Musings on Marriage

I was lead to this article by this article – essentially Chetan Bhagat’s treatise on work-life balance ‘tips’ for Indian women. The basic premise of his advice to Indian women stressed about managing home and hearth is to take a chill pill and just NOT get stressed. How helpful.

And how telling that he forgot to mention the most glaringly obvious solution- ask for husband to help out.

Which brings me to the topic of societal roles. Every individual plays a multitude of roles on a daily basis and slips into and out of different identities.

Your identity when you are single depends heavily on your work/profession. I’m not sure if defining yourself by the work you do is necessarily a good thing, but that’s the way the world works.

When you get married, however, you assume the identity of ‘wife’ or ‘husband’.That’s fine until you create rules for these identities. Society dictates that the identity of ‘wife’ goes with the role of managing the house(and any career role she may have is secondary) where as bread-winning is the ‘role’ of the husband.

In the face of such rigidity it is all the more important to be with someone with whom you can be honest about your desires and expectations. Obviously, the magic formula is different for every couple, but, the key to getting it right is to keep an open mind, and not automatically project ‘roles’ (taking care of the home, earning a fat salary) on to your significant other. This goes for both men and women.

I also (very cheekily) want to point out that being a stay-at-home wife is NOT a ‘job’ – it is more accurately, a choice. What is the equivalent term to describe a single person who does this?It doesn’t exist, because no single person can do this ‘job’. This is not to devalue the work of managing a home; I just want to point out that the choice not to work is only available to persons (mostly women) in long-term relationships.Being a stay-at-home mom however is an entirely different ball game-raising children is arguably the toughest job of all.

Which brings me finally, to kids. When a couple has kids, all other identities SHOULD take a back-seat. Becoming a parent involves taking on a momentous role – a star turn if there ever was one. Again, you should not assume that the role of care-giver to the child is/isn’t automatically yours , but discuss and divide responsibility equitably. As it is, you will remain ‘in character’ as a parent for the rest of your life.

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2 thoughts on “Musings on Marriage

  1. Agree! In one of the US pre-election presidential debates, Mitt Romney said he ‘supported women’s right to work and even thought employers should given women flexible hours so they can go home and make dinner for their family’. I think he was blindsided when this didn’t actually win over any women.. because WTF?! Why don’t men need flexible hours to go home and make dinner? How pompous of him to assume that every man has a woman cooking for him! I was not born with a special food-mixer attachment. My husband is as capable of making dinner as me, and in fact he cooks for himself even though he has a wife.

    I would actually not say “ask for husband to help out.” ‘Helping out’ assumes that it is primarily the woman’s responsibility and it just does not have to be. I call it ‘doing his share’. Because I’m not helping my husband by earning money and he is not helping me by doing chores, we’re doing our share. I don’t take special responsibility for the house.. I don’t think we women should allow ourselves to be made to feel this way – especially if we also work full time.

    My husband does every chore around the house half the time, just like I pay half of every bill/ mortgage etc. If you split your responsibilities differently because you like it that way, great, but don’t let society tell you that it’s your job to clean the house! My identity is not tied to how much my floor shines.. not even a little bit.

    I believe we are jointly much more successful because we are equitable. It would be a waste of my talents if my whole life was about housework, which would hold me back as a person and hold us back as a team. Traditionalists are missing a trick.

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