Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Life. A Choice.

They’re all around me. They stare me in the face wherever I go - married women who have changed the way they are to fit into the families they have married into.

I’m not referring to minor adjustments such as sharing the bathroom with the spouse, reaching a compromise on the temperature of the air-conditioner, learning to fall asleep with the TV on etc. It’s the changes that women make to their identities that are the most discomforting.

I know I have been writing about this a lot of late but it's all around me and it bugs me no end.

One thing I feel very strongly about is changing one’s last name after marriage. I am very sure I’m not going to be doing it, even if that means not marrying the person in question. It is non-negotiable. My name is an indispensable part of who I am; has been for as long as I’ve lived. Why should I be expected to change it just because I got married to someone? My identity is more important to me than a man - ANY man.

The other thing I cannot do is cook everyday. A friend of mine is about to get married to her boyfriend of four years, who told her that if she’s not willing to cook everyday he’ll have to re-consider marrying her!

I’m sorry but if the guy is used to having his mom cook for him everyday, that’s his problem - not mine. The personal decision that his mom took does not apply to me by default.

Surprisingly, my friend is okay with it though she doesn't know how to cook and has never cooked at her parent's house!

Women make numerous sacrifices to keep their in-laws happy. There are certain types of clothes they give up wearing after marriage (such as shorts, skirts, capris, sometimes even jeans!) because their in-laws aren’t okay with it.

I can’t ever take that kind of an intrusion into my personal life from anyone, including my husband. Being asked not to wear the kind of clothes I presently wear is unfathomable! I think I will simply turn around and ask the person to mind their own business, irrespective of who they are!

Without hesitation.

The life of a married woman starts getting dictated by the schedules and whims of her in-laws. This is particularly true for women who live with their in-laws. They can’t go out with friends whenever they want to. There are things they can & cannot do; places they can & cannot go to – because their in-laws tell them so.

I’ve always been so fiercely independent that such a thing is completely unacceptable to me.

The other thing I don’t understand is how women are okay with husbands who do not support them if there’s a tiff with the in-laws.

The men come up with this very convenient excuse of not wanting to take sides or be in a position where they have to choose between their parents and their wife.

Excuse me? You’re the one who has married me and brought me into your family, so you bloody well support me!

Yet another thing that a married woman is expected to do is to always put her husband’s parents before her own. In fact, it is not even an expectation; rather an assumption that the guy’s family makes.

I can never see myself putting my husband’s parents before my own. And why should I? I don’t see the guy returning the favor. I will give his parents all the respect that they deserve, help them out whenever I can but I can never neglect or be unfair to my parents.

If there’s one thing I’m sure of in life, it is that I am not going to compromise myself for anything or anyone in this world.

I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m not deluded regarding life. I know enough couples to know that it doesn’t take very long after marriage (a couple of years at most) for the rose-tinted love glasses to come off and then you’re left to deal with reality. And reality is what you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.

You’ll be left to live with a person you cares for you, values you, respects what you are, gives you the space you need, stands up for you when you need him to – or not. And I don’t want to be standing on the wrong side of the fence, even if that means not getting married for another 5 years.

That’s not very good news for my parents, is it? :)

I just upped the ante God knows how many times...but that’s okay. They'll live!

Some people might say these things are easier said than done. Surely they are but I’m also sure I have the courage to stick by them, because at the end of the day if we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will.

I might have come across very strongly in this post but that is just how strongly I feel about this issue. Neither am I apologetic about it to any man or woman who might get offended by it. If you're a man and offended by this post, I can understand. If you’re a woman and offended by it, you're probably trapped in this situation yourself, or see yourself in such a situation in the future. Either way, deal with it.

For those who feel the way I do, thank you :)

We get only one shot at life afterall.


Moonshine said...

Scarlett!!! Yes it is extremely extremely frustrating when you know or get to hear about thiese things. I totally understand the identity bit you talked about. And i refuse to change mine. I think marriage is a give and take relationship.. and basis is you like someone the way the are. Why would you want to impose your thoughts, your ideas on someone else!!! A word of advise - its all about expectation setting!!!

I get very worked up about these things. I am constantly harping about these things to my colleagues who face these issues. Grrrrrrrrr..

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - You're right, it's very very important to set the expectations right at the onset. Else you'll have a tough time living up to it. You have no idea how worked up I get about these things, especially when it happens in the family or among my friends. A colleague of mine is about to get into the same situation, I ask her to think about it at every opportunity I get, and the last time we spoke over this she told me, "Look, I'm not like you". Whatever the hell that meant!! Now I've stopped wasting my energy over her.

Moonshine said...

I think its more tortorous for us to see / hear about these things than the person!!! Gets my guts everytime!!!