A male friend once told me, “I will get married if my mother falls sick and cannot do the housework”. This is not the first time that I have heard a man saying that marriage is the backup option to ensure that the household keeps running in case the woman of the house is unable to perform her duties. Wives are considered the caretakers of the family, second in the line after the mothers. But if mothers are really unable to take care of the house, why can’t men step in and help them? Men would rather bring home a wife to care for their ageing parents than do the job themselves, why?
Always, marriage in our society has been about bringing home a caretaker of the family. After marriage, women are expected to focus on their household duties and not personal priorities. Consequently, many women give up education and work to be able to focus on the needs of their families.
Men, on the other side, are not expected to take up the duties of a care provider because they are already contributing to the household by bringing in money. They are not expected to work day and night cooking, cleaning and caring for their own families. They are conditioned into believing that these are women’s duties and that if their mothers cannot do it then they need to bring home another woman as a replacement.
Marrying because of ageing parents: Isn’t there more to marriage?
But isn’t there more to women’s existence than serving in-laws and husbands? Do their ambitions and dreams have no value? Why do families think it is fair to ask women to leave behind their job, education and their own family, so that they can care for their matrimonial household? How many men are willing to do the same for their wives’ parents?
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The problem is women are never taught to take care of their own families. Even if they are, the work is all about caregiving which is considered training for them to be good bahu and wives. In fact, a good woman in families is defined as the one who dedicatedly performs her duties as a care-giver. She has to be selfless, tender and have no personal demands.
But if women are expected to take care of families through housework, why not men? And if men are expected to take care of the families through money, why not women? Why is there a division of roles in a household based on gender?
Moreover, what if a woman is earning too and refuses to give up her job after marriage? Even then should she do the double task of handling office and home? And if yes, then why not men?
It is important for us to understand that marriage is about companionship in every aspect of life. Which means that care-giving duties need to be equally divided as well. Above all, getting married just because a house needs a caretaker will not do anyone good. There’s more to a marriage and every aspect of it deserves equal attention.
Views expressed are the author’s own.