of why I married again

We were having a discussion at work last week about feminism and marriage and relationships. You should’ve seen how animated I got! I talked for twenty minutes about how marriage is a failed institution.

Mostly, all I said was that women are far more burdened than men. They are pressured to be obedient daughters, desirable (in terms of being fair and tall and curvy but with flat abs) yet subservient wives, dutiful daughters-in-law, exemplary mothers. Then there’s the pressure of having to get a full-time job if they don’t want to be seen as too gharelu (Indian slang for unemployed and homely – and not in a good way).

And if a woman goes out and works all day, she’s expected to come home at night and cook dinner. Oh, and there’s usually no such thing as ‘tired’. The husband comes home at the same time, tired, and the wife’s duty is to serve him a hot meal. If he helps in the kitchen, he’s a generous husband who not only allows his wife to pursue her dream (of slaving all day at work) and helps in the house.

My point being: men have it easy, but marriage makes no sense for women.

People mostly agreed with me on that point, except that they were curiously asking questions about why I married Mister if I’m such a non-believer. I wanted to tell them but it would mean giving up details of my personal life, which I am not ready to do.

But I can write about them here.

Mister asked me to move in with him a long time ago, and I thought it made perfect sense. No more risking being attacked by naked men as I carried packed food from his house to mine, no more fear of stalkers, no more pick me up at 8,  no more your place or mine, no more rent and no more questions from a bitchy landlady, and better yet – no more landlords stealing my lingerie.

We were both really excited about this.

But a few nights before the moving van arrived, panic set in at the thought of leaving my pristine white walls and blue-green curtains and my cushions and my Voltas fridge and my house with just about enough air in the summer and sunlight in the winter. The thought of not keeping my bookshelf exactly where I wanted, the dimness of the lights and the aloneness.

Everything I had invested in this house – my time, my money, my hopes – were going to be taken away. I felt like my independence and my substance was being drained out through a hole in the pit of my stomach and I was going to fade away and become once again the phantom that I had been for so many years before I moved into the house I lived in and got a life of my own.

I was wrong.

I moved in with him a few days later and that place finally became my home – I learned that could live with other people without surrendering any part of myself. I could just be who I was and people actually liked me for who I really was. There were no questions, no complaints. I was truly happy.

But then one day, Mister proposed. I was really freaked out for a while because he knew I didn’t believe in marriage as it exists today.

But then I thought about it.

In a typical marriage, I’d be waking up early to get breakfast and lunch out of the way before I left for work. Then I’d slog all day in office, say no to late night calls and meeting and pass up opportunities for promotions so I could get in time for dinner at home. I’d bring home the money, and also be expected to be available for more wifely duties. I’d have no time for myself – because in my country, women are not allowed that luxury – they are daughters, wives, and daughters-in-law more than they are people.

And here I was, already living with Mister and his mom as part of their family. This is unheard of, at least in India.

And in this house, I woke up two hours before I had to leave for work. I’d laze around, reading the newspaper and sipping chai as mom hobbled about taking care of the house. I felt no guilt.

We had shared responsibilities and unlike other households, these responsibilities had nothing to do with typical gender roles. Mom was retired, so she would be responsible for managing the household, which basically meant overseeing the domestic helps (we had three – two for dusting and cleaning, one for the cooking) and making sure we didn’t run out of supplies. When we did run out of supplies, whoever was near the market would buy them. Mister and I only brought home the money.

If one of the maids were on leave, we’d take up odd jobs so the house wouldn’t look too shabby if someone were to drop in unannounced. Mister would do the dishes happily, but had to be bribed by a cup of chai first.

If the cook didn’t show up, either mom or I would cook – and not because we were women – only because Mister’s cooking is unbelievably bad. (He thinks Pasta in Vodka sauce is a simple recipe where you simply pour a 30ml shot on Maggi pasta. It’s NOT that simple!) If we were feeling particularly lazy, we’d all just order in or go out and eat.

I would come home to a mother – not a mother in law. A friend – not a husband.

I married him.

Because I realized that I would not have to carry the double burden of being a corporate slave and self-sacrificing wife/daughter in law.

Because I knew I wouldn’t have to feel thankful for ‘help’ if Mister worked in the kitchen when I was working on my laptop.

Because my sense of self-worth or how my family felt about me would not have to depend upon whether I’m cooking/cleaning/washing/shopping for them.

Because this was my last, only chance at being in a truly equal marriage.

 

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anawnimiss

Blogger. Crazy bitch. Stalkee. Weirdo magnet. Wannabe housewife. Corporate Slave. Find me at anawnimiss.wordpress.com!

24 thoughts on “of why I married again”

  1. You’re lucky…not in husband-dept but the MIL-dept. I have a helping MIL too, and perhaps my family works on a similar routine as yours, but there is always the ‘guilt’. The briging-up to the point where they stop expecting from me, is something I’m working on. You’re so right about the expectations from women. I often wonder why is it in India when all of them seem to be so ‘westernized’ in other areas!? 🙂 A lovely post. Makes me believe in a better future, and lesser guilty of working for it! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Mom is the USP 🙂
      And about the guilt – well, we’re so used to being judged all the time, it takes a while for the guilt to go. But when it finally does, it’s really liberating!

      Like

  2. It is such a relief reading this…. You’re so lucky to have a beautiful family. In such an environment you can not just age but grow. Both physically and intellectually. I wish I have the same luck. Marriage is something I am scared of. What if it turns out bad…?? I am happy at least that I have a beautiful partner in life… Who is a friend first. But what if somehow we don’t gel up well when staying together? Scares me…

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  3. I’ve been smart about things by resolutely continuing to be: 1) a hopeless cook; 2) an untidy mess. Conveniently, my boyfriend is a great cook and a neat freak compared to me, so you see how I’ve been damn clever in managing future expectations concerning housework. Jokes aside, heavily lopsided expectations about wifely and husbandly duties (uff!) really make Indian marriages seem terrifying to people like us who’ve grown up doing our fair share of work, yes, but aren’t used to (and are NOT okay with) being saddled with all expectations, responsibilities and obligations just because, y’know, we got married. Your mom-in-law sounds like a dream. 🙂 And you were living in with Mister and his mom before you guys got married?! Wow, that’s really unheard of here!

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    1. Yeah, we decided to take the unconventional route because frankly we didn’t care what the world thinks. Also, between the two of us we already had three failed marriages, and I sure as hell didn’t want another. Made a lot of sense to stay together as family and then decide if it was going to work. Mom was the one who suggested that, so I guess I’m lucky in that department!

      And don’t count on the current expectation setting too much – things change once you marry. Take my word for it and get a pre-nup!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Miss Anawn!

    Got a follow from you, yay! Thanks 🙂
    Agree totally with you that all the expectations are from the women in this country. Women are supposed to be the custodians of the currently contorted-suits- just- men- Bhartiya Sabhyata! If all the women were to get together and rebel, I am sure this huge country would come to a grinding halt. It is rare to find people who truly love the other person as they are. Women are humans beings first before they are anything else. I wish more people would notice that!

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    1. Hey Surbhi, sorry I missed responding to your comment. I thought I did! 😐
      What you said about gender stereotypes is absolutely right in the current context. I am just hoping that more and more people will question this sabhyata and rustle things up a bit!

      Like

  5. I am a man. I wake up with my young toddler in the morning to feed and change her as she wakes really early. I then wake up our elder one, prepare her for school, drop her there and bring her back. Make sure that the kids are fed , happy and safe during the day. I am the one who takes them to doctor. Whenever we were without a cook, it was always me who cooked. When we lived abroad, I was the one who cooked and washed dishes and did laundry. But you know what I think our marriage is still not equal as after the kids the mom still does so much more than the obvious regular things that I mentioned above.

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    1. Thank you for offering your perspective as a man, B. I don’t know too many men who do what you do and still feel like they aren’t doing enough.

      I think that a marriage is truly equal when none of the partners lives with a sense of entitlement, and responsibilities are shared without bowing to typical gender roles. Of course the kids have to be borne and breastfed and these are not tasks for a man, but husbands should be comfortable tending to the kids (as in your case) and wives shouldn’t be afraid of changing the lightbulbs and dealing with the plumbing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm… I have always wondered what it would take to try again after a failed marriage… This post got me one step closer to the answer… Well written as always 🙂

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    1. The trick is to first distance yourself and then think about it. That is the only way to be sure if your judgment is being clouded by your circumstances. Marry because you want to, but not because you have to, and you should be fine!

      Like

  7. “And in this house, I woke up two hours before I had to leave for work. I’d laze around, reading the newspaper and sipping chai as mom hobbled about taking care of the house. I felt no guilt.”

    As a feminist myself, this line comes off as pretty hardhearted. Do you not feel any desire to help an older lady around the house? After all, she is the mother of your husband and treats you like a daughter.

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    1. Thank you Radha, I appreciate you being upfront about how you feel.

      To answer your question, no, I don’t. I work hard enough all week and have no desire to work some more. Also, as I said, I feel no guilt in admitting this.

      Now that I have (hopefully) answered your questions, I have a few questions for you.

      Why would you expect me, a working woman, to do things around the house when my mother (in law) basically stays home all day and has three people to help her out? Do you not think I might be entitled to some free time? How is this a feministic view?

      Like

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