How do you tell a person who means a lot to you that you love them? How do you prove it to your husband or children that they are the epicentre of your life? Do you tell them so, or do you pamper them to the extent that they won’t even be able to fetch a fresh pair of socks in your absence, or be able to locate a clean spoon? This is a grouse I have against a lot of women in our society, who equate loving someone to mollycoddling them. Ladies, love and pampering are two different things, and the absence of one doesn’t essentially mean the absence of another. Why is it that women who refuse to “spoil” their spouse or partners are labelled as man-haters? Is serving someone or enduring sacrifices for them the only way to let someone know that they are special to you?

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • Women often equate pampering husbands to loving them.
  • Is picking up dirty socks off the floor or cooking three meals a day the only way to prove that you love your spouse?
  • Why is this compulsion to prove your love by pampering your partner only applicable to women?
  • Marriage is a two-way street where the burden of adjustments is meant to be shared by both the partners.

Why is it that women who refuse to “spoil” their spouse or partners are labelled as man-haters? Is serving someone or enduring sacrifices for them the only way to let someone know that they are special to you?

A woman recently took to Twitter to criticise women who refused to sacrifice for their husbands, calling them hypocrites. “Real love is sacrifice. Serving is the way of love. A woman who says she loves her husband but refuses to sacrifice is a hypocrite. These days many women sacrifice their sleep for work, self respect for promotion but won’t make their husbands a breakfast or serve their in-laws.” She further went on to write, “My hubby leaves the cap off the toothpaste or forgets to put the towel on stand. Instead of getting angry, I put the cap on and the towel on stand. It only takes a few seconds. A major problem in marriage is conflict. It’s okay to spoil your man a little bit. Love him.” Her tweets evoked outrage from many people, and while I do not endorse the demeaning and insulting remarks that some made to troll her, many raised some valid questions. Aren’t love and sacrifice to separate things? Do we put men to the same standards? If, say a wife must prove her love to her husband by “serving” his parents and him, shouldn’t he do the same for her? Or is this equation only applicable to womankind?

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Marriage is a two way street of adjustments. You make some sacrifices indeed, but then your partner does so by doing the same for you. We all do things for our partners which we would rather not. Picking wet towels from the bed, unclogging hair from the bathroom drain, fetching each other water or tea, or ensuring the comfort of old parents. However, sacrifices in a relationship can’t be running one way, where one partner absolutely takes another for granted, while the other refuses to stop being pushed to the wall, just to prove their love and commitment. Little things or big, your partner needs to acknowledge what you are doing, and reciprocate your level of commitment, in whatever form it is.

The gendering of duties which sends women picking after their husbands or put their needs first was never about love. It was always about establishing a hierarchy, in our society, in our homes and in our bedrooms.

But in India, men have been conditioned to feel entitled to being served by their wives. Women, on the other hand, equate mollycoddling to display of love and devotion. You are a loving wife if you pick dirty socks from the floor, press your husband’s legs, and put his needs always before yours. A husband who does the same is seen as his wife’s slave or a lesser man. A man who doesn’t care to offer his wife a glass of water when she is back home after a long day at work, or never helps in any household chores is seldom judged, but a wife who does so is labelled unloving and heartless. This is how patriarchy plays both the genders and we refuse to see its manipulation.

The gendering of duties which sends women picking after their husbands or put their needs first was never about love. It was always about establishing a hierarchy, in our society, in our homes and in our bedrooms. So while there is nothing wrong in pampering your husband, there are other ways to prove our love to them, than abiding by the patriarchal norms and judging other women who don’t. And frankly, if your partner truly loves you, your refusal to pick after them will not make them doubt your commitment.

Picture credits: naahq.org

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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