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!