Marriage advice

If there was only one piece of advice I were to give to people getting married, it would be to get their OWN Separate living space – be it rented or bought – separate from both sets of parents and relatives.

It is absolutely VITAL, especially in patriarchal societies [but then, tell me which society is not?]

I am amazed at the number of women who agree to live in joint families and then are unhappy and can see no way out of it [see IHM’s blog]. When you walk in to a patriarchal way of life, why would you expect it to be free of patriarchal expectations placed upon you?

Note: Let us be really honest here. There may be exceptions in joint families but a large majority of them are skewed in favour of men and elders. The women and the new daughter in law are the lowest in the pecking order.

Add to that, most husband’s inability to stand up for their wives in a strong fashion. I say strong because many women claim that their husbands to support them but in a meek way. They will not fight tooth and nail and yell. Sometimes, you have to fight for things that matter and arguments may turn ugly.

I disagree with the idea that people should be respected, just because they are older or that they are men. Some of these people throw tantrums like a 5 year old and expect nobody to complain and be constantly served.

Reasons why you should live separately:

1. You get to know your partner

In arranged marriages, most people barely know their partner. Know them and learn about them independent of the in laws breathing down your necks. Most people are always almost not gonna let loose when other people’s parents and your parents are observing you and you are expected to maintain decorum. In India, most love marriages also do not involve the partners living together. Hanging out for coffee does not often reveal a person’s character and it does not mean they will stand up for you in front of their parents.

Women get the short end of the stick here because they have often no home to call their home and they cannot relax anywhere.

In short, get to know your spouse, free from any external pressure. And grow closer together.

2. You need to create your own lifestyle and home

Living with parents does not let you bring out your own ideas as the house is already ready and set for  you, mainly the woman. If the woman walks into a joint family, she has to do ALMOST ALL of the adjusting. Why should anyone person give up everything?

Most men will balk at the idea of having to give up everything and follow the rules of their wives parental home. Then, why is it fair that women have to do it?

3. Freedom

To wear what you want – Many women have to stick to certain kids of clothes because modern clothes are considered inappropriate in front of elderly relatives. They have to wear marks of marriage and almost always expected to be in traditional attire.

Cook when you want. Set your own rules not what the older people tell the DIL to do. And so on. Everyone has their own style of living. In fact, I feel one may not even agree with the way their parents do things.

4.  Learn to be independent

When are you going to learn to run your own house and do your own stuff, if your parents dictate everything for you? When will you become an adult if you always run to your mommy?

5. Living separately helps in creating a gender equal home. That is if the wife allows it. If she follows the traditional model, well, at least she is doing it of her own will [or conditioning].

6. Many parents ruin their own children’s marriages because they cannot bear the thought of their own child getting close to someone else, even if the spouse was chosen by them. They are emotionally insecure and leech on to their children and expect servitude. It is a messed up emotional cycle of dependence. Also,  there is a lot of baggage involved. Of course parents are blind to their children’s faults.

7. Let the parents enjoy their freedom from children and their parents.

8. Sex

Sex in joint families tends to be quickly and quietly because there is often no privacy. 

Note:The phrase “quickly and quietly” is TM of SS company coined by U. Please ask permission before copying that phrase.

I do understand that some people will say that their parents need to be looked after. Even in that case, I would suggest living close by, dropping by as and when needed and cooking for your parents than living in a small flat together. If economic reasons dictate that you cannot live alone, I would suggest working towards economic freedom as goal so that you can move out or having a large house with independent kitchens and units. 

P.S: Please ignore the grammar mistakes or typos that crept in as I was typing in a hurry and my meeting was about to start.

8 thoughts on “Marriage advice

  1. The biggest *advantage* of my arranged marriage tmas I saw it 33 years back was that my husband was in the army and I would be staying away from in-laws and parents and the whole jingbang of extended family. I got the opportunity to create a *home* without noses poking into my life.
    Living on your own is very important. I agree with the points you have made.

    1. Exactly. One of the main reasons I feel, couples who were in the army have good relationships is because they were away from everyone. They set their own rules and there was no extended family telling you what to do or poking their nose. My friend pointed this out to me when she was comparing her in laws interference to her parents’ marriage where they had nobody bossing over them.

  2. I agree!! Even with my in-laws who are pretty non-interfering compared to most folks, it feels claustrophobic knowing that you should take their opinion or give an account of what you are doing most of the time!

  3. Agree with everything except 5 & 7.
    5-> doesnt ensure gender equal home.
    7-> noticed that for some reason the idea of ‘freedom’ is scary to the parents. They love being dependent. Otherwise why not let go?

    1. 5 > I did add in that would depend on if the wife allows it. If the husband were to help wash the dishes or clothes in the joint family, it will be criticized and he would be discouraged from doing it.

      That pressure is removed when living alone.

      7 > Anything new and different is scary. Sometimes, when you try new things, you may find that you like it.. Still many people do not have the courage to follow through.

  4. The sad part is that when people will read &/or discuss this with their partners/family.. the response will be that you don’t need all this in our family.. you will get space and comfort here… and in many cases it turns out just the opposite

    1. Everyone thinks their family is unique or different. Of course, them dismissing your concerns immediately without admitting the pitfalls of joint family and how they are working around it is in itself a big indicator of what follows.

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