**For the long rant, blame me not, but PNA . Her post prompted me to write it **
Let me rephrase it and ask that question to myself. Has marriage changed me? Well, I’d say it will depend on the way I look at change. If it means change in the way I smile then I’d say no, marriage hasn’t changed me. I still smile the same. If it is change in the way I walk, then no again. I still walk the same- very fast! If it means change in my choice of clothes, then no. I like to wear my saris and suits just as much as I love to wear my jeans and tees. And I still wear them, albeit the size has changed though .
Thats the kind of change the society normally expects a girl to undergo as soon as she attains the ‘married’ tag, right? She is told, ‘Ok, now that you’re married, this is how you should smile, this is how you should eat, this is how you should sit, this is how you should talk to your husband, this is what you should be wearing,” ” What? Jeans? Nooooo, you should only wear sarees” so on and so forth. She has to endure piercing glares from them if she is heard addressing her own husband by his name and not ‘ettan/chettan** or A-ji, O-ji Sunoji. She is expected to change her approach towards her parents and give more importance to her in-laws. She is even asked to seek permission from them if she wishes to see her parents. Oh yes, I’ve come across households where such norms are practiced.
This is what bothers me. How can the society judge how a marriage should or should not work. Its for the people involved in the relationship to decide isnt it? If I choose to address my husband by his name, does it make me respect him any less? If I spend time with my parents just as much as I do with my inlaws, does it mean that I’m dishonoring my marriage? Or if I choose to put sindoor in my forehead can I claim that I wish for my husband’s well-being more than any other woman wishes for her husband? No. It will be so wrong on my part to even compare my love and respect for my spouse with anybody else. Its a matter of choice and understanding between the people involved. If my family and R’s family know what they mean to us and if R & I know and accept what we mean to our respective families, then I dont think any society can or should tell us how we should make our marriage work.
If thats what changing is then I can safely say I’ve NOT changed one bit. I’m fortunate and blessed to have grown up in a family which hardly paid any attention to these ridiculous societal norms as well as married into a family that didnt care for such norms either.
So when I was married some 10 years back I was accepted along with my giggly smile, my loud laugh, my brisk-walking style and much more. Not once was I made to feel as though I had to change myself. In fact R & my parents-in-law went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome from day one.
My mother-in-law, who hated cooking, used to make my favorite dishes and wait for me to get back from work so she could surprise me! Imagine coming home after a hard day’s work, to the delicious sight of your favorite mutton-curry! When it was the season of mangoes, my father-in-law, who couldn’t stand the sight of the fruit, would go about in search of the ripest mangoes so I could gorge on them.
When my mother-in-law, an ardent follower of Mata Amritanandamayi, expressed a desire to take me to her ashram in Vallikavu, I agreed to go, despite having my own reservations about ‘Amma’ because I felt for someone who cared so much about my happiness, my likes and dislikes, this was the least I could do to make her happy. No I was not forced to change my beliefs, I still maintained my reservations. I went there out of my own will, purely because, to me my mother-in-law’s happiness mattered more than my staunch beliefs. A mother-in-law who cared about my happiness just as much. Believe me, when she was showing me around the ashram, introducing me to her friends there, the glee and excitement that I saw in her eyes is indescribable.
If this is what change is then I’ve no qualms in saying that marriage has changed me. I have become more understanding towards relationships, more tolerant, more patient, more giving. And I can confidently say the same for my husband too. If I, who was a shy meek girl, am molded and pushed by my husband, into becoming this strong bold woman who is much surer of herself and if my husband who was a blunt and rough person, is molded into becoming a more sensitive and thoughtful person, then I’d say this change is totally worth it. If marriage changes you in a positive way, if a husband and wife help each other to grow as a person, then the change should be welcome.Of course it has to be two-ways. You cant expect only one person to change. The other person has to put in just as much effort and care to nurture the relationship.
So if I ask myself again, ‘has marriage changed me as a person’ I’d say it sure has. For the better
** In many parts of Kerala, malayali wives address their husbands as Ettan/Chettan as a mark of respect, which in literal sense means big brother