What’s it that you look for in your partner in your marriage?


We have all been hearing, reading and witnessing the various atrocities committed against women by the parents, the husband, the in-laws and the society. Female foeticide, educational deprivation, child marriage, kidnapping, eve teasing, sexual molestation, rape, domestic violence and so on.

Image Source: www.filmnotes.net
Image Source: http://www.filmnotes.net

We are taught to forgive and forget since childhood because we have to go and settle down in a different house. Paraya Dhan we are you know. We are taught to keep our mouths shut because it is considered rude for a female to speak up. Isn’t this violence? The only difference is a kidnapper or a rapist ties our hands, stuffs up our mouth with rags or clothes so that we can’t scream and here it is our own people who tie our hands, chain our feet and stop us from speaking without the help of ropes, chains or clothes.

One-third of her life (which she got by chance because either her parents were scared to kill her or with difficulty they managed to keep her alive), a female spends protecting the ‘izzat’ of her parents, mamas, chachas and taus. All this to protect their naak (nose, symbol of ego and self-respect in this context) from being cut by the society. A single step she takes against the elders of the family makes them term her as kulta, kulachhini, and so on.

My vocabulary is restricted to the very few movies of the 70s and 80s that I watched as a child. During those days it was the in-laws, the Daadis or the villains. And today if you switch on the idiot box, it is mostly extra-marital affairs or a vamp who gets an easy entry into those houses. Intricate details not available as I rarely switch on the idiot box let alone watch these stupid soaps.

So after all this, she enters the next phase of her life with a man who is supposed to be her all-in-all. In short, Pati Parameshwar. Most of the times, this man is someone her family decides for her and many a times she wouldn’t even have a say in the final decision. In certain cases, she is lucky enough to get to live with the man of her choice. Purely her choice! But in every case, it is always the man who is the Pati Parameshwar and there is no mention of the Patni at all. From whatever little I have read about the mythological stories about Shiva, there was always an equal (if not more) weightage given to Parvati, his ardhangini or better half.

Back to the discussion…

This man that she is either forced to spend her life with or is happy to spend her life with is her life from now on. Or so it is made to be. For some reason, I do believe that majority of men are perfect partners for their wives and even if they are bound by societal pressures to follow the patriarchal societal norms and customs, they still have a good understanding between them which makes the marriage work. In many of the modern day marriages, the couple is courageous enough to break free of the societal and family bindings and live a life of their own.

An Indian marriage, many a times is a marriage between two families and not the two individuals. It is a struggle to hold both the families together. Most of the time what you get to hear is, “Hamare yahaan aisa rivaaz hota hai.” or “hamare yahaan aisa rivaaz nahi hota.”

The couple gets buried under the stampede of customs and their fulfillments.

Now the man of the house is responsible for earning the bread and spends his time outside of the home for most of the day. The lady of the house too in today’s households is allowed to work and does spend an equally exhaustive day outside of the house. After all, who says no to Money Money Money. Responsibilities, extension of families and all take a toll of their relationship. And finally they become nothing but a man and a woman with no relationship in particular, but just mere robots that perform certain assigned tasks to let the household work smoothly even if it means their relationship doesn’t work smoothly. Actually how can something work when it is non-existent?

Image source: www.levo.com
Image source: http://www.levo.com

In many other households, they live happily ever after for the world. But what’s brewing inside is not known to anybody, including themselves. The wife goes about binding the family together during tough times. A single instance of her not touching the feet of her in-laws can disrupt the peace of the household. It doesn’t matter if you have any respect for these elders who control your life now, but you have to touch their feet because that’ll make them perfect parents and in-laws and you the perfect bahu.

What? Did you say why can’t she refuse? Have you lost it?

Remember the lessons of childhood. Keep your mouth shut and just listen and abide by the ‘laws’ of your house from where you coffin alone is supposed to leave.

She is tough and endures all of this too.

But what happens when the man she loves or rather is the only one she must love and live with doesn’t support her. For once I wish such men understood that it is not just monetary support that she looks for in you, but an emotional one too.

When it hurts you to note that she forgot that your Dad takes not one but two spoons of sugar in his tea or it hurts you that she offered milk to your Mom with left hand because she was carrying her child in her right hand, why can’t you understand and accept that the same or a little lesser is expected of you too? She’ll do everything she can till she dies and all she asks for is your love and support.

If a man fails you when it comes to standing up for you or standing by your side in a difficult situation, what is it that you’ll do?

Consider this that it is not the first or the second instance, but a series of incidents that makes her want to take a stand. I ask this question from the point of view of everyone regardless of economic, religious or societal statures. The female in question can be anybody, from a lady from the slums, to a lady from a middle class family or a lady who heads a corporate venture.

Image Source: Google Image Search
Image Source: Google Image Search

What in your view would be right on her part to do?


17 Replies to “What’s it that you look for in your partner in your marriage?”

  1. It is a tragedy where a woman can be herself and give way to her individuality. The tamasha of the patriarchy that makes the woman protect the family izzat while they nice forget her izzzat, read human dignity. Eye opening post, Rekha. There are many women who face such verbal and psychological violence through the stupid mindset that mirrors the image of society that crushes rights. It’s high time for women to say NO as in a big NO to any society that doesn’t respect her right. I feel that the argument that a woman marries not just a man but his family is bullshit.

    1. Thanks Vishal for taking the time to read and respond. What can a lady do if she is well aware that she will have no acceptance if she goes back to her people? What happens if she has no means to take care of whatever little monetary requirements she and her kids have? What happens when people threaten to make things worse for her? If she’s educated, I accept that she can still manage with a little effort in the beginning. But what about those who aren’t lucky enough? There’s so much going on around us and it feels really really helpless and painful to see them bear the torture just because there’s no other option or choice that they see for themselves.

      1. I agree with ur perspective. The point is the ones who have independence should value their dignity and self esteem. It’s sad for the ones who are not equipped financially. i mean, we can argue endlessly, Rekha, but kudos for coming with such an eye opening post and shedding light on the plague.

    1. When is the question. And all I see is a big question mark when I see people of my generation too talking and behaving in the same manner. Pity!

  2. Everybody’s human. In this particular instance, the woman seems to have superhuman expectations to live up to; the Super Bahu.
    She doesn’t need to do anything. Its the guy who should lighten up. Though, I wonder how easy this really is, especially as you point out, there is a brainwashing since childhood into this model of patriarchy, which really doesnt make sense in today’s world.
    I’ve grown up with a single mother, and seen her transform from a shy, reticent housewife to a proud, confident working lady. The journey hasn’t been without its struggles. Though we miss the support of elders, it has been heartwarming and we’ve avoided a lot of this unnecessary drama in the name of izzat and crap.
    Bullshit needs to be recognized for what it is. And unnecessary elements should be removed from life. No point in dwelling in negativity.
    I admire the woman in this instance and hope the man steps up to support her, emotionally, as is her right.
    Thanks for this thought provoking article :). You always write well, and I do look forward to reading more :).

    1. Thank you so much for the appreciation! I am sure you’ll be a nice person as you’ve grown up witnessing the difficulties your mother had to face all alone. Most of the people are only interested I watching the drama that is happening around them even if it is at the cost of someone else’s life. As you rightly said, in this case it is the man who has to change to be more supportive towards her. And that is what is not happening in many of the cases. The victim thus leads a terrible life without even trying to escape from this hell. She accepts it as her fate and that is something that is more painful to see. The lucky ones or the chosen ones with enough courage and a will to survive, will take action, liberate themselves and succeed in life. Wish all had that much courage. Keep reading. Thank you!

  3. Put her foot down if things cannot be reasoned out and stand up for what is right but in an amicable manner, she need not stoop down to the lows the others are at right?. Having said that, in today’s time many men (in urban societies) are a lot more understanding and shoulder domestic chores as well…but yes despite the small silver lining, the future does look bleak

  4. I see what you are trying to portray…a partner who is too swayed by customs and traditions and stereotypes that he is unable to stand up for or acknowledge his wife’s individuality. Many of today’s women let it be, they just learn to live with it or live around it, for this man of hers might not be an unbearable person.he might not be a wife beating, non working, beast.he would be just a hard working man and a great father with a some patriarchal brainwashing . the root of the cause lies in the upbringing ,on what these girls and boys were taught when they grew up.No one can change it in a blink! What we need is strong gender equality classes/workshops in school and if possible at home. My daughter doesn’t see much of her dada cooking, so she once told me that only girls cook,not boys. After which I forced my husband to do some chores in the kitchen and told my daughter that -see, everybody has to do cooking ,cleaning and basic chores like that .At least let the new generation learn to close the gap!

  5. I hope the new generation of parents bring up their children to treat everyone as equals and not have one be viewed as superior or inferior to the other!

  6. With this issue, as with all others, almost all of us know what he, she, they, society should do to change things. Instead, we should ask, “What can I do to change things?”
    I think everyone, male and female, should look inwards into their own families and sincerely try to change things.
    We are quick to criticise our own and our sisters’ parents-in-law when they discriminate against their daughters-in-law, but gladly overlook the same discrimination when it is perpetrated by our own parents. Sometimes, we even perpetrate the same discrimination ourselves!
    I’ve always wondered how, while so many women complain about the regressive behaviour of their parents-in-law, very few women speak about the regressive behaviour of their parents! (From whatever I’ve read in your blog, Rekha, I know you’re an exception.)
    If we can’t change the earlier generation or our generation, let us try to change the next generation. Let us start by not discriminating between our boys and our girls. Let us inculcate the right values in them. This is in our hands.

  7. Complex subject, Rekha! It is very sad if your partner or spouse does not stand up for you. There are many ways of approaching this — use tact, anger, tantrums (whatever works) to make him understand his mistake.

  8. I remember reading this article when you posted it and returning without commenting, because this stirred so much in me, that I thought I had to come back and write it another day.
    I guess you can read much into it , when I say I can see myself in the victim here, in some of the circumstances you’ve mentioned. It is always the woman who has to adjust, cry may be, but adjust nevertheless. Oh no, I forgot, she can’t cry, because her tears will bring misfortune for the family. And she cooks, cleans, listens to all nonsense about her, gets hurt, still cooks, cleans and does everything else she’s expected to do. Hoping that he would see it and stand up for her.
    And if he doesn’t, she has to choose to speak out. Either way, she’ll be blamed ,then why suffer silently !
    In my experience, the one thing he stood up for was greater than many other small things ignored, so that was tolerable 😀

  9. Could not understand how the title is related to the content?? Permanent URL could be indian women marriage option or choices something like that and title can be different as per me.

This space thrives on your comments. Bring it on!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s