On marriage, dowry, blogging etc…

This morning, I came across a new blog. Delighted to discover a blog I had never read before, I scrolled down and what do I see? A letter from a “concerned” mother. Before reading this riposte to the mother, I suggest you read the letter itself. This strikes me as wrong at so many levels that I do not know where to begin. First things first, the mother blaming a blog for her daughter’s attitude is a bit much. She says she spent sleepless nights agonizing over the fact that her daughter of “marriageable” age was spending time reading Tbg’s blog! I mean, what the hell? So what? Is this a case of passing the buck?

However, the letter brings up more fundamental, social issues that must be addressed. First, she refers to her daughter as being of “marriageable age”. Now, is there no other identity for that poor girl, except that she is of marriageable age? And that brings me to my point. What is marriageable age anyway? To me, marriage is a commitment. It is not about the wedding ceremony, the money or even the house and the car. It is about wanting to spend the rest of your life with someone. And to get married simply because you are of a certain age, and not because there is someone out there with whom you really want to grow old, is a crazy notion. I am 28. My parents are retired. They want me to get married too. But not because I am 28 and it’s time for me to get married, but because they want me to be happy with whoever I am going to be married to. If that person takes a few more years to surface, so be it. I do appreciate her concerns when she says that they need to get her married before they retire. Money is definitely an issue once they are retired and it will not be so easy to get her married after that. But does that mean you push her away to the next person who comes along? Whatever happened to compatibility and all?

Second, she says that her daughter finds something wrong with every person she meets. I am extremely sorry to admit it, but it’s true that very few men are actually marriage-material. In the past year, I have met about half a dozen men. All potential grooms. But, each has some problem. One was commitment-phobic, the next was insecure about himself and my intelligence, the third only wanted a singer-wife, and not necessarily in that order. You can’t settle for someone simply because he wants to get married to you can you? If the daughter says no, I am pretty sure there is a valid reason for it. And the mother must try and understand why things are the way they are.

Third, and nobody seems to have pointed this out. The father dumps the blame on the mother. “She is your daughter. Explain!” So, she is your daughter when there is a problem but his daughter when she gets that big, fat pay cheque? Convenient excuse this! Does the mother really want a man who would pass the buck and blame his wife for something that should actually be shared responsibility? What kind of message are you sending to your daughter? That she must settle for a husband who will only claim ownership/responsibility for successes and not for problems?

Fourth, this attitude that women must adjust with husband and in-laws come what may, is total crap! Adjustment is required in any relationship, but it must be mutual. And we must understand that adjustment is different from compromise. You can adjust about the food, the mattress or the TV, but you cannot, and indeed, must not compromise on basic value systems and equality within a relationship. Why do so many families bring up their daughters telling them they are better off miserable in their in-laws’ place than happy in their own homes? Being a woman does not mean sacrifice or being willing to do so. Being a woman means being loved and cherished for being you, being respected like you would respect the other, being treated no differently because of your gender. Why can mothers not get this simple fact? Why do we have to martyrize our daughters just because our society expects them to be all-giving and all forgiving? I just don’t get it.

In the midst of all these accusations, the personalized attack on Tbg (which seems to have escaped unnoticed as well) is unforgivable. Whether Tbg is married or not, happy or not, has angels or demons for in-laws is irrelevant to the current discussion. I think someone should teach people to disagree without insulting.

And finally, the daughter’s demands don’t seem all that unreasonable. She wants a man who will stand by her, allow her to be herself, not ask for dowry and agree to a relatively simple marriage. I am sure such men exist. This is the basic minimum any self-respecting woman will ask for. As for dowry, any man who asks for one or condones his parents’ demands deserves to be castrated (ok…am getting a bit carried away…but still!) for his attitude. A man should want to marry this lady’s daughter and not the money, the car and the house she will bring along! Is it such a bad thing?

But as Tbg points out, this lady has been adjusting (even compromising) with an unhelpful husband and in-laws for 27 years. Does she not wants things to be different for her daughter? Or does she, like so many other mothers, think their duties are over as soon as the daughter is married off? What about the rest of her life? Is it ok that she be asked to compromise and adjust with someone or the other for the next 40 years? I don’t understand why we are so obsessed with our daughters getting and staying married that we lose sight of the real goal: happiness. I am not a mother, but I am a daughter, arguably of “marriageable” age! I do want to get married, find that special someone to grow old with, have children and a family of my own. But, all this cannot and must not be achieved at the cost of my self-esteem, my independence and my career. Happiness is not a destination, it is a journey. And for that journey to be comfortable, we must allow our daughters to first be comfortable in their own skin and not expect them to live up to the expectations that this society has from us! We’re are in the 21st century and it’s time we started behaving that way!

32 thoughts on “On marriage, dowry, blogging etc…

  1. Meher says:

    That was a fitting reply to the lady who blatantly accused Tbg for her daughter’s basic requirements. The girl was totally correct in expecting her partner to be of a certain kind. If men have so many whims, then why not women?

  2. anshita says:

    exactly, i totally agree amrutha. i’ll b of “marriageable” age in sme 3-4yrs and I wd b required to fight for all this too,sadly. Its high time ppl understand this. by d way, u right so good 🙂

    • Amrutha says:

      I certainly hope you wouldn’t have to fight for what I consider a basic right to choice. The sooner we understand this, the better for us.

  3. Phoenixritu says:

    I loved this post. Way to go girl. Do not get pressurized into marriage just because of age, peer pressure or even your body clock. Wait and marry only if you find a good man. Marriage is not important, self fulfillment and self worth is. I wish we had realized this when I was young.

  4. Banupriya says:

    Amrutha — That is a superb reply for the mother’s post!!! Each and every sentence is nail hardening. I with mothers like her read this. Has this post be shared with her? If not please do it asap.

    I really liked your “Self,esteem, independence and career”. Every women in this world has to be taught this. Thankfully my mom understands that I cannot forego all the 3 things what you stated above at any cost. Good to find your blog. Thanks TBG.

    • Amrutha says:

      This post, as you know, has been shared on TBG’s blog. I am certainly hoping that she has read it. Otherwise, TBG will have to mail it across to her I suppose.

      And thanks! It’s heartening to come across young women and their parents who understand the need for independence and self-reliance. 🙂

  5. Scorpria says:

    So right!
    I agree with all that you’ve mentioned.
    And yes, we all forgot the “She’s you daughter” bit! But well, you’ve said it all.

    And I honestly wonder if — in spite of all her hurry — the mother would be thrilled (and will rest in peace) if the daughter falls in love with a man of another religion (and not exactly in the same “class” of society as the girl)…I mean, she is of “marriageable age”, isn’t she?

    I really was shocked to read such a letter from a mother who is “concerned” about a daughter!

  6. Amrutha says:

    Gasp! How can you even suggest something like that? She is of marriageable age, but falling in love with someone of another caste/community/religion/social class will make her “un-marriageable”! Didn’t you know?

  7. Drama Personified says:

    If only men would be encouraged to become as forward thinkers as women are. I’ve noticed men of today’s age belonging to ‘orthodox” families may date as ‘modern’ women as they want but when it comes to wives the question arises about her morals and all that bullshit. The notion in some families stands at just cuz she’s a forward thinker, she mustn’t be a good lady or her morals are questionable. And yes, men who ask for dowries at this age must be castrated. There must be a rule like that. What’s the self respect of such a man? How does he value himself? Either too low or he must think he’s God that just getting the girl isn’t enough and he should be persuaded or bought with things like kilos of gold, car, house and shit to woo him. What about compatibility? What about those poor girls who are just as wonderful women as others but their parents have no money to sell their daughters in this market of marriage.

    Its the fault of the guy’s parents for screwing up their heads, making them think just cuz they’re guys, they deserve this dowry crap. Dowry should be abolished by law seriously and people who still give or take should be penalized. There must be a proper system to discourage such barbarian rituals at the hands of which many women and their families die or suffer.

  8. Amrutha says:

    Completely agree with every word you say! The problem often is that a woman is considered (by men, if I may add) to be completely and wholly responsible for the happiness and well-being of both family and relationship. A friend, well-educated, smart, and urbane advised me to stop expecting my man to give me time because he needs to concentrate on career unlike me, for whom work was just the jam: he brings in the bread and butter after all!

    As for dowry, it is technically abolished and illegal. But, who cares? A lot of parents will give dowry for fear that their daughters will remain unmarried otherwise! Sad state of affairs, this!

  9. Archie says:

    I knew about this post soon as it was up, but got no time to read it and now am kicking myself for having read this so late…Awesome reply. Someone needs to print this out and send it to that lady who accused Tbg of deviating girls from marriage and traditional beliefs. You replied and cut every wrong point that lady made. Good job…it cooled down my anger over her letter.

    • Amrutha says:

      Welcome! 🙂 Yes. Someone needs to send this reply to the lady. But, the only one who has her e-mail is Tbg. I am kinda hoping that he sends her the text of the post and not just the link. That way she will be forced to read. I am willing to waive my creative commons copyright for this lady. The message is more important in this case!

  10. Indian Homemaker says:

    “Why do so many families bring up their daughters telling them they are better off miserable in their in-laws’ place than happy in their own homes?”

    Loved this post. I wish all Indian parents read this post.

    • Amrutha says:

      It’s annoying isn’t it? I want to be happy. Period. If I can’t be happy with a husband, I’d rather be happy without! Why can’t people understand this? Why does my life have to revolve around someone else all the time?

  11. Raghu says:

    The mother has a typical narrow-minded Indian mentality. Funny that she has found Tbg to be a reason for her misery. Someone has to drive a point through to her. “You spent 28 years of adjusting with your in-laws that you forgot to educate your daughter to understand your predicament.”

    By saying this I don’t mean that the daughter has to marry some Tom, Dick or Harry (or their “Indian versions”). She could have taught her daughter that she cannot have such a virtuous person and she may have to probably forsake some qualities for the other good ones.

    One point to be noted, I am sorry Amrutha, is that, the daughter is asking for too much. She will never get married if she wants a guy with all the qualities that she is asking for. She can try http://www.marsmatrimony.com 🙂

    Lastly, life is not about being always happy. And marriage is not about self.

    • Amrutha says:

      No Raghu. I certainly do not think it is possible to find a perfect man. After all, all of us are human and have our respective flaws. But, what is important is that we must understand that the girl in question probably has a list of must-haves, which cannot be compromised.

      Also, if her expectations are unrealistic, surely there are better ways to explain it to her than to tell her she is of marriageable age and so must say yes to a man? She will eventually learn to distinguish between what is good to have (a millionnaire husband) and what is must-have (a rational, fair-thinking individual).

      Not allowing her a say in deciding who she wants to commit her life to, is regressive and must be changed. That’s the only point I wish to make.

  12. Raghu says:

    Honour you thought! And whole-heartedly accept it! And sincerly wish a guy reads your blog and is a “man-enough” to accept your views! Cheers!

    • Amrutha says:

      Is it not enough to be rational enough to accept this? What’s so unmanly about accepting a woman’s idea? Or am I reading too much into that phrase?

  13. indianhomemaker says:

    @Raghu – I am not sure I understand this –
    “Lastly, life is not about being always happy. And marriage is not about self.”

    Life is about a lot of things, but isn’t happiness important? Would you suggest that people marry even if they feel they may not be happy in that relationship?

    And Marriage is about give and take between two people, but if they are well matched, the interaction (give and take) would bring happiness to both.

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