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Its a Taboo!! #AtoZChallenge

Its a Taboo!! #AtoZChallenge

Marriage is all about togetherness. It is about two different individuals coming together, of experiences, of the joys of starting a family, of tears and happiness. And fights too… Yet, when the basis of marriage- companionship and happiness- is threatened, I wonder why the option of divorce is scorned upon in society and considered a taboo.

Statistically, divorce rates in India are far lower than what it is in western counties. Of course there has been a general rise in the trend, but this is restricted to urban-metro cities. When we look at the teeny-weeny villages, tier 2 towns and other rural and semi-rural regions, divorce rates are minimal. Is this because, we Indians are happy in our marriages, and we don’t really have issues of compatibility and happiness, with our spouse?

Maybe there is an all together different issue that looms. Divorce in our country is still a taboo. I picked 5 reasons that were commonly echoed amongst people I have discussed this with. 

Reason 1: The Family reputation

We Indians live in a close knit community. Family, friends, neighbours, society etc… are inter-linked and blended into our lives. Their influences are strong and opinions affect us. Thus, we have grave concerns about any kind of negative opinion they could brew about our family reputation.

Reason 2: Respectable family girls don’t divorce

Absurd as it may seem, a family’s respect lies in the conduct of the women folk. And divorce is look at as an “unrespectable” act.  Walking out of a marriage could put a question mark to the respect the family commands.

Reason 3:  Living alone is not easy. It’s a dangerous world out there

However financially independent a lady may be, living a life on her own isn’t going to be easy. A girl always needs the support of her man. And staying away from him would probably bring in more trouble. She could be tagged as “readily available” and unwanted men may pry on her.

Reason 4: The Social outcasts/stigma

Here is another absurd reason. The concept of being a “Suhagan” (staying married with husband being alive) is upheld high in Indian society. On most social gatherings and festive occasions, “Suhagans” are given importance and are well attended to in comparison to a widow or a Divorcee. Often such individuals are kept away from important rituals.

Reason 5: The question of remarriage

Though our society has opened up considerably to the idea of remarriage, there still are issues that crop up in case of divorcee remarriage, starting with a big doubt on the character of the divorcee. And a divorcee with a child? Well it could just get tougher.

Surprisingly I realized the rules were more flexible for a man if he were divorced!

In a country where we spend enormous amounts of money on a wedding, ending it is scorned upon predominantly because a marriage is coming together of two families. A divorce means a rift or split between the families and not actually the individuals concerned. Even if a relationship genuinely requires a split, it never does make it to divorce- the families just hush up the matter.

Image source: Pixabay

 

Clash of the Titans: The Mother-in-Law & Daughter-in-law

Clash of the Titans: The Mother-in-Law & Daughter-in-law

Pbar_ww_badegeut a group of young women in a room, and you are bound to have at least seventy percent of them rant about their mother-in-laws. From time immemorial this relationship has been the butt of all jokes. Scores of forums across the internet are flooded on a daily basis, with questions pertaining to tackling the Mother-in-law. Often conflicts turn bitter, and may well become the reason for many a marriage to crumble down.

The Modern Day Mother In-law & Daughter-in-law

The modern-day Mother-in- law, is far more educated than what her own Mother-in-law was. From the personification of pure dominance, today, she is a more sensitive individual. She is more suited to treat her daughter-in-law with respect as she has learnt that to get respect, one must give respect. The Daughter-in-law of today is independent and is well aware of her rights. She believes in equality and thrives on mutual respect. She is receptive and is open to expressing not only her feelings, but her views too.

“Yet, despite these changes, there seems to be no end to the conflicts between a Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law.”

The Clash of the Titans

I consider myself lucky, to belong to the small percentage of women, for whom, the Mother-in-law factor isn’t really a big issue. Of course, we have had our share of differences too. But over the years, we have managed to settle down these differences amicably.

You’re the daughter she never had, is what it all begins with. And well, you do assume that this purely means she’s going to be supportive of all your choices, staying out of your life and marriage, just being there at the time, when you ask her for help. Looks perfect, isn’t it!! On the other hand, the Mom-in-law has her own little picture of what the Daughter-in-law must encompass. She knows you are crazy about her son. But she also assumes that you see her as an authority on her son. She assumes, you would seek advice from her, and the end result, she can’t wait to start helping…

What ensues is the clash of the Titans, and the reason why women begin to discuss how strained or infuriating their relationship with their Mother-in law has become.

Tracing the Problem

The problems can be traced back to the unspoken yet conflicting expectations and assumptions. For the Daughter-in-law, no matter how modern is the Mother-in-law, she is constantly judged on the standards of a traditional housewife– which is her ability to cook, maintain a home clean, and raise children. On the other hand, for the Mother-in-Law, her decade old pattern of decision-making is suddenly under threat, as the daughter-in-law now likes to do it all her way.

There is, thus, an underlying disappointment felt by both women, giving rise to a distinctive negativity. Add to this, a mother’s possessiveness over her son and a wife’s difficulty as she balances work and home responsibilities. You have the perfect formula for years of trouble. These tensions do more than cause friction within families. They can put even the best marriages at risk.

The Solutions Lies Within Both

As long as there is no abuse, there surely is a solution in tackling this age-old problem. By abuse I mean, dowry harassment, physical, mental and verbal abuse, irrespective of who inflicts it on whom. When such issues arise, there should surely be no compromise and it is not to be tolerated.

“Love begets love; let it once begin and none can tell its end.”

For the mother-in-law, who may feel her domain threatened, must accept that the son is now the object of  his wife’s affection too. Don’t pin down expectations. The mantra is to forgive and forget without any animosity against your son’s bride.

For the daughter-in-law, remember she comes with years of experience. Do not take offense at the smallest of things. Give a relationship time. If your mother-in-law expresses a view that differs from yours, you don’t have to accept it in entirety. Show respect for her experience and at the same time, make it clear that you want to do things your own way.

What surely worked for me is the assurance I gave my mother-in-law that she would continue to be respected, and be an integral part of the family. It made her respect our boundaries, which she seldom crossed over.

For the man of the house, you may feel like as though you are between a rock and a hard place, with a possessive mom on one side and a sensitive wife on the other. But remember you are the link between the two. Either you ease out the tension with your calm and collected way or, simply allow the tension to mount by being a silent spectator.

Featured Image Source: India Opines
Does one really need a name for all relationships ?- Guest Post by Aditi Bose

Does one really need a name for all relationships ?- Guest Post by Aditi Bose


Indian Bloggers

“I’m a woman. A married woman. An Indian married woman. But nothing remains in this marriage anymore. It’s just a sham. A farce. A pretence. And yet I’m still pretending. I have my reasons. Like the many others in the country. Society. Parents. Child. Finances. Reasons abound. Or maybe it’s just my lack of guts. My fear of all the complications that will come with moving on………”

This is the story that many Indian women will tell you. Unlike in other countries where acceptance is more, here, if a married woman wants a divorce she is scorned upon. By those who know her and more by those who don’t.

Yes, there is a group of who have the courage to take a stand and move away. Start off on their own. Once again. Right from the beginning. Rebuild. Retry.

The majority don’t though. They stay silent. And suffer. Bloody suffer each day. With each breath. They look at themselves in the mirror and see a person who they don’t recognize. A person who is just a figment of what they once used to be. They want to scream but no sound comes out. They just go about performing their duties towards their family. The mask they wear has now gotten so used to staying on their faces that it can’t be removed anymore. It has become a part of them. The pretence seems real.

realistic_pencil_sketch_photo_effect

It doesn’t make them any less lonely though. They all want to be loved. They all want to feel affection. They are humans too. And so, in times of solitude hope comes knocking on their hearts. They still have that organ. It still beats. At least literally it does. After all they are still breathing. They wish that metaphorically it beat too. They wish that they felt alive once again.

And then, one day, for a lucky few, the impossible happens. They find what they have been wishing for. A new man. One who loves them. One who understands them. One who shows them respect. One who has time for them. One who wants to see them smile. One who wants to listen to them. One who gives them wings to fly again.

It scares them a little initially. So they try and run from the very thing that they have been waiting for. They feel scared to admit it. And then they give in. Give in to the moment of truth. They fall in love as well. Man has never escaped love. Women haven’t either!

Love. A feeling that gives them smiles and joy initially. A feeling that makes them feel like a woman once again. A feeling that makes them proud of their bodies once again. A feeling that makes them feel the happiness of youth once again.

Why then, with the passage of time, do they become so full of greater depression? Just because they are now in a relationship that can’t be given a name? Does one really need a name for all relationships ? A named relationship didn’t give them much in any case. Naming this one might lead to the same ending eventually. Why then can’t they just believe in the love that they have found? Isn’t that enough? Why can’t they just keep it unnamed?

These may seem as mere questions… But who has the answers to it??

-Guest post by Aditi Bose

IMG-20151202-WA0003Aditi Bose is the author of “Hama Guri Goes to School”- an e-book for kids, published by Cresco early this year. Her second book, ‘My Dream Man’, published by Authors’ Ink Publications, is due to enter the market by the end of 2015. She lives in Delhi where she spends her time writing- well into the wee hours of the morning, and chilling with her little daughter.

Do you have an opinion, a view or just a rambling you would like to share? Be a guest at my madhouse and I would be glad to host you. You could reach me on meotherwise(dot)blog(at)gmail(dot)com

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Getting Chosen as a Life Partner- The Tambrahm Way

Getting Chosen as a Life Partner- The Tambrahm Way

This post made it to the top three in YeahWrite.me non-fiction weekly challenge.”

“Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.”

That’s the definition from Wikipedia!!! Now if that sounded pretty complex, in reality, the institution of marriage is far more complex in India. Chunk of marriages in India are arranged. It begins from the “yes my child has reached the marriageable age”, to the actual event and beyond…. (Well I really don’t know when weddings end in India. The responsibility gets dragged on probably till the couple has their child).

The elders in the household get the ball rolling by spreading the word in the immediate social circle. Once a prospective groom (read family) is shortlisted, then the whole rigmarole of marriage begins.

Image source:www.penciljammers.com
Image source:www.penciljammers.com

I was recently party to one such event in my over enthusiastic “Tambrahm” household. Tambrahm is the nick name given to the Brahmin sect living in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. They have a reputation of not only being intelligent and well qualified, but also traditional and orthodox, conforming strictly to Vedic practices. My aunt made the announcement that her dear son had reached marriageable age. He had a very typical “IIT-IIM” Tambrahm degree, and the only thing she wanted was a girl who was smart, homely, and God-fearing.

Well that’s not too much to ask for… Just that the meaning of smart, homely and God-fearing in the Tambrahm dictionary is “a girl with at least an engineering degree, can drive a car, speak good English and debate on current political issues. She should be able to cook up a 3 course meal, make snacks and sweets in ample quantities during festivities. She should adhere to strict religious practices as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures, wear a sari and when required the elaborate 9 yards sari too. She could work…but should be home by 6 pm before the evening lamp is lit and be prepared to retire from work… when the first baby comes. She should also be able to sing during functions such as Navratri and other social gatherings, and make great filter coffee. Oh I also forgot to mention… Follow echal, pathu, madi, accharam … (well these are just different terms a common TamBrahm household uses for rules regarding hygiene cleanliness and general living).

So anyways the hunt was on and finally the chosen family was to be met on a Sunday, after the horoscopes of the boy and the girl were matched by the family astrologer. Being a ritualistic person my aunt decided it not appropriate to allow her son to meet the girl before she had met her. So an entire platoon of our family landed up at the girl’s residence. After the customary greeting, the girl whom I shall address as “A”, walked in with a tray of piping hot filter coffee. All eyes were transfixed on her. Did I imagine my aunt ticking off a checklist in her mind? I did see a twinkle in her eye.

“Can you sing?” my aunt asked her. Surprisingly most TamBrahms are blessed with a beautiful voice. I must admit “A” sang soulfully. The melody wafted through the air and I noticed my aunt’s smile deepen. When it was time to leave, I noticed “A’s” parents had a look of anxiety. Was it a yes or a no? My aunt held their hands and said, “I will get my son the next week. Let the youngsters talk while we proceed to the next step- the nithchaithartham or the formal proposal to marry.” The parents beamed.

A Tambrahm wedding had just been fixed.

On our way back home, I asked my aunt what made her say yes to the girl. Here were her reasons.

Reason 1: Their horoscopes matched extremely well. They will surely have a happy married life.

I find it quite surprising that many parents even today give more importance to horoscopes instead of actually focusing on compatibility. I wonder if horoscopes really reflect compatibility in marriages.

Reason 2: She did not use any make up. Did you see that?  She is surely a simple girl.

Well, use of make up or not, it is purely a personal choice related to dressing. Simplicity lies in one’s heart. I have always known the dislike Tambrahms have towards any sort of makeup. But little did I know that it is a vital criterion in getting a groom!!!

Reason 3: She can sing well despite being a qualified engineer.

I’d definitely give my aunt a point here. I truly appreciate a person developing their talent, skill, passion or hobby, apart from having their professional life. It is commendable in today’s hectic world. But wondering if this would make someone a good life partner.

I finally asked my aunt the question that had been gnawing my mind. “Would your son like to have her as his wife?” She retorted “Well he must… I know what’s good for him I would not take no for an answer.”

I pondered to myself. I am not against the system of an arranged marriage. But wish parents would include their children in their decision making process and not force their choices on them.

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“We've been married for 55 years and we haven't fought for a single day!”

“We've been married for 55 years and we haven't fought for a single day!”

“We’ve been married for 55 years and we haven’t fought for a single day!”

I picked up this quote today from a file interview of President Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s late wife, Suvra Mukherjee*. It made me wonder… what really makes couples compatible with each other? What takes a man and woman to live together for 55 years or more, without having any regrets about it?

File Photo of The President with His Late Wife

As I sat pondering, I penned down the following factors.

  • Trust in one another:

I rate this number one. Trust is the foundation and the basis for a steady relationship of any kind. Trusting your partner means he is your dependable buddy whom you could always count on. When you trust your partner it means you know it from the bottom of your heart that he/ she would not brush you off, or betray you.

  • Tolerance:

We all are born with numerous amounts of flaws and weaknesses. It is probably God’s way of saying nothing is perfect in this universe and a certain degree of imperfection lies in every soul. So, when we begin to accept and tolerate a partner’s normal foibles and faults, we pave the road for a rock hard relationship. Besides, tolerance aides in resolving differences, quicker.

  • Hate Curve? Naah just let it be:

Disagreements and teeny weeny arguments stem in almost all relationships. But do not give space for anger, ego and hate. It is ok to express disagreement over something your spouse did, but expressing it in the form of contempt… hmmmm not really advisable.

  • Commitment:

Stay committed to the person you love. Its reciprocal… what goes comes back in full circle too… So if you expect commitment, give it in return. Live with the idea that your relationship is going to be long lived.

  • Maintain Openness:

Openness and authenticity cement many great relationships. In an emotionally open relationship, you share your vulnerabilities and feelings of love and admiration for your mate. When you and your partner feel natural with each other, your thoughts and movements will flow with compatibility feelings.

  • The humor and fun:

We all age. It is the universal truth that we all have to accept. Yet it doesn’t take much to have fun together and maintain one’s sense of humor. It is ok to be silly and wacky. It sure relaxes one’s nerves. It would make your relationship feel younger, however old you grow, and however deep you are in responsibilities.

* President Pranab Mukherjee’s wife Suvra Mukherjee passed away on Tuesday morning at 10.51am. I hope God gives the strength to help the President cope with his loss.

"As long as there is no physical abuse in the marriage, it could be endured".

"As long as there is no physical abuse in the marriage, it could be endured".

What is it with cousins? We rarely meet, yet when we do; it seems like the bygone days are back again. I met my dear cousin Radhika after almost 8 years, and it felt like we are children again.  

“So Radhika, happily married? How has it been?” My petite 36 year old cousin looked up at me and said,”Married, yes. Happily, I really do not know”.

“Ok tumble it out Radhika”, I said. She knew I wouldn’t let her go otherwise.

“I have been told by many a people, that as long as there is no physical abuse in the marriage, it could be endured. However, no one ever realizes how painful an emotional abuse could be in a marriage. Venkat and my horoscope had a 9 point compatibility. He was well educated and employed. His background was pretty decent, coming from a family of qualified doctors. He neither smoked nor consumed alcohol.  So for my parents, it was the epitome of all marriage alliances. He would be a perfect match for their daughter.

marriage

I however, realized our incompatibility in the initial days of marriage itself. Venkat has a short fuse. The slightest of things would irk him and make his temper flare. I initially tolerated it, hoping things with smoothen over the days. And each one of us have some weakness or the other, right? But over the years things seem to have just got worse. This is partly because of his professional stress, and partly because I have become his punching bag to vent out frustration. His comments have become demeaning. Off late, realizing that I have become a bit aloof due to his temper, he suspects me of infidelity if I got back home late from work. My 10 year old daughter is so affected by these temper flares, that she often skips dinner, locking herself in her room.  There seems to be really no love in our relationship. We just live on, with life moving from weekend to weekend.

On occasions when I have felt like walking out of the marriage and looked up to my mother for support, she just says, “There are husbands worse off. He just has a bad temper. He never hits. He does take care of you. Walking out be a tough thing to do.”

So tell me now, where is the happiness in this marriage? It just seems to be an arrangement of sorts with parents, who want us to live together for their own reasons.” I heard her out completely. I realized the grim situation.

Many parents even today insist on arranged marriage, giving more importance to horoscopes, groom’s education, income and parents’ background. The fail to focus on a very vital aspect of marriage – compatibility. Compatibility is not about having similar interests/family background. Or for that matter belonging to a certain profession. Compatibility is about couples treating each other with equality and respect. It is all about couples spending time with each other, sharing their crazy thoughts and time, and just having a good laugh together. Relationships thrive on these small things. Venkat is a good provider to his family. But what really lacks in their relationship is respect.

Often, when a girl expresses her concern over her husband’s nature/ ways, the first reaction she gets is “just adjust” or “see the positive” or “it happens in all marriages”. Instead we should focus on giving her a nonjudgmental compassionate hearing. We should be offering her suitable tailor made suggestions. And if required sought the help of a professional counselor. This in reality will bring in respect, space and individuality for the Indian woman! This would truly empower her.

I really wonder how ready we are for this…