I.”

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

“And on the other hand, we have this section of women who seem content and even happy with the current set-up. This seems akin to a freedom struggle going on here.”

Sharing an email by A Confused Male.

It can be confusing unless we have had the opportunity to find out how those who are involved actually feel.

Those who benefit from the system (via obedient elder-care providers, ladke wale status, dowries etc) probably cannot be expected to view it honestly. The few unhappy voices that are heard are accused of washing ‘dirty linen’, being westernised, or of not being sanskaari enough.  

Many more voices are hushed whispers, or silenced. 

Also, the few women who do speak up are able to do that because they have that option – and most still choose anonymity. 

While women face complete control, men in such patriarchal families are not really free either. 

Amongst other things, men may not be free to love or marry someone they like and may not be permitted to choose what they do for living. It’s tougher to fight control, emotional blackmail and abuse, when it comes from those who seem to genuinely care and possibly claim to ‘live to see them happy’. Also, in return of such controls, they are offered benefits which lead to dependence, controlled freedom and a sense of entitlement.

And then there is this censorship of not just what some people are permitted to say, but also what some obedient adults are permitted to hear or read. 

Too many social evils are rooted in the present system, like male child preference, sex selection, dowry, bride burning, ill-treatment of widows, dependence of elderly women (and men) on their male children, semi forced marriages, objectification of women (aggravated by segregation), adults who are not emotionally and economically self reliant etc. 

Dear IHM,

Hope you are doing fine.

Am a regular reader here. Wonderful platform you have created.

Sharing here an observation as well as a few questions for debate by you and your readers. If you find this worthy of your space, kindly share on the blog anonymously.

Thanks.

————-

I have been looking at a population segment in my state (Gujarat) – semi-urban/small town, middle/upper middle class, local college educated, average jobs/business class people with 5-10 lakhs per annum incomes. And following are some observations (Just my observations. No concrete research or statistics to back these):

– Men and women marry young – generally before they turn 26-27, ages where people are still to form strong views on what they want from life and hence often defer to parents’ judgements.
– Men and women are quite prepared for “arranged” marriages. Such marriages are between two families and hence the two set of parents are the key decision makers. If they agree on a match, their children generally agree. There is no feeling of being “forced” into a marriage. Horoscopes match; Cultural, social and financial backgrounds are similar; External aspects – height, weight, complexion, car, house are in order and so compatibility is automatically assumed.
– Marriages seem healthy, the husband-wife seem to get along fine – well set in their respective responsibilities and busy with their children. The physical abuse seems to mostly not exist. Divorces are unheard of.

Further, the way boys and girls are brought up in this segment of population and the kind of things they see around them, the following is readily accepted and neither party sees any big issue with these:
– Wife relocates to husband’s town/city and lives with his family
– Wife changes her surname to that of the husband
– Wife refers to the husband as “aap”
– Wife adopts the customs, preferred deities, cooking style and schedule followed in the husband’s home. MIL takes the “responsibility” of “training” the DIL in these (a younger DIL is preferred as she is “easier to mould”)
– Wife can continue to work only if the husband’s family permits. In any case, she is expected to quit working on attaining motherhood. Till she works, money belongs to the husband and his family. Spending a lot of her own money on her birth family is frowned upon and would need permission from husband
– Husband will be a “mumma’s boy” and will not openly side with wife in case of a conflict. Husband will consult his parents on major decisions / expenses
– Wife is expected to “give” sex to husband when he wants
– Marriage is for life. Unless there is physical abuse or outright pre-marriage lying about medical/financial condition or likes, divorce is unthinkable

Followers of this blog would find most of the above oppressive to women. But these men and women, since a very young age, have seen only such marriages around them that there is nothing unusual for them in this set-up. A woman accepts all of the above knowing well that some other woman is going to marry her brother and accept the same conditions as a DIL in her own home. Likewise, a man who expects the above from his wife has a sister who accepts the same in her husband’s home. How do you expect any different from what’s prevalent in your own home? And so no one seems very bothered and considers this as a normal way marriages are. Essentially, they are perfectly comfortable with the conventional gender roles and the traditional idea of a marriage – a man is responsible for earning, a woman is responsible for children and home and that after marriage a woman’s birth family must assume a secondary place in her life.

So on one hand, we have a section of women who, through their own lives, are waging a spirited battle for truly egalitarian marriages and man-woman equality and are rightly refusing to do things that parents/husband/in-laws/society expects out of them just because “that’s what a woman should be doing” or “that’s our culture”. And on the other hand, we have this section of women who seem content and even happy with the current set-up. This seems akin to a freedom struggle going on here. I guess, to a segment of population in pre-independence India, British rule wasn’t as big an anathema. But to those who believed in principles of freedom and equality and self-determination as well as those who had a greater exposure and had seen better, British had to be ousted at any cost. Likewise, today, for the section of Indian women who have clear thoughts on equal marriages, it is a period of struggle till men and the society at large come around and start sharing their justified worldview.

But I also wonder – is ignorance a bliss? Not knowing better – isn’t that a reason why so many women (and hence men) seem quite happy and satisfied in their marriages? I admit that for some of these women, they do know better but don’t have any other choice due to various reasons (kids, financial dependence, social stigma etc.). But a lot of women I see around me in this segment seem genuinely satisfied with their lives. They were fed a certain image of a marriage right from their early days and they seem to have no heartache when that image turns out to be largely true, even if to another section of women such marriages may seem like patriarchal horror stories.

All of this has led to three questions in my mind and it may be good to hear views of readers of this blog on them:
1) Is the happiness I have observed only superficial? Do the women in such population segments also feel shortchanged in the Indian marriage setup?
2) A marriage with a partner of choice, after a lengthy and healthy period of dating could be wonderful and bring immense happiness. Or it could cause a lot of grief later due to high expectations on both sides. On the other hand, in a traditional family arranged marriage (with similarity of social, cultural and financial backgrounds and predictable expectations) the “happiness quotient” is consistently decent. Any marriage is a gamble eventually and so if we draw a normal gaussian curve of marital happiness, the “choice marriages” are mostly likely to end up on either of the two extreme ends while the traditional ” family arranged” marriages are mostly likely to end up somewhere in the thick middle. Is that a fair assessment? Of course each marriage is dependent on the two individuals involved but I am only considering the impact of two big variables: compatibility (high in choice marriages, generally of a certain minimum level in the family arranged ones due to similar backgrounds and upbringings) and expectations (high in choice marriages, moderate in family arranged ones).
3) I would like to get married but I haven’t “clicked” with someone so far (more than a year since I started looking). With all my expectations from marriage – a friend, a companion, love, compatibility etc. have I set myself up for discontent and disappointment? Would I have been better off if I too had shared the traditional view of marriage – same as that of the majority in the population segment I live in?

– A confused male

Related Posts:

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

And, Please watch Queen.

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

What every woman should have. What every woman should know. Do you?

Joy wrote:

Hello IHM,

Perhaps you could share this on your blog, I don’t know the source of this image so I cannot give credits to anyone. It was a forwarded image to me by my Sister-in-law, she reckons I have done and known everything listed in this image. Which is infact very true

Joy

How many have you done or known from this list?

Found on lessonslearnedinlife.com

I traced it back to here – What every woman should have, what every woman should know – Written by Pamela Redmond Satran

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I shared a version of it in 2010 – EVERY WOMAN SHOULD.

An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

And is it possible to remain truly happy after giving up something we loved to do?

This happens all the time.

My mom would never ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home.

It’s obvious that the functions are enjoyed by those who want everybody’s presence there, but why are weddings and family functions considered more important than personal happiness/interests of each family member?

The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age.

Traditionally men have been discouraged from doing anything except ‘bread winning’ 😦

‘Retired men who have no passions or hobbies, who know not what to do with the sudden abundance of ‘spare’ time, and drive their wives crazy (!) and go into depression.’ [Traditional  upbringing of boys. – Starry Eyed]

Sharing an email. 

Hi IHM,

I have been struggling with an issue for a while and felt maybe sharing it on your blog might give me some perspective. I would really appreciate if you could share this email on your blog to see what your readers have to say.

My parents have lived abroad for over 30 years and came back to India a couple of years ago after my dad retired. My mother was working as a teacher for about 10 years. She started working, perhaps, when we were in high school and before that she was a stay-at-home mom. When some of her friends started pursuing a teaching degree, she also decided to join. She is now an internationally certified primary school teacher with substantial experience working in an international school.

The issue is  that it was my dad’s decision to retire and come back to India. He was ready for a quiet life. However, since they have moved back they have quite a (what I call) boring life. My mom just cooks and cleans and they attend the occasional wedding and family events. They watch some serials at night and then go to bed early to begin the same routine again.

However, my mom is not that kind of a person. I feel very strongly that my mom should still be working. There is no reason for her to live the life of a retired person when she is still willing to work. However, that decision is difficult for her because with my dad at home she feels guilty going out to work.

A few months after they moved to India, I had helped her find a job in a nearby school. The pay was nominal but the school was so excited about having such a qualified teacher. The few months my mom worked, she finished all the work at home, made breakfast and lunch. kept lunch out on the table for my dad and then went to work. She would then be back in time for evening tea.

However, it seems my dad was getting bored home alone because he is really not used to being without her. When the topic came up, our extended family (though they don’t live together but they are all neighbours) also felt that she was spending too much of her time and energy on her job. The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age. Moreover, none of them understand the idea of working because you want to do something productive and because you love it.

Eventually, she decided to leave the job though she had made a few friends there and the school really tried to convince her to stay.

It’s been almost 2 years since then and it’s been taken for granted by all that she won’t go back to work. But I have this nagging feeling that she is not happy. She is a traditional woman who thinks it’s her job to take care of the house but sometimes when we are talking she will let slip in a very mild manner that she is getting bored. Just to clarify, I live in another city and visit them once or twice a year and my sister lives abroad, so neither of us are really around for her to talk to, take her out etc.

Now my problem is that I feel no one seems to see that there is so much more she can do. My dad is the typical man who will do things around the house if he is asked to. But if he is not asked to do chores he will assume my mom can handle it on her own. And my mom is the kind of person who will never ask him to do chores around the house. She feels strongly that he should do it because he wants to, not because she has asked him to.

I realize that at their age, neither of them is going to change. My mom is not the kind of woman who will put her foot down. And I worry that unless she says something herself, no one is going to take her unhappiness seriously. She is also the kind of Indian woman who thinks it’s ok to be a little unhappy, as long as everything else is ok, because that’s just how life goes.

The obvious solution would be for me to speak to my parents, but the issue there is that I am an infamous feminist and all in my family know it. If I bring this topic up, everyone will think this is just me “being a feminist” and finding problems where there are none. Till my mom herself says that she wants to work or do something productive, no one will take me seriously. And she would never want to ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home. I can’t think of any other elder in my family who will understand the issue enough to speak to both my parents so that they understand each other’s side of the story.

I know the solution is that my mom needs to stand up for what she wants but we have to remember that women of that generation were never trained to think that way. And keeping that background in mind, I’d really like to hear what you all have to say about this situation. I tears me up to know that she is unhappy and to not be able to do anything about it. How can I get her to be engaged in other things so that she is not so bored/unhappy/demotivated? I want her to feel good about herself and make friends with whom she can have intelligent conversation with. I want her to have something of her own that she has built on her own and is not tied to her life as a wife and mother.

thanks.

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Sharing an email.

Loved the sensible and powerful message that accompanied it. What good is ‘love’, if it does not include respect for the loved one’s happiness?

Dear IHM,

I request you to put this up in your blog, because most women think that you need to fight back only in extreme situations such as an abusive spouse or money-minded in-laws or something. Many women and men think that it is enough if their spouse has a “good character”.

With my story, I want to show that it isn’t. My in-laws don’t hate me at all. FIL has never hesitated to buy my favorite vegetables or fruits or tiny treats that he knows I like. MIL and grand MIL are actually quite affectionate. But “love” isn’t about all this. “Love” is about letting your loved one “live”. Love is supposed to be unconditional, and if you don’t have it, you shouldn’t pretend to have it.

I want readers, especially married women, to know that it is important to fight back for whatever is important for them in their life – happiness, career, hobbies etc. And this fight should be fought regardless of who snatches this away from them – parents, in-laws, spouse, why, even children.

Thanks a million!

My story- “adjustment” in Indian families.

I have been silently reading your blog for quite some time now. With your last post “In my bubble marriages are the stuff of feminist dreams!” I finally decided to comment.

I had what you’d call a “love-cum-arranged” marriage. My in-laws are very orthodox and I was brought up in a much liberal environment. As far as “adjustment” goes, mine is a long saga.

1.

I was 22 and I had just finished my PG and joined a job. Like most young women from non-conservative backgrounds, I had no clue about cooking or other complex household duties. I only used to help my housewife mom in small chores. After my honeymoon, when I joined work, my workplace was more than 20 kms away from the house. I had to live with my husband’s brother and his 70 plus paternal grandmother. I used to wake up at 5:30 a.m. (considering I was newly married), bathe, and stare at the kitchen, wondering how I should cook. MIL and FIL weren’t living with us. Grandma was too old to wake up so early. I used to feel so alone and lost in the kitchen, with no one to help me, as the entire house was sound asleep, unaware of my woes.

Grandma eventually taught me cooking and helped around a bit, considering her age, but as far as DOING it was concerned, I was totally at loss. My workplace being far away, I would come home late, cook, clean then repeat the same chores the next day. NOBODY helped me. I had no option but call my mom and pour my heart out. My husband was working from home then, and you’d be surprised how little sympathy I received from him despite having dated for 3 years.

2.

We are *** (community), famous for our orthodoxy. My in-laws were even more so. Apart from the above, I was also pelt with a huge onslaught of religiosity and mindless rituals; being isolated while menstruating, bathing before cooking, taking madi baths, performing special poojas on auspicious days, cooking complex meals for special occasions I had no clue of, trying not to touch uncooked items after touching cooked items (what they call patthu in our language) – things that were totally unheard of in my parents’ place.

You guessed it; my husband was clueless and wasn’t bothered about it as long as he wasn’t directly affected. Everyone, including my own family, told me to “adjust”.

3.

Eventually I learned managing the household and completing things on time before office. But I was still a one-woman army. Nobody even as much as picked up their used coffee cup from the table. Grandma started commenting on my incapacities in managing the household, citing examples of herself and my mother-in-law. My own mother commented on my “slowness”, “laziness” and “incapability”.

I would like to point out that by this time, all my hobbies were gone. I was a voracious reader, and totally into DIY art projects, was learning music before marriage. Now, I wasn’t even given the allowance to watch my favorite programs on TV. Everyone else hogged the TV. I had no time for ANYTHING. People said that is the sacrifice a “working woman has to gladly make”.

4.

Relatives would pop in (both sides), and would look at the house I disarray. I was blamed again, being the WOMAN of the family.

5.

It was around this time that some harsh realities clearly established themselves. My FIL, as I found, was not only extremely domineering and violent, but also used to drink and smoke in the house. He paid no attention to the fact that I had asthma and was allergic to smoke/dust. The common bathroom would reek of nicotine every time they came visiting. He is extremely finicky about food as well; a grain of salt missing and he would simply toss the plate at my MIL’s face. He also used to emotionally blackmail everyone into giving him what he wanted and used to beat up MIL if someone didn’t budge. This beating was used as leverage for his blackmailing. MIL is a total slave of this family and she is shown as the example of the ideal MIL.

6.

FIL forbade me from wearing jeans in his presence, ordered me to quit working if necessary to have a male baby to carry his line forward and told me to learn from my MIL. With several talks, my husband started intervening in this one, though he too told me to “adjust” as did several other women of “my age and status”.

7.

This went on. I finally cracked and attempted suicide several times, though not with the full conviction or courage; I barely even injured myself. This was all thanks to my sanity and courage urging me to stay back and fight, and battling against my desire to run away from all this.

It showed up on my health. I gained a lot of weight, and had to quit my well-paid and well-loved job due to attacks of migraine. Moreover, I wanted to try for higher studies, but due to some problems, that couldn’t materialize.

I was a housewife now. Day by day, as many working women would attest, I started going mad with mundane housework and being constantly bothered by lazy family members to do chores for them. I tried to re-join my old company, but they had too many formalities in re-taking ex-employees. I decided to work from home.

“Adjust” as I did, people bothered me the whole day and never let me sit at my desk in peace for more than 5 mins at a stretch. I decided that I didn’t care what happened. I went to a doctor, put the headaches in order and joined work again; this time with the conviction that I will clearly say “NO ADJUSTMENT” when I CANNOT.

By this time, my husband had warmed up to my situation a lot, as I kept sensitizing him. I understood that his apathy was not because he was sexist himself, but I discovered that he was a worse victim of this patriarchy than I was. He just didn’t share those problems with me and when I told him mine, it frustrated him even more. We started sharing our problems. I went for counseling. Our relationship improved.

8.

As fate had it, my FIL brought the house down with his mad whim once again. He took voluntary retirement and along with his second son, forced my husband to buy a house he couldn’t afford at all. FIL wanted to brag about this house as his brother too had brought a house recently. My husband and his brother paid the EMI. This house was 40 plus kms away from my workplace. People advised me to quit. I didn’t quit, but I also “adjusted”. This was just 2 months before my first anniversary, so you can imagine the financial crunch of having to cope from marriage expenses and now that of a large duplex house as well.

Husband had quit his work-from-home job and taken up work at a company close to my own, so he realized how harrowing it is to make long commutes to work everyday. He realized how shitty it feels to work at home after a long commute.

We moved to the new home in September 2013. My bro-in-law went to work abroad (escaped from this mad household I’d say). I, hubby, grandma, FIL and MIL occupied this house.

9.

FIL threw tantrums every day. The drinking and the beatings were too frustrating to watch. MIL expected us to support her when he beat her, but being the slave she was, she’d also chide us if we said anything against FIL, especially me. Those beatings were “their private business” and we had “no concerns whatsoever” with them, but we were supposed to “adjust” so that FIL would be happy.

This was the final straw. We totally stopped “adjusting”. I and hubby moved out of this house this Feb’14 and have been the butt of censure ever since, what with “budhaape ka sahaara” and the “duty of a married woman to her in-laws”.

My parents finally became supportive. I and hubby have tasted our freedom after more than 1 year of marriage. We’ve had total privacy for the first time with no one eavesdropping on us. We can finally breathe.

Yes, we still pay the EMI and live with a financial constraint that is not our fault at all (My FIL spends lavishly to appease the society, expecting my husband to pay for it as “they raised him and educated him”). But, today the man, who once didn’t lift a finger for me fearing his family’s commentary, now openly washes vessels for me and even cleans the toilet. He doesn’t hesitate to support me before his family now. We are finally a happy couple because we have stopped “adjusting”.

We have faced the music though. FIL has waged a cold war. He has declared that he will have nothing to do with me hereafter (interestingly, he is supposed to pay the mortgage for my jewellery which was pawned to pay for his exorbitance). But, then, what the hell! Good-riddance!

I guess this is a long mail, IHM. But, I just want to say that “adjustment” is a vicious cycle. The more you repress yourself, the more you want to take it out on someone. And, you eventually will- a spouse, children or even your own DIL. You can always make a few mutual sacrifices and agreements, but the word “mutual” is to be heeded here.

Everyone has their own set of negotiable and non-negotiable. Some women actually don’t mind wearing saree all the time to please their husband/in-laws. Some women don’t mind quitting working. Maybe… but, I am not one of them. The point is: Never negotiate even slightly on things that are non-negotiable for you. Also never hesitate to negotiate on things that don’t matter much in the long run.

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