I always wondered what it would be like to get married. To be committed to one person for the rest of your life, and love unconditionally. You see, life is not accompanied by soulful guitar riffs whenever you sneak a glance at the person you like. So, damn you Bollywood for spoiling us with these absurd romantic notions. My idea of being married was to share my life with my best friend – someone who accepts you for all your idiosyncrasies, listens to Justin Timberlake songs purely because you force them to, buys you an extra pair of shoes even though you keep saying you are done with shopping and most importantly does not judge you. And when this idea became a reality, I realized that being married is normal – a new normal. It does not change who you are as a person overnight. You embrace a new family and forge new relationships but, you essentially are the same. I believed in this philosophy when I was getting married smack in the middle of my MBA. People asked me, “why now”? I honestly do not know why. It just felt right and the general happiness among my family members and friends helped me overcome even the slightest of doubt that I might have had. Then why am I writing this post? Because I now think that my philosophy was incorrect, albeit partially. Marriage might not change you but it changes the way people around you look at you, talk to you and treat you. I cannot fathom the reason for this, but speaking from personal experience, as a society we all need to grow up and be more sensitive. I am not asking people to stop having fun. I am asking people to stop having fun at others’ expense. All the time. Especially when it is not even funny.
When someone assumes that I will be less ambitious both in my career and in my personal pursuits because I am married, I find it downright regressive. Would a guy stop working hard just because he is married? Often rebukes such as “Tu kyun padh rahi hai, teri to shaadi ho gayi hai na” or “Tera husband to itne achi job me hai, tujhe kya tension hai ” and my personal favorite “Shaadi ke baad bhi tu MBA karegi kya?” leave me speechless. Sometimes I play along just to stop myself from smacking some sense into these people. These statements reflect something wrong in the way our society, including me, thinks. I am sure a majority of readers will stop at this point and say, “Don’t take these things too seriously. The people who make these statements don’t mean any harm. They are just joking”. I find this line of argument replete with double standards, an easy way out. Girls study as hard, if not harder than men these days. They work in the same companies earning salaries on par. Would you as a guy feel okay if someone asked you to stop working hard and aim less because your wife was doing well? Heck, would you even marry a woman who was in a better position than you? Perhaps not. I rest my case.
This narrow minded thinking is not restricted to people from a particular demographic. Even highly educated people, who have worked in huge corporations, interacted with people from various backgrounds and have done or are doing MBAs think that a married woman is a “lost opportunity”, for lack of a better word. I would like to reiterate again, jokes on being married are common and to a large extent inescapable. I do not mind them quite frankly. We all joke about secret crushes, failed relationships et all. What I have a problem is with me, or in general, married women, being defined by that one fact – their marital status. Unfortunately, this mentality extends itself to more mundane everyday things as well. So, if I watch what I eat, the remark usually is “Why are you dieting. You are married!” which basically implies, once married you ought to become fat or to put it more gently; there is no need for you to be cautious about your figure or weight. “What’s the point”, they say because if you are married, looking good has no speck of importance in your existence. This is based on the fundamentally flawed and chauvinistic theory that women like to take care of their looks only because men will be attracted to them. Honestly, I could go on for hours about how this is wrong. But, it isn’t, at least not in the context and environment in which I am speaking. So, to sum it all up, being married means striving less, lowering expectations and turning into a second best version of you.
What has kept my sanity through all this is the fact that there are a few good men out there. My husband, who basically tells me to ignore all the noise, has been extremely supportive of our long distance marriage because he wants me to pursue my education which he values. What’s one year in the long scheme of things, he says. Some of my friends have also been cool about having a married girl in their group. They still pull my leg, over issues such as my unwavering loyalty to Roger Federer or my taste in movies like they used to earlier. I like hanging out with them because I can be myself without having to worry about the topic of marriage coming up. When it does come up, it is because I bring it up or when we have a more nuanced discussion about it. It never becomes a fodder for humour.
I wish more people realized that marriage does not mean the end of your fun days. It is an important event in a series of events in your life. Because when all is said and done, almost everyone will get married at some point of time. If you marry the right person for the right reasons then marriage is the best thing that could happen to you. Do not let anyone make you feel otherwise. As for all the cynics around me, I have five words for you – What goes around comes around!