One of the most common complaint that married Indian women have is, “I don’t spend much time with my husband in spite of living under the same roof.” This holds especially true if you are living in a joint set-up, and the personal time that you and your husband have is expected to be “family time”. So why do Indian families have this aversion towards alone time of married couples?
Marrying a man who comes from a joint family means you don’t just marry an individual, you marry the family. These are words of advice that may come from a worried mother warning her soon-to-be-wed daughter or a caring grandmother guiding her granddaughter. These come from experiences of being married to men with joint families, and how these women adjusted to the lifestyle of a new family.
All that is fine, but no one bothers to tell women that they will have no personal time with their husbands either. If you come from a nuclear family and were dreaming of spending all your time with your husband that too alone then you might be mistaken. Be prepared to face a constant invasion of your personal space when you stay with your in-laws and another extended family.
Etienne Breton, a demographer and a visiting fellow at Cornell University, who has studied the relationship between modernisation and household changes in India says that contrary to predictions, India’s nuclear households have increased only modestly. There’s also no evidence of a significant decline in the average household size in India since the beginning of the 20th Century. Demographic conditions for joint family households remain strong.
So, numerous women are living in joint setups even today but are doing so without any training on how it could impact their marriage. You might have to prepare meals for all family members, sit and eat together, watch television together, go out together, even for movies, well, these are just some of the things one does with one’s spouse if living separately. Even if you are married into a joint family or are living with your in-laws and you willingly accepted this with eyes wide open, you might start carving some time just with your spouse, and there’s nothing wrong in wanting that.
Nobody has the right to tell you that you are trying to separate the son from his parents or family. Spending some alone time with your husband does not mean you are trying to break up his family. On the other hand spending time with your partner is essential to making a relationship grow and blossom into something much more profound, which will eventually help strengthen other family relationships.
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Carving out time becomes difficult
One of the challenges that affect most married couples is carving out time for each other, more so if they are living within a joint family. But for a relationship to thrive spending quality time together with your partner becomes vital. In such a scenario quality time becomes more important than quantity. Even if your husband gives you a ride to the taxi stand or metro station and you spend a nice fifteen minutes in the car talking, even laughing, that counts for something.
Alone time does not mean no family
A couple taking time alone does not mean they’re cutting ties with their family. A couple is a unit, if a unit is strong only then will they jointly contribute to the blossoming of other ties in the family. If they have complaints against each other, hardly get time to resolve misunderstandings then they are not going to focus on anything else and will be unhappy and make others around them unhappy.
A contended spouse is a happy spouse
If a couple makes time for each other, it also translates into “I care for you”. For couples living with families it means doing things for others instead of focusing on each other and might soon lose the spark in their relationship. Couples can reconnect by taking out time for each other and rekindle that passion. They’ll also have the opportunity to discuss how to navigate and improve your intimate relationship as well.
Women want more alone time with their spouse than men
Let’s not forget that when a woman gets married she leaves behind her maternal family and friends to live with her husband and build a family of their own. So, it’s but natural that she wants the attention of her spouse more than he does. As in India most marriages are arranged so it takes time for the couple to get to know each other. So if the couple takes time alone to understand one and other, there’s no harm. In fact it should be encouraged.
India we often see marriage as a family affair but forget that at root of it is a lifetime bond between two people which needs to be nurtured, if we want to whole setup to function properly. So instead of seeing it as a threat, Indian households need to see alone time of a couple as an exercise increases the chances of a couple having a happier marriage, which will help them be better parents and care providers.
Views expressed are the author’s own.