These days, it is common to see every other marriage breaking apart in Indian society, just a few years after the grand wedding day. I am not pained by the fact that the marriages are breaking up. It is better that a marriage be dissolved, if two incompatible people have to suffer each other throughout their life time or if there is some kind of abuse involved.
But what saddens me are those cases, where married life is ruined by the interference from the man's parents. This happens typically in a joint family system, where the son and his wife are expected to stay with the parents. The urge to stay with the married son, stems from a strong possessive feeling on the part of the mother. Slowly, the tentacles of possessiveness start spreading around in every aspect of the adult son's life, throttling the daughter-in-law. The girl starts gasping for breath and is forced to look at her choices. If nothing works out, she finally opts for peace of mind — by walking out of the marriage.
Why is it that the mothers of adult sons find it difficult to let go of the attachment, which blinds their eyes and makes them do despicable things? If she wants to ensure that no emotional intimacy develops between the son and his wife, why get the son married in the first place? Why does she fail to think of the bride as a young, sensitive person full of her own dreams and ideas about her married life? Why is it that the in-laws cannot trust their son to remember his duties towards them, even if he got married? Is it the lack of faith in their own upbringing that makes them insecure?
I am not even talking about the infirm elders, who have to stay with children due to ill-health. I am talking about financially well=off people, who are healthy in mind and body and quite capable of staying by themselves. What is the need to micromanage the son and his wife's lives, staying closely?
Shifting our attention to the daughter-in-law, the bride is no longer the really young bride of 14 years, who steps into a new house and absorbs the traditions of that house. Circumstances have changed now and mostly the girl first steps out of her house to live in a hostel for a college education. Then follow higher education and job. By the time the urban woman is ready for marriage, she is well into her mid-twenties, established her career, knowledgeable about the outside world and financially quite independent. So what does such a woman look for in a marriage? She looks for love, companionship, respect and understanding from her spouse.
If every day is a struggle, wherein the husband's behaviour is dictated by the parents-in-law, if her life is not panning out as she dreamed and if every aspect of her adult life is constantly monitored and supervised by other people, what happiness does she get? What is wrong if she wants to move out with her husband so that she gets the much needed personal space? Why is she called a family breaker when she has every right to a happy life and the choice to live the life she wants? How can a woman who is so smart and independent in her professional life manage the contradictions in her personal life?
What about the son who is the common binding factor for both the parties involved? The typical reactions are usually one of these — a) the son is emotionally torn between his wife and mother and incapable of arriving at a decision; b) he is so completely brainwashed by his parents, that he starts believing that his wife is really evil, for wanting to go away and spend her life with him and not with his parents; c) the son breaks off with his parents on a really bad note and goes out with his wife.
Would it not be easier for everyone, if the son's parents gracefully allowed the son and his wife to move out, if that is what they desired? The breathing space certainly ensures a healthy and happy relation among all the people involved, for a lifetime.
(The writer's email id is: firstname.lastname@example.org)