In a recent marriage in Kanjikode, Kerala bride Archana S was asked to sign a contract ‘permitting’ her husband Raghu S KDR to spend time with his friends till 9 pm every night.
The contract was a part of mischief from the side of the groom’s friends. Archana signed the agreement on the 5th of November, the same day the marriage occurred. Whether she signed the agreement of her own accord or whether she felt pressured to sign it is still unclear. This ‘gift’ to the bride also bore the signature of two other witnesses.
An Indian Express report stated that this contract signed on an Rs.50 stamp paper read:
“Even after marriage, my husband Raghu S KDR would be permitted to spend time with his friends till 9 pm and I hereby promise that I would not disturb him on phone during that time.”
Another report by News 18 talks about another post-marriage contract that is meant for the welfare of the bride and groom. It made wearing a saree every day and allowing late-night parties a criterion of approval among other items in the contract. This incident took place in Guwahati.
Everything Wrong With Contracts Like The Kerala Bride Contract
Both these instances claiming goodwill of the marriage from the groom’s side put forward conditions post-marriage that the bride needs to abide by to work the marriage. The existence of such contracts is based on the understanding that marital life can be unpleasant once entered into in certain instances. Therefore, it is best to prevent such instances by keeping the bride in check.
Brides like the Kerala Bride feel covertly accused of not being able to hold a marriage together or causing inconvenience to a marriage before it has even begun. Therefore, being brought up as dutiful women who must ‘adjust’ post-marriage to make it work sign such contracts reeking of patriarchy in the hopes of making it succeed.
One cannot help but wonder how many of these husbands would be accommodating enough if the scenario was flipped. Would husbands that require their wives to ‘wear a saree every day’ for a long-lasting marriage be willing to sign a similar contract ‘permitting’ their wives to spend time with friends till 9 pm every day? Or will such wives be a modicum of impropriety or promiscuity for making the same demands as their husbands?
The Kerala bride Archana is forced to give up on time with her husband and renounce her claims of being a wife till 9 pm every night to avoid the fearful label of being a ‘demanding wife’. The Guwahati bride makes an ‘adjustment’ to ‘wear a saree every day’ for the well-being of her marriage and is rewarded by being ‘allowed’ to party late at night with her husband.
In Indian society brides, every day are expected to compromise on their standards in the name of ‘adjustment’ to appease society. Must marriages made in heaven always come at the cost of a woman’s independence and happiness?
The views expressed are the author’s own.
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