I did NOT do a favour by giving birth to my child!

I came across this photo on facebook a couple of days back which was re-shared by one of my friends from the page of a legendary actor. The photo has got me seething ever since. And it got some 5 lakh plus likes, to add to my chagrin!

Now the part which says that she changes her name, changes her home, leaves her family could be true to some extent. There are families, even today, that endorse the regressive thought-process of girls being ‘paraya-dhan’, where girls are raised to think of the family they grow up in as merely a temporary set up before they leave for their ‘own’ family-by-law.

Having said that I would like to believe that mindsets are changing. More and more women are able to stand their own ground and decide whether to keep their surnames or adopt their husbands’ after marriage, based on their own choice and desire rather than what the society ‘demands’ of them. And its equally welcoming to see men evolve too and accept that their women have every right to choose and decide what they want for themselves.

As for changing home, leaving family, to speak for myself, I have never felt or been made to feel that I have had to ‘leave’ my family after marriage. Yes I did shift from one house to another, but I have been every bit a part of my parents’ house as I have been of my parents-in-law. Also the part which says that a woman moves in with her husband and builds a home with him after marriage, I believe the husband also comes forward and contributes equally to building that home with her.

But the one line that blows it for me is:

Gets pregnant for you, bears a child for you.

I have not found a more ridiculous thing to say than this. Again, I talk for myself and my husband when I clarify that I did NOT get pregnant for him or bear my child for him. It was a well thought out decision to bring our child into this world and we made that decision together, for our own sake and happiness.

When we got married we had decided that having kids would not be our primary focus for another 3-4 years. We needed time to get to know each other, secure our lives a bit better, stabilize our relationship before we could bring a child into our lives.

And when we did decide to take that important step onto the next phase, it’s not as if my husband came up to me, one fine day and blurted, ‘Hey listen will you do me a favour? Can you get pregnant for me and bear a child for me?’! Nor is it as if I went up to him either, asking, ‘Hey listen, will you do me a favour? Can you ‘make’ me pregnant so I can bear a child?’ ๐Ÿ™„

NO! It did not work like that in our case! And I’m sure it does not work like that in any couple’s case! Favour would be the last word befitting here. I was craving for a child just as much. I wanted to be a parent just as much. I wanted to get pregnant and bear our child! The decision was and is never about ‘your child’ or ‘my child’. It was ‘our’ child that we were talking about bringing into this world.

Yes I did go through some bodily changes when I was pregnant, I did get fat, I did go through fair amount of labour pains. But I did not, for a second, begrudge any of that on my husband, neither did I ever think that I was doing him a favour. I know for a fact that if the situation had reversed, my husband would have taken on all that just as well if he were carrying our baby.

I think ‘favour’ is a wrong word to be used to describe anything relating to a relationship as mutually equating as marriage. The onus of every little decision made, every little step taken, every little space give to nurture a marriage rests equally on both the man and the woman.The minute a couple in any marriage starts to think that he/she is doing a favour to the other, it loses its meaning. So merely terming it as thus would be belittling the very relationship I feel.

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Arranged Marriage or Love Marriage?

There’s some fierce discussion happening on IHM’s post, with many commenters voicing their thoughts on arranged marriage vis a vis love marriage. Now I agree with some of what is being discussed.

I agree how ridiculous it is when in an arranged marriage the boy and the girl, absolute strangers to each other, are thrown in together on the day of the wedding and then expected to have sex on the very first night.

I agree its being gravely unfair to the girl mentioned in the post, when she is considered cruel for “denying sex and not actively participating in it ”ย  and not the husband who, in my opinion, is the one being cruel by insisting on having sex.

Yes quite a few arranged marriages are about this notion that a bride, for that matter groom too, is expected to remain clueless about what or who is she/he getting married into. And more often than not the bride is expected to adjust to the new surrounding, new family, etc.

Not all arranged marriages, mind you. Which is where I want to butt in.

I dont agree with the generalization that all arranged marriages are bad. I had an arranged marriage. And no I was not forced into it. I had every freedom to opt for or out of it as per my will. And I am very certain that if I had fallen in love with someone before I got engaged or married, and wished to marry him, my parents would have been as forthcoming. It was sheer chance that I didnt find anybody to my liking until my parents found a suitable boy. And when they found him it was again upto me to decide whether I really wanted to marry him or no.

We had a brief period of 5 months in which time my then-fiancee-now-husband truly realized that we did want to marry each other. And in those 5 months we discussed every possible apprehension, every possible anxiety creeping inside us, got to know each other well enough to get a better understanding of our relationship and also of our future. Believe me, if even one of us had had a slight doubt, we would have backed out and our families would have been just as supportive.

Love or arranged, a marriage has to entail certain amount of adjustments and compromises. It is just as possible for two people in a love-marriage to realize later that they are not compatible enough to live together as two people in an arranged marriage to realize how much they were meant to be together!

Its all subjective. We cant generalize.

In my opinion a marriage if arranged by the families needs to ensure that the bride and groom have enough time to meet, understand each other and gauge how accepting each one is to the other’s flaws and strengths before they tie the knot. I know its still not a guarantee that the marriage will work. But then neither is a love marriage, right? No marriage is a guarantee unless the couple involved takes equal effort and care to nurture the relationship, make compromises, adjust while respecting each other’s principles, help each other to grow. And yes I reiterate, this has to be mutual.

To me , my marriage holds as much importance as a choice marriage for the simple reason that R & I, although found for each other by our families, chose each other!

No I have nothing against choice marriages. I am very much for it and endorse it wholeheartedly. But I am not against arranged marriages either. I am all for an arranged marriage which is arranged keeping utmost in mind the interests and decisions of the couple-to-marry.

Does marriage change a person?

**For the long rant, blame me not, but PNA :D. Her post prompted me to write it ๐Ÿ˜€**

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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 :D.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

** 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

10 on 10

Mushy mushy post ahead…

10 on 10….

For the love that has grown over these years and that continues to grow still

– For understanding each other’s needs and respecting each other’s space.

– For accepting each other’s drawbacks while always taking pride in each other’s strengths and achievements.

– For never forcing one’s opinions and beliefs on the other, instead respecting each other’s views and decisions.

– For being able to make each other laugh even at times of distress.

– For learning to speak a thousand words merely by looking into each other’s eyes.

– For being the best of friends.

– For always managing to bring a better person out of each other.

– For sharing a dream to finally realize it and relive our childhood together in our precious little daughter.

– For placing this undying trust in each other that we will be there for each other no matter what.

Today, R and I complete 10 years of marriage. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together in these years. While thinking about the ups always brings a smile on my face, thinking about the downs makes me proud that we always gave each other the strength and determination to face them head on. And I have this faith that, with each passing day, the love will grow only deeper, the bond will grow only stronger.

I’m blessed to have found my soulmate in my husband with whom I feel complete, with whom I can open my heart and soul out without any inhibitions whatsoever, with whom I dont have to be someone I am not. And with whom I fall in love over and over again just by watching him smile( yep! that smile still takes my breath away in the same way it did the very first time I met him ๐Ÿ™‚ ). So here’s looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my soulmate and growing old yet feeling as young and fresh as always with him ๐Ÿ™‚ .