As soon as a girl's marriage is fixed, ironically, her parents will tell her that her husband will be everything to her post her wedding. On the other hand, when a guy's wedding is finalised, he will keep hearing comments like, "Shaadi ke baad badal mat jana", "Biwi ka gulam mat banana" or "Don't compromise on your dignity" etc. Why this double standard?
Although a woman is expected to leave her old life and adjust to her new home and family, it is believed that a man's life hardly changes after marriage. However, it does change. One difficult decision he has to make is whether to listen to his family or support his wife. Can he do both?
Why does this conflict happen?
Love is the reason for this conflict. The parents love their son unconditionally. His sister loves him, so does his brother, and at the same time, his wife does the same. He shouldn't have to take sides. If a woman is told that her husband is her everything, everyone needs to accept what expectations will arise from this order.
Marriage is, among many things, also a social sanction to start your own family. A couple's relationship is a very intimate and personal issue. They are in this institution to be with each other, live their lives together, have children, and face life's ups and downs as a team. So, how can anyone expect them to force, tug or push each other, for that's what will happen if a wife is made to feel as an intruder.
Relationship and Marriage: Insecurity blinds the relationship.
Another reason is insecurity. Our Indian society prefers a male child. They look at the son as the person who would look after them in old age. If the son drifts away towards his wife it will create a sense of insecurity. At the same time, the wife has been taught that her husband is her everything and she wants to draw his attention to her. This encourages a tug –of –war. Is there a need for this pull and push? The man concerned feels a mix of love, respect and gratitude for his parents while for his wife, he feels love, companionship, attraction and intimacy. The emotions are different and can co-exist.
There is another kind of insecurity at play, also. The woman has left behind the life she knew until she married this man, so, naturally, she will try and secure her position in this new family through her husband. This is labelled as being 'too possessive'.
The Indian family set-up
Patriarchy dictates that women be sacrificed at the altar of sanskaar. A woman from a 'good family' will always live the way her husband's family does. Or else the son is made to make her do it. And so her parents and society will make her believe that once married, a woman should do and obey as her husband says as they feel otherwise, the woman will have difficulty in adjusting and observing the rules of her new home.
Family will be family
A man's family will always be his, whether wrong or right. But they are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Humans err. It should be ok to call out unreasonable demands from either party family or your partner. But now that the son is married, his family unit within the Indian joint family set-up needs some alone time too. That needs to be respected.
Neither here nor there
In all of this, I can't but point to the fact that by saying "beti paraya dhan hoti hai" and "your husband is your everything now" her maternal family disowns her. While the husband's family are never able to accept her as their own. Which is sad, think about where this leaves a woman.
So, why can't families evolve and not disown their daughters after marrying her off and her in-laws side give her love, acceptance and belief that she matters in their family now? Why can't the wife be included in her husband's family, as they are everything for him?
The views expressed are the author's own.