Ms. X was an independent happy go-lucky person enjoying her work and her sense of freedom. Successfully working for four years she had been getting praises and appreciation from her colleagues and seniors. She was quite a dare devil with modern ideas and attitudes. Her family had given her a lot of liberty with excellent education. Then she got married one day as all women do and her life underwent changes. There were differences in the culture and values of the family she had married into. They were good natured people but were more traditional and were slightly rigid with their views on customs and rituals. Her husband kept saying that she could retain her job and keep working as usual but she felt that he actually did not approve of it and wanted her to quit. Wanting to please him she left her job and took care of her domestic duties. She tried to fit into his world of ideas and life style and changed herself considerably, agreeing to do many things that she actually did not approve of. She kept brushing aside many issues as ‘minor’ and kept compromising on them. Her old friends criticised her for losing her boldness and her sheen. They could not understand why she was becoming like that. She wanted to make her family happy as that was her main goal. She said she was happy and contented. After several years she woke up one day quite upset with her-self and her reality. She was baffled as she realised that she had grown dependent emotionally on her husband and could not take decisions herself as she had lost her confidence in herself and kept looking towards him. She had sort of surrendered herself completely to her husband and began questioning herself whether it was all worth it at all? The disillusionment came when she became aware of her husband’s double standards and his perpetual lies about many things. She struggled with that too for some years and eventually had to give up on it for his habits were fixed. That is when she broke and started to ‘look within’ and search for her original herself. She could not understand how and when she gave up her ‘independence’ and became ‘dependent’ on him for everything. Her reliance on him was total.
This is one of the biggest challenges that women face. Both parties are to be blamed for this. Men encourage the trait of ‘dependency’ in their women and women most willingly give up their ‘independence’ for ‘dependence’. Society encourages and sanctions this quality in girls. Hence both try hard to fit into the stereotypes and gradually men begin to dominate and women begin to follow.
The second commonly found weakness in women is what we call ‘submissiveness’. This is a troublesome trait for when women do not assert themselves they not only subject themselves to injustice but also act as a source of trouble to the other party. For example, when you are in disagreement with the others opinion or when you are hurting inside but you do not have the guts to state it explicitly in words and keep smiling deceptively instead, you are being submissive, which does not help anyone. Both parties eventually are at a loss, in terms of emotional hurt and misunderstanding caused by lack of proper communication. A girl went along with a boy who proposed her because he was insistent and she needed someone to rely on (read be dependent on) but did not love him. She felt he was nice and caring and dependable and that was it. Until one day she actually fell in love with another boy and went into a serious dilemma and paralysis of thought and action. She did not know what to do, how to express her-self and just kept crying about the whole thing. Another girl got engaged willingly to a decent boy chosen by her parents but as the countdown of the marriage date began she started crying. She confessed that she had noticed some unfavourable symptoms in the boy but had no guts to express them to anyone before. The marriage was called off and both the parties went into a shock including the boy who was affected the most. Such submissiveness is a terrible weakness and can ruin lives.
Women need to become aware of such traits within themselves and work on building strengths. They need to check their traits of dependency as well as submissiveness and develop assertiveness and independence. This does not mean rebellion at all. It means better confidence and better communication skills which is a big asset in the family. A strong confident clear headed woman with good communication skills can be more effective in running a family, keeping the family united with her interpersonal skills and raising healthy happy strong confident children.
That is what my mother did!