METRO PLUS

`Try this out for a change'

VASANTHA SRINIVASAN

VASANTHA SRINIVASAN "Husbands chip in only during a crisis" PHOTO: S. THANTHONI  

Why not sons-in-law stay with their wives' family instead of the other way round, asks Vasantha Srinivasan, retired lecturer

I've always wondered why people hesitate to break away from tradition and accepted social norms. Why they don't try doing things differently without upsetting the social order. Take the institution of marriage, for example. It could definitely do with a bit of restructuring. According to custom, it is the bridegroom who takes the bride to his home after the wedding. So, it is she who has to adjust and, in the process, sacrifice her freedoms, big and small. Most often, there are differences of opinion between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law or between daughter-in-law and sister-in-law. And if the boy only has a single parent, heaven forbid, only his mother, then clashes are just a sneeze away. There soon develops a tug-of-war as both wife and mother get possessive (of husband and son, respectively). Then there are those dowry demands which often result in couples getting separated. On occasion, the bride is even driven to suicide. Many couples take the safe route of leaving their parents-in-law and setting up house independently. Alone and abandoned in their old age, parents find themselves headed for old-age homes.

For a change, could not the bridegroom go to live with the bride's family after marriage? There would be so many advantages arising from such a situation. The son-in-law would be given preferential treatment, fussed over and accorded great importance. I am sure he would bask in all the affection showered on him. What's more, the girl's parents would lavish their love on their grandchildren too!

This would be a happy equation for career women, as they would no longer have to worry about cr�ches and day care services. The son-in-law of the house would have all the time in the world to indulge his own interests and even pursue hobbies. No worries about taking care of the children.

Besides, there is no special bond between the father-in-law and son-in-law, hence, less responsibility. Good food, a lot of attention, more leisure, less problems; why will the son-in-law grumble?

Although, tradition demands that the son should shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the home and his parents, this is far from reality. To a son, career comes first and home, second. Haven't we heard of housewives complaining that their husbands spend all their time on themselves — reading newspapers, watching TV and pursuing hobbies? Husbands chip in, only during a crisis. So the wives end up doing all the work — in the kitchen, at the office and helping with studies and homework. So, isn't the suggested option better?

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