Indian Married Life
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
What are the pressures in married life?
In our country, a marriage is not just between two individuals. It is a union of two families. At least, that is the way some persons, possibly with deep vested interests, tend to see things; and enforce on others. A man, who has till that date enjoyed the life of a bachelor, suddenly becomes a person with a particular stature in relation to a lot of people in both the families, and in the society. Along with this comes the, more or less, automatic change in his character.
The complexities: One of the first pressures that come into the life is the alignment to the new family, which will be an entirely new experience. But if after the marriage, the man is living far away from the spouse’s family, then it need not be an intense experience. But if it is in a nearby area, then, definitely, there would be the effect of the new relations in all his actions, which might be benign or the opposite, depending on his luck. If it is a family in which the general living conditions, their behaviour, the standard of the dialect they use, the attitude of the brothers and sisters of the spouse, amiability or overbearing behaviour of the elders including the parents etc. are favourable to the husband, then there may not be much mental pressure to be felt on this count. Also, such minor things like the neighbours, their cultural standards etc. could have some effect on the husband, if he has to be a frequent visitor to this house, where he naturally may have to mix with the general crowd, even if he is not inclined to do so. And if he has to stay in his wife’s house at infrequent intervals, then the space in the house, the number of other members staying in the house, and even the access to toilets, availability of modern amenities like water in tap etc. could have an impact on the tranquillity of the individual.
At the wife’s house: The parents of the wife also could have an impact on this aspect, especially if they are of the interfering or advising type. Other’s that could have an influence are the brother’s in law, their wives, the elderly servants who might have a more than ordinary informality or command inside the house, and also the neighbours who might have a sense of domination over the wife since her childhood, which they might attempt to extend over to her husband etc.
All these things are of not much consequence, if the man can take them in his stride or if he can maintain a sort of detachment from all these factors.
In the husband’s house: In the case of the woman, the same aspects can be of more significance, especially if she is going to live with her in-laws, for it would be she who would have to bear the brunt of all these disturbing aspects, if they turn out to be of the negative type.
Though each one of these aspects can be discussed in detail, as a generalisation it may be said that the visible attachment a husband has to his wife can enable her to overcome these difficulties, daunt her possible tormentors and also afford her some amount of protection from the hurting words and agonising attitude of others, if it happens to be so.
But it must be emphasised here that the disturbing things, I have highlighted are not of a normal occurrence, for in most cases, the in-laws are very loving and affectionate. These types of antipathies are more common only in certain culture families, which are qualities, which have nothing to do with the financial condition of the families. And it could come in when there are acute differences in such things as culture, educational standards, financial status etc. between the newcomer and the family members.
The impending competition for stature: To continue with the basics; when a girl enters her husband’s house, a lot of minor things might affect her stature. For in our language conditions, there are so many subtle things that go to make a lot of difference. For one thing, there might come in a problem of hierarchy. In the family, there might be other women, (and also men), who are sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers and brothers-in-law and various other persons of various categories. There comes an initial need to find one’s level in regard to these persons. In certain cases, it might be an easy thing, with the easiest of scales, that is the scale of age, being used to put a person in her place. Also her husband’s age is also a valuable tool for this. But in the modern world such a thing as age is increasingly becoming an obsolete tool, for other things like financial capacity, professional stature, social mobility, inherent intellectual acumen, depth in English etc. are more powerful aspects to a person’s personality, than age. But inside the house, it need not be so. Or in the tussle for maintaining the status quo, it may be brushed aside, for each person would tend to take shelter in the scale, which is an advantage to oneself.
To put it frankly, if the others are not willing to acknowledge their inferiority and the new girl wants the superior position, then it could exist as a simmering undercurrent, as long as the husband and wife live in the joint family. And this is one of the reasons why our joint families in the modern times do have volatile interiors under the cloak of a seemingly calm exterior.
Another thing that could create problems is the perception of the husband’s stature by the other members of the family. In the outside world, he might have a decent social status and mobility, of which the other members of his family may not be aware of, or unwilling to acknowledge; but the wife may be aware of this. In this case also, the wife might find it difficult to concede to the reflection of this mental attitude to her also, by the other members of the family; more so if she comes from a decent background.
Acceding to the regimentation: The best way to extricate from such situations would be to move into their own independent house. But in most cases, in the first few days of marriage itself, a certain level of positioning of persons takes place in the family, which is, more or less, based on the immediate force of personality of the persons involved. And, as a means of achieving family harmony, everyone concerned accedes to this regimentation, maybe under silent protest.
Aims: Now going beyond the basics, we can go into the realm of the real marital life of the couple concerned. It starts with the, and pertains to the understanding of what the aims of marriage are. Marriage is a social institution, which is not only a biological necessity, but also one on which the very basis of society exists. It may be suggested that in certain modern societies, it has become a sort of obsolete institution. But on close scrutiny, it may be seen that what has replaced it as a sort of temporary phase of life, that is the live-in together, is also serving the same purposes, though with less restraints. In marriage, a person aims to find a lot of security; a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership; a lifetime companion for whom one need not have to continuously seek for; a partner in sex for whom one need not have to compete with others for; children of one’s own genes; a family which exists as a separate and distinct unit in the society; with its own internal culture and behavioural peculiarities, where a person can practise his ideas of living and where he can relax and be at home.
What they seek: A man in addition seeks a woman who can cook his food, keep his house in order, get his clothes cleaned, give birth to his children, feed and look after them, and in certain cases, to look after his aged parents also. In the woman’s case, she would be aiming for a person to bring in the family income, a father to her children, a person in whose name she can be known in the society and the world at large, a person who can provide her with the security that comes along with belonging to a man, and also a person who can look after her parents in their aged times.
Above all that they both yearn for a person in whom they can confide and be intimate with, and possibly someone who they can love deeply and feel respect for. This person should be someone on whom they can depend on with all their heart, intuition and sincerity. The whole essence of marriage is the things that are contained in these last few sentences. If these things are there, then there is an atmosphere of deep understanding between them, and the spirit of the marriage is positive.
If there is a streak of deceit, in the behaviour or in the interior of either of them, then this spirit is more or less dead or in a state of imminent atrophy. This aspect of deceit could spring from many other issues, which might act as pressure points. Such things as financial instability, lack of stature among others etc. could force a person to indulge in image building exercises, which may not be productive in the long run. Other than this, there would be an inherent disposition to tell lies, build up stories, indulge in acts of infidelity etc. all of which could lead to a situation where the other partner loses his or her faith in the other. This would be a grievous state of affairs, for then the atmosphere is one that is not at all conducive to a healthy married life.
Between the husband and wife, there should not even be an inkling of secrets. If there is anything that exists as a sort of undisclosed information between them, on a current issue, then it could poison all of their other thoughts and actions. It may be the starting point for an outsider to push a wedge between
Representing the spouse: One more thing needs to be emphasised here. That is, there is the need for each of them to represent the other. To put it in more candied terms, both the husband and the wife should be the representatives of their family. Not the representatives of their own fathers, or mothers, or uncles. In expression, demeanour, views, attitudes, interests, aims, and all other things, a wife should be seen as extruding the interests of her husband; and vice versa. Or at least, he or she should not radiate themes that are the antonym of the same. Trust me, if it is so, that shall be a rare level of positive energy in their lives, that shall really propel them to social, and financial heights.
As a continuation of this theme, let this also be stated. When a husband looks at his wife, what he should be able to see should be only his wife; not her relatives who have strived to ride roughshod on him. Her face and thoughts of her, should not remind him of ugly events, ugly words, ugly persons, and many other themes that can bring disturbing thoughts to him. And in the case of the wife viewing the husband also, let it be the same.