I can never forget my closest friends in school ever. Known as the three musketeers, the three of us were up to some caper or the other- we were full of life and fun-loving. After passing school, the three of us joined the same college. However, since we had selected different subjects, we only met in-between periods. Despite that, our fun times continued. We did everything together, basically, we were inseparable. Then after post-graduation one of us decided to join the Army as an officer, I chose to join a newspaper as editor of their Sunday supplement and the third one, admittedly the most talented one, chose to get married. Our lives were on three different paths and despite the two of them shifting bases, we tried to stay in touch.
But over a period of time, I began to notice that the friend who joined the army was full of confidence and josh and on the other hand, the one who had married became quiet. Many years later, I found out that she was depressed. The reasons were many, she was a Bengali and had married a guy from Rajasthan. There were cultural differences, which she had thought will not matter after marriage but they did. My friend was very fond of dancing, singing and painting. She was someone who wholeheartedly participated in the cultural events around Durga pooja as well as led them at school and college. But now as a bahu, she was not allowed to participate in them. Her matrimonial family even wanted her to cover her head with a pallu, and she was expected to behave like an "ideal" demure bahu. I am not pointing my finger at any state or their culture or way of living; it’s just that this friend had to completely change herself to fit into her matrimonial household, so much so that we could hardly recognise her. Later, she even stopped meeting me or anyone else, cutting all contact with her life before marriage.
You might have noticed the same around you, that cousin who recently got married, a neighbour’s daughter, and a friend’s friend who has come back to her paternal home, someone is living separately from her spouse or is divorced.
I remember another friend mentioning that once the hullaballoo of the wedding settled down she started despising the smoothness with which her husband went back to his life, his job, his friend circle, his family, while her life was completely turned upside-down. How many of us understand this angst? How many really help women transition smoothly into married life? On the other hand even before the bride enters her marital home, expectations are set and she has to willingly or unwillingly fulfil them or be labelled as a bad bahu.
Depression After Getting Married Needs To Be Taken Seriously
When a woman marries she loses agency over her own decisions and choices. In most cases, it is her partner and his family who have greater control over her life. This is a transition from being independent in her parent’s home to a form of co-dependence, which mostly includes taking up new responsibilities under the watchful eyes of in-laws. She is left with little time to engage in pursuits that interests her—in this scenario a woman could slowly develop mental health issues triggered by a loss of agency. As per a recently released report by the National Crime Records Bureau, housewives made up for 50 percent of all deaths due to suicide among women for the past two years. the report further stated that suicide among women were mostly related to marital woes.
Women often change themselves to adjust into a new family so that they are accepted in their marital home. But they lose their identity their way of life in the bargain. Some have very high expectations from their spouses and their ">marriage which do not pan out as expected and so becomes a source of depression. Have we wondered who is to blame for this, women themselves or society’s expectations? Do we prepare our girls for the sacrifices and adjustments they might be required to make after they tie the knot? It isn’t always easy giving up a life you have come to love for a new-found relationship or living arrangement. But the question remains why do women have to sacrifice, adjust or overlook the shortcomings of a marriage? Why can’t they live their life the way they want with their spouse?
As friends and loved ones, we need to resist the idea of women changing their lifestyle after marriage. The burden of bringing in this change can't fall solely on women. They need a support system to back them up and ensure that they do not end up feeling lonely and lost, fighting a singlehanded battle against patriarchy.
Views expressed are the author's own.