Women – not more flexible than men – 03 Nov 2010

One of the weirdest old myths still going strong surprisingly is that men think that ‘women can be moulded according to their needs’! This myth is harboured by an astonishingly large percentage of men about women, when they love one or plan to marry one. Once a man gets hold of a woman in his life his sense of omnipotence increases! They get blinded by their love for the woman and feel overly confident about changing her to suit their needs. The feeling of love gives them this sense of power that they can control and change the women to their whims and fancies. They may know her and yet not see her in the true sense of her nature. They may be seeing her through their own tainted lens of arrogance and foolishness. Men love to control and dominate their woman.

Here lies root of the problem.

During the one year of courtship Ramesh realized certain facets of Anita’s personality. She was close to her parents and felt responsible towards them as she was the eldest child of her parents who had two daughters. After marriage he started objecting to her frequent visits to her parent’s home to which she reacted badly. She refused to listen to his protests of her visits and paid no heed to his tantrums on this issue. The fights began to reach alarming proportions as they would draw their daggers.

Mohan knew that his fiancée was keen for a career as she had always been good student. But he confessed later that he never thought that her career would become such a serious matter that it could lead to threats of divorce. He always thought he stated that his work would take precedence over all things and that she as his wife would adjust to his priorities! But now as matters came to head he realised that she was very serious about her work too and would not like to make too many compromises. That was a rude shock for him. He had expected that she would make all the changes after marriage!

But don’t we know that men themselves don’t change their priorities, their personal habits nor do they change their cultural habits, then why so much expectation from the women alone? Another question that arises is that do men have the desire to change at all? Both aspects of the question apply to
women as well. Let’s take the second aspect first- grown up women who are educated and may be working or may not be working are fairly rigid and mature in their ways and habits as men are when they marry at mid or late twenties. They have well developed personalities with their own set of beliefs and values. They have been to college and universities and have worked hard at acquiring knowledge and skills. They may find it equally difficult to change themselves at that ripe age as men do.

Prior to marriage they may or may not have a fair idea of what they are getting into depending upon what their parents have taught them. If parents have brought them up with liberal and egalitarian values they may be unwilling to change and would expect the same or similar cultural environment at their in laws home. They may be in for a rough shock if they get into a traditional household setting where adjustment becomes a major issue. If they are from traditional homes where they have been tutored and brought up to follow the norms without resistance they may adjust better.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that it is the women who make the major changes after their marriage- they drop their father’s name and adopt the husband’s. They leave behind their families and their homes to make home for another family. They leave their cultural practices and rituals and try to adopt the husband’s culture. In this process of her trying to adjust, if the expectations and demands are too high that she must not have a voice of her own leave alone an identity but be like an obedient servant and slave-like, the whole scene becomes totally unfair.

Traditional families must make clear their expectations from the woman. Some families make clear their demands whatever it may be- from dress style to life style! That is a better option than agreeing to disagree during the engagement period and then disagreeing to agree on any issue after marriage! This can happen from both sides, from the male side as well as the female side. One woman agreed during engagement that she would be willing to be a housewife and would not be interested in a career but after some months she picked up the issue of building a career and brought in a major point of conflict in the marriage. Another marriage took a beating when the woman was asked to give up worshipping her ‘Guru’ whom she followed since childhood and to follow theirs’. Cases of marital discord are replete with examples such as these.

Some persons can be so rigid in our beliefs and practices that they cannot allow fresh air to come in the form of new ideas and thoughts. Marital adjustment is a two way process- both must give up and change a little for the other. Both must have respect for each other as individuals. Both must have the desire and clarity of thought to make compromises. Both must not bring into the marriage their big or small egos. Change is imperative and both parties need to make extra efforts to make healthy compromises. After all that’s when the two individuals and the differing cultures will blend. There lies the true romance of life as well!

Published in The Hitavada – Womens World – 03 Nov 2010

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