Are you planning to settle down in your life? Then read on…
A couple of days ago I came across a news article on this portal about a recent conference held in the Middle East on pre-marital screening for women, which got my immediate attention. Even though it was about medical screening for spinsters in order to avoid problems in their married life, that event suddenly got me into thinking about another major aspect to the pre-marital screening that has not been openly discussed in our society thus far. Hence I decided to pen down my thoughts. This article is from the perspective of an Indian male. I am sure not everyone will agree with everything that I express in this article, but I am hopeful it will catch the attention of a few so they can have a healthy discussion on the subject. If not anything, I am at least hopeful that people recognise such a problem exists in our society. It is not my intention to divide society through such incendiary views; instead, it is my honest attempt, based on experiences, to hold a mirror to what’s happening in our society at large today. This issue can no longer be ignored. Whatever I am going to write here may not be applicable to everyone but it is certainly more pertinent to people living in the Indian cities. Here is my attempt.
In my humble view, the most important pre-marital screening test that needs to be carried out in our society is to identify the real intent behind the marriages that take place these days (everything else is secondary). When you are going to marry someone you have to first establish whether the person you are marrying really wants to get married or is it because that she is getting old and can no longer rely on her parents anymore as they are also getting old. Most men miss out on this crucial point and as a consequence suffer miserably later on. When it comes to marriages (especially the Catholic marriages) the Indian society currently is in a state of dangerous flux where the age-old orthodox traditions combined with the modern Western view of materialism has created a dangerous mix of Molotov cocktail, which innocuously disguises itself through the initial days of the marriage but then suddenly explodes. The fundamental reason behind this is due to the various people involved in this circus (called marriage) who had hoped for totally unrealistic expectations out of the union. Being the Indian society for what it is, there are people ranging from the bride and groom themselves all the way to the extended family members from both sides individually contributing to this mess. Nowadays, when it comes to marriages, for the girl’s side it’s more about the pomp and lavishness of the wedding itself as opposed to focusing on what lies beyond it. They somehow assume that is man’s headache to worry about those things after the wedding. I grant you, it may have been true in India 30 years ago but not anymore. Marriage is an equal union between the couple, both in rights as well as responsibilities. The society and the circumstances have evolved to an extent today that husband alone can no longer take on the full burden of the family. Get this fact inside your skull at the earliest. There is more to life than a 3-tier wedding cake, personalised hymn-sheets for the nuptials, corsage, boutonniere, page boys, flower girls, cocktail parties, or for that matter the prenuptial video shooting.
People with wisdom say lowering one’s expectations is the key to happiness in life. If you want to have a content married life then utmost attention should be paid to the cleverly disguised high expectations which some women have on their minds even before the whole wedding-spectacle begins. Marriage is not a Disney land fairy tale, with ivory castles and flying ponies. Increasingly our society is aping the Western materialistic way of thinking. Just look at the extravagance of our weddings these days and the efforts that go into it. If only people had put in so much efforts to what happens after the wedding, this world would have been a blissful place. But the West has heavily influenced these clueless people to develop a sense of entitlement within them to think that others (especially their husbands) owe them a living while they themselves take no responsibility for their actions or failures due to unpreparedness. Some of them are under the assumption that what they earn after marriage is their pocket money whereas the family expenses fall under the jurisdiction of the husband. Let me be honest here, the fault squarely lies with their parents. These self-righteous parents, without giving it a second thought, bring up their children in such an irresponsible manner these days that the child does not really know what the practical life means. Their children are least prepared for a life of their own when they grow up. But the parents think they deserve an award from the society thinking that since they have provided everything their children have asked for, they are the best parents in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When these same children eventually grow up, their parents think they have “done their duty” (in reality they have only spoiled them by not preparing them for the real world) and then start their venture to find a scapegoat to tie to their daughter’s neck. That daughter (now grown up – but only in flesh) once getting married, expects similar ivory tower treatment from her husband. She thinks that is what she deserves and it’s her husband’s job to provide it. If he tries to tow her into the line (by talking common sense), then with the help of her ‘liberal’ relatives and friends begins to evaluate her ‘options’ (read legal weapons). In India, the laws are so biased towards women that even a mere allegation of torture (while providing not a shred of evidence) is enough to get the husband arrested without bail. Even if there was no substance to the case it takes years to clear one’s name. But by the end of it when the case has been quashed by the court, there is no provision under the law to hold the accuser to account for abusing the system. There is no accountability in the system nor in the society.That is the reason the laws are abused in our country.
In the Western society, both men and women are equal when it comes to the law, so there is no room for such exploitation. If people don’t get along then (most of the times) they just go through the quick legal process and go their separate ways. But the Indian society is a special basket case if you ask me. The girls who have been brought up in the most feckless manner, after getting married, try to get the best of both worlds – on one hand, they want the freedom and choice that comes readily available in the Western society but at the same time, when things don’t go as per their 5-star expectation in marriage, they take resort in the broken legal system in India to abuse it to no end. They pay no special attention towards their career before marriage, instead spend all their time and money on enjoyment – shopping malls, Bollywood, holidays and what not. But then when the same comforts become hard to come by after the marriage, their husbands suddenly become their punching bag. He turns into everyone’s enemy. He becomes the root cause of their unhappiness. The fundamental problem here (i.e. in Indian society) is that most parents bring up their daughters with the mindset that it is husband’s job to provide everything after the marriage. That’s where the conflicts arise. As a consequence, those wives do not want to take responsibilities for their own failures and weaknesses. This is the reason marriages (especially in big cities) are breaking down.
There is another real reason why this happens time and again in our society. It’s because of the way the marriages happen. I must agree the things are improving now (albeit slowly) but most of the times the marriage alliances happen in the least conducive way possible. There is no practical way you can fully understand the person you are marrying. To begin with, the boy is settled in a distant place due to his job and hardly finds enough time to dedicate to finding the right partner. Due to your culture (and religion) you are consciously/subconsciously are somehow forced to find a life partner from your own community. So you strive hard to find someone, who, more often than not, happens to dwell in a distant place, perhaps in another state or even another country. You hardly get any time and opportunity between your job to dedicate towards this. You come across someone who you think could be your potential life partner. And this is where the problem begins.
You meet them once and for some reason you are not so sure about it in the first meeting. You have doubts inside your head that you want to clarify before you go to the next level. There are some obvious good qualities that you have found in that woman but you are still concerned about what’s not so visible. Indian society still enforces orthodoxy when it comes to marriage alliances, therefore the second time you try to meet that same person to find out more, they presumptuously assume you have already liked the girl. If you meet her for the second time and then don’t follow it through, then you will be condemned as a deserter. Secondly, even if you went ahead with the proposal, there is hardly anything that really comes to the surface (i.e. flaws) until much later because if you ask any involved questions in the beginning (to clarify your doubts) then you are looked at as being someone uncouth and arrogant. There is no practical way in our society to fully understand the person you are marrying (co-habitation is a taboo!). The funny thing is you only get one chance to go through all this and you have to get it right and count on your stars to assure you of that elusive happiness. If this venture fails (as in many cases it does!) then the same society looks at you as a failure.
Enough of the rant. Let me come to the summary. I don’t normally criticise anything without providing possible solutions/suggestions. And these suggestions are mostly applicable to men who have settled down in their career and are about to venture into finding their life partner. There are a few things they need to watch out for before they enter into this phase of life called ‘getting married’. You never get training on this subject anywhere and as I said before you get only one chance.You botch it and it’s over for you. That’s why this is really important. To begin with, you should know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. It can be a difficult thing to do but sooner you do it, and more boldly you do it, fewer worries for you later. Here is a list of things to watch out for during that process:
1. First of all look at the girl’s parents. Talk to other people and try to find out as much as possible about them, especially how those parents had brought up their children, their values in life etc. Pay attention to how much efforts and commitment they would have expended (not just money) to their children’s upbringing/education. In most cases, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Verify how they have trained their children to stand on their own feet. Once you analyse these things a picture begins to emerge and you will know whether you are in the right place.
2. Nothing wrong with feminism which is rampant these days and women fight hard for equal rights, but you have to make sure that your fiancée also understands that the responsibility towards your eventual family also is equal between partners; it is not just husband’s alone. Marriage cannot be an à la carte menu meant only for the woman. This wily way thinking of banking on to the old patriarchal Indian system when it comes to family responsibility (by dumping everything on husband’s shoulders) while taking shelter under the modern Western philosophy of equality when it comes to personal rights (equality, freedom, choice, enjoyment, entitlement etc.) is a real trap for Indian men. Pay special attention here.
3. Watch out for those special types whose whole life revolves around watching Bollywood, soap operas, over-obsession with social media, compulsive mall shopping, and frequent holidays. These are the same people who most likely would have attended the college just for ‘fun’, not to become something in life. Stay clear of those.
4. Do not fall for the looks. If beauty and physical pleasure are what you are after, then marriage is not the only option. Go on a Europe trip instead. Trust me it will be a much cheaper option than what you can lose from a failed marriage. Beauty lasts only for a couple of weeks after the wedding. After that, it’s totally inconsequential to your marriage. In fact, it becomes a burden on you. Watch out for this!!!!!
5. During the process of forging the marriage alliance, do not fall for emotional traps. Women are good at feigning tears which can melt your heart and it is at this stage you end up taking irrational and mostly wrong decisions. If something is not right, bite the bullet and walk away. I know it’s hard but it’s for your own good. Stay away from the physical stuff until much later.
6. If your fiancée is overly obsessed with her ‘Big Day’, be extremely alarmed. I cannot emphasise this enough here. The tell-tale signs are that such kinds of women go to extreme lengths to make the day ‘special’, even if it costs a lot of borrowed money. What they really have in mind is to outdo the other wedding they had recently witnessed. If this is the case then convince yourself big danger lays ahead. You are better off breaking the engagement even if it causes short-term turmoil in your family and personal life.
7. Pay special attention to whether the person you are intending to marry (and her family) has thirst for knowledge; make sure she has intellectual curiosity, personal integrity and concerns about worldly matters. The woman you marry may have a body of a 25-year-old but if she has a mind of a sulking teenager then you might as well get yourself a pet.
8. Always try to find out whether your fiancée really wants to marry you, or is she doing it because she could not find a ‘better’ one. Is she marrying you because of who you are or is it because of your money and status? Most of the marriages take place out of desperation. Don’t fall into that trap. There is nothing big to lose in waiting for a few more years to get married. If the person you married to did not really like you (to begin with) then that marriage is doomed to fail. You would have struggled really hard in your life to become what you are today. Therefore don’t ruin it all by just making this one fundamental mistake.
9. Men should always remember, when you decide to get married (in India), as far as the laws are concerned, the odds are against you. If your marriage works out as planned consider yourself lucky. But if it fails, then the woman has all the legal advantages no matter how right or wrong either of you is. Even if she does not know all the laws in India, her lawyer will kindly explain it to her as to how to play the game. Pay special attention to this aspect. Even if there is not a single evidence of wrongdoing against you, you can still end up destitute and penniless. Play your cards wisely. Increasing number of women in India has started using this legal weapon to get what they want if they did not get it through normal course. Especially do your research on IPC section 498A. You have nothing in your favour.
10. Lastly, there is no compulsion that you should get married. If you don’t want to die alone, then marriage is not the only option. Think of the alternatives. Until then enjoy your life while doing good to others. Perhaps you can build an orphanage for the poor. I am sure you will be looked after well by someone during your old age for your kindness towards humanity. Always remember, you arrive alone, and you depart alone. In between, you have to be a part of little circus called life. Play is wisely.
By the way I am not painting a broad brush here to point finger at every woman in India but an increasing number of women in India lately (especially those from the affluent background, brought up in the cities in a feckless manner, who go pubbing and clubbing every weekend) have learnt the tricks of the trade called marriage. Pay special attention. And for heaven’s sake do not fall for all-fur-coat-and-no-knickers types.
PS. The views expressed in this article are my own. This website has only provided me with a platform to share them. I also hereby expressly authorise anyone to publish this article anywhere they wish.
Submitted by Nitin P